Day 12

Today was different. We moved dramatically north and it created some changes in the landscape.

1. The weather is much hotter (high 90's) and much drier. No more tropical jungles and this afternoon it was like being in an oven as we drove our little Porsche through the countryside.

2. We left the plantation estates of the south behind. We now see only rice patties, sugar cane groves and row crops....and a lot of them.

3. All the small towns are highly decorated for Lunar New Year and the night-time brings fire crackers to warn off the evil spirits. For those keeping track we are entering the Year of the Dog.

The Car and the Rally:

Even in this extreme heat, and 8-10 hours of competitive driving, our little Porsche keeps running like a top. It is a credit to Brant, who prepared the car, that we have only had a few insignificant issues with the squeaks after driving many hours over dirt and dusty roads.

We had one Speed Stage today. Our track today was the same one we raced on yesterday afternoon, except today we ran it backwards. Our time improved by 10 seconds, while most competitors had higher times today than yesterday.

We remain in 9th place, but have a chance to advance, especially if others make mistakes.


In the 10 days Brant and I have been in Malaysia and Thailand, we've not seen a Ford and only a few Chevys. Most of the middle class in these countries drive either a light truck or an SUV (usually built on a light truck frame). The roads are dominated by these vehicles, especially ones made by Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. The two American companies make competitive vehicles in these categories, especially Ford, and yet they choose not to compete in this part of the world. This makes no sense to me. Southeast Asia is growing faster than most places on the globe and American car companies have no presence. There may be an answer (and I'd like to hear it), but I think their absence here is just another indication that the US auto industry has gone soft because for too many years they think only of their home market. First, our domestic manufactures lost the high-end market to Mercedes, BMW and Bentley. Now they are gradually losing the middle-market to Toyota, Nissan and others.

It is clear that China will soon be exporting cars manufactured in China to other countries. With China now leading a new version of TTP (now that the Trump Administration has pulled the US out), I'm sure those first Chinese cars will be shipped throughout Southeast Asia.

Like everything in life, retreating to one's self; doing what is familiar and comfortable, will only lead to stagnation. Whether we're talking about the US auto industry or human development, competition, testing and exploring the unfamiliar are the only ways to grow and improve.