Over the next few weeks, we are going to take you from the genesis of the endurance road trip to the modern international road rally. Each day we will share a bite sized history lesson about the development of this motorsport. We hope that you’ll join us for this absolutely fascinating ride.

This is post 3/5 covering our participation in the 2012 Dustball Rally.

8/2/2012

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7:50 am “WAKE! UP!” Marcus is shouting at me.

I am dreaming of engines revving. I want to stay asleep. This is a great dream.

“Cars. Are. Leaving.” He admonishes. I can hear them starting up in the parking lot.

Last nights blackout in Brewster County went well into 3 am. I had passed out, sweating on top of the covers due to no a/c, with a dead cell phone rendering my alarm useless.

“Ughhhh” I mumbled. The Dustball Rally was departing Lajitas Resort at 8 am. Minutes away.

7:52 am I’m throwing armfuls of Mardi Gras beads into my trunk. I had emptied out the entire car…everything…the day before to save as much weight as possible for the top speed run. “139. Bullshit.” I curse for not breaking the 140 barrier on our GPS.

7:54 am There are no more bags to put stuff in. I still have piles of crap all over the hotel room. Electronics, snacks, koozies, beads…it’s a mess. I see a pillow and am ripping it in half. “Screw the deposit” I say as I dump the piles into the pillowcase.

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7:59 am The car is a mess inside and out. Apparently some teams didn’t enjoy our Free Parking gifts of Monopoly Money on their windshields last night and decided to pay us back as kindly as possible. There was a cool $50,000 on ours now.

“Leave it” Marcus shouts, “Everyone is booking it, let’s roll!”

8:01 am We barely make the tail end of the first departing cars. Ahead of us is the red #45 911, black #96 Bentley Bros, crimson #14 G8, silver #97 997 Turbo, and the girls of Team Costatron, the #99 Dodge Charger. We are driving north towards yesterdays “BLASTOFF” and subsequent top speed runs.

8:08 am “Why the hell didn’t you wake me up sooner?” I can barely keep my eyes open, I’m not sure exactly as to what I am wearing, and there is Monopoly money swirling around our cabin. Marcus doesn’t hear my question. He’s standing up, half outside the convertible trying to affix the magnetic CB antenna to our trunk.

DAMN! We HAVE to turn around!” He had lost his favorite hat.

I turn off the BMW’s dynamic traction control and spin a u-turn, causing Marcus to spill his coffee all over the windshield for the second day in a row.

8:09 am Cars rip by us as we go in the opposite direction, but the silver #51 Lambo slows down and hands us the hat that had flown off. “Thanks!” we shout.

“We need to buy them a few drinks later” I say.

“Oh, yeah, they got me WAYY messed up last night buying everyone shots at the Cantina. Team GOP is legit. I owe them big time” Marcus chuckles, hungover. He is wearing the same clothes as yesterday and smells like a distillery.

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8:15 am We have caught up and see that the snake has doubled in size. The red Range Rover Sport camera crew is getting shots of each car.

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“Where is my pilot jacket??” I ask frantically. I wanted to make this photo op count!

“Where are my GOGGLES??” responds my equally concerned navigator.

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8:16 am My Cannonball pilots hat has flown off my head. I spill more coffee turning around to retrieve it.

8:38 am The #51 Lambo and #97 997 Turbo are on a “BLASTOFF” straight. They are going to drag race.

“WRRRRRRRRIIIIRRR” Goes the #51.

“RAAAAAAARRRRWRR” Goes the #97.

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We aren’t far enough behind and rocks from their spinning tires are chipping our windshield.

8:39 am We try to keep up, but fail. Our black #85 Z4 doesn’t have an Italian Twin Turbo in the trunk.

8:41 am The #96 Bentley Bros take on the #51 Lambo.

