Dateline Sandown Park, Sunday 1 July 2007
It’s 2.30pm, the Cannonball Run flag is raised and then dropped by Sam’s checkpoint team and the first car is underway to the first location, the beautiful, cool and peaceful Lake Garda in the Italian Alps. In a new twist, drivers have been given different routes to follow this year to each destination, a move which has several benefits. One, it is more courteous and considerate of other road users, as a smaller number of cars will be on each route, and two, it allows our drivers to see more of the beautiful roads of Europe.
By 6pm everyone is away and on the ferries to mainland Europe, where they will enjoy breathtaking scenery, wonderful roads and excellent hospitality for the next few days! Keep checking in to hear the latest stories!
Dateline Bratislava, Monday 2 July 2007
||The 2007 Cannonball Run Europe is now well underway and we are gathering this evening in the exclusive and futuristic UFO revolving restaurant on the Novy Most bridge here in Bratislava, in the heart of Slovakia.
Friendships are being developed and stories are being swapped as drivers and co-drivers relax in luxurious surroundings ahead of their track day tomorrow. And all this whilst having the most incredible revolving view from the restaurant, seeing for almost 50 miles in all directions.
Talk of the evening was the challenge set by one of the Cannonball teams for checkpoint team leader Charlotte. By the time we made it to Bratislava, Charlotte was to have charmed a builder somewhere along the route into handing over his hard hat. Sadly, Charlotte didn’t manage to crack this challenge, and so now has to pose in full Cannonball checkpoint girl uniform on the bonnet of one of the Cannonballers’ Ferraris! It seems that the only hard hat she saw on the route was on a dummy which slowed drivers down on the way into the St. Gotthard pass in Switzerland, and he was not persuadable! We will of course bring you the picture as soon as we get it!
Dateline Budapest, Tuesday 3 July 2007
Well, how do you describe a day like this! Even before Lewis Hamilton gets his chance to drive there, our Cannonballers have had exclusive access to the Hungaroring here in Budapest for their track day today. Yes, a real live current Formula 1 racetrack, and we were there! Cannonballers set off excitedly from the Square in Bratislava early today to drive out of Slovakia, into Hungary, and to their own personal track of dreams.
|Fantastic times were had by all, even Jaime and Tormo who had a little accident on the track in their Ferrari F360, rearranging the bodywork into a style unique to their car, as you will see from the pictures. True to Cannonball style, everyone made sure that the boys were fine and of course they now have a story to tell!
Checkpoint team leader Charlotte lost her hard hat bet earlier in the week of course, and today was the day when she had to perform her forfeit of posing on, and washing, a Ferrari in her bikini. Look out for those photographs tomorrow!
Hungaroring track day photos!
Here is a selection of photos from today's fantastic track day at the Hungaroring F1 circuit!
Berlin, 4 July 2007
Four days into the Cannonball Run now, and the circus has rolled into Berlin after a great drive from Budapest. Drivers took several routes mixing both picturesque views and the efficiency of the German motorway system! Jaime and Tormo were there already to meet us as we arrived in the German capital, having waved goodbye to their hurt Ferrari in Budapest, they flew ahead to Berlin to book themselves a hired Mercedes to complete the Run. Go boys!
Dinner was a French Polynesian affair in Trader Vic’s near the historic Brandenburg Gate – but that was just the beginning of the evening as many Cannonballers moved onto the AM/PM club to party on.
Where next? Who knows…but we hear a beach party might be involved!
Everyone has a story (or seven) to tell on the Cannonball Run – we caught up with a few drivers in Berlin to hear a few of them.
Birthday boy Stevie was 33 on the day we arrived in Berlin and together with his dad (or is it his big brother!) Keith was serenaded by checkpoint girls Erica and Becky as he turned his Mercedes SL55 AMG into the hotel driveway. Everyone cheered and applauded at dinner as his own personal birthday cake emerged from the kitchens – Stevie was last seen heading out into the Berlin night to celebrate!
Neil & Simon in their Zeemax wide bodied jaguar XKR(www.zeemax.com)are in one of the most conspicuous cars on this year’s Run – maybe something to do with the giant Union Jack painted on the roof of the Jag! However, there is a more subtle inscription on the boot lid – ‘In memory of James Harrison’. Neil explained – James (who was a family friend) died this year aged only 20, but he was a car fanatic and knew Neil was coming on the Run. James’ family have already held a track day in his memory and it is fitting that Neil and Simon have chosen to commemorate him on the Run this year.
