A long drive today to catch up with the other three cars who have driven directly over the border into Canada with our destination at Bracebridge, around 150 km past Toronto. After breakfast I walk back past the bar where there are so many memories stuck to the wall from the early days when Seneca Lodge was the place where everyone from Formula 1 stars to race mechanics stayed. Those were the days when drivers talked to their mechanics and they all shared the excitement. Today the F1 drivers don’t even speak to each other. On the back wall behind the bar, there were many garlands donated over the years by winning drivers. One of them was won in 1977 by James Hunt, probably the last of the sport’s colourful characters. I took a couple of photos – the first in the normal view and the second using 20x zoom to capture the essence of James Hunt’s life. The other pic at the top right is a montage of many of the famous faces who competed at Watkins Glen over the years.
Dave couldn’t leave without one more lap of the original 6.6 mile road circuit used from 1948 to 1952. Those drivers must have been brave – the track starts in the main street outside the courthouse and turns right up the hill past Seneca Lodge, over a stone bridge and through some tight corners at the top of the hill before descending back to the main street around a long sweeping bend which was just a dirt surface in those days. The MG TCs in those days were reaching speeds of 115 mph according to the folklore – even if that was a bit of a stretch, they were still very brave! The last corner is called Millikens Corner named after the driver of a Bugatti who rolled his car into the pub and crawled out to order a beer.
We get through Canadian immigration and customs after a little drama over the carnet for the car. Probably not appropriate to go through the details in a blog but we finally got the stamps we needed and headed for the viewing point on the Canadian side of Niagra Falls. This was all a bit nostalgic for me because I lived in Buffalo NY for the best part of a year in 1971-2 and took many visitors to the nearby Niagra Falls. Back then there were hardly any other tourists but now there are thousands every day from every corner of the globe. Just a day before, Dave had an email from Giles Cooper, the Australian adventurer we had last met in Argentina. He had just finished a 4 week drive around Nova Scotia in his well-travelled Land Cruiser and was on his way beck through the US and happy to drive a few hundred kms to meet us again. Dave had told him we would be at Niagra Falls about noon and sure enough when we drove into the car park at 2 minutes before noon, Giles was there waving to us. Over lunch he shared his experiences of Novia Scotia with us – it sounds beautiful, can’t wait to get there.