OUCH!” We sit farther back this time, but a rock still hits Marcus in the face. It draws a little blood. The #99 Charger passes us up with someone crazy hanging out the rear window with a lens. “These cameramen don’t get enough appreciation. We need to give them some well deserved respect at the next stop.” I mention, half making fun of Marcus’ flesh wound.

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8:54 am 100 miles after leaving the US/Mexico border, we reach tiny Alpine, Texas. “Where is everyone going?!” I ask, bewildered.

Cars are going in all directions. Some straight, some right, most left. I switch on my left signal and follow.

“WRONG WAY, GOOBER!” Someone in a truck yells down at us. “Goober?” I give him the de-facto rally-thumbs up as I pull into the gas station with everyone else. Out of the corner of my eye I spot a sheriff turn on his lights. He’s coming straight for us.

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7:15 am Team SportsCarHunter’s black #26 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster guys had woken up at 7:00am – stupid early. David would be the navigator today. He was still tipsy from the night before.

He stood in front of his rally beast. The front left brake on the #26 Vantage was clearly shot. He had been putting in brake fluid at every gas station since noon yesterday. The rim sat cold in the morning sunlight and had black liquid running down the lip. All was silent. The car looked battered. Sad in a way.

CrrrraccccKKKK!” A gunshot went off.

No, wait. An explosion?

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The #00 Aston and #76 STI teams are lighting off fireworks in the middle of the street. “Where’d you guys find those?!” David asks.

“MEX-I-COOOO” they shout.

These teams had just returned from an off-road ride in Baja and brought back some fine armaments with them. “I better not tell the #85 Z4 guys about this, or else they may actually start throwing fireworks instead of play money” David thought.

7:40 am Teams are starting to pack up their cars and some are noticing the tickets they received the night before. The one written on the #51 Lambo’s hood reads “This CITATION is for VIOLATION of: Not having Lamborghini doors on a Lamborghini

Everyone within earshot doubles over in laughter.

8:15 am James, in the #26 Vantage, downshifts to slow down into the only repair shop in Terlingua, Texas. There is a an old man, his son, and an eight year old outside.

8:18 am “What kind of car is that again? An Aresten Mertin?!?” The shop owner has never heard of an Aston Martin before and is blown away. The kid, wearing a Sponge Bob t-shirt, takes charge. “It’s a Vantage Roadster. It has eight cylinders. Very quick but it won’t be able to slow down with all that brake fluid streaming out the front wheel well.”

“Uhhhhhhhh” every adult replies, floored.

8:35 am The mechanic, after 15 minutes of hunting, has finally found a lift point to raise and inspect the car.

David kneels over, and finds a hose hanging underneath the car. With one tug it is loose. “Ummm, pops?”

“Yes, I saw, I have no idea what that could be. I just bought this car. Throw it in the trunk, we’ll deal with it when we get to New Orleans.”

“Hope is not lost for the #26” Thought David.

9:00 am After a half hour of furious work, the shop owner relayed their analysis, “Your brake line is encased in braided metal, we have never seen anything like this. We can’t fix it, but here’s a liter of brake fluid. Good luck!”

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9:00 am I am being approached by a sheriff 85 Miles north of the #26 Vantage. “Here’s your license back. We’ve received three calls in the last 15 minutes about sports cars, fitting your exact description, wrecking havoc on the roads. I have to look like I’m actually doing something, right? Y’all enjoy your drive, and have a pleasant day!” No tickets.

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9:02 am the #45 911 and #96 Bentley Bros have an idea of where we are going. We are told, “East to Del Rio, along the southwest bend of Texas.”

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10:10 am I am bored. After “BLASTOFF”, a top speed run, and the river road, straights at 110 mph seem like D-League basketball. Still, we offer up the occasional laugh by enveloping our rally group with hundreds of Monopoly bills at a time. We unleash two stacks at the #15 Clubman at an opportune point. “Hahahaha, I told him I would get him good!” I laugh.

