Since I’m still writing my Dragon review, I thought this might fill the void a bit. This Dragon experience was sent in by long time MotoringFile reader Deb Sutliff (aka Nekowoman).
>There was an awful grinding noise as I felt the car bottom out. I have scraped the chin often enough when not being carefu, but this was coming from the rear. Top that with the facts: I was at the end of a 500 mile drive, fully loaded, it was dark, late and I was tired and this was the first right hand hairpin turn of the Dragon.
>Come morningÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s light, I lay down on the Fontana asphalt and peered under my MINI. I was reminded of those poor souls you see peering under the hood on the side of road. How often is the problem apparent from a visual inspection? Rarely under the bonnet, but beneath my boot I saw shiny slivers of metal hanging off the inside of my right rear rim. I may not be more than a novice mechanic, but even I knew those were definitely not supposed to be there.
>Chad (agokart) from Detroit Tuned is a lean, strawberry blond with a quick smile. I stopped by his tent and told him my tale. Within minutes he was underneath my MINI diagnosing a broken rear sway bar end link. He said heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d never seen a broken one before and, unfortunately, he didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t have a the parts to help me. He promised that he could help me out with stock parts from an upgrade he had scheduled later in the weekend, but I was at the 2006 MINIs on the Dragon (MOTD) and there were roads a wasting.
>MOTD is a gathering of like-minded enthusiasts at a road known for having 318 turns in 11.6 miles. But it is so much more than that. The event is about the spirit of motoring. It is about the car, both classic and new, that bonds us together.
>My quest for an end link began with Chad talking to all his fellow vendors. Unfortunately, none had the parts to help, but I was assured that IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d be fixed by Saturday at the latest. That simply wouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t do if I could help it, so I booted up my laptop to tap into the newly available wireless broadband signal that Fontana had added. I sent out PMs to friends in Chicago and Alabama and posted an SOS to the forums. Within minutes I had Andrew (YuccaPatrol) on IM and he contacted Randy from Webb Motorsports (who wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t at this Dragon) for me. Randy had a set of stock take-off end links in an overnight box to me within hours, but Fontana warned me that overnight doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t always mean overnight when youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re up on a mountain.
>In the meantime, I volunteered to help out friends from my former MINI club, DC Metro MINIs, with registration and Mark Ferguson of North American Motoring.com with the swag-for-sale table. While there I saw Aaron from Outmotoring. He hadnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t even had a chance to unpack or even register when approached him. I told my tale and he just smiled. He said that for some reason he decided at the last minute to throw a pair of Alta upgraded end links in the trailer. I proclaimed them mine! I was saved at last. I tried to give him my credit card right then and there, but he wouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t hear of it. I thanked him profusely, found a relief for my swag duty, and found Chad. He promised heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d work me in as soon as he could. Later that evening Aaron and his wife dug through their trailer before theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d even unpacked to find the end links for me. Finally, I was able to relax and enjoy my evening anticipating my return to the road on Friday.
>Before the rest of the corporate world back in reality was done with the first coffee break of the day, Chad had me fixed up better than new and I was back to enjoying the Dragon and MOTD festivities. Just consider — within 36 hours I was back motoring ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” it would have been impressive if that happened at a dealership in the city, but in the hills of North Carolina, working without cell service, it was the true spirit of motoring in action.
>But the story doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t end thereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ less than a day later, a friend from Knoxville flagged me down as I motored by the mechanical vendors. Chad had another MINI with a broken end link, but this time, he knew where he could find the parts. I had three stock end links — the one whole one off my car and the two that did actually make it from Webb Motorsports overnight. I gave one to my fellow stranded motorist and wished him luck. He tried to pay me, but I wanted to share the motoring spirit with him. The spirit of motoringÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Chad, Andrew, Randy, Aaron and his wifeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ these are the folks who embody that spirit. I canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t thank them enough for helping me out. Motor on.