Miami, Florida to Key West, Florida
*By the time I joined the Bullrun, it was nearly over. I heard all the incredible stories that occurred along the way, some unfolding with harrowing play-by-play accounts. Surely there would be no fun left for me. Since departing from Montreal, the remaining Bullrunners had already traveled some 2500 miles, criss-crossing from checkpoint to checkpoint. The final destination, Key West, is only 150 miles away. And the route is heavily traveled on a straight and narrow-not too exciting. Also, there would be a partial police escort to ensure everyone's safety.
However, the real excitement had just begun. Knowing it would take three slow-paced hours (less a lunch stop) to run , we spiced things up with a Cigarette offshore race boat, courtesy of European car enthusiasts Paul Rhodes and world champion driver Scott Conrad of SC Performance Marine. Nothing in the rules says we can't, only that both car and driver start and finish with the supplied Bullrun decals and numbers displayed appropriately.
After a late night in South Beach at the famous Versace mansion (which, in addition to Bullrunners, included a handful of celebs such as actor Jamie Foxx and model/actor-and fellow gearhead-Tyson Beckford), the morning would come all too soon. Miami doesn't sleep, especially South Beach. Well, maybe during the day. The local scene doesn't even kick in until after 11 pm, but lasts well into the early hours (which I soon learned at the mansion, as well as Love & Hate, a new hang-out for the young and beautiful operated by Miami Ink's Chris Nunez). I am approached by a girl who points out that I look like her friend's dad. Time to leave.
Following a group breakfast at the new CEC tuning facility (see sidebar), our plan moves into action. The Magnum will continue with Joaquin Mejia of Autobahner behind the wheel, while Claus and I dart to a nearby harbor where the boat is waiting. Out in the open water, we hit the high seas at triple-digit speed. Complete with scantily clad female passengers, we would arrive like rock stars. The Bullrun spirit is still very much alive.
Equipped with dual Mercury Racing 1075s, this state-of-the-art 46-foot craft makes quick work of the chop. We should reach our destination well ahead of anyone else. Except the boat has other plans. For reasons uncertain, one of the main drives gives out and leaves us limping into harbor in Marathon, roughly halfway and the site of our lunch stop. Mere moments after reaching the dock, Claus, using his quick wit and charisma, quickly convinces a passer-by to drive us to the checkpoint. "Faster, you need to drive faster," Claus shouts. "Please, this is an emergency." Despite his pleas and bribery, getting this older gentleman to drive significantly higher than the posted speed is never going to happen, but we get there. It's only two miles up the road, but those two miles seem like an eternity.
Although we had our troubles, we arrive minutes apart from Joaquin and the Magnum, still clocking in with an impressive fourth place. Lunch done, Joaquin leads the pack south while Claus and I head back to the boat to assess the damage.
Committed to the end, Rhodes summons his private Citation X to whisk us to the finish. Reportedly the world's fastest luxury jet with a cruising speed of over 460 mph, the 75 miles to tiny Key West Airport takes all of 15 minutes. Barely enough time to sink into the soft leather swivel chairs or pop the cork on the bubbly. Claus stays in constant contact with Joaquin, who is still leading the way.