10:30 am “Look, more Dustballers!” I exclaim. We have caught up to Team Audizine in their German military camo #2 Audi A6, Team TANSTAAFL in their silver #16 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra, and Team Dark Horse in their black #11 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca.

“FINALLY! I have been wanting to drive with these guys for the last day and a half!” I shout, throwing out a handful of Monopoly Money at the turn of events.

I met the #2 A6 guys late last night and told them how great their dipped Audi looked. They were Dustball Rally veterans who typically took out a Z06, but changed it up for this years rally. Their selection made my navigator happy.

“Zee Germans vill Rally UNITED!” Marcus cheered.

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Seeing the two Mustangs rally together was absolutely jaw dropping. I had fallen for the black and orange Laguna Seca at the drivers briefing two days ago. Seeing it coupled with the a Cobra was too much. The Range Rover sport camera crew must have felt the same way and jumped to the front of the pack to grab footage.

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One by one the Range worked its way through the teams until they eventually reached us. “I GOT this.” Marcus said stone-cold.

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10:30 am Many miles behind, David has the #26 Vantage’s break pedal married to the floor as they coast into a gas station to fill up their, now empty, brake caliper. Team Siebzehn’s #17 Corvette Z06 is parked in the corner. They comment, “We have to stop every 100 miles to fill up this tire. Zat ezz vhat youv get for going to Mexico!”

“Mmmmyeahh, the plucky Brits with no brakes STILL find a way to outmaneuver the Germans after all. The Spitfire takes the lead!” David replies in his best cockney accent as the #26 Vantage drives away.

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10:30 am Marcus is asleep. I am bored. This annoys me. Why does he get to sleep?

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11:42 am I am tweeting out, “Still really freaking close to Mexico…” because the scenery has not changed for several hundred miles and I don’t want to eat Mexican food for the fourteenth straight meal.

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11:43 am Our #85 Z4 is pushing a blistering pace at the head of the snake. Other teams are having difficulty keeping up. We get to a clear stretch of bridge, “I LOVE me some bridges!” I laugh.

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AUTOBAHHHHNNNNNNN!” shouts Marcus as we fly across Pecos High Bridge, unknowingly getting caught on camera by some of the gimmick-infused Dustballers on the other side of the ravine.

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12:19 pm We are stuck in Del Rio, Texas and the #51 Lambo is leaking diff fluid. We’ve been here for twenty minutes. No one in the county carries the right mixture for the razored beast to consume yet we press on.

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12:55 pm The #26 Vantage glides in to Del Rio Pacheco Worldwide Automotive. David has been on the phone for the past three hours trying to locate a repair shop willing to work on their roadster

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“Hell yeah we’ll check it out!” Shouts the mechanic, who eerily resembles Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the car is jacked up.

1:10 pm “We don’t have this part at all and I’ve never seen that do-hickey before either…Will you wait while I stop by a parts store and see what I can figure out?”

David and James have nothing to lose, “Yes, go for it” and are forced to walk to the only nearby restaurant in sight – a Mexican Buffet.

1:20 pm Kareem asks the parts store employee, “Well since you definitely don’t have this, can I go in the back and rummage around?”

1:25 pm He’s in the back of the parts store, throwing bins of parts left and right. Over the shoulder. “This may work…That too.”

1:40 pm “I don’t know if it’ll work, we can check and see, and I’m not making any promises.” In front of them was a rubber hose, a bent aluminum pipe, some cable, and screws thrown out across the counter. “When I was in the Marine Corps they taught us that there is no, “No.”. You make it work, no matter the situation.”

1:45 pm Kareem got to work. “Oohrah!”

1:45 pm Our large group reaches Uvalde, Texas. All the cars join up with the #30 CTS-V and #77 Camaro at “The Huddle” sports bar. The staff is overwhelmed at our horsepower.

3:21 pm We’ve been in Uvalde for over an hour and a half. “That’s about an hour and a half more than most travelers spend in this tiny Texas town” we’re told by the locals who have stopped to gawk at our ten-deep sports car parade.

