Team CEC steals the show for Bullrun 2010!!!
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When we talk about the Bullrun, we can all say that we have heard the name Claus Ettensberger. Claus owns and operates CEC (Claus Ettensberger Corporation) which currently has two shops; one in Los Angeles, and one in Miami. CEC is the premier North American supplier of luxury automotive accessories, customization, and tuning. When it comes to vehicle modifications, CEC is way ahead of the competition! Claus Ettensberger Corporation has been offering Europe's finest automotive accessories in North America since 1990. With these expertise, it is no surprise that Claus is always one of the front runners in every stage of the rally. Team CEC is seldom seen on the road because they are always so far ahead of the game. Claus Ettensberger has relied solely on German power for every Bullrun rally that he has participated in – and this year will be no different.
Claus has been involved in the Bullrun Live Rally since 2006 when he brought his Braubus CLS55 K8 – one of the fastest sedans in the world - on the rally. Surprisingly, Claus and his navigator Les Bidrawn, Editor of EUROPEAN CAR magazine, were not as prepared for the rally as one might think. They hadn’t even thought to purchase any rally equipment. Some Bullrunners even wondered if they would make it to the end of the rally. Claus and Les delivered and made it to the end of the gruelling 3000 mile journey from New York to LA – making themselves known to the other Bullrunners along the way! The Braubus K8 may seem like a sleeper, but when it hit the track for the first time, the Bullrunners were in awe! Not only did the car boast 550 horsepower, but Claus was able to tame all 550 horses as he flawlessly powered the car around the track at each and every track day of 2006. As European Car Magazine puts it, “If Darth Vader drove to work, this would be his car!”
Claus returned for the 2007 Bullrun rally with his good friend Joaquin Mejia who owns and operates Autobahner; a luxury car showroom and tuning center in Mexico City much like CEC. Once again, Claus brought an understated vehicle to the start line in Montreal. This time it was a white Porsche Cayenne Turbo S – or so everyone thought. The Cayenne had been modified by Techart into a 600hp monster called the Magnum. Immediately after the rally began, Claus and Joaquin proved that they were a force to be reckoned with. They quickly disappeared into the horizon and weren’t seen again until the evening party. Arriving hours before the rest of the Bullrunners became a theme for Claus and Joaquin. It was hardly a surprise to see that the white Techart Magnum was always listed in the first-place position for many of the driving legs. In one instance, Team CEC arrived at the Atlantic City checkpoint to find that the Bullrun crew had just arrived themselves – and were in the process of setting everything up. On the final leg from Miami to Key West, Team CEC’s official first place podium finish was practically guaranteed, so Claus decided to leave the final driving leg to Joaquin and divulged his top secret plan! Claus hitched a ride to the Marathon Key lunch checkpoint in a 46 foot 2,150 hp Cigarette boat piloted by two-time speed boat world champion Scot Conrad.
After arriving at the lunch checkpoint, the Cigarette boat encountered some mechanical difficulties, so Claus headed to the airport and hired a private jet to the finish line in Key West. It is no surprise that Claus and Joaquin of Team CEC walked onto the stage during the Bullrun awards party at the end of the week to claim the first place navigator award – Bullrun’s highest honour!
In 2008, Claus brought a bazooka to a gun fight – a 630hp TECHART GT Street based on a Porsche 997 Turbo. Joaquin returned as Claus’ navigator once again, and together, they piloted the fierce German beast to a second place podium finish. Claus and Joaquin also took home the Miller Motorsport Award for holding the quickest lap time for Miller Motorsports time trial event. Once again, Team CEC was seldom seen on the road by any other Bullrunners because they were too damn quick!
