BULLRUN 2014: Nashville, TN to Branson, MO
Day 4 of the Bullrun 2014 Rally began with a bang! Last night we partied at a dive bar called Losers, a fitting name for our dysfunctional family, until the early hours of the morning. Upon our awakening, we were sent to the Loveless Cafe, about 60 miles from our hotel, for breakfast.
Today I hopped in the car with Billy Blatty of Team Big Easy Bandits. Teammate, Ricky Chancey, left the rally yesterday to take cars of some business back home, and he took the Cadillac XTS with him. Billy picked up a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro RS rental early in the morning and brought it back t the hotel, where his new teammate, Bullrun veteran, Cara, was waiting.
Our drive to the Loveless Cafe started out with us heading the wrong way. On Bullrun, your team dynamic is everything. With Cara and myself now in the car navigating, it was a whole new dynamic. But we got to the Cafe minutes before launch, and headed on to our lunch checkpoint, Colton’s Steak House and Grill, in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Team ‘The Ben’s,’ now comprising of Ben and Bjorn, immediately took off in front of us, with Team 007 and the ultra-cool Pennzoil Shelby GT500 drien by Jeff and Meg, right behind them. Since we knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up, we decided to take a longer route with higher speed limits and less traffic.
This route was paying off for us until it started to rain. A light drizzle turned into a torrential downpour rather quickly, and we were reduced to 30mph for about 40 minutes. When the rain stopped, despite us doing the speed limit, we were being paced by a Missouri State Trooper. The trooper made every lane change we did and took every off-ramp. We knew we were in trouble.
Luckily, after he realized that we were doing nothing wrong, he pulled away from our bumper and we were free. As the checkpoint approached, it was anyone’s guess where we would place. After contacting the checkpoint crew and asking if anybody had arrived yet, we felt good. But upon our arrival, we were beaten by five other Bullrun teams.
A bit discouraged, we headed in for lunch.
At 2pm sharp, the route cards were handed out. The teams raced to their cars for the final dash to our final destination, the Chateau on the Lake, Branson, Missouri.
With all the cars in a tight pack, Billy had something up his sleeve. Needing to get back up in the points after our sixth place arrival at lunch, he had a plan to slow down the current leaders, Dharmesh and Bobby, Team 007.
Billy pulled out an old secret tactic out of the Big Easy Bandits hat of tricks and began targeting the Aston Martin, which was immediately slowed down as the plan was put into place. As the cars began to space out on the highways, and teams began to take different routes, it was just us, Team 007, Team ‘The Ben’s’ and Team Dirty.
The highways were wide open, so we made out way over 250 miles to the checkpoint. In an effort to prevent Bobby and Dharmesh from arriving first, Billy had Team Dirty, Shaun and Brandon, block in the Aston Martin, allowing us to get ahead.
Rally alliances can be super-helpful, as I found out today. Billy and Ricky had aligned themselves with Shaun and Brandon, who agreed to help the Bandits out in situations just like this! But despite multiple attempts to block in the Aston, they found a way around Shaun and Brandon’s Camaro and caught right back up to us and the Ben’s in the super-modified Porsche Cayman rally car.
In the final 10 miles to the checkpoint, our car was repeatedly hit with a police radar frequency, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the police. Bobby and Dharmesh may in fact have a radar gun of their own! The final stretch into the hotel grounds was a mad dash to the finish. Bobby maneuvered his Aston Martin with precision to arrive first at the finish mat. The Ben’s arrived in second with the Big Easy Bandits in third.
Today was a wild ride! Here’s hoping tomorrow will be equally as insane!