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All the girls are across the street making margaritas. All the guys are huddled over the broken down #51 Lamborghini Gallardo.

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We’ve put in more diff fluid, but can’t seem to be able to put the engine back in place. The screws are out of reach and dropping a single one would be the end of rally for Team GOP.

Ryon, the driver of the #77 Camaro is tweeting out, “How many Dustballers does it take to fix a differential fluid leak on a Lamborghini.” He pulls out a massive tool box from the back seat of the SS. Everyone tries to become an expert.

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4:16 pm “This is like playing a quarter-million dollar game of Operation. BZZZZZZ!” I joke, throwing a few thousand in Monopoly Money to a passerby, “Free Parking for YOU on the Dustball Rally!”

4:49 pm We are back on track and Marcus has the map out, “Dude. We. Are going to….AUSTIN!”

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Marcus is from Austin. He’s very Austin-ish. He is excited, “YEEEEEEHAWWWW!” and throws out a fat stack of dough at the car behind us.

4:49 pm The #26 Vantage comes to a comfortably braked stop in Uvalde.

“My bladder hates me.” Complains James as he walks inside.

There are four mini-vans with Hispanic children running around. They all approach “Is that a race car?”

“No, it’s a rally car.” David replies as he hands out stickers and beads.

“Can we look inside?! Can you make the engine go?!”

David opens the door. “Sure, why not?”

One of the fathers walks over to all the kids, takes one look at the car and yells, “VAMOS! Get back over here.”

“Uhhh, sorry, they seemed interested in the car, it’s a rally man! No worries! We’re going to NAWLINS! Want some beads too?” David asks but gets no response.

He shuts the hood and looks over the car and sighs, “What an ass” to no one in particular.

On the windshield is a very apparent, but henceforth unrecognized, “PEDO-BEAR APPROVED” sticker.

Damn, haha, thanks guys…” David chuckles to his fellow Dustballers many miles ahead.

4:55 pm I am shuffling my hands around the BMW steering wheel like a virtuoso. We are in the hill country just north of San Antonio on the way to Austin. Our driving order is: #85 Z4, #51 Lambo, #77 Camaro, #99 Charger, #96 Bentley Bros, #14 G8, #30 CTS-V, #97 997 Turbo, and#45 911.

5:10 pm “Marcus, Bentley Bros just texted me, they need updates, we are too far ahead.”

Marcus is in navigators nirvana and has been coaching me to the limit for the past 15 minutes.

“Crest, hard right, straight…full throttle, dip, 50% left turn…”

Our snake has been split in two. We are leading the #51, #77, and #99 through these twisty roads like professionals. Marcus learned to drive here and I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – where there is no such thing as a straight. We are a team in the zone.

“Brake. Brake. BRAKE! Left fifty, straight 400 meters…”

5:15 pm We are stuck behind a delivery truck. Marcus is tweeting out, “Back roads FAIL!”

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5:20 pm There’s just enough space for us to tear past the truck, I go full throttle.

5:21 pm The #51 Lambo follows suit with the #77 Camaro and #99 Charger in tow.

5:25 pm We are sliding a few turns on the last bit of road. Most of the Dustball Rally cars had beaten us on the straights. This was not the case in the twisties. The #85 Z4 was built with these roadster hills in mind.

Gravel spews out from our rear wheels. Traction alerts are all over my dash. We are laughing hysterically.

5:30 pm Team Flying Squirrel in the #77 Camaro SS has no gas left after running amuck and pulling skid pad worthy G’s over the last 45 minutes. We pull in to the nearest gas station.

“Great driving guys!” Ryon says over the gas pump. For the better part of an hour we led ¾ of a million worth of cars on a wild goose chase.

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Marcus gives me a nod from across the hood. He’s signaling that we added a rally stripe to our jacket. I’m elated.

