Amelia Island… and bust

Despite working for the Porsche Club of America for three years, I never attended Werks Reunion or any of the car events held annually in Amelia Island, Florida. 2022 would be the year I changed that statistic.

The plan was simple enough, find an Airbnb as close as possible to the activities that wouldn’t break the bank, and then get there in time to enjoy as much as possible. The accommodations were easy to arrange as there are no shortages of possibilities if you’re willing to be a little adventurous, which I was. 

The drive from Nashville is straightforward and would take about eight hours, plus the time change from Central to Eastern time and time for fuel and rest stops. A trip that one can accomplish in one day without too much effort, but I wanted to have time on my arrival to enjoy the area and visit the fantastic Brumos Collection museum in Jacksonville. So, I decided to leave on Wednesday and get about half the driving done. That would leave me a short drive on Thursday and plenty of time to drool over the historic Porsches at the Brumos display.   

I always like to take a snapshot of the mileage before embarking on a road trip.

The Boxster was the logical choice to drive since the first event I would attend was the Porsche Club of America’s Werks Reunion. I purchased my Corral parking pass to park on a golf course lawn adjacent to the show cars giving me a guaranteed spot close to the event. This was key as I did not want to lug all of my camera gear with me all day. Parking in the Corral would enable me to go back to the car whenever I needed a different lens or battery or whatever. 

Fueled up and ready to go, I pointed ole’ Silverback south on I-24 for some afternoon driving. I had several Podcasts dialed up and prepared for my entertainment and education. It was an hour or two before Nashville rush hour began, and traffic was relatively smooth. Of course, the roads were not due to the extremely wet weather this winter. This year, potholes have been plaguing Nashville highways, making the daily news as they cause accidents and keep construction crews busy. The section of I-24 between Nashville and Murfreesboro was representative of this problem, and I spent a lot of time scanning the road ahead and changing lanes as necessary to avoid the craters. 

As luck would have it, I could not avoid them all. A veritable sinkhole emerged ahead in my lane, but as I looked to my right for the best avoidance path, a car was in my way, ditto when I made a quick scan to my left. I had no choice; I braced for impact. The road was about to swallow my little roadster up; I had nowhere to go.

The sound of a car impacting pavement at highway speeds (I was on the brakes but still north of 50 mph) is not pleasant. I winced as the car hit the bottom of the crevasse, bounced, and then rammed the pavement on the other side, sending the nose briefly airborne. At the same time, I fought to keep the wheel straight. 

For a brief second, I thought I made it through unscathed, then I heard the change in pitch from the tires and caught sight of tufts of white smoke. A quick look in my rearview mirror saw cars scattering to the lanes around me as they saw the incident unfold. With the road now clear to my right, I worked my way to the breakdown lane to check the car. Only when I slowed to a stop did I notice two vehicles pulled far off the road with flat tires and tow tags in the window. I was not the first victim of this road hazard. 

A walkaround of the car showed no visible signs of damage, and a quick check of tire pressures showed everything was as it should be (amazing as I would later discover my wheel is bent). I knew something was wrong, but the problem was not presenting itself yet. Thankfully, I was about a quarter of a mile from the next exit, where I would find plenty of places to park. I gently merged back on the freeway to get to that exit, and that’s when I knew something was very wrong. The smell of burning rubber filled the small cabin of the Boxster, and a heavy trail of smoke flowed down the left side of the car. By the time I pulled into the gas station parking lot, the stench of burning rubber was so intense I saw people at the gas pumps turning to look at the car as I rolled past. 

The source of the burning rubber smell has been identified.

I safely parked and got out to get a closer look. As I lay under the car (as much as you can with a low slung Porsche), I saw the inner tread block of my left front tire’s rubber was gone, cleaved down nicely almost to the cords. A stripe of molten rubber decorated the fender liner, but I still couldn’t identify the culprit. It wasn’t until I examined the right side for comparison that I noticed the spring mount on the left shock seemed lower than on the right side. My left front shock was resting on top of the tire, which explained why the tire had a fresh shave. Of course, shocks aren’t supposed to make contact with the tire; something broke, and also, clearly, the Boxster would not be driving to Florida any time soon. 

That’s not where that goes…

No problem, I have AAA and Hagerty insurance on the car. I’ll get the car towed back to my local independent Porsche shop and start a claim to get everything fixed. Once the tow truck gets the car, I’ll head back to my apartment, throw my things in the GTI, and hit the road. I may not be able to park in the Porsche Corral anymore, but I wasn’t going to let this setback ruin my trip to Amelia Island. 

The right shock in the proper mounting position
Left front shock not sitting where it should

The drama that followed my call to AAA for a tow is something I have never experienced and won’t bore you with, but let’s say it took over five hours for a tow truck to arrive. 

The worst part about the whole ordeal was the endless waiting. I am a planner; I always plan things and run scenarios in my mind. Not knowing when the tow truck would arrive was brutal. I kept coming up with new timelines to save some shred of my original travel plan, only to have them dashed when the “drop dead” time for that plan would pass. Then I would create another plan, hoping to get a few hours of my drive accomplished that day.

By the time I got back to my apartment, it was over an hour later than my planned arrival in Macon, GA, for that night’s stop. I would not be getting any “head start” on my drive that day and would make the entire trip on Thursday, with little chance of making it to the Brumos Collection. Knowing I would have to drive home in one shot on Sunday made the thought of driving all day Thursday even worse.  

I always try to find the silver lining, the bright side of any seemingly negative development. The bright side here is that I have a tremendous independent Porsche shop close to my apartment, and Hagerty has been excellent. I have no doubt the Boxster and I will be attacking the twisty back roads of Middle Tennessee in no time.

Thankfully, this wasn’t the end of my Amelia Island story, but I’ve decided to keep the fun stuff to another post. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the adventure, complete with beautiful cars.

Author: Ryan Carignan

I am an automotive enthusiast, writer, and photographer; welcome to my blog!

4 thoughts

  1. Just glad you are safe…wow…I hate pot holes – hit one a while back in my 2006 Porsche Cab. Blew the tire and bent the wheel. Not pleasant…

  2. Happy you made it to Florida. Fun hanging out. If that all happened to me, I would have given up. Glad you didn’t.

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