Ballin’ on 14s – 1977 Spider on the 2011 Snowball

In what hopefully becomes a tradition, the spider has successfully completed its second road rally. The first was the Mother Lode 400, which I ran with my father last year, and since then most of the spider’s driving has been local and constrained by winter weather. Not that a northern California winter is so tough, but it’s more pleasant to go out in a closed car when it’s cold out. Anyway, the plan was to run the 2011 Snowball in the same high style in which we did the 2010, but it was not to be, since the restoration of the Alfetta’s body was not complete in time.

1977 Alfa Spider and 1948 MG TC

Thanks to Ben Buja for this picture; he got a lot of great shots of the car doing its thing on this 700-mile journey.

Absent the hardtop, the weather cooperated, and with some scarves and warm jackets, we headed up to Sacramento, spent a relaxing evening at Le Rivage (instead of doing the night stage and the chug-a-lug; I must be getting older and softer). The next day we met up at the Grassy Knoll by Espresso Metropolitan, and pulled up to a square full of sporting vintage cars of all years (1948 – 1985) and types (roadsters, sedans, coupes, wagons, and probably more). The roll-out was around 10am.

1977 Alfa Romeo Spider at Snowball

Thanks to Norm Weinfeld for taking that picture. What you can’t see is it was quite windy that day, and as such, pretty nippy. Nonetheless, we had a beautiful drive going east of Sacramento into the Sierra foothills. Unfortunately, a Dinalpin A110 on the rally was having some issues, so we stopped to see if we could lend a hand.

Dinalpin A110, Volvo 142, and Alfa Spider take a break on the Snowball

Fortunately, we didn’t have to rely on my limited expertise, but I did manage to lend a coil and some feeler gauges to determine the points had closed up. Once readjusted, we got the car running well enough, and it made it through the first day’s driving without any further issues. It was surprisingly powerful for a car with an 1100cc engine, keeping pretty close to the 2-liter spider through the Virginia City hillclimb route.

1977 Alfa Spider & 1969 Dinalpin A110 on Snowball 2011

The drive over Mount Rose was fortunately uneventful, and we didn’t get tagged by any of the late-April snowballs that were flying back and forth at the crest. For that night, the spider was parked in the CalNeva parking lot between some pretty illustrious company – a Lancia Aurelia B20 GT and a 427 Cobra. Hey, park near the expensive stuff and your car won’t get stolen!

1977 Alfa Spider at the CalNeva, Snowball 2011

Thanks to David Volkland for taking that picture. Notice the great part about this event – the broad diversity of cars, nothing like you’ll see in a single-marque club event. We had everything from a hotrod Fiat 500, a Citroen 2CV Weekend, a Pontiac Firebird, and gaggles of Alfas, Porsches, and BMWs. The next morning, the spider was a little reluctant to wake up from its chilly sleep, but only a few cranks brought it back to life for the second day’s driving.

1977 Alfa Spider, Snowball 2011

The second day’s driving involved going up the 89 to the 70, stopping off in Quincy for lunch while avoiding the CHP, and then heading down the Feather River into Marysville. The weather and scenery were amazing, and Quincy was a cute little town and a great stop for some pizza with a surprisingly crispy crust. Getting back down to Sacramento, it got furiously warm, and we were both reminded why cars no longer had the combination of vinyl seats *and* no air conditioning. But, it’s not the Snowball spirit to whine about these things! Sadly, we had to skip the final dinner and head back to San Francisco to a lonely cat at home, but we’ll definitely be back next year!


Gallery 1 – Dave Le

Gallery 2 – David Volkland

Gallery 3

Gallery 4 – Ben Buja

Gallery 5 – Norman Weinfeld

Gallery 6 – Dave Dell’Aquila

Gallery 7

Gallery 8 – Armando Levy


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