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Laddie & Karen Roussel's Smokie Trip
2003-08-29
--- Saturday, Aug. 23rd, 2003 --- Karen and I left Rivertown Collision Center, in Kenner, after picking up the new bra and picture taking session with bra on the Prowler.... Loaded Prowler on trailer and off we went. Took us about 11 hours total time to get from New Orleans to Pigeon Forge driving 640 miles. We stopped twice at Cracker Barrel and arrived at the Music Road Hotel around 11:00 pm (EST). We met some old friends in the lobby when we arrived and decided to head out with them in the morning to pre-run one of the routes... --- Sunday, Aug. 24th, 2003 --- In the morning, there were 10 Prowlers around the Hotel... The Smokies Scout team (six of us) decided to pre-run the Wed. Cruise... Steve Clark led the group and we stopped by the Carriage House restaurant and needed to work out the parking... After that we headed out Foothills Parkway to Tail of the Dragon.... Came upon a road closed sign and had to take detour (turned out not to bad....). We got back to hotel after stopping to eat and arrived back at hotel to see around 40 Prowlers... We actually counted 65 Prowlers here on Sunday (this is one day before arrival day). We traveled 200 miles on road trip... We got the PTS team together to complete the Welcome & registration package... Completed the work around 7:30 pm. Than, we decided to go to the Apple Wood restaurant for dinner and had a group of 30 or so.... Nice day and we're ready for Monday.... --- Monday, Aug. 25th, 2003 --- Registration Day was a busy day for us... As matter of fact, I didn't take one picture. We met with David and his staff from the Music Road Hotel to finalize all the arrangements for the week including the room setups, registration, tables for all the planned group events and meals along with any audiovisual equipment and placement around the hotel that we needed. The Hotel management and staff were very accommodating and really made us feel very welcome. This hotel has to have the most shower water pressure I every experienced. The Music Road hotel was fantastic. Few more errands in the afternoon. Went by the Floyd Garrett Museum to drop off a Smokies name badge for he and his wife Ava (displaying the Smokies name badge would entitle everyone to the PTS group discount rate to tour the museum). Than it was off to the Smokies baseball stadium to meet with Gary Lownsdale (Southeast Healey Assn. & SCCA - our autocross host) and the Dodge guys. Dodge had rented the stadium from the city of Seveirville all week to test the new Dodge SRT-10 Ram Truck. This is the new Ram truck with the new Dodge Viper motor & transmission (500+ HP, 500+ CI, & over 525 lbs of torque). I had to coordinate the use of the stadium parking for the autocross course and PTS group picture on Thursday. Seems the city of Sevierville had mistakenly double booked the parking lot for Thursday... The Dodge guys were very accommodating and we agreed to use the same autocross course they were setting up for the Viper Trucks. And,, I was able to arrange for a very SPECIAL SURPRISE for 10 Very lucky Prowler owners later this week on Thursday. We were back at the Hotel around 4:30 and our whole PTS team was there along with some other volunteers to help with registration. Registration and the Rocky Top BBQ went very smoothly. It was quite a task to register over 200+ people for an event. We had preregistration table but we had to disperse over 160+ pre ordered shirts, collect new fees for more optional activities and handle all new registrations. For a group this size, it went exceptionally smooth... The setting at the back of the hotel overlooking the river was a very soothing and picturesque site... And, it seemed everyone had a good time and enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting the many new faces that were at an event for the first time... What's really amazing is the fact that most of us know each other through the Internet and Prowleronline.com. This may be the first truly Internet car club. We gather together to share our common excitement about a car (our Prowler) but, it's really the relationships and friendships that we build once we meet each other in person... It's through these type of events that you truly get to know how warm & friendly this group of Prowler Owners can be and you get to understand some of these wild and crazy personalities. --- Tuesday, Aug. 26th, 2003 --- I was down at the Hotel's complimentary breakfast around 6:40 am and the "Not So Cool Crowd" was already waiting on me (about 30 strong this morning) and I caught a little flak for being late... I did get a picture of this group... Today, was our tour to the Biltmore Estate. Now, getting 100+ Kats out of the Hotel parking lot and onto the main drag through 12 traffic lights and onto the Smokies Parkway was going to be a challenge. However, Mike V. And his group