BULLRUN 2009 – AWARDS DINNER – THE BELMONT – AUSTIN, TX
After all the festivities of finishing Bullrun 2009 died down outside the Four Seasons, Austin – Bullrunners needed to get ready for the Awards Dinner and party. Thankfully Bullrun organizers pushed back the start time a bit to accommodate some of the stragglers who couldn’t get enough champagne at the finishline.
Our final route card said to make our way to the Austin Hotspot – The Belmont. At around 8PM, Austin was still rather hot, but around 9PM is started to cool off dramatically. Thankfully since the proceedings were to be outside.
As you can read, there isn’t much about Bullrun that I don’t like, but the Awards Dinner is always a highlight for me. It’s a perfect conclusion because its a time to recognize the people who defined the rally. People who made a difference and people who truly put their all into the experience. It’s also one of the few times you have an opportunity to hear first-hand what people thought of the last 7 days especially when the award winners get up and say a few words. After dinner and a few rounds of drinks, it was time to get the awards portion of the night going. Andy and David stepped up and started with Honorable Mention awards.
All the drivers and co-drivers headed towards the front.
I believe all awards are important because they ultimately mean so much to the people who receive them, but most people present were interested in the Bullrun 2009 Navigator Award. No one, aside from Andy and David, knew who would get the top spot up until the moment it was given. And most everyone was curious to see how either Claus or Rawlings would react. I’ve talked a lot about how competitive Claus is, but Richard won the Navigator Award before and he is a competitive as it gets. We would have to wait a few more minutes until Andy and David got to Bullrun Navigator.
Bullrun 2009 Honorable Mentions
Ricky Chancey and Billy Blatty – Ricky and Billy were responsible for organizing and putting together “the” party of Bullrun 2009. The Bourbon Street balcony party starring Playboy Playmate, DJ Diamond and 80’s icon, Vanilla Ice was due to the hard work of Ricky and Billy and their respective companies Z Entertainment Group and Ampersand. It’s also important to note the after party at Billy’s Ohm Lounge was excellent and went well into the night.
Dietmar Demczenko – Dietmar has become, in only one rally, a mythic character. I met him the Thursday before Bullrun at the Hotel Gansevoort and he was well into the night and was probably drinking since he got off the plane from Germany. He must have spent at least a half an hour speaking German to me as if I understood him perfectly. I kept telling him I didn’t understand and he kept going anyway. After a while I kept nodding.
For Bullrun 2009, Dietmar won the Bullrun Honorable Mention/Shoe award because after a time each night/party we would find him dancing on the bar using one of his shoes like a telephone. Obviously speaking German. He was like a uber-drunk Maxwell Smart who couldn’t stop dancing.
Bullrun Navigator Award
Third Place – Team Wu – Bill Wu, Allen Wu and Cindi Trulli
Team Wu added a whole lot of fun to this years rally as they amped up the pranks. If the Swine Flu Patrol disguise didn’t do it for you, the decomissioned California Highway Patrol Police cruiser that helped move cars aside during safety escorts better have. They made long drive a heck of a lot shorter as we laughed for hours following them. My co-driver Neal, laughed for at least 30 minutes when he truly thought about what civilian cars must have thought when seeing the Swine Flu Patrol pass them by.
I personally associate Bill and Cindi with their purple Lamborghini Murcielago, but I’m really happy they were all together in that vehicle. With no air condition the whole week, Cindi may have a different opinion.
Second Place – Team CEC Wheels – Claus Ettensberger & Dietmar Demczenko
As all eyes fell on Claus at the moment Andy Duncan announced that Team CEC Wheels was in fact second, Claus looked relieved. His acceptance speech was gracious and he was congratulatory to the winners. He however, took the 2nd Place belt off and handed it to his co-driver, Dietmar to take back to Germany. Claus didn’t mean any disrespect to Bullrun, his fellow drivers, or even to Dietmar for that matter. He is just down right competitive and there is one thing you can say about Claus, HE LOVES BULLRUN. And he wants to win the Navigator Award like no one else, but wasn’t going to take a 2nd place belt back to LA.
First Place – Team Texas – Michael Collins and Richard Rawlings
Richard Rawlings was here before. He won Bullrun’s Navigator Award during the Bullrun 2004 – LA to Miami. He knows how to get it done. Bullrun Navigator is so much more than making time and pushing hard. It’s about using your maps and GPS together. It’s about finding alternate routes when other teams are caught in traffic. It’s about finding the best ways in and out of cities. And its about working with local authorities and coordinating your own Police escort out of New Orleans which Billy Blatty has an alternate version of the story, of who set it up, he would like to tell after Rawlings tells his version (More to come on that). That essentially was the difference between winning and losing for Team Texas in 2009. This is just another story of many that Team Texas can tell about using all your resources. Rawlings and Michael’s brother, Dennis, once hired a helicopter outside Reno in order to arrive first to a destination. Totally within the “rules” of Bullrun.
