BULLRUN 2014: Team Big Easy Bandits Defending Their 2013 Title
Driver: Billy Blatty
Navigator: Ricky Chancey
Car: Chevrolet Camaro
Rally History: The reigning champions are back, and they’re not going down without a fight! Ricky Chancey and Billy Blatty will be fighting hard to be the second team ever to win the prestigious Navigator Award back-to-back! These guys mean business! The Big Easy Bandits were founded in 2009, and reunited in 2012, with a second-place finish on the West Coast Loop. The following year they took home the top prize! This due is constantly strategizing and trying to figure out how they can outwit and out-navigate the rest of the teams. We won’t be surprised if they come out on top again this year! Bullrunners be warned! With the team switching roles between driver and navigator on a day-to-day basis, they obviously know what they are doing. Without divulging their 2014 strategy, the Big Easy Bandits are confident that they have what it takes to win the Navigator Award once again! It’s unknown what they will be driving this year, but horsepower or not, the Bandits will rely on their inginuity and rally tactics to get to the checkpoints first. As Ricky Chancey said: “The car is not the most important element. At least not in our game. We must have a fast, fuel efficient, and productive car.. no doubt . But what we lack in horsepower, the bandits make up in ingenuity.”
Q & A With the Big Easy Bandits:
1. Tell me about the Big Easy Bandits and how the team came to be. :
- Ricky: My buddy and veteran Bullrunner, Jared Reicke, invited me to take part in the 2007 Bullrun party in Vegas. I was hooked immediately! I thought I had seen partying before, but these guys were nuts . I met Rawlings, Dennis Collins, The Wu’s , Andy, the Demas’ , Jeb Lopez, and the rest of the nuts. “I’ve got to be a part of this,” was the only thing on my mind . In 2009 , the party was coming to New Orleans. Andy called me and asked me if i’d throw the party. Without hesitation , hell yes!! We chatted about me doing the rally, and I didn’t bat an eye. I reached out to the one person I knew would LOVE this type of thing, Billy Blatty. And he jumped on board immediately. What an awesome year 2009 was!
- Billy: The Bandits officially formed in 2012. In 2009 Ricky asked if I wanted to help him throw a party for this rally called “Bullrun”. Once I found out what it was about, I asked Ricky if we could form a team.He said yes, hence Team Big Easy was formed. We had to break off the rally for 2 days in order to host the New Orleans Bullrun Party on Bourbon Street, therefore we could not place.However, Ricky and I were told by the rally organizers after the Awards ceremony, that we were in the top 3 finishers if they excluded our disqualification. We never realized until then how good of a team we really were.
- I couldn’t rejoin rally again until 2012, but the thought never left my mind that we could be champions. Hence in 2012, the Big Easy Bandits were formed.
- Our muse for the Bandits was the movie Cannonball run: We pay direct homage to the spirit of the movie, as we not only rely on speed and navigational skill, but we place a special emphasis on concocting crazy schemes to outmaneuver our opponents.
2. Which car will you be driving this year? Please describe any modifications you’ve done.
- Ricky: So we’ve had technical difficulties. We were debating on whether to bring my car or Billy’s… The option of my car was squashed as of 2 weeks ago when I cracked my wheel and HRE said it would be weeks to get another 3-piece wheel ready. Not a big deal, we thought Billy’s ML worked great last year, soooooo let’s use it again. Well, that was great until a 17-year-old ran a red light last week and totaled his vehicle.. So stand by. We ll see… Damnit!
- Billy: We were going to drive in my Mercedes 2013 ML 63 again, but some 17 year old girl totaled it Memorial Weekend. I think Drake & Phil put her up to it.
3. What makes it your best vehicle choice for Bullrun 2014?
- Ricky: At this point , I’m the winningest Bullrunner of all time. With two 1st’s (one as Team Luckynuts and one as a Bandit) and a tough-to-swallow 2nd In 2012. The car is NOT the most important element. At least not in our game. We MUST have a fast, fuel efficient, and productive car.. no doubt . But what we lack in horsepower, the bandits make up in ingenuity.
