Race Against Time

Oct 30, 1999

RAY: We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and of course, the new Puzzler.

TOM: The new quasi-automotive?

RAY: So to speak. It's quasi-automotive. I'm going to have to drop some hints here and there, but I'll read it to you just like I got it.


RAY: This came via the Internet. The date is June 1996. You know, this e-mail's great! I mean, someone sends it - bang--it's right there.

TOM: Right there, and all you gotta do is read it.

RAY: Well, I pile them up, you know?

TOM: Well, I mean, yeah. June 1996, really?

RAY: This came from a fellow named Dan Gallagher. He says, "You guys are such turkeys. Last week's Puzzler was so incredibly lame, I feel embarrassed for you." That could have been...

TOM: Anything! Any one of a thousand Puzzlers.

RAY: And he claims to have sent this Puzzler before, and he could have. I think he might have sent it in '94 or '95 also, but I only got the '96 version of it. He says, "Here it is again." Now, pay careful attention!

TOM: Yeah, I'm gonna.

RAY: "In qualifying for the camel trophy off-road race, potential drivers and their teammates were told that they had to traverse a course in as close a time as their partners without the use of timepieces, like clocks and watches, etc. For example, the first man of the two-man team would drive the course. Through the woods, over bridges, through streams, and then return to the starting point and give his vehicle, his truck, to his partner, who would then drive the same course and try to finish it in as close to the time of his partner. So, if the partner finished in, say, four minutes and 25 seconds, the other guy would try to duplicate that. But how could he do that without the use of any kind of clock or timepiece? How could he possibly finish in the same time?

TOM: Oh?

RAY: That's the question. So, the guys that won the race figured out a way to finish in the same time. It had nothing to do with a string and a lighter, but it's close.


RAY: But how could he do that without the use of a clock or a watch? And this has nothing to do with a string and a lighter, but I said it's close.

TOM: It's close.

RAY: And that was the hint.

TOM: It's close.

RAY: It would not allow any timepieces, per se.

TOM: Per se. But it doesn't mean you couldn't measure time somehow, if it weren't with a timepiece.

RAY: Right. I mean, you could use the sun. And I'm sure people were trying to think of how to use the odometer, or singing a song. You could do that. They could sing the "Star Spangled Banner."

TOM: Ah! Ouch! That's good!

RAY: That would be pretty good, huh?

TOM: I hadn't thought of that.

RAY: But better than all of those is you turn on the windshield wipers.

TOM: Oh.

RAY: And you count the swipes.

TOM: Wow!

RAY: And you can't get a better timepiece than that.

TOM: That's a good time, unless...

RAY: You got a watch.

TOM: You're in the MG.

RAY: Right. Who's our winner?

TOM: That's very good! And the prize this week goes to Julie Johnson from Washington, D.C.

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