Hats (or helmets) off to the Ariel Atom pair of Dave and Anisa who have come through some appalling weather this week without ever losing the smiles on their faces – I mean, who else would aim to do nearly 3000 miles around Europe in a car with no top, no windscreen, no sides and not much else at all – other than Cannonballers!
Audi RS4 boys could have been forgiven this morning for wondering if they had perhaps over-celebrated last night as they marched into the garage to see their car completely wrapped – which was surely not how they left it last night. They might need to look no further than the Blow Me Mini boys Sam and Colin for the culprits…
Porsche is the most popular marque on this year’s Run with the number of Stuttgart cars running onto double figures. However, the BMW ‘M’ cars are also well represented with a full set of current models – Joe and Miles in an M3, Patrik and Lars from Sweden in their M5, and Jamie and Kevin in an M6. Stuttgart versus the pride of Bavaria, here in Germany!
Finally, a quick word from the ‘Godspeed’ team of resident clerics Dave and Bruce in the Irish-plated BMW 530D. Reprising roles from the Cannonball Run film, they have kept us on the straight and narrow all week. ‘Drive safely and may the force be with you’ they said as they relaxed in the bar last night!
Nissan 350Z pilots Colin and Paul have been having satnav trouble all week but were early-ish into Berlin for a change! No more being the back markers for them now they have the hang of it all! ‘Makes a change to get a beer before dinner’ they said as they lifted a well deserved glass.
Andy and Ashley in the Porsche 911 Carrera S were some of the stars of the track day as they stormed round the Hungaroring on Tuesday – only problem with that was that their tyres suffered just a little and they limped into Berlin having nursed the car for the last 100 or so miles. Where better than the heart of Germany though to get a nice new set of boots for the car before moving on! We are sure they will be nicely worn in by the time the guys make it home on Friday…
Antwerp, 5 July 2007
The Cannonball Run is well on the way back towards home now with a 500 or so mile drive today from Berlin to Antwerp.
Drivers had a fairly relaxing day behind the wheel as the German and Dutch motorways took up most of the strain, with co-drivers being able to enjoy the scenery as the countries unfolded in front of them. Dinner was an almost traditional Belgian ‘steak-frites’ in the hotel before the majority of Cannonballers boarded a bus to the nightclub where they partied away.
Oatlands Park, Weybridge, Surrey, 6 July 2007
As always the checkpoint girls and the ‘Blow Me’ breathalyser boys were first up in the morning to ensure the drivers were fit and healthy and sent on their way with a smile.
The last checkpoint on the Cannonball Run Europe this year was at the Calais ferry port where drivers boarded the ferry ‘home’ to the Oatlands Park hotel to prepare for the final night party. Tales were told and re-told (and videos watched!) as Cannonballers relaxed and shared their memories of the week.
Black tie party and awards ceremony, 6 July 2007
At 8pm tonight the Cannonballers, guests, checkpoint girls and staff descended upon the ballroom at the Oatlands Park hotel to celebrate the week on the road, covering almost 3000 miles in 10 (yes, 10!) countries in 6 days.
Dressed up in black tie and elegant dresses, Cannonballers looked the epitome of class as they watched Craig’s first cut film of the week before settling down to their food and wine.
Eventually, it was time to present the prizes! Jan came to the stage and announced all of the awards. As everyone knows, the winner of the Cannonball Run is the one closest to a ‘target mph’ for the whole event – and most certainly not the fastest! This year’s 1-2-3 was:-
Andy Rowe and Ashley Watt
Porsche 911 Carrera S
Michael Lacey and Roger Wood
Stuart Heade and Josie Thompson (2006 winners!)
As well as their trophies, all of the winners above will receive custom-made ‘Vitallo’ racing driver shoes (naturally in gold, silver or bronze!) provided by Cannonball Run sponsors Vitallo!
The ‘Spirit of the Cannonball Run’ trophy was won to huge acclaim from the audience by Dave Hustler and Anisa Aubin who almost unbelievably completed the whole course in their Ariel Atom!
And finally on the awards front, Jan made a special presentation to Jaime and Tormo of a new red Ferrari to replace the one they broke at the Hungaroring – sadly it was only a model one, but it was the thought that counted!
As the awards ended, the ‘Blues Brothers’ bounced into the room, the party began, and was still going well into the wee small hours…..!
Until next time!!