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Bullrun 2009 – New Orleans, LA to Austin, TX (Lunch at the Pine Tree Lodge in Beaumont, TX)

It was absolutely a late night and some people had trouble rolling out of bed including the Kerr’s.  Team CEC Wheels (Claus and Dietmar were up at 5:30AM so they could head over to the Porsche dealership who opened especially for them so they could check out the Porsche’s CV joints which was the kind of problem could have knocked Claus out of the rally with his current car.

This is the second time on the rally Claus needed to get some kind of repair.  In Atlanta, Team CEC Wheels had to get a new set of Brembo brakes from Butler Tire who is a distributor for CEC in Atlanta.  In both Atlanta and in New Orleans, the TechArt 997 Turbo made it back on the road.  Claus’s trials above had something to do with a storyline that became he talk of the rally in the next 6 hours.  Some of the problems Claus has had to overcome not only speaks about his drive and desire, but they also fuel his competitiveness.

We had a 9:30 AM wheels up start time and we were to launch from the Royal Sonnesta parking garage with a full police escort to 10 West.

Bullrun 2009 Austin Garage Launch

Bullrun 2009 Austin Maserati

Team Megawatt gets ready for the last day.  No one can say Pearsall drove his Maserati lightly.  He rolled hard all week.

Bullrun 2009 Austin Big Joe

Big Joe and Robert V, both from LA, were showing strength against a very tough schedule that included very long drives and partying.

So the police escort got underway to 10 West and we were taken east to Decatur Street which was not a fast way to 10.  The best way to 10 at that time in the morning was Canal Street or at least a street that would head West.

It turns out that the New Orleans Police Escort that was responsible for Bullrun were Corvette guys and Richard Rawlings and Michael Collins in the Z06 convinced them to take the Bullrun convoy the long way to 10 while another motorcycle police escort took Rawlings and Collins the quicker way to I-10.

Bullrun 2009 Austin Rawling Police Escort

When Claus found this out he was extremely angry.  Since there are no rules in Bullrun (a phrase heard a lot during the week) all is fair.  One would argue that following the pack is the right thing to do and breaking off would not be right, but other may argue that Rawlings and Collins did follow guidlines of proper city launches by following a police escort of their own.  Rawlings and Collins navigated their way to the lunch stop before the pack.

The lunch stop at the Pine Tree Lodge in Beaumont, TX was actually a crazy stop by every standard.  It was in the middle of nowhere with very long country roads that were very straight, but had poor pavement.  The place looked like “The Waterboy” and his Mama lived in the Adam Ssndler movie.  It was also the place where Claus and Rawlings had an opportunity to meet up.

Claus was inside in the air and Richard was sitting outside with a bunch of people.  Claus did not like what happened in the morning and  thought that Rawlings and Collins should play by rules during a police escort.  When Richard went to to discuss the morning Claus gave Rawlings a piece of his mind and threw a napkin dispenser at Rawlings which ended up on the ground.  Something the staff at the Pine Tree Lodge did not like at all.  The staff was already flustered by Bullrun because they were completely overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted their food right away.

When we were about t leave, someone made Bill Wu and his team that a boot has been placed on their front right tire.  Whoever did it, also left clues on where to find the tools needed to unlock it.  The key was easily found, but the other clue given was a bit of a riddle. The not said to think about a famous Otis Redding song which went completely over eeryones head.  It made sense after the fact because the note was supposed to make Bill Wu think about the song “Sitten on the Dock by the Bay” which is where Tony from Team Solstice found the allen key that got the boot off the car.

Bullrun 2009 Austin Wu Boot

We launched to Austin and I’m certain the Pine Tree Lodge were relieved we were gone.  The roads heading out of the Pine Tree Lodge weren’t the smoothest, but they were flat and you could see for miles down the road.  They were the type of roads people with supercars love to drive down.  The tires probably didn’t like the roads, but it didn’t matter with over 3,000 miles and three different tracks, these were the final hours most of our tires would be hitting pavement.

Texas for me, since I’ve never been, had a lot more hills than I expected.  We were faily cautious since we didn’t want to encounter any troopers.  We got some reports that there was heavy traffic ahead outside Houston.  The trick was to get through Houston before rushhour.  Neal and I decided to take a detour exit which would take us 12 miles north and would wind down to Houston.  Based on the fact that the traffic only lasted 3 miles and we were caught behind some trucks for a while – it wasn’t the fastest way to go.  We got caught in Houston traffic, but luckily we found the HOV lane.  We got out of Houston faily quickly and headed towards Austin.

Neal and I were excited to catch up to Team Wu with the patrol car.  He was doing a fantastic job running Bandit and moving left lane cars aside.  We also got a kick out of the camera guys getting some solid driving shots of us.

Bullrun 2009 Austin Camera Guy

Since Neal started Bullrun, he was gracious enough to allow me to end it – something I never got to do with Emil and the Gallardo’s that we ran in prior Bullruns.  I tucked in behind Team Wu for quite a bit of time which was among the best driving I’ve done in my life.  We also had a local black Mustang 5.0 running with us which usually annoys me, but he was an excellent driver by offering a lot of space and not bothering other motorists.

About 15 miles outside Austin we lost Team Wu after offering up what we knew was the best way to the Four Seasons Hotel which was our destination.  Neal and I actually stopped in for a cup of coffee at a roadside hotel because the Valentine went rather abruptly and it was best to take a break.We got back on the road and we knew the end was near.

3,000 miles plus, 16 different destinations, 8 late night parties, 4 racetracks and the most fun you can squeeze into a week in a car.  Neal and I put on the radio once for like 15 minutes.  We both decided that the sound of Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche’s were better the to listen to.  With all this green technology talk, who knows how long we’ll be listening to petro fueled engines with music like exhaust notes.

Austin was in site and the sun was low in the sky.  It was the kind of sun you could only see in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.  When we arrived at the Four Seasons we were relievd we weren’t the last to show up based on our detour.  One always has mixed feeling at the end of Bullrun.  You kind of want it to continue, but you know your body couldn’t take much more of the schedule.  Of course you could go to bed early every night, not party and not drive/not actively navigate, but that is not Bullrun.  To each his own, but that is not what Bullrun was designed for.

You could see who put their all into the week.  It’s a strange look on people’s faces that is a cross between excitement & jubilation and the type of relief you you get when you come in the next day after the company party  and realize you aren’t going to get fired for grabbing your female bosses ass.

In addition to our Bullrun medals, we received a nice Big Texas style Bullrun belt buckle.  The champaigne, Miller Light and Pepsi Max flowed. It wasn’t like the end of Bullrun 2006 when we laid a massive amount of rubber in the parking lot of the Beverly Hills Hilton, but Team Texas managed to light ‘em up.  Bullrun 2009 Driving has officially come to an end.  Everyone happy and accounted for.

Bullrun 2009 Austin Finish Line 2

Bullrun 2009 Austin Finish 3