6:30 pm It’s getting dark and we are only in Boerne, Texas. Over 100 miles from Austin. Marcus gets on the CB and redirects everyone towards the highways. We are behind schedule. We need to make up time because Austin awaits.

6:55 pm Marcus is beyond excited. He sees a fellow BMW and is holding the Bavarian flag out the side of our roadster, trying to get their attention. The flag whips around and breaks our CB in half.

“But what about Bavaria?” He sort-of apologizes.

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7:05 pm We have taken a back seat to let others lead the way. The #30 CTS-V is absolutely loving it when we throw Monopoly Money at them. We do it again, and again, and again. The massive Cadillac grill has money stuck all over it. They make sure to ask us for some at a red light.

“I want to hang out with Team March Hare more, they’re hilarious.” I chuckle.

Marcus busts out the logbook and makes a new entry.

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7:45 pm “Seriously, TURN. NOW!” Marcus is yelling at me.

The #85 Z4 is at the back of the pack and there’s not enough time to signal up ahead about the short cut.

I oblige.

7:50 pm The navigator made the right call. There’s no one on this highway leading directly into Austin.

7:53 pm We hit downtown Austin.

7:53 pm “That was the best $315 I’ve spent in a long, long while” James chuckles. The #26 Vantage has just parked at the Sheraton in downtown Austin.

“Kareem said it wouldn’t be a permanent fix.” Cautioned David.

James passes on some fatherly advice, “We’re not going to stop at the Aston Martin dealership here. Hell no. No way. We have to get to New Orleans!”

In this moment the #26 Vantage adds their rally stripes from Day 2.

7:54 pm “ZzzzzzaaaaaZZZZZZaaaaazzzzz?” David mockingly makes the sound of an engine to his father, and points to the car turning into the rotunda.

7:54 pm Team SportsCarHunter is reunited at the Sheraton Austin. The #85 Z4 pulls alongside making a throaty “ZzzzzzrrrrrZZZZZZRRRRRzzzzz.” I place the 3.0 into park.

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7:56 pm After 500 completely different miles, Team SportsCarHunter #26 and #85 reach Austin within seconds of each other.

9:15 pm There is a huge group of Dustballers in the lobby, teams #14, #96, and #99 break off with me to load up on Mardi Gras beads and Monopoly Money from the #85’s trunk.

10:00 pm We are grabbing a quick slice of pizza before hitting Austin’s famous 6th Street – where there are nonstop bars for nine blocks and the roads are closed to pedestrians on the weekends. We haven’t eaten since Uvalde.

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10:45 pm The Bentley Bros codriver, Matt, just bought two pitchers of Red Bull and bad decisions. He hands one to me. He weighs about 125 pounds more than me but I’m being forced to chase like we’re still driving on the rally. “It’s just like our Bentley versus your Z4!” he jokes.

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“True! I smile, as I finish my drink before he does.

11:45 pm About half of the Dustball Rally is at the same bar, all watching people take turns on a mechanical bull. #14’s driver Adrian, buys me a turn and pays extra for me to cut the line.

“Dustball!” He shouts.

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I have had enough bravery gravy to ignore the Christopher Reeve flashbacks. I step into the arena and take two Dustball Rally stickers out. I slap them on the bull and shout “RALLLLYYYY!!!” to all the teams watching. We all take turns falling off.

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12:30 pm We’re at another bar, this time with the DFW guys. We hadn’t seen them all day, but Tony from the #76 STI is asking me for more Monopoly Money. The bartenders are refusing our real money and are asking us to give them Monopoly Money instead. We are now buying drinks with fake money on request. This is awesome. We cover the bar in a shower of pastel paper.

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2:00 pm The bars shut down, we go home. “We’re going to Bourbon Street tomorrow night?” I ask, bewildered.

AND THE NIGHT AFTER THAT!” About ten Dustballers shout in unison.

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Thank you for reading “What Doesn’t Break You Down Makes You Go Faster – Day 2 of the 2012 Dustball Rally”

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-Sports Car Hunter Ry