of "Blockers" had deceived a plan on Monday night and after the Tuesday morning Driver's meeting we were off... And, all Kats went through the traffic lights together with the help of the blockers. Now, there were some mad local commuters who got a little upset. We only had one complaint to the police and Kelly Archer did get one call but, the policemen told us to have a nice day... We had actually tried to arrange police escort and it didn't happen as planned. We did have Park Ranger help in the Smoky National park and that worked as planned... It was a terrific cruise over to the Biltmore through the hills and national parks. Temperatures were on the cool side and I actually had to turn on my heater. Marty, Gordon and I left the national park ahead of the group to get to the Biltmore to purchase the final number of tickets and help the photographer get setup to take the individual pictures of each Kat. When we arrived, we were surprised to see a TV crew from the local ABC news station waiting on us to film the Prowlers as they arrived. After getting the tickets we stationed ourselves at the entrance gate to get the last minute tickets to everyone and directed the Kats over toward the Biltmore Winery for the individual pictures. We had to increase our group lunch size by 40+ and lunch at the Deerpark restaurant was terrific and the setting was fantastic. After lunch everyone headed to the Biltmore for the tour. This place is unbelievable. After the tour on the way out many of the Kat owners took the opportunity to get a picture of themselves in front of the Biltmore. We departed from the Biltmore late afternoon in smaller groups and took a more direct back to Pigeon Forge. We had several small groups who formed different dinner plans for that night. The Hotel parking lot was the gathering place for most everyone. Bob Goetz had set up a welcome and hospitality van with some beverages with foam on top... It was like one giant cruise night every night, morning and afternoon. --- Wednesday, Aug. 27th, 2003. --- We were off to Townsend and our Buffet breakfast at the Carriage House restaurant. This turned out to be a perfect and leisurely way to start a morning.. We departed the restaurant right on time around 11:15 am for our cruise of the Foothills Parkway, than the Tail of the Dragon and than onto the Cherohalla Skyway... This was one amazing ride... We did have one incident that turned out OK. A Prowler off the road on the Tail of the Dragon about 25 feet down the cliff stopped by a fallen tree. Non one injured and only slight damage to the Kat. The Kat was towed out and was driven away.... We were very lucky and thankful that Frank & Brandi were not injured... You can see pics on the Tailfothedragon.com web site... It was around a 200 mile round-trip and after getting back to the hotel, we had a group of 40 or so head back to the Applewood Restaurant for dinner... This is one terrific restaurant with a variety of menu selections and all delicious. --- Thursday, Aug. 28th, 2003. --- I was off to the Smokies Ballpark early. We had two autocross sessions and the PTS group photo shoot. I was there for 8:00 am to meet Gary & Paulette Lownsdale and their group of volunteers who would stage, coordinate and run the autocross course for us including timing and scoring. They really did a fantastic job. We also had several Prowler owners sign up on Thursday. In addition, there was quite a bit of work and preparation to get the group PTS photo setup... Gordon was working with the Photographer John Paul Harris (and Ginger). It required marking the parking lot with chalk were every Prowler would have to be parked with Chalk. So, at the Wednesday morning Driver's meeting, I asked for some volunteers and offered to place them in the front row of the picture along with the PTS team members if they helped. We had a good group of volunteers and they all helped out on Thursday morning. It was warm and we did some sweating getting the lot marked and parking all 93+ Kats aligned for the photo shoot... The Kats were aligned in a semicircle at the 61' mark, 90' mark, 120' mark & 150' mark all 8' apart front wheel to front wheel of next Kat (left to left in one row & right to right in other row). Quite a science to get these cars aligned. The digital proof of the group shot John Paul had at dinner Thursday night was awesome... You can still order the group shot through John Paul Harris. We had 44 drivers signed up for the autocross on Thursday. We actually ran five sessions. We completed two in the morning before the break for noon PTS group photo. We completed two more in the afternoon before the Dodge guys showed up with the Dodge Ram SRT/10 Viper Trucks to run the autocross course. They were letting the media guys test drive the trucks before the January release to the Public. These trucks will be built in Mexico at the Heavy Duty truck plant starting in November this year. They will