Purpose: To attend the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, with the Subaru Road Racing Team
Start/Finish: Drive Performance headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- According to mapping services -- 2,900.6 miles round trip
- Actual (with side trips) -- 3,079.1 miles
Major routes to and from Miller Motorsports Park:
- Wisconsin, Iowa: Interstate 94, U.S. 151
- Iowa: U.S. 151, Interstates 380 and 80
- Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah: Interstate 80
Fuel consumption: 114.8 gallons
Mileage: 26.8 mpg
I looked forward to this trip because I was going to drive on a route I had never experienced previously -- Interstate 80 west of Grand Island, Nebraska. I was excited about taking the Drive Performance WRX into some mountains near Tooele.
In the paddock next to Subaru Road Racing Team's trailer, I realized how close Miller Motorsports Park is to the Great Salt Lake. Looking to the northeast, the shining haze is really lake water, not a desert mirage.
You can see mountains at a distance all around the track. On Friday, I climbed one with the DP WRX during some down time at the track. Driving east out of Tooele on Vine Street east, it turns into Middle Canyon Road, which ends near the peak of one of the Oquirrh Mountains.
The top overlooks the Bingham Canyon Open Pit Copper Mine (formerly called the Kennecott Copper Mine), which has been named a National Historic Landmark. It stretches 2.75 miles across and is more than .75 miles deep. It's quite a sight between the mountain range and Salt Lake City, which stretches beyond it!
Climbing Middle Canyon Road was a treat, and I'd recommend it to anyone! It changed from pavement to gravel approximately half-way up. Although smooth in some sections, the gravel/dirt/stone road was a washboard most of the way. Large rocks had rolled onto the surface at different points, and outcrops of rock served as the road in a number of places. I used first gear for most of the gravel, both up and down the mountain.
Several corners reminded me of the roads we practiced in rally school. They switched back one after the other, with ditches on the inside to hook into. But the DP WRX isn't set up for rally, so I was careful not to damage anything.
The impressive view from the top not only included the mine and the city, but canyons and mountainsides as well. There were different colors and textures everywhere I turned. It certainly was NOT scenery available in the Midwest.
Notes from the Drive
- My goal for each day of driving was at least half the distance. That was comfortable for me, and it worked out well.
- The first day was windy -- approximately 30 mph, with gusts -- and it was blowing directly into the path of the car most of the way. That didn't help average fuel economy at all!
- U.S. 151 across southwestern Wisconsin passes through rolling hills and sometimes cuts through them. It's a beautiful part of the country, with crops planted in wide swaths alternating with one another to help prevent erosion. The views from the tops of the ridges reach far into the distance. This four-lane road isn't very crowded, and it's quite enjoyable.
- Sign on a construction truck: "If you build it, we will plumb."
- I expected to drive westward with a number of team trucks, since I-80 is a major east-west interstate highway. I only saw two on the way west, and I kept passing one of them. (Really, I'm not a stalker!)
- I had the thought that Sheldon in the TV show Big Bang Theory is like a grown-up version of Dexter in Dexter's Lab.
- I-80 takes you past patches of wind turbines in Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming. I saw a couple in Utah, too.
- Once into western Iowa, farming conservation methods include building plateaus along with the contours.
- West of Lincoln, Nebraska, the land is the kind of flat where you cannot see the edges.
- Near mile-marker 272 in Nebraska, I turned a corner on I-80 westbound and was startled by the Great Platte River Road Archway. This structure crosses the highway and has interesting statues on either side. Unfortunately, it was closed when I passed under it both going west and returning home.
- Approximately halfway across Wyoming, I-80 crosses the Continental Divide. Although the road is almost 7,000 feet above sea level, I didn't think about driving along the divide because there were no large mountains through which to pass.
- Reminder: Fall and winter aren't far away! When I left Tooele to return home, temperatures were in the 50s. Near Park City, Utah, I saw temperatures as low as 28 degrees on the WRX's thermometer. Later in the day -- in Nebraska -- the thermometer climbed to 90 degrees.
- Driving across Wyoming, I could see clouds of smoke rising from mountains in the distance to the south. That area was suffering from wildfires at the time.
- The bugs that splattered the car along the Platte River in Nebraska are among the messiest I've ever encountered -- even worse than Ohio. Those I could do without!
Next trip: To the second RallyCar Rallycross at New Jersey Motorsports Park October 2 and 3.