For the 2009 rally, Claus returned with his TECHART GT Street with a very stealthy looking grey wrap. Dietmar Demczenko, Claus’ childhood friend filled the navigator position since Joaquin had a family function to attend to. Not only were Claus and Dietmar as fast as the speed of sound, but they became one of the most enviable teams in Bullrun history. Team Wu even placed a GPS tracker on Claus’ Porsche so that they could follow Claus closely and possibly steal a victory or two on the driving legs. When asked why he is seen as such a big threat on the rally, Claus responded: “Maybe it is because I drive pretty fast most of the time (only when it is safe to do so) and because my cars are always reliable. Maybe it’s because I have the best navigator too.” Every Bullrunner wants to be first, but as long as Claus is in the rally, they don’t stand a chance! When day turned into night, and it was time to head out to the nightly party, Dietmar could be found in one place – on top of the bar counter with his shoe in his hand – almost like it was a telephone. This phenomenon quickly became one of the ‘must sees’ on the 2009 rally. Unfortunately for Team CEC, they were only able to pull off a second place podium finish – only finishing below Richard Rawlings and Michael Collins. It was such a close finish that nobody knew who would win the prestigious Bullrun Navigator Award until David Green announced the winners on the final day of the rally.
This year, Claus plans on bringing something truly unique to the rally! It’s got a German power plant, it makes 720 Horsepower, and it’s made in Spain. If you don’t know, then here’s the answer! Team CEC will be bringing the Tramontana R to the start line in New York City this year.
Note:Claus is also working on a top secret project car which he might opt for instead of the Tramontra R.
But wait, there’s more! Not only is Team CEC considering bringing the super rare Tramontana R on the rally, but they are fielding an additional five cars! There’s Robert Valik (aka EURO CRUISE) in his red Ferrai F430 Spider with Todd Kraines as his co-pilot, then there’s Max Caggiano (aka EVL MAX) in his brand new Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG with a few CEC upgrades, and 565hp. His co-pilot is Frank Pasquis; CEC’s General Manager of the Miami showroom and shop. Then there’s Prinz Marcus von Anhalt of Germany in an SL65 Black Series conversion with 700hp tuned by CEC, Micheal Schwab in the Novitec/ Rosso Ferrari F430, and finally there’s sixth mystery team joining the rally in their candy apple red Bentley Continental GT, which is also CEC equipped. With a lineup like that, Team CEC is almost certainly going to claim the Navigator Award this year. Who knows, they may even pull off a podium sweep with first, second, and third place firmly in their grasp! Team CEC's mission this year is to finish in the top 10 for as many of the driving legs as possible and claim the first place navigator belt once more!
Q&A with Claus Ettensberger:1)Claus, this is your fifth Bullrun rally, what are you looking forward to the most this year?
I look forward to several things. 1) to the Bullrun family reunion. 2) to being able to test my tuned car for high speed, handling and durability at all of the track events. 3) to visit beautiful parts of the USA and Canada that I normally wouldn't visit. 4) to run my car on some world famous race tracks and be the fastest guy out there! 5) To win it again.
2)What was your first impression of Bullrun when you showed up at the start line in 2006?
My first impression: Hmmmm, I remember getting to NYC on a Friday night with a 9 hour flight delay. I got there together with my co-pilot Les Bidrawn Editor of EUROPEAN CAR magazine at around midnight. Of course check in for the rally was closed and we didn't get to meet any of the fellow drivers as they were all partying somewhere and Les and I just wanted to get something to eat and go to sleep. So we started the rally in the morning without the proper credentials and without briefing. We were total rookies and didn't even have any rally equipment in the car. But we were fast in my Brabus CL55 K8 and after the first day everyone knew who we were :). My entire staff at CEC at the time took out wagers to see how long I am going to last as no one believed that I am actually going to drive the entire week and over 3000 miles. Little did they know. :-)
3) Since you are one of the most competitive Bullrunners out there, what strategy will you employ this year to lead you to victory?
What do you mean one of the most competative Bullrunners??? I am the most competitive guy out there and I of course can't tell you my strategy for this year. All I can say is that I am glad to have my buddy and co-pilot Joaquin Mejia back this year. I think everyone remembers my childhood friend Dietmar on last year's rally. While he was a lot of fun to have around, his English skills weren't very good and I therefore had to drive, navigate and even talk to my fellow Bullrunners. You can imagine how difficult and stressful that was and it ultimately cost me the victory.
