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.

The next day is much the same, although a wrong turn at the last moment in Stanton, Virginia, puts us in third position. The day after that, Claus's infallible luck falters a bit; road debris causes him to swerve unnervingly close to edge of the road. One 22-inch wheel nails the shoulder at 70 mph and its rondure becomes compromised. We continue to drive in spite of copious vibrations through the steering wheel. Eventually the tire comes unsealed and deflates rapidly, but we're prepared for just such a situation. Claus pulls to the side of the road and we replace the bent wheel with an extra packed in the Magnum's cargo area. As quick as we were, the incident slows us considerably and we make it into Savannah, Georgia, in 15th or 16th place-easily the worst finish of the entire rally.

I bid everyone a wistful goodbye. I don't want to leave. And as it turns out, I'll miss the most exciting leg of the entire trip.

Savannah, Georgia to Miami, Florida

*Clayton Edwards died April 7, 1974. He was a good husband and a loving father.

That's what his tombstone said, anyway. For the last 20 minutes, I've been hiding behind a four-foot slab of marble dedicated to Mr. Edwards. I've examined every inch of his marker, all the fonts carved into the stone, every crack in the seams. In an effort to stay low and motionless, I have become one with the gravestone, I have merged with it.

Your mind does funny things under stress. Mine did. You see, I didn't want to go to jail in Georgia. I hear 'Southern hospitality' has a whole new meaning there. I didn't order that this morning.

Earlier, I was enjoying coffee and croissants in Savannah's beautiful Mansion on Forsyth Park. I had been officially driving in the 2007 Bullrun for 12 minutes when things went to hell. Police pull a dozen drivers from the freeway and we are among them. These cops are really pissed and rightfully so. A few Bullrun drivers did some incredibly stupid maneuvers and almost upset a big rig. Hell, it made me angry.

We exit the freeway while flanking a panel truck, forced to go left instead of right, away from the men with guns and badges. I mention the term 'evading arrest' to Claus and he pulls into the first driveway he can find. It happens to be a cemetery, the place I meet Clayton Edwards.

By now a helicopter has joined the fray and we see squad cars flying up and down the road, lights blazing. Being German, Claus is almost genetically wired to follow the rules-he wants to give himself up and be a good citizen. Luckily, I didn't inherit any of those genes.

I make him wait until things calm down and make a timid jaunt down the road. Another squad car hurtles toward us, but he's too far away to get a make. Claus makes an immediate right, placing us on a rural route in the middle of nowhere. For the next 30 minutes, he's calling dozens of contacts scattered throughout the South. Nobody has any suggestions-none we want to hear, anyway.

A good ol' boy drives by, his truck festooned with the requisite NRA sticker and Confederate flag. "Ya'll need some help?" he asks.

Speaking through several inches of chewing tobacco, he tells us the only way out is through a series of side roads, some no more than glorified dirt paths. Claus offers him 50 bucks to get us back on the highway-the guy lights up like a lottery winner. Our new guide cases out the road ahead. It's safe to proceed.

We pass boiled peanut stands and possum skinners until we finally merge onto the highway. Our guide blasts off with a flourish of tire smoke while Lynyrd Skynryd's Freebird fades into the distance. We are close to the Florida border and it literally looks like Hell on Earth.

Apparently, the Okefenokee swamp has been burning for weeks. The air is perfumed with what smells like equal parts dog hair and cat feces, both on fire. Living in Los Angeles, I am no stranger to wildfires. However, nothing could have prepared me for the scope of the devastation. Thousands of acres of burnt timber and dead animals.

Thankfully, the highway before us is wide open-we use every ounce of the TechArt Magnum's muscle. And there's a lot of it. The Magnum's sweet spot is 150 mph and its 600 hp will easily touch 170 mph, probably more. The Magnum's weight (5200 pounds) and modified aerodynamics leave it feeling extremely planted at high speed. Wind, rain, bugs... nothing makes any difference to our forward trajectory.

Way ahead, we see a glimmer of a windshield and our K40 radar detector goes wild. Despite its ginormous (gigantic/enormous) brakes, we won't scrub enough speed to place us within the 75 mph limit. We do our best and are promptly followed and eventually pulled over.

The officer tells us to be careful, many deer have been crossing the road of late. And because this is a lightly traveled road, the deer seem to think they own it.

"Ya'll don't wanna hit one going too fast," he says. "Drive safely and be careful." And then he disappears into the woods.

We sit there for a few minutes, half expecting him to return with a bazooka and a ticket book. He doesn't.

Claus thinks this is some cruel trick, a new form of torture. Not this time. This time, we were told