be available to the public in January. These are some awesome trucks. They had four of the SRT/10 and two Ford Lightning's for the press to compare. There is no comparison. The SRT/10 is awesome... Now, the Surprise. On Monday when I saw Herb at the stadium (I had met Herb on some of the CAAP tours of the Prowler & Viper plant) I asked if there was anyway we could get to test drive the new SRT/10 Viper trucks. He said we might be able to arrange something for a few. I said what about if I offer it for the "Top Ten" from the Prowler autocross. He said that sounded OK and wanted to pass it by his manager Dan (VP of SVO). Herb and Dan agreed but it would be limited to Ten and one lap around the autocross course... I was estactic.... I wanted to keep this as a Surprise. But, I couldn't keep it back. I did tell a few people early and made the general announcement to the whole group at Wed. Morning's Drivers meeting. A very special thanks to Herb and Dan for allowing us this opportunity. They could have said no and I would have understood. However, they value us as customers and both have been involved with the development of the Prowler. Again, a special thanks for this once in a lifetime opportunity... The results of the autocross. The Top Ten Men were all within 1.4 seconds of each other... And, the Top Three Ladies were all within .8 seconds of each other. We had a total of 44 drivers (seven Lady drivers and 37 men drivers)... It was a blast and only one incident where it appears a broken ball joint caused the problem... Men's 1) Bob Goetz 48:946 2) Gary Cleverly 49:264 3) Wayne Finch 49:420 4) Brad Davis 49:560 5) Larry Lord 49:638 6) Scott McPherson 49:681 7) Bob Talbot 49:819 8) Damon Cyr 49:907 9) Ken Gensheimer 50:204 10) Laddie Roussel 50:310 Ladie's ... 1) Christy Wade 52.470 2) Brandi Yates 53:087 3) Marla Little 53:259 Our Host, Gary Lownsdale from the Southeast Healey Assn., ran my Yellow Prowler around the course twice in the morning to check it out and ran a 50.4 in Drive and than a 49.2 in autostick. Gary is an experienced autocrosser and the course was designed as a 49 to 50 second course. So, those are some good times for the Prowler owners... At our Dinner Banquet on Thursday night, Gary presented the trophies and special awards. 1st Place Ladies ... Christy Wade ... 1st Place Men ... Bob Goetz ... Special Awards ... "Conehead" ... Duane Hanson - knocked over an entire row of the orange cones ... "Drive it Like You Stole it" ... Larry Lord in the borrowed Red Prowler of George Carter ... "Pokey Prowler" ... Betty Covey - slowest time of 70:556 but she did have the most improved time over the day... Olivier Aebersoly (from Switzerland) also drove in the course in another borrowed Prowler (not sure whose he used). He has to have some sort of record for driving more Prowlers at one event than any other owner... He drove at least six different Prowlers during the week (including Joe D.'s Paxton Supercharged Kat)... Our dinner Thursday night was in the convention center of the hotel. After a long hot day, everyone had a chance to freshen up and enjoy each other's company. Gary Archer was our host along with Marty Usher. Our MC extrodianaire was Ed Monahan (who did and outstanding job of poking fun at everyone including himself)... We had lots of door prizes given away based on names pulled from the registration. Jay Harris provided several nice items from his array of products, Jim Kinney (Chrysler Canada) provided several nice gifts, Kal Smith "Hot Bras by Kal" donated a $400 gift certificate for custom painted bra, Prestige Customs donated a rear speaker fiberglass cover (when production begins), Mike & Judy Krehel donated a few POA T-shirts and POA windshield banners and several owners donated miscellaneous items to be given away... We also had a 50/50 raffle for the cash. The Smokies share of the 50/50 was going to be split between St. Jude's Children Hospital and the POA once we have covered all our PTS event expenses. There was a 2nd raffle for a 1:24 scale die cast painted Hi Voltage Blue and signed by Mike Krehel (only 15 of these painted). Damon Cyr won the 1 of 15 Hi Voltage Blue die cast models. It was a fun night and Kelly Archer surprised Gary with a birthday cake for his 50th birthday which was on Friday. After the dinner and closing Ed Monahan invited everyone to go Cruisin' down the Parkway to Galtinburg... --- Friday, Aug. 29th, 2003 ... --- Well, we had around 75 guest for our optional group breakfast before departing back to our home bases... We presented Kelly Archer with the signed Welcome Poster for all her hard work and effort to make the Smokies a huge success... We sayed our good byes and asked the Canadians to consider hosting the POA National/International Event up there for 2004 ... --- Saturday, Aug. 30th, 2003 ... ---- We arrived back in Mandeville around 1:30 pm. It was a terrific trip. Here's the POA Scrapbook pics...

