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Lap the Lake (Michigan) Rally 2023

Updated: May 29, 2023

I heard of this rally a year ago. It took a bit to find the information and even more to try to figure out what it was. This is a long way from a Time, Speed Distance Rally where you are trying to figure out clues, track mileage, show up everywhere exactly on time, and argue between driver and navigator. This is more of a traditional Informal Drive or Tour. A list of hotels is provided, usually two per stop. You leave when you get around to it, usually around 9:00. You can follow the detailed turn-by-turn driving directions or you can get off on your own and look at other things that may interest you more than some of the setup midway stops. Everyone just shows up at the next hotel between 3:00 and 6:00 PM. You are on your own for lodging. Lunches and dinners are also on your own or with old and new friends from the Rally. Someone always has a promising idea for a nice meal or activity, someplace. We had a group text for the four cars from JAGM so we could stay connected and try to coordinate activities and meals. There was also a large primary group communication set up on WhatsApp. You join that group to see and hear everyone else’s thoughts and ideas and daily updates from the Rally Master.

Our destinations were: Evanston, IL (just north of Chicago), Sheboygan, WI, Gladstone/Escanaba, MI, Charlevoix, MI, Ludington, MI, and St. Joe/Benton Harbor, MI.

Day 1: We had a kickoff breakfast and got final instructions and door stickers to mark all our 86 cars. We left Evanston IL. glad to get away from Chicago traffic. The first stop was the Wisconsin Auto Museum. They had 123 historic cars on display, mostly built in Wisconsin or nearby states. You came and left at your own leisure as well as your own stops for lunch. We arrived in Sheboygan, WI for dinner. We covered about 170 miles.

Day 2: The large group split into two smaller groups. One went to the available Volvo Race Shop, P&B Motorsports. Those that went there really enjoyed it. Some of us went to Sturgeon Bay on the Wisconsin Peninsula. We had never been there and enjoyed the shipyards, cutesy store shopping, cheese factory shops, and a nice lunch. We kept seeing other cars from the Rally everywhere. We ended up in Gladstone for dinner after about 200 miles.

Day 3: The day was wide open. People went in many different directions. Some went to Manistee for the Picture Rocks Boat Tour. Some saw Picture Rocks from the hillside cliffs. Some went to Fayette Historic Park, the ghost town of a major steel smelter that closed in the 1890s. Some went to Tahquamenon Falls. Others went to Mackinaw Island. The Midge Flies and other non-biting bugs were bad in the UP. All our cars were covered in them. The good news is that those bugs won’t get in front of another car again. We ended up in Charlevoix after crossing the Big Mack Bridge and traveling about 200 miles.

Day 4: This was a scenic road tour. We drove to Traverse City and stopped to see the Hagerty Collection of cars. There were about 50 nice cars on display. From there, the group broke into two. There was a scheduled stop at Northern Michigan Dragway, a 1/8-mile track. A Mini Cooper was ecstatic to take 6 seconds off the time for last year. An early ’70s Volvo P1800ES hit a top speed of 57 MPH and a C8 Corvette was close to 100 MPH. You don’t go very fast in 660 feet. Some of us took a long shoreline around the Mission Point Peninsula and the Leelanau Peninsula and all along the western shore past Sleeping Bear Dunes to Ludington. Climbing 20 feet up the Dune was enough to convince us that we were there. We retired for a reason. We ended up in Ludington after about 200 miles.

Day 5: We continued the Lake Michigan lakeshore, stopping at Holland and Saugatuck, on our way to Benton Harbor. There was a lot of little sightseeing. We ended up at Benton Harbor after about 160 miles. We had a few stops on our own in Wisconsin before we started the Rally. We did travel about 2300 total miles in 7 days. One rallier returned to TN after recording 3500 miles. This is the third or fourth year for the Lap the Lake Rally. It started out as just two guys traveling around the Lake in their old British Sports Cars. It grew. The plan now is to have 100 cars on the Rally. The count was higher, but some had to back out leaving 86. There were cars of all marques and years. There was a 1940 Ford Street Rod, Volvo P1800. Triumph TR6, 6 Jaguars, 6 Corvettes, Mercedes, BMW, Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Dodge, Bricklin, Mini, old, and new Cadillacs, Lotus, Audi, Alpha, Maserati, Solstice, A/C Cobra, and probably a few others.

There are other rallies already scheduled. Besides Lap the Lake May 15 to 19, there is Circle the Smokies July 10 to 14, including the Tail of the Dragon and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Rocky Mountain Miglia Aug 21 to 25 running from Boulder to Colorado Springs, and Leaves and Lobsters Oct 9 to 13 running from Rhode Island to Acadia to Portland, ME. There were some others last year. They might just not be fully planned yet.

The consensus was it was a wonderful week among great people and cars. The great people are what really made the trip enjoyable. They all had the same idea of going out with nice people, having fun, and seeing new sights. Should you have any problems, there was always someone there to help, besides the Hagerty service vehicle. Most talked about returning next year. If you are interested in attending one of these, think of some side trips that you or your friends think could be interesting. They are visiting areas that are reachable, but we rarely travel to and see. It helps to have all the state maps, guidebooks, a navigator/GPS unit with highways and voice commands turned off. The navigator is to keep you moving toward your destination. Your exact route is up to you, your imagination, and your sense of direction and adventure.

Bob Matejek

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