Richard’s partner in 2009 was of course Michael Collins. Michael was involved in every Bullrun thus far however; he has mostly navigated for his brother Dennis in the Ferrari 550 Maranello. He has navigated Team Texas Ferrari to two 2nd place finishes for Bullrun Navigator Award. Despite breaking the 1979 Cannonball record with Richard Rawlings, Dennis Collins has come close but never won a Navigator Award. It’s somewhat ironic, in the Bullun circle, that Michael would be the first Collins to win a Bullrun Navigator, but that is exactly why we are so proud of him.
Michael Collins is among the coolest people you’ll ever meet on Bullrun or anywhere. What you see if what you get and what you get is a great guy that would do anything for you. I couldn’t congratulate him enough since it took a lot of heart and determination to weather through Bullrun 2009 and the many years he’s been involved with Bullrun to win the award he and his friends and family care most about. Michael prepared a few words that I wish his brothers Dennis and James were able to see in person.
2009 Team Wu Swine Flu Patrol Award – Nicholas and Annabelle Frankl
Bill Wu also gave out the Swine Flu Award to the Frankls’. Annabelle and Nicholas were vicitim to one of Bill Wu’s pranks gong wrong. He though it would be funny to pour motor oil on Team Twins’ engine block causing no damage, but hopefully a lot of smoke that would absolutely freak them out. After Bill came to his better senses and the possibility of an engine fire, he spent the better part of the early morning hours in Staunton, VA wiping Team Twin’s Jeep SRT8 engine block off. Bill Wu tells the story best of his team deserting him because they didn’t want to have anything to do with the prank and some serious fear about the possibility of the Jeep going up in flames. All turned out good the next morning. There was a bit of smoke, but Bill managed to get the motor oil off the engine.
Bullrun 2009 – Order of Merit
The Bullrun Order of Merit for 2009 goes to Ted Barret and James Andrews for their perseverance and determination to keep their ’68 Chevelle on the road for the entire rally. Ted and James literally had three separate issues in the first three days of the rally that could have sidelined their car and put them in a rental all the way to Austin. The car was an absolute gem and incredibly popular below the Mason-Dixon line. Their car drew crowds in Staunton, VA and at the Mobile Dragstrip. When the Chevelle was around in Alabama, it was almost like all the Ferraris and exotics didn’t exist. The car and the team drove hard and the car made it without incident the rest of the way to Austin. The car can be seen in person at SEMA 2009 this year in November at the Las Vegas convention center – Bullrun stickers and all.
The car at home in Alabama.
Spirit of Bullrun 2009
The Spirit of Bullrun Award was awarded to Billy Groton and Brian Shannon. These men are truly what Bullrun is all about. Most guys have a passion for cars – that’s a given. But when your passion for Bullrun exceeds your passion for cars – we notice. Billy and Brian spent a year preparing for Bullrun. They chose a vehicle that would make a statement and can run with the best – a 1986 Buick Grand National musclecar and they capped it off with BULLRUN vanity plates.
Unforunetly when Billy and Brian got to Nashville, they came to the conclusion that the Grand National could no longer go on. Undeterred by the series of unfortunate events that landed them in this position, they headed towards the local Chevrolet dealership and bought a 2009 Chevy Orange Camaro SS.
It’s important to note that Billy and Brian are Bullrun fans of the highest caliber. They are everyday gearheads who made it their business to be involved with Bullrun and they made it their business to finish Bullrun 2009. Fortunetely for us, they have great taste in cars and possess the sheer will of champion NASCAR drivers. We look forward to having them on future rallies.
Best Fan of Bullrun Rally 2009 – Robert Novak – Anniston, Alabama
Usually Bullrun fans show up at the start of the rally, throughout the rally and some even drive with us. Bullrun fans are very enthusiastic especially since the reality show hit the air on Spike and now Speed Channel. One fan of 2009 truly stood out.
I would like to name Robert Novak of Anniston, Alabama who followed the rally on Facebook, Twitter and Bullrun.com along the way,2009 Best Fan of the Rally. He made the trek out to Talladega Superspeedway in his “Crushem Mustang” to greet Bullrunners and watch them take their laps.
That’s not all he did that day. His enthusiasm inspired him to tattoo Bullrun on his right bicept.
Robert, thank you very much for your support of the Bullrun Rally and the Bullrun Reality show. And thank you for making us a permanent fixture on some prime tattoo real estate. We look forward to speaking with you and seeing your Bullrun Audition video.