4) What have you learned from previous rallies that might help you out this year?
I have learned to be more patient especially on stints that are 300+ miles. There is no need to always be the front runner. I hate nothing more than someone following you the entire time and never take the lead because they haved no idea where they are going. Why even bother coming to the Rally? I have also managed to secure a sponsorship with ESCORT. They have supplied us with the new 9500ci PASSPORT "The world's most intelligent custom-installed radar and laser defence system" Check it out at www.EscortRadar.com and call me at 310-203 3900 for a special discount for fellow BULLRUNNERS. It's definitely worth the investment.
5) Which Bullrun team do you feel is your strongest competition?
I don't think there is much competition out there. Richard Rawlings may be the most experienced but he typically can't keep up with us, unless he plays a dirty trick (what he is know for)! There is also Nicholas Frankl and his sister Annabelle who has bigger balls than Nicholas(lol,) so again nothing to worry about and we don't even have to mention the WU's, as they are just along for the ride!
6) You have had many different navigators in the past. Who will be your navigator this year?
Actually, my main Navigator is Joqauin Mejia from Mexico City. I had to replace him last year because he had to attend a family function and wasn't able to join. That's when my childhood friend Dietmar Demczenko jumped in, and yes, he did a lot of jumping (lol).
7) Team CEC has been known in the past to bring some truly extraordinary cars to the Bullrun, and some very memorable people. Who is on the team this year, and what cars are they driving?
We have a new team strategy this year and our CEC team consists of six cars this year. We have Robert Valik (aka EURO CRUISE) in his Ferrai F430 Spider with Todd Kraines as his co-pilot, We have Max Caggiano (aka EVL MAX) in his brand new Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 with a few CEC upgrades and 565hp. His co-pilot is Frank Pasquis my General Manager of CEC in Miami, we have Prinz Marcus von Anhalt (www.princegermany.com)driving his SL65 Black Series, a mystery celebrity team in their candy apple red Bentley GT - also CEC equipped. Micheal Schwab is also attending in his Novitec/ Rosso F430. Oh, and there is my car ;-) . One of us will definitely be the Champion this year!
8) Having done the rally since 2006, what keeps bringing you back year after year?
BULLRUN gives me the opportunity to showcase my cars and to prove the quality and reliability of the products we sell. So it's a little R&D while having a good time. And as I have mentioned earlier, it's always nice to reunite with the Bullrun family as I truly enjoy the camaraderie and friendships made along the way. I also always look forward to exploring USA and Canada.
9) What would you say is your team's strongest asset?
Experience, Super cars , Speed, Driving Skills, Team work and NO FEAR!
10) Other than yourselves, who is your favourite Bullrun team? Why?
There are a bunch of other Bullrun teams that I really like. As a matter of fact, my favourites are all of them that don't bother me or are in my way!
11) Last year you found a GPS tracker in your car courtesy of Team Wu. It’s obvious that you are considered a huge threat by other teams – and they want to beat Claus. What do you think makes you such a big threat?
Maybe it is because I drive pretty fast most of the time (only when it is safe to do so) and because my cars are always reliable and maybe because I have the best navigator. Joaquin promised me that he will have all the bells and whistles ready for the start in NYC.
12) Having won the navigator award before and having multiple podium finishes, how badly do you want to walk off the stage at the Bullrun awards ceremony with the first place navigator belt? What are you willing to do to win?
I have won it three years ago and came in 2nd the last two years. It's not a question of what I am willing to do to win as I am always willing to go balls out. All you need is a bit of luck and good navigation to finish in the top 10 to get points and this shouldn't be a problem.
13) What is your absolute favourite aspect of Bullrun?
Lifting that first place navigator belt at the final party.
14) If you could summarize Bullrun in one word, what would it be?