The Ramblin' Reck leads the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets onto the field. (photo courtesy of ceronephotography.com)
Driving a 12-foot trailer is not very difficult. Add in a Ford F-450 stake bed as your towing vehicle and all the sudden you're thirty feet long and dominating the interstate! Well, unless you drive with me when we pulling the Ramblin' Reck and then you're stuck with me for 10 hours to Tampa (and then 10 hours back) as we drive in the slow lane.This past weekend was difficult and exhausting but we did it and it was well worth the 10-hour legs to Tampa and back as we were greeted by honks up and down I-75 courtesy of excited and victorious Tech fans.
I honestly don't know if I can accurately put the following into words but it's an attempt to describe the unity of Georgia Tech fans and the common bond that we share. Here's how our pregame went 3 hours before kickoff.
5:15 pm: Parked across street from stadium because misinformed attendant won't let the Reck through to FanFest to meet up with GT Marching Band. Instead Reck is told to go somewhere and pay for parking. Hell no! Not doing that!
5:30 pm: Tech fan walks up and mentions a GT Tailgate house on the street. Wants a group picture. No problem!
6:05 pm: Car has been turned off for awhile. Try to start Reck back up. Nothing. That's weird.
6:15 pm: Can't get Reck to start. I look at my phone. Less than 2 hours to kickoff. Uh-oh.
6:17 pm: Assistants who come with me, plus my recently admitted into GT younger brother, try to push-start the Reck. Street is too flat for 4 people to get Reck up to speed.
6:22 pm: Sitting still. Wondering what to do. Starting to laugh because this is simply the culmination of the weekend, and what else can go wrong? Begin to wonder if we can legitimately lead the team out by rolling the Reck onto the field (it's been done once before in its history). About 1.5 hours til kickoff.
6:25 pm: The entire tailgate house (50+ people) has now made "starting the Ramblin' Reck" their personal mission. (I literally have shivers down my back as I think back to this point in the night)
6:37 pm: 2 futile attempts to push-start. But you can tell the Reck is trying to get going again. Quick spurt and a stall.
Georgia Tech banding together
6:40 pm: One more time. Adjust the spark advance to maximum. My mind is racing but somehow I feel calm. Things never go smoothly but somehow it always work out. The group of alums and fans revs up and starts running, pushing, yelling...willing the car to start back up. I just yell out, letting out all the frustration that has built up over the weekend, this is NOT going to stop us!...pump the clutch, pull the choke, pump the gas and *cough* *cough*(gas push) ROAR! The Reck comes to life! Relief overcomes me and I crash into the steering wheel, hugging it and trying to hold back tears. Once safely in idle, I jump out of the car and hug whoever I can find just saying "There's no way we lose tonight" with arguably the biggest smile of my life.
7:00 pm: Pull car into stadium gate. Nothing can go wrong because, finally, we are where we need to be.
8:08 pm: Lead the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets onto the field for their first outright ACC Title since 1990. (video coming shortly)
I don't know if you have any idea what it was like during that hour but it's the best I've got. I've heard multiple stories from other Drivers about last minute SNAFU's and what they did to keep her running and to get her out on the field. I guess it was just my turn. Sometimes I think of what could have been. What if we had gone into FanFest? The crowd and the ground would not have favored a push-start. Was it just coincidence that we turned onto that side street across from the stadium? I say no. There was a reason the Ramblin' Reck was in Tampa and that job was going to get completed.
A huge, huge huge thanks to Matt (I didn't even get your last name), your family and friends plus Ted, Dane, Jason, Jason, Cameron and Karsten. You all played part in taking a good memory and turning it into a great memory and one that I will certainly never forget.
Saturday evening goes to show what the Ramblin' Reck means to the fans. It's a mascot of the entire student body, both young and old. It represents us and it embodies our spirit. When down or in trouble we are there to help each other out even if we don't know your name. I hope you all can think back to a time when you were in a bind and can relate to this situation, a situation where a Tech person helped you out of a bind. This is what makes us special and unique. We're a small fanbase and alumnibase, but we are a unit. We all know what its like to "Get Out" and what one has to go through just to pass this place. It's why we stick together.
....and you know what? After the game, she started right back up:
Post game. VICTORY!
She's still getting a new starter in time for Miami.