Bullrun 2009 – Nashville, TN to Atlanta, GA (Lunch at Talladega Superspeedway)
We launched from Loveless Cafe at 9AM which is in the outskirts of Nashville. Loveless Cafe is famous for its country cooking and we ate breakfast family style before we headed out. Despite the 9AM time, it was hot and we knew that it’s only going to get hotter. The deep south awaits us.
Claus and Dietmar were upfront once again ready to go with Robert, a new driver from Germany. Travis Gates and his co-driver Monty Webb are always positioned well which is great because they usually have great navigational skill. Navigational skill is a must during the outskirts of cities because GPS devices can pick from so many different ways to get you to the highway. We actually did a loop that made us and five other cars lose 20 minutes.
When we received the routecard my eyes almost flew out of my head. It said Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Yes! That is correct, the route card said Talladega Superspeedway which was 237 miles from Nashville. All the possibilities started going through my head. Were they going to let us do a parade lap like in 2006 around Pocono Raceway? Let us drive in a Petty Racing School Car? Maybe it was just a tour of this historic shrine to American racing? We had a few hours to weigh the possibilities and almost every scenario in my head would likely result in a great experience.
We rallied with Pop singer, Kristine Elezaj in her white BMW 335 most of the way. We also end up rallying with Team Lexus from the Season 2 Speed Channel show as well as the guys in the Subaru STI. Claus and Team Autonet in their matte black Audi R8 Rapter edition usually make regular appearances, but move from our group quickly as they tend to make better time towards check points.
We ended up making excellent time out of Tennessee and through Alabama to the Speedway. We ended up rallying with Team Texas Hotties which comprises of three sisters from Texas who won a spot on the 2008 Rally from Calgary to Scottsdale, AZ. Both our cars caught up with Team Oh Canada as we got to the private entrance of Talladega Motorspeedway which offered a great opportunity to get to the check in table first. Oh Canada’s Ferrari got to the table 1st and we edged out Team Texas Hotties by a few feet in a truly epic battle for Talladega bragging rights. Team Texas Hotties live up to their well-deserved reputation or being crazy and funlovin’. They are a welcome addition to the rally and add a whole new dimension to our group dynamic.
Claus arrived first to the Speedway, so he thought, as a group of Maxim Girls parted ways to reveal Team Wu’s Swine Flu Cruiser who arrived 1st minutes before. It added more insult to injury as Claus was not happy about having all that caution tape over his car and had words with Team Wu in Nashville that morning. The conversation was tense, but that’s what its all about – all is fair on Bullrun as “there are no rules in Bullrun”.
As discussed earlier, we have the Maxim Models on hand shooting the Bullrun calendar and they were all on hand to greet the cars as they came in. It’s never a bad thing standing around with models on a hot day in Bama.
Kevin Andrews of Team Oh Canada was happy to snap a few with the girls.
After a few shots of the girls and Team Texas we instructed to head into the track. I asked a Bullun Logistics crew member what we were going to do and he just smiled and said, “Rory, just get in there”. At that point I knew we were going to have the chance to run Talladega’s over 30 degree banked turns where Bill Elliott set a NASCAR speed record of 212 mph and Dale Earnhardt Sr. owned restrictor plate races after the France’s decided Bill Elliott’s run was just too fast for NASCAR’s three wide “rubbin’s racin'” style.
Before we headed in, we just had to snap a few of a Maxim Girl sorting out her luggage before she got on the Bullrun our bus. This scene was amazing and could have easily been the perfect set up for a Pepsi Max – Bullrun commercial. I have a bunch more pics so make a comment and send me a request to email@example.com (it should be noted that her suitcase zipper does go all the way around her bag)
OK now we’re going in. We followed the Ferrari F430 down into tunnel and came out in the middle of the largest track I have ever seen. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Talladega makes Lowe’s and Las Vegas Motor Speedways seem tiny.
When we got onto it lane we got a shot of Team Wu at full speed howling on the loud speaker.
Once the group of cars currently on the track got off, the pace car lined us up to take us out. My co-driver, Neal and I, just could not believe that we were going out to do hot laps on the track in a regular car without helmets and with the convertible top down. ONLY ON BULLRUN!!!!!!
The pace car took around at well over 120, but if you hung back a bit you can mash the peddle out of the turn and take approximately 140mph into the turn which produced amazing g-forces one can only experience on banked turns on tracks like Talladega and Daytona.
Neal did 140 mph and I recorded one of the fastest time of the day at 145 mph in our very well respected/perfect for Bullrun Mercedes-Benz SL 500. We also gave props to Mike Childress and Andy Grider in their Slime Tire sealant sponsored Subaru STI who tried to pass us on the back strait. We later found out that Mike and Andy race Trophie Truck in the Baja 1000. They actually gave Team Wu a love tap at speed just as they would in Mexico if the truck in fornt of them won’t get out of the way. More on Mike and Andy to come. Andy was featured in the one the greatest movies of all time “Dust to Glory” with his pic dual with Johnny Campbell as they raced towards Ensenada, Mexico.
After our laps, Neal went out again with Amanda from Bullrun Season 2 when her co-driver Brooke headed to lunch.
I was supposed to jump in with Claus, but I ended hopping with Jonathan Farber from Team Autonet to shoot some sick video. When I hoped into his Audi R8 Rapter Edition, I was shocked to see an all custom interior with enough electronics to make a Japanese tourist wet his pants.
I always loved R8’s, but Jonathan’s really made me respect them more. It’s just a classic mid-engine with all the power you need which is one of the main reason Jonathan was one of the 1st people to take delivery on one in the US.
We rolled some really fast laps while we quoted Talladega Nights and Days of Thunder – “I’m droppin’ the Hammer Harry” – “Oh no yo not Cole”…
The pictures below do not do what we did justice. The speed was intesified by the white walls flying by and driving on banked turns is obviously not something you do everyday.
Our day at Talladega was slightly cut short when Robert and his co-driver “Big Joe” blew past the pace car in their red Ferrari F430 and ripped off a blazing fast lap that not only shut us down, but also made the safaty officials go ballistic on Robert and the Bullrun crew. In the end, we all had a truly unique experience which gave us plenty to talk about on the way to Atlanta.