Montreal, Canada to Savannah, Georgia
*I find myself in Montreal a day early. My 'official schedule' said the Bullrun started on May 11, hence my booking a flight for the 10th. But now I'm here inside the Ritz-Carlton's lobby, I find it doesn't start until Saturday the 12th. I've got an entire 24 hours to kill.
After last year's shenanigans, I swore to myself I would remain (relatively) sober during my downtime. Problem is, the Canadians love their beer... did you know that? I had no clue. And Canadian drunkenness is infectious in a way that, well, you know, makes you want to get drunk.
Late in the afternoon, I drag my sorry ass back to the Ritz-Carlton in time to find Claus Ettensberger, founder of CEC and our sponsor/driving partner for the event, strolling leisurely through the lobby, looking extremely relaxed, having just worked out and had a massage. He wryly appraises my state and claps me on the back.
"Good to see you, fellow Bullrunner. Getting off to a good start like last year, I see."
I make it to the lobby next morning, just in time to see Claus applying the final Michelin Man decal to this year's ride, a TechArt Widebody Magnum. If ever there was a car you could describe as truly monstrous, this is it. Based on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Claus's version flaunts 600 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque thanks to a revised exhaust, turbos and intercoolers. It also has 22-inch wheels, massive brakes, and a widebody kit that makes it look like a road-going whale shark. Looking up and seeing those massive bumper intakes filling your rear-view could only be described as terrifying.
Claus doesn't even seem to care if he wins or not. For most of the first leg, Montreal to Boston, we follow a Mercedes CL bristling with antennae of varying lengths. "This guy up here, I hope he wins," says Claus. "He really wants to win. He deserves it." I glance at him out of the corner of my eye, uncertain whether this is indeed our old friend or an alien being who has hijacked Claus's body.
Even so, we keep a brisk pace through the lunch stop and into Boston, coming in near the top, 11th or 12th place. But it's all a bit surreal. Law enforcement is strangely and conspicuously absent as we drive past the border, down through Vermont and into Massachusetts.
"The next day, Claus is a completely different man. Apparently, the soothing effects of yesterday's massage have dissipated completely, because this morning there's fire in the German's eyes. "We're going to win this thing, dammit! We're going to kick everyone's ass!"
At the front of the pack coming out of Boston, we're embedded with maybe 10 other cars. Then Claus puts his foot down. Mercedes and Ferraris fall away as unobtrusively as Cayenne exhaust fumes. You might not call the TechArt Magnum pretty, but it's hellishly fast.
Bullrun organizers have anticipated everyone arriving at the Cross Sound Ferry in New London, Connecticut, between 10:30 or 11:00, but the Magnum arrives in time for the 10:00 ferry. The checkpoint hasn't even been properly set up yet. The official time is 9:55 and we're the first entry across, all by our lonesome, and now a full hour ahead of everyone else once we arrive on the other side in Cutchogue, New York. We're also the first car to roll into tonight's destination, Atlantic City. I'm afraid Claus is going to have an orgasm.