- Billy: Ricky and I have decided to use Enterprise and chose a normal mill-of-road vehicle. We want to challenge ourselves. We’ll see what they have on the lot in New York. I can’t be caught in a speeding car going 15 mph over the speed limit for 2 years per part of my deal with California Hwy Patrol — special thanks to Bullrun 2012.
4. Having won the rally before, what is your team’s Bullrun 2014 strategy?
- Ricky: Really? I mean , really? I’ve said too much already!
- Billy: We want to be the king makers. The Bandits can help a team, or ruin one. The smart teams will make allies of us. I have to attend to personal business in CA, so I’ll have to jump a couple days off the rally. But I’ll shoot right back and our strategy should still keep us in the running.
5. Going off last year, and your Navigator Award victory, tell me about the in-car dynamic.
- Ricky: Man if you could hear the things that go on In that car. We push each other, hard. We are constantly strategizing, and readjusting. We have a winning dynamic. Some days I’m a stronger Driver and Billy is a stronger navigator . Other days it’s opposite. We are always talking these things out. But, we are a Team, and we address the objective and operate as a team. When we are in the car, we are both driving and both navigating, no matter where we are sitting.
- Billy: We’re never quiet in the car. Its constant banter back and forth. Ricky was a pro with his intra-rally politics and information gathering. He is the master of alliances and information. While I was driving, he would constantly be on the phone with updates from the other drivers.Where were our closest competitors? What mile marker were the police? Ricky would use the CB to radio truckers to gather intel. He would even go as far to take surveys on alternative routes.As for me, all I did was chew gum, drink water, and drive. We argue all the time in the car, but in the end, whomever is sitting in the navigator’s seat gets the final say, as that’s our rule. I’m thankful Ricky did.
6. What is your top Bullrun moment?
- Ricky: That’s a tough one. Their at so many. I honestly think it was day 1 , 2009, as we sat at the starting line. Wow, it was overwhelming.
- Billy: I have to say out of Atlanta was the best moment. I had overslept the launch by 20 minutes until I was awoken by W Hotel security personnel because apparently I didn’t hear the telephone ringing, the door banging, or my 3 alarms.I felt so guilty. However, the Bandits had an ace up our sleeve. We had a fake cop car intercept the rally and pace the leaders for well over an hour at the exact speed limit.Whenever a rally car would try to pass, our faux cop would hit them with his radar gun. He paced the rally so well, we were able to catch up and finished 2nd that leg. Its such an overwhelming feeling to go from a state of self loathing to the triumph of feeling like smartest guys on the planet in the course of one leg! We also got to laugh our asses off at the reports of how pissed off the leading drivers were when they couldn’t pass our “cop” at 55 mph. The bluetooth conference call between all 3 of us Louisiana boys was most enjoyable. Not only were the other teams far from amused, the went so far to call us a bunch of cheaters. I said, “We’re not cheaters, we’re the Bandits….No rules on Bullrun Bitches”.
7. What is your favorite city or checkpoint Bullrun has visited?
- Ricky: NYC and Scottsdale!!!! Seriously. I’m jacked about this year!
- Billy: I think both the awe inspiring views of Crater Lake and fun I had driving the jet ski on Lake Tahoe to get the route card rank as my tops.
8. List three items that you can not rally without.
- Ricky: 5 Hour Energy, a GPS , and the other Bandit Billy
- Billy: A map, a shit ton of insurance, and an empty bottle water!
9. With Bullrun being so competitive, how will you try to stay one step ahead of the other teams again this year?
- Ricky: We are always a step ahead. Hence , 2013 Bullrun champions!
- Billy: 3 words : Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
10. If you could give your team one Bullrun award (fictional or real,) what would it be and why?
- Ricky: I think Spirit ! We Love Bullrun and everything it stands for. Hard to explain. It’s a brotherhood. A private club of huge personalities and petrosexuals. It’s been a huge part of my life and I’m proud to be a part of it. All of you Bullrunners, you know what I mean . Take a moment to imagine if there had never been a Bullrun.
- Billy: Puke and Rally Champions. Literally.In the hills of West Virginia, Ricky barfed incessantly for 30-45 minutes. Did he want to die, yes, did I slow down, no. You gotta do what it takes to win, because if your not first, you’re last. And in case you were wondering, yes, we finished 1st that leg into Staunton.