Click On Images To Enlarge

 
  Smokies Scout team on Sunday pre run of Wed. cruise... Bob Longstreth, Karen Roussel, Sue Clark, CJ Longstreth, Olivier Aebersoly (Switzerland), Phil Genet, Steve Clark, Joe D., his two sons & Ron Clark... 
 
 
  Car haulers in back lot. We had 15 enclosed car haulers, 7 open car haulers, 41 Prowler trailers and unofficially 115 Prowlers over the week... 
 
 
  Car wash in back of Hotel - Joe D. in back and Jim McDunn purple. 
 
 
  The "Not so Cool" crowd at 6:45 am Tuesday morning. Fred Henkel & Donna Rodgers... 
 
 
  Driver's meeting Tuesday morning... 
 
 
  Drivers meeting Tuesday morning. 
 
 
  Larry Mayes, Frank Peri, Gary Archer, Mike Venezia, Damon Cyr... 
 
 
  On Parkway Crusin' out of Pigeon Forge on the way to Biltmore ... 
 
 
  Kelly Archer trying to get pic of 100+ Kats Rollin' along the Parkway... 
 
 
  Reststop on way to Biltmore... 
 
 
  Kat-a-van into the Biltmore... We were filmed by local ABC TV station as we entered the Estate... 
 
 
  Deerpark restaurant at Biltmore. Tracy Enos & Kendra Warren in center line ... Rebecca Usher in left line...  
 
 
  Carraige House restaurant - brunch on Wednesday morning... 
 
 
  More brunch pics... 
 
 
  Brunch pics continued... 
 
 
  Mike Gatlin & Bob Talbot... 
 
 
  Karen Roussel, Annie Karns, Gordon Karns... 
 
 
  Carraige House Restaurant... 
 
 
  Motorcycle ran off road on way to Tail of the Dragon. When we stopped to check it out, the helmet was on the seat so, we figured he was OK and had gone for help to get bike out... Looks like the trees stoped him from going further down the hill. A couple of other bikers stoped after we had stopped... Little did we know that later that day it would be a Prowler saved by a tree... 
 
 
  Just pulling into Deal's Gap after cruisin' the Tail of the Dragon (318 turns in 11 miles). I did measure the miles but, I didn't count the turns... Mike Gatlin has some good video of this cruise... It was a blast... 
 
 
  Deal's Gap stop... 
 
 
  Frank Tipton's Candy Red with flames... 
 
 
  Randy Cobb with his New Custom painted Bra by "Hot Bras by Kal"... 
 
 
  Mel Beyes helping Paulette Lownsdale with autocross registration... 
 
 
  Kats lined up in grid area getting ready for autocross tech by SCCA member... 
 
 
  Laddie's pure stock yellow Kat at starting line... I let Gary Lownsdale make two runs to check out course before start. He ran a 50.4 second run in Drive. 2nd run he used autostick and ran a 49.2 second lap... The course was designed as a 49 to 50 second course... I ran as a passenger and the course sure seemed easy from the passenger side... Not quite as easy from the Driver's side... 
 
 
  Autocross equipment trailer... 
 
 
  Gary Lownsdale setting up timing equipment and speakers... 
 
 
  A view of the course... 
 
 
  Driver's meeting - morning session... 
 
 
  More pics from Driver's meeting... 
 
 
  After getting the morning autocross session started, I headed over to the other parking lot to help get set up for the Group picture. Thankfully, we had lots of help... It was quite a task to mark-off the parking lot with chalk at specific distances to park and align 100 Kats... Thanks to all the volunteers who helped... 
 
 
  John Paul Harris on his tower. The group pic is outstanding... 
 
 
  John Paul Harris and you can see his digital picture of the PTS group shot. This is an awesome picture and he says the final version from his other camera will be even better... The picture will be 10" by 52" or so... The costs is $40 which includes shipping... It's a must have and a keeper... 
 
 
  'Top Ten" Prowler Autocrossers... Larry Lord is missing from photo as he was taking Len Shaffer's wife back to hotel. So, I invited Christy Wade (as fastest Lady to fill in). Back row: Bob Goetz, Scott McPherson, Ken Gensheimer, Damon Cyr, Bob Talbot; Front Row: Laddie Roussel, Christy Wade, Gary Cleverly, Stephen Finch (Wayne's son), Brad Davies & Wayne Finch. These winners got to drive the Dodge Viper Truck and take along a passenger... 
 
 
  Christy Wade 1st Place Ladies - presented by Paulette & Gary Lownsdale (our host for the autocross)... 
 
 
  Bob Goetz 1st Place Men's group. 
 
 
  Some special awards --- Duane Hanson received the "Conehead" award for running over more cones than anyone... 
 
 
  Larry Lord - "Drive it Like you Stole it" award. He used a borrowed Prowler from George Carter... 
 
 
  Betty Covey -- 'Pokey Prowler" award for slowest time... Although, she did have the biggest improvement in times over the day... 
 
 
  SRT-10 on the course. On Monday I had met with Herb and arranged for the "Top Ten" Prowler autocross winners to get a chance to drive the SRT-10 Viper Truck on the autocross course. I was estactic and very appreciative of the opportunity Herb & his boss Dan were giving us... A special thanks to the Dodge Guys... 
 
 
  There were four SRT-10s and two Ford Lightnings for the media folks to test drive and compare... The Ram Viper wins hands down... In addition to the motor, the suspension has been modified and this truck handles better than the Prowler on the autocross course. And, the Prowler is no slouch... 
 
 
  Viper Truck Burnout... 
 
 
  Acceleration test for the media... 
 
 
  New Viper motor powers this Truck. 500+ HP, 500+ CI & 525_ ft lbs of torque... 
 
 
  Red Start Button (just like new Viper)... 
 
 
  Good looking 22" wheels. 305/40/22 Pireli tires...  
 
 
  SRT-10 seats...Richard Jackson & Gary Archer checking it out... 
 
 
  Larry Lord getting in and me riding along as passenger... 
 
 
  This Red SRT-10 is rumored to have 560+ HP. 
 
 
  Thursday night dinner... Sandy Monahan & Gary Archer... 
 
 
  The Dinner Crowd... 
 
 
  More pics... 
 
 
  more dinner pics... 
 
 
  Some of the Door Prizes... 
 
 
  More Door Prizes... 
 
 
  Gary Archers 50th B-Day cake... Rebecca Usher & Kelly Archer... 
 
 
  Damon Cyr with his winning raffle ticket wins the 1:24 scale Hi voltage Blue diescast (1 of 15 painted by Don Ward for Mike Krehel and signed by Mike)... 
 
 
  Firday morning Breakfast... 
 
 
  More Friday Breakfast pics... 
 
 
  more breakfast pics... 
 
 
  more breakfast pics... 
 
 
  more breakfast pics... 
 
 
  more breakfast pics...Janet & Leon Kurzweil, Don Ward & Gene Cox (Mean Gene)... 
 
 
  More breakfast pics... 
 
 
  Kelly Archer with the signed Welcome Poster... 
 
 
  Dual exhaust on Prowler trailer... 
 
 
  View from our room balcony overlooking back of hotel... 
 
 
  views... 
 
 
  Some of Karen's embrodiery work she did for me to have on this Smokies trip... I was all decked out in Prowler stuff... 
 
 
  Ron Clark's Hot Bra by Kal... 
 
 
  Bill Healy's Hot Bra by Kal... 
 
 
  Damon Cyr's Hot Bra by Kal... 
 
 
  My Red, White & Blue Stars & Stripes on Rick & Mel Beyes Yellow Kat... 
 
 
  My Red Bra on Scott Karns Woodward. This Bra is four years old and was the first custom Bra done by Kal. It would only take using black as the background color for the hood piece and this would be a perfect match for the Woodward... It actually looked good just like this with the Red... Scott & Gloria said they drew lots of attention. 
 
 
  My new Hot Bra by Kal for the Yellow.  
 
 
  Randy Cobb's Hot Bra by Kal... 
 
 
  My new intake painted by Kal Smith. Same person who does the Hot Bras by Kal... Outstanding piece... 
 
 
  Wednesday August 27, 2003: The Dragon was crawling with Prowlers and BMWs on the way to their annual meeting in SC. There were 110 Prowlers attending a nearby rally and most of them "did" the Dragon. One had to swerve to avoid hitting a stalled car in a blind corner and went off the steep bank some 40 feet. Miraculously the driver and occupant were uninjured. A potential deadly accident turned into a party atmosphere SEE PHOTO ABOVE. The car, with minor damage, was pulled-out with a wrecker and went on its way. From the Tailofthe dragon.com web site...  
 
 
  Here's the pic of Frank's Prowler being towed out... Actually, he drove the car back to hotel and he & Brandi drove in the autocross next day on Thursday... We're very thankful no one was hurt... 
 
 
  Thursday August 28, 2003: The Dragon Claims Another ... A factory test Viper came to slay the Dragon and got bit and spit-out while many BMWs made it safely across. Thanks to Don Bailey from Texas for the photo. This pic and story is from the Tailofthedragon.com web site... Herb had mentioned this to us on THursday afternoon at our autocross but, I didn't realize how much damage... No injuries to the person so, we're very thankful... No wonder he read us the riot act not to damage any of his SRT-10 Viper trucks around the autocross course...  
 
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