A selection of photos from this years 2010 event.
The Gendarmes kindly came to our hotel this morning to wave us off. The ‘ballers were on their best behaviour as they embarked upon their last mission to Dunkerque, a mere 190 miles from Versailles. All arrived without incident and by late afternoon were seen pulling up in front of The Grand Hotel in Brighton, welcomed by the lovely checkpoint girls and a glass of champagne. The locals and holiday makers had an unexpected treat as the Cannonball cars paraded along the sea front.
The atmosphere in the bar was amazing as it started to sink in what in fact had happened since leaving the UK a mere 6 days ago; 7 different countries, 2,500 miles, a world famous track day and enough memories to last a lifetime.
After dinner came the moment everyone had been waiting for; the awards ceremony. So who was to be crowned Cannonball Run champion 2010? Well, In third place was Vivian Walsh and Fergal Nugent in a BMW M3, in second place Thomas Thygesen and Daniel Hansen in their Lamborghini Gallardo and the winners were Anders Tonnesland and Stian Frigstad in a Porsche 911. They managed to drive the entire route in an average of 59.52 mph. Not bad! Congratulations to all the winners.
The final award to be presented is ‘Spirit of the Cannonball’. This is the award that some consider more prestigious that winning the event itself. It’s about dedication to the cause, showing commitment and unselfishness and is awarded to the team which is felt to have bought an extra special something to the event and its people. This decision was left to the other ‘ballers, who each had to vote for who they believed had the “Spirit”. The award went to Jason and Julie Perkins in the R8. They kept smiling when their sat-nav decided not to play ball, when Julie needed to overcome her fear of heights, speed, mountains, narrow roads and tractors, and Jason kept everyone laughing with his amazing stories and unbelievable optimism. Also worth mentioning is that they were in fact on their honeymoon! What a brilliant start to married life.
After the ceremony, the guys and girls in their black ties and party dresses walked along Brighton seafront to the club where they danced the night away until 3am and eventually headed back to the Grand’s bar for a bedtime tipple.
So another Cannonball Run is over. Cars (and drivers) were put through their paces, friendships were made and a multitude of stories to tell the grandchildren were collected (although in some cases, it might be advisable to wait until they are 18!) The camaraderie once again was absolutely amazing, and even before next year’s dates have been announced, teams are forming, cars are being chosen and the countdown is starting; only 12 months to go! Roll on 2011.
Well what a day! After leaving Milan Cannonballers headed out of Italy towards the Alps and the famous Mont Blanc tunnel. The sky was blue and the temperature a scorching 35 degrees. The flowing roads down towards the Italian/French border, which really suited the GT cars, and the unbelievable mountain scenery, made the first 300 miles of this stage truly unforgettable . Fraser & Murray in the Maserati decided to take a slight detour up the St.Bernard pass to have a snowball fight before re-joining the road to Versailles! Others stopped off to have lunch in one of the beautiful villages en route, who said Cannonballers weren’t cultured?
The day, however, wasn’t short of incident. The gendarmes decided to turn out in force to welcome us and various cars were pulled over for over enthusiastic driving, suffice to say some arrived in Versailles later than planned with their pockets a little lighter!
The Chateau of Versailles shone in the evening sunshine as the Cannonballers arrived at the magnificent Trianon Palace Hotel which is situated in the grounds of the Palace itself. Dinner was served on the terrace and the guys spent a chilled evening in preparation for the final leg home tomorrow.
Excitement filled the air as one by one the Cannonballers collected their Mission Packs and discovered that today they were just 119 miles away from the most famous race circuit in the world; Monza! Not only that, but it was theirs exclusively for the the day.
The track day is never a timed leg on the Cannonball so the drivers made their way to Monza at their own pace and by midday most cars had arrived at the track and were raring to go. The drivers briefing ensued and the air was filled with excitement and trepedation as they were informed of the unforgiving nature of this circuit; the fastest track in F1. As soon as the light on the pit wall turned green, the first car was on track. More cars followed until all that could be heard in the park was the roar of engines being pushed to their limits. The temperature rose to over 35 degrees, so the drivers were wise not to push their cars too hard for too long.
Three laps was the maximum most cars stayed out before coming in to cool down. The smell of very hot brakes filled the pit lane for most of the day. A great spread was laid on in one of the garages and litres and litres of cold drinks were consumed throughout. After about four hours and a final parade lap for the benefit of the camera crew, the drivers were given their next Mission pack, and it was time to travel just 10 miles along to Milano, fashion capital of the world. Fashion capital it may be, but it was our ‘ballers that were turning heads as they drove along the streets of Milan and pulled up into the Westin Palace Hotel.
The only thing that the drivers did faster than a lap of the track was a rush to the bar to get in the cold beers! In the evening, coaches arrived to take the Cannonballers on a 10 minute journey to the ulta exclusive Just Cavelli restaurant and nightclub situated in the Sempio Park. The reviews had said that this was where the beautiful people of Milan party, and they certainly weren’t wrong; more than one jaw was seen hitting the floor! Dinner was, once again, amazing. Later in the evening they were hitting the dance floor, showing the Milanese some new moves until the early hours.
Today the ‘Ballers left the Slovenian coast and set of to a ‘sub-check point’ in the sleepy medieval Italian town of Bobbio in the heart of Italy. The reason for a sub- checkpoint was to ensure that they did not miss out on the amazing twists and turns that the roads down to Rapallo had to offer. The inhabitants of the villages looked on in awe as the Cannonball posse passed through.
The guys and girls were treated to 65 miles of demanding mountain passes and incredible scenery. It had been a hot one, over 30 degrees, and some of the drivers couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as they started to wind their way down the mountain and along the coast to arrive at the amazing Excelsior Palace Hotel on the Italian Riviera, just around the corner from Portofino. The infinity pool was inviting and a great place to cool down, recharge the batteries and share experiences of the day, though the air conditioned bar did the trick too! Dinner was served on the restaurant terrace with a backdrop of the mountains we had spent the afternoon conquering and the Mediterranean lapping the shores below us. Doesn’t get much better than that!
So, how is everyone getting on? Well stage 2 leaders are Joe, Julian and Oliver driving the Mercedes S class. These are the guys who thought it a good joke to put a blue police light on top of their car and pull over all three Snakeoil cars on the previous night! The Snakeoilers were not laughing at the time, convinced they were all going to be arrested, but once their heart rates had returned to normal and the sweat had been mopped from their brows,they managed to see the funny side of it. Incidently Team Snake Oil are the current overall leaders but many teams are in with a chance of lifting the coveted winners’ trophy at the final night party on Friday. Watch this space and we will keep you updated on everyone’s progress.
Now this is of course the Cannonball Run and so the day was not without incident. This was the day that saw the first Cannonballers taken into custody. What for? Well in fact, for absolutely nothing! Honeymooning couple Jason and Julie in the Audi R8 were victims of mistaken identity and after being questioned by the local boys in blue were released without charge.
After dinner we headed towards Portofino to finish off the evening with the locals. A great way to round off day three of the Cannonball Run. So, what will tomorrow hold in store? The drivers will have to wait until 9.00 tomorrow morning when the checkpoint opens and their next Mission will be revealed.
On a beautiful summer’s day in July, family, friends and members of the general public were out in force for the start of the 2010 Cannonball Run Europe. The start venue was a wonderfully fitting one; Brooklands Motor Museum, the birthplace of British motor sport. Drivers arrived in plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy what Brooklands has to offer. After the drivers briefing, all Cannonballers were invited to rejoin their cars and start their engines. Excitement and anticipation along with a little trepidation filled the air as the cars were directed to the start line. The Cannonballers knew that their first destination would now be revealed in a matter of minutes.
At 2.45 the chequered flag was lifted and the first car was on it’s way. The rest followed in quick succession and we convoyed down to Dover to catch the ferry to Dunkerque. So, what was this year’s first destination to be? Portoroz on the Slovenian coast, a mere 923 miles from Dunkerque. There was a hive of activity on the ferry as drivers huddled around maps working out their route strategies and programming SatNavs. As the ferry doors opened, the Cannonball caravan was en route.
Apart from initial bouts of heavy traffic and persistant rain at times, the trip down (which would take them through six different countries!)was relatively trouble free. That however was not the case for Jamie & Richard in the BMW M5 who had a blow out on the German autobahn. Normally this should not have been too much of an issue, but unfortunately they neglected to bring a spare tyre! Not a very smart move for fifth time Cannonballer Jamie! Bearing in mind it was 3.45 in the morning and they did not have road side assistance, many phone calls (several in German of which neither of them spoke a word!) were made. They were eventually flat-bedded to a garage in a sleepy little town and were helped out by a mechanic who was miraculously there at 6.30 in the morning. They later found out he sleeps in the garage! Guess he must love his job. All’s well that ends well though, by 9 o/c they were back on the road and trying to catch up with the pack. Mike and Alistair in their beautiful classic Mustang had a forced sleep over en route when their headlights decided to give up the ghost in the middle of the night and they couldn’t see where they were driving! Of all places they choose the car park of McDonald’s to wait until the sun came up. Now as you know, we Cannonballers are usually quite well behaved but unfortunately Thomas & Deborah in their Jag XK let the side down when they almost got themselves arrested. Speeding, you are all thinking, well no, they were so engrossed with the purchase of their motorway vignette that they left the petrol station without paying for their petrol! They were pulled over by the police an hour later and accused of theft. Well ‘we forgot’ was their answer! Luckily the rozzas believed their excuse and after money changed hands they were back on the road to Portoroz.
The first cars arrived at the wonderful Kempinski Palace hotel at 10.27am, headed by the Norwegian ‘Snake Oil’ threesome in the Gallardo, 911 & Audi A8. Cars then arrived at regular intervals throughout the day to be greeted by a cool pool and even cooler beers. Stories of the day’s events were then shared between ‘ballers under the 32 degree heat of the Slovenian sun. A wonderful dinner followed on the hotel terrace along with eagerly awaited announcements, and in particular the leader board. So, what does it look like after the first stage. In 1st place is Vivian and Fergal in the BMW M3, followed by Guy and Tom in the Mercedes C63AMG. The third place was shared between Kate & Brian in the Audi TT and Clayton & Darek in their Bentley Continental GT.
After dinner it was, of course, party time and we finished our evening relaxing in a chilled out club on the beach, sipping cocktails and discussing, amongst other things, team tactics for tomorrow’s “challenging” drive.