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Fortuna then made a loop back down.  Driving along the Avenue of the Giants surrounded by old growth redwood trees was just one of the many spectacular experiences of this trip.  Day three was the long journey home to a feast and awards banquet in San Francisco, where Melee co-founder Jeff Guzaitis presented trophies and prizes ("Here's another Melee hoody for the burners") to those who were lucky enough to win. 
The carnage this year was minimal.  Several cars had heating problems, and one of the Isos broke a brake caliper, nothing a pair of vice grips clamped to the brake line couldn't fix.  However the worst damage was done by a 1955 Carrera Pan-americana Chrysler that ran down a turkey.  Rumor has it he has since moved to West Virginia where hunting with your car is legal.  My favorite Melee moment was when Chris Bonk anxiously passed and cut 
off a Mercedes SUV on Highway 101.  After hearing a horn behind him, Chris stopped his Snider Special right in the middle of the highway, blocking traffic in both directions.  After exchanging words and scaring the Benz driver sufficiently, "Piloto Bonk" took off in a cloud of tire smoke.  Two miles down the road Bonk could be found taking pictures with Sasquatch and a '64 Impala Convertible.  What more can I say.  The Melee' offers you a chance to meet new people, see great cars, and drive at your own pace on great roads.  As my new Melee' friend Peter, from across the pond in England said, "The reason they call them sports cars is, you have to be a sport to drive one", and the people on the Melee were sports indeed.

~ Bill

The California Melee is perhaps the most fun you can have on four wheels.  It is made up of a diverse group of gear heads, and equally diverse group of cars, around fifty entries this year, and over 750 miles of the most beautiful roads in California.  The parking lot at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, which served as a staging area for the Melee, looked like a combination of Fantasy Junction and the junkyard of your dreams.  From show quality Ferraris to rusted-out rotary powered MG Midgets, beautiful Triumphs to beat up Bug-eyes, the Melee has it all. 
It is increasingly difficult to shock the Melee' crowd with unusual vehicles.  While horrendous looking SUVs seem to be a growing trend among American consumers (Aztec anyone?), Iso Griffos and Alfa Montreals seem to be the biggest trend among Melee-ers. Two of each marque showed up, and both Iso's were daily drivers.  The Lotus contingent was well represented by a 1962 Lotus 7, a 1969 Lotus Europa, and my personal favorite, a 1974 Lotus Elite with a skull and crossbones spray painted on the hood.  I drove my '69 MGB GT with a freshly rustoleumed Union Jack on the hood.  Our own Daren Stone made a last minute decision to drive his P1800 wagon instead of his Europa.  In hindsight this was a wise choice, as the temperatures during day one reached egg-frying magnitudes. 
This year's route brought us to Fort Bragg via some wonderful back roads.  Some roads seemed more like dried up riverbeds, but that kept the trailer queens away.  We set up base camp at Fort Bragg's seediest motel, the Driftwood Inn, where most people ended a hard day of oil consumption with an equal amount of alcohol consumption.  Former Sports Car International editor Jay Lamm was spotted hunched over on the ground sipping water out of an ice bucket.  It was that kind of night. 
From Fort Bragg we headed north to 
The '74 Elite of Eric Orr and Tiffany LeMond, in what would become it's normal state over the course of the weekend. Despite ongoing problems with fuel delivery, dead cooling fans and melted wiring, they managed to drive the entire event. No word on the trip home tho.

Photo by Daren Stone

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