Fact is stranger than fiction. I swear you cannot make this stuff up!
So we are cruising at 80 MPH along I-95 having just crossed in to Georgia on our way to Daytona Beach around 10:00 pm last evening when a medium size critter strolls in front of the M3. As I was slightly distracted by a fast approaching car from behind (mirror watching), I unfortunately view the animal much to late to make any sudden avoidance maneuvers. There is an instant thud on the right front side of the car. I actually think Woody's passenger seat jumped up 6 inches as the mass passed under the car. I see the terrifying look in the nasty little guys eyes just before impact. What was that Woody asks? An armadillo says I. Even with this fellows leather like hard shell he could not withstand the 80 MPH blow.
I immediately tell Woody that there are some vital parts down in that area, particularly the oil cooler. Within a mile or so we are approaching our first available exit and radio to Brian Hair and David Chow that we have hit an armadillo I need to check out the car. After pulling off, we start looking the car over. Everything appears to be in relatively good order. I walk back to David's car and get down on my hands and knees to see the car lights shining under the car. David had mentioned seeing something hanging down that I could not see from the front. It is then that I see a small puddle of fluid at the front of the car and on the right side. I have that OH NO moment running through my head. I get in the car and back it up about 5 feet. The OH NO moment turns to sad reality as we are leaking oil.
With a flash light in hand (a damn good one too from David's company - 4 Sevens) we can see that there is in fact a leak at the oil cooler, but we cannot determine if it is the oil line or the cooler itself. In any event, driving the car is no longer an option and so we pull in to a Days Inn within 1,000 feet of the exit ramp. Woody and I get a room and say goodnight and safe travels to David and Brian. It is obvious how bad they feel for us and of course we are very disappointed as this means we will miss Daytona. I phone Suze and give her the news. She is keeping me upbeat and thinking positively about the situation as is Woody. Strangely, we have been here before....just read the posts from 2009.
Getting to our room we formulate our plan. The first call is to BMW Roadside Assistance where we arrange for a tow at 6 am to the local Savannah BMW dealership, Critz BMW. How lucky are we that there is a dealership only 16 miles from the motel? Darn lucky as this could have occurred 100's of miles from no where.
The first call from the towing company rings in at 4:15 am to verify we are still waiting for a tow. At 5:35 the tow truck driver calls to announce he is in route and should be arriving by 6 as planned.
The M3 is loaded up on the roll-back tow rig very quickly and we are off by 6:15. The 16 miles seems to take for ever as the tow truck is slow and rush hour traffic picking up. Our driver, Thomas, is a great guy and points out our only mistake from last evening. Appears we left some good eats out on I-95 that could have complimented our eggs, pancakes, and bacon breakfast. A real delicacy here in these parts!
Arriving at Critz BMW the car is unloaded faster than it went on. We pull it in to the service line and wait for the doors to open at 7:30. At 7:15 a gentleman arrives and asks if we are doing the One Lap? We respond yes. Our visitor tells us that he is friends with Doug Wilks who is part of the Leh Keen team in the Nissan GTR that is leading the One Lap event. Small world! I introduce myself as does Richard Papy, who happens to be the quality control manager at Critz. Turns out Richard is a racer too and has an original Porsche 944 Ex-Fire Hawk series car. We explain our plight and Richard says he cannot promise, but he'll mention the event and our problems to the service manager and may be we'll be fit in today.
Within minutes the assistant service manager Steve Scarano arrives with his two young boys in tow. Steve and the two boys are very interested in the car. We exchange some stories and again explain our situation. Steve invites us in and says we'll get it in first thing. A tear literally comes to my eye as it does writing this story. Steve says - not sure we'll have the parts, but let's see what we find. Woody chimes in and says of course we have the parts....they're on that new M3 in the sales lot. Steve comes back with we'll check with the owner if it comes to that.
As the techs do not start until 8, Woody and I walk over to the Denny's for breakfast. Again, our regret is not having our breakfast meat. Arriving back at the dealership at 8:30 we set up shop in the waiting room. I begin this blog and it is not long before we are invited in to the operating room to see the patient. The problem is in fact a small hole in the oil cooler and damage to the under tray. Critz
After several long minutes, Steve comes to the waiting room to tell us the good news....the new M3 will give up its oil cooler and under tray parts so we may continue the event. We are so happy and thankful to the entire Critz team. Again, tears come to our eyes as we feel blessed.
As we are sitting, blogging, chatting, and watching the thousandth story on the wicked witch of the east's demise on CNN we are introduced to the owner of the dealership, Dale Critz, Jr. He is very personable and listens to our story with keen interest. Dale wants to know about the cause and how we got started with ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer. My relationship with Tommy Holcomb and how we always talked about competing in the One Lap together comes to the discussion immediately. Mr. Critz is happy he can help.....so are we! Dale returns after a few minutes and suggests we google The Armadillo Jackal by Robert Earl Keen, Jr on You Tube. The link is here....I think....www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeZIHNo7Bvc. If not, it is easy to find.
Chad, our tech wizard, just came in to say there was a part or two not on his original list that should be replaced if we are doing this right. I agree after looking at the part and what it supports. At this point, what is another $70. Chad expects to have us out of here soon. My guess is we will make the drag races at Gainesville, FL early this evening and rejoin our One Lap friends.
I cannot thank Critz BMW for the friendship they have extended us. We will never forget this dealership, especially its kind and generous owner and the people who run it and service its patrons.