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Posts by Alex
We wanted to thank everyone that was able to join us at MN C&C on Saturday. It was a really great turnout and we hope you all enjoyed the show as much as we did.
With father’s day just around the corner, it’s time to celebrate dad. If you’re struggling to come up with some gift ideas this year, we can help. We’ve scoured the internet and come up with a list of great gifts that dear ‘ol dad will appreciate, even if he’s notoriously hard to shop for. And remember, if all else fails I’m sure pops would love to spend some quality time with you!
For the father who has everything: Bacon Me Crazy
Bacon Me Crazy is a gift bag of delicious, bacon-y treats such as bacon chocolate, bacon mayonnaise, bacon kettle corn, and garlic-cured bacon strips. If you want to get him the gift that keeps on giving, they have a monthly subscription service as well!
For the father that likes to get outside: the Pathfinder Cooler
Maybe dear old dad likes to go fishing or camping or tailgating. Maybe he just wants something that looks cool while keeping his favorite drinks even cooler. Well here you go.
For the father that likes to travel: Bicycle Inner Tube Toiletry Bag
What better way to keep dad’s personal effects organized on trips than with a waterproof inner tube toiletry bag? Made in the US with recycled inner tubes, this toiletry bag is tough and looks cool, just like dad!
For the father that likes to cook: PancakeBot Pancake Printer
Not only can you make your dad breakfast on Father’s Day, but now you can make him pancakes that look like that rad ’67 Mustang he had back when he was younger, had a full head of hair, and didn’t need a safe, practical boring car to take you to soccer practice in.
For the fitness nut father: Fitbit Blaze Smartwatch
Fitbit has been making some of the best fitness tracker bands and dongles for years, and now they’ve got the Blaze smartwatch that can track dad’s favorite routes for cycling or running, track his heart rate, and even provide training and coaching, all while looking sharp enough to wear every day.
This is the perfect gift for a car-loving dad who loves to read to his kids at night. These two books chronicle legendary race cars and their drivers with kid-friendly pictures and language that’ll make it fun and interesting for dad and child alike!
For the father who guilt-trips you about how you behaved as a child: The Apology Checklist Card
Not everyone was a perfect little angel growing up, and for some of us, dad never lets us forget that. If you’ve always wanted to apologize to dad for how you behaved growing up but never knew the right way to say it, this might be the perfect card to get him this year.
I’m a firm believer in using vehicles as they’re intended and while that normally means commuting, running errands, or simply getting from Point A to Point B, there are few things I enjoy more than putting a vehicle through its paces. Having already driven my ’87 Porsche 944 Turbo on track this month during the Morrie’s Luxury Auto track day, I figured it was only fair that my next automotive adventure would be to take my ’99 Toyota 4Runner off-roading on one of the few designated ORV (off-road vehicle) trails in Minnesota. With nothing more than a map, my wife and I packed a lunch, loaded up two of our dogs, and headed about two hours north to the Gandy Dancer Trail with a buddy and his newer 4Runner. The trip was mainly to shake down my own truck and see what it was capable of but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a buddy along in case I got in over my head, plus I wanted to see how my 17 year old 4Runner compared to the new model.
Although I have no idea how the Gandy Dancer got its name, it sounded like it’d be interesting. In reality, however, it ended up being about 30 miles of straight, dirt road cutting vertically through Nemadji State Forest. Luckily, when we got bored just driving on the same bumpy dirt road for mile after mile, it wasn’t too hard to find some interesting trails that broke off in every direction from the Gandy Dancer. Some trails were marked better than others, which might explain why we got some weird looks from the numerous ATV and dirt bike riders we saw as we drove through water crossings, over rocks and through narrow, tree-lined singletrack. Compared to driving around a race track, I’ve gotta say – this was the most fun I’ve ever had going below 20 MPH for hours on end.
Six hours later, we’d both worked our way through a full tank of gas and decided to head back before it got dark. Aside from a broken exhaust hanger (which might’ve rusted itself loose before we left), both trucks fared well on the trip. The new 4Runner is undoubtedly more comfortable and feature-rich but I got the sense that my 1999 model is at least as capable, if not more-so, due to its slightly smaller footprint. Neither of us really pushed our vehicles anywhere near their ultimate limits but I could see that changing soon. As we left the trails, we stopped at one of the state park entrances we saw on the way back to the highway and found a picnic site to have a quick bite for dinner before loading back up and making the boring drive home. After the fun we had this weekend, we can’t wait to get back out on the road and find more trails to explore! Maybe the Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail will make the list this summer?
In between preparations for Mother’s Day, we got up bright and early for the monthly MN C&C. The sunny, spring weather was everything we could’ve asked for this month and it brought a ton of amazing cars out to the show! Thanks everyone for joining Morrie’s at MN C&C and making it a great show!
Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to pull off those car covers, dust off the maps, and hit the road. To help, we’ve assembled a few of our favorite roads within about an hour of the Twin Cities. Depending on where you’re from, we picked multiple routes to be convenient but they’re all worth exploring if you can find a spare hour or two for a cruise.
East of the cities, near Afton Alps is Stagecoach Trail which snakes around the hills and bluffs near the St Croix River. Admittedly, at only a little over 15 miles, you’ll probably spend more time driving there than you will on the road itself, but it’s scenic enough that it’s worth a few laps on its own. And then when you’re done, just hop back onto Hwy 10 or 94 and head home. Or stop by Afton State Park for some beautiful scenery along the river or load up the golf clubs and play a round on the nearby golf course.
For those seeking a longer route, take Stagecoach Trail south to Hwy 10 and cross the river into Prescott, WI and enjoy following the other side of the St Croix River south along County Hwy 35. The alphabet soup of great driving roads – including County Roads O, OO, K, VV, C, EE, and A – are all easily accessible from County Hwy 35 and serpentine through the hills while offering some challenging drives and beautiful scenery near the Lake Pepin area.
Heading straight west out of the cities on 394 will take you onto Hwy 12 out to County Rd 6. Follow that west to Watertown, before turning south onto County Rd 25 for a couple miles to Hwy 7 which will take you back towards the cities. It’s an easy loop around Lake Minnetonka but the real highlights here are the number of great little diners and cafes along the way to stop at for a bite to eat, or take any number of little side streets to find access to the lakes in the area. This isn’t a route that is meant to be at all challenging or a test of a driver’s skills, but it’s great for a casual cruise on a warm summer evening.
If you’re on the west side of down and looking for something a bit longer, take Hwy 7 west out to County Rd 11 and head south to Hwy 5 in Victoria where you’ll take a left followed by a right to stay on County Rd 11/Victoria Drive and keep heading south for as long as you like. Depending on how much time you have, you can cross the Minnesota River into Belle Plaine on State Hwy 25 and head back on 169 N or continue south down to Henderson or LeSeur and follow the river back however you’d like.
We hope to see you out on the road this summer! And obviously, Morrie’s Automotive Group advises you to follow all posted speed limits and obey all traffic laws while you’re at it.
In a word, it’s tough. It’s grueling. It’s dirty. The rally will come to an end and you’ll wonder what you actually just saw and why you’re covered in an inch-thick layer of dust and you feel like you’d been wading through a swamp. But wow, what an experience. There’s nothing else like it.
Go to spectate or shoot any road race on a conventional circuit and it’s a walk in the park. To get from one corner of the track to another, it might be a 5 or 10 minute walk. Everything is paved, well marked. Go up in the grandstands and you can probably see the majority of the track. The same cars go by lap after lap for hours on end. Whichever car or team you’re focused on, you know exactly where they are in the standings each time they pass because you can see the rest of the field go by at roughly the same time. If all else fails, there’s usually a big scoreboard or an app for whatever series you’re following that shows the timing and scoring for the race.
Now try to follow the action in a rally. You’re often driving 20+ miles in between stages on poorly marked roads trying to find the lone spectator area for each stage. You can go hours on end without seeing any rally cars whizzing by. And unless you have a teleportation device or a time machine, chances are you’ll only get a chance to watch the cars fly by two or three times all day. And every time you do see one of the cars fly by at breakneck speed, you’re choking on dust clouds and getting pelted by rocks left in their wake. At least checking the standings throughout the weekend is as easy as checking Rally America’s website on your phone… As long as you can get signal in any of the remote areas where the stages are held.
It’s not all bad though. Sure shooting at a circuit is easier, but with rally, you’re experiencing the great outdoors. You get to drive on a lot of the same (or very similar) roads that the rally uses for stages. Fellow rally spectators are some of the kindest and most enthusiastic fans I’ve ever met, often because they’ve put in the work to get to the same remote area as you, for the same reasons. And because the cars aren’t really racing head to head, wheel to wheel, like they would at the track, the viewing experience is much more relaxed. You’ve got time in between cars to have conversations with people, to grab a drink, move around a little. All with beautiful, scenic landscapes all around you.
As a photographer though, this presents a significant number of challenges. What sort of gear do I bring? How do I want to capture the car in a way that shows both the speed and spectacle in which it goes by while also showing the natural beauty of the surroundings? None of the stages feature much by way of protection between the fans and the cars ripping by, hanging on by a mere thread of control, so often times the crowds are pushed further and further back, far away from the action. Being out in the elements has its perks, but you and your camera will also be exposed to uncontrollable rain, massive clouds of dust, the blazing sun, and frigid winds. It tests your character, forcing you to endure.
No doubt about it, shooting rally racing is an endless struggle, but get things right – or at least a bit lucky – and the results can be well worth it. You can snap away until the memory cards are full and the batteries are drained and only go home with a handful of shots you’re proud of but on the long drive home, there’s a sense of accomplishment, of camaraderie, of witnessing something special. There’s something magical about rallying that makes it unlike any other form of motorsports. It’s the way the wind laps at your face. The way crisp country air, untamed brush, and speckled wildflowers mix with the hazy clouds of dust and race gas. The way the serene stillness of an untouched forest is broken so abruptly by the staccato engine notes of highly-strung race cars hammering between gears. There’s something about that dichotomy between the tranquility of nature and the wild frenzy of motorsports that created a unimaginable combination that will keep you coming back for more.
Although it’s not required to have a deep appreciation for cars to work at for a dealership group like Morrie’s, a lot of us are absolutely fanatical about cars. While some of us diligently wash and wax our favorite cars before a car show or enjoy a serene cruise around town, we have some serious motorheads amongst our ranks who can only satiate their need for speed at the race track. Perhaps the most die-hard of them all are the rally enthusiasts, most typically found at our Minnetonka Subaru store. Scott Putnam, the fleet sales manager at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru invited us out to Michigan earlier this year to watch his team, CPD Racing, as they tackled a number of snow and ice-covered rural roads in their Subaru WRX STI during the first round of Rally America’s 2016 championship. A few weeks later, they were in Salem, MO for the 100 Acre Wood Rally. Scott invited us back to follow the team around the hills outside Portland, OR this past weekend during the Oregon Trail Rally, the 3rd round of the 2016 Rally America series.
The Oregon Trail Rally is an incredibly challenging and grueling three day event that follows the narrow fire roads that flank the Columbia River. While the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, these roads often feature blinding dust, slippery rocks, and sheer rock faces inches from the edge of the road. It’s a harrowing drive for your average driver, even more so while carrying triple digit speeds, sideways, while choking on the dust of the car you’re chasing down for a spot on the podium. Instead of CPD’s usual ace driver, Lauchlin O’Sullivan, Road & Track Magazine sent in contributing editor Jason Harper to mix it up in the dirt for an upcoming article.
The first day comprised of a few stage laps around Portland International Raceway with some added jumps to spice things up. You know, because rally. The turnout was great with lots of spectators lining the track well into the night. Jason and Scott kept things tidy and made up a few spots on the grid during the four stages held at the circuit.
The following morning, we headed into the hillside on the northern side of the Columbia River in Washington where Jason and Scott would be tackling a mix of windmill-lined gravel roads before ending on the private Maryhill Loop hillclimb stage for stages 11 and 12. The ominous silhouette of Mount Rainier always looming in the background, setting the stage for a clash of titans of the dirt. Maryhill Loop would cap off the day with an epic serpentine bit of tarmac that wound its way back and forth up the hillside of a private piece of land. Typically, this narrow two-lane road is used for downhill longboarding competitions and filming car commercials where a closed road is needed. For us however, it was an all-out, full-speed assault to the top.
For the final day, Jason and Scott went back across the river towards Dufur, OR to race through a mix of picturesque vineyards and silty hillsides. When all was said and done, CPD Racing didn’t make a podium spot but Jason was ecstatic each time he climbed out of the car. He drove cleanly and brought the car back in one piece. Mighty impressive for a novice rally driver, given the treacherous terrain and unforgiving conditions. We’re looking forward to checking back with the team in a few short weeks for the Mount Olympus hillclimb!
It’s been a long time in the works but Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru’s remodel, transforming it to the biggest, most modern Subaru dealership in the Midwest is just about done. We’ve appreciated all of our customers’ patience as we’ve completely renovated not only our show floor but also our service and parts area. Before, we had two separate show floors and a tired service area that was dirty and poorly lit. Here’s what we used to look like:
The plan for construction was to clear out the service area behind the bigger of our two show floors and expand back, with more room for customers, including a new customer lounge, a playroom for children, and new finance offices. We also added a new area for our service advisors and cleaned up our service drive. We expanded our service center with more lighting and windows, as well as more lifts to work on cars to speed up service. To top everything off, we freshly painted the whole building and updated our signs and facias to give our dealership a bold, new look.
And now, we’re up and running on our new show floor with plenty of space both for all of our amazing customers as well as the latest and greatest Subaru models! Stop by soon and see for yourself!
Despite the frigid temperatures, howling wind, and momentary blizzard-like conditions, we kicked off the first MN C&C of the year in style! Thanks go out to everyone who braved the conditions and came out to the event.
After each major auto show, we like to sit back and simmer on what we saw for a little bit. It’s important to think about what we saw and where we think the auto industry as a whole is headed. Oftentimes, an auto show will have an underlying theme or trend beyond the glitz, glamor, and luxury of the latest and greatest new cars. For instance, last year in Detroit, the North American International Auto Show was all about sports cars. The Los Angeles Auto Show tends to alternate between driving fun, sporty cars or big, lumbering crossovers. The New York show, a one-to-one transfer of urban and affluent world around it, was loaded up with high-end luxury vehicles and sports cars. And with over 25 new vehicles making their debut in the halls of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this year, we figured we should pick a few highlights from the show that warrant a closer look.
Most Fun: This has to go to the new Mazda MX-5 RF. Although the beautiful flying buttresses and hardtop mechanism add an estimated 100 lb weight penalty to the lightweight roadster, we’ll gladly take the extra style and security of a hardtop in this case. Mazda took a car we already loved to drive and gave us a reason to drive it even more.
Best Concept: This was a tough decision between the Lincoln Navigator and the Genesis New York Concept but the Genesis wins because it’s the one we most want to drive. We like the edgy, overstyled design cues and high-tech futuristic tech but what really got our attention was the 3.3L V6 making 365 HP that we were promised. While we’re not sure if Genesis will actually implement technologies like gesture control and a 21-inch curved 4K display sprawling across the dash, we’re looking forward to seeing a production version in the near-ish future.
Best Overall Booth: It’s pretty safe to say that Nissan had the best booth of the entire show (they actually had two booths). We loved Nissan’s booths so much because for the 2017 GTR unveiling, Nissan brought out six vintage GTRs from 1969 all the way up to 2014 to show their lineage. While we were impressed by the 2014 Nurburgring record-holding GTR NISMO and enjoyed a bit of nostalgia for the R32, R33, and R34 models that we idolized in Gran Turismo video games, the true stars in our eyes were the 1969 KPGC10 and 1974 KPCG110 models that just ooze style.
Most Luxurious: Now the Lincoln Navigator Concept gets its chance to shine. Aside from the huge gullwing door opening, Lincoln Motor Company’s tagline “Quiet Luxury” couldn’t be more fitting for this SUV concept. The interior design is pure opulence while the exterior styling makes more of a statement than any Rolls Royce. Assuming Lincoln stays true to this design for the production Navigator like they did with the Continental, we’ll be happy campers.
Driver’s Choice: As you might know if you follow our Morrie’s Heritage Car Connection blog, a bunch of us here at Morrie’s love to get out and drive. Many of us are also loyal Porsche enthusiasts which is why the new 911R spoke to us the most as the car we wanted to get in and drive at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. A 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated Flat-6 generating 500 HP carries over from the street-legal race car GT3RS but what makes the 911R special is that it’s linked to a model-exclusive 6-speed manual transmission instead of the usual PDK gearbox we see in Porsche’s GT models. It’s meant to be driven hard and put away wet, and that’s what we’re all about.
Unobtanium Award: Just because we’ll probably never see another one of these again, we’ve got to pick the Koenigsegg Regera (and its One:1 stablemate) as the biggest jaw-dropper of the show. Something about having well over 1,000 HP packed into a lightweight, carbon-fiber shell with loads of other technologies including a hybrid drivetrain that eliminates the need for a transmission, and this is pure, unfiltered, car-nerd dream fodder. More than any other booth at the show, we probably went out of our way to walk past the Koenigseggs the most. Soak it in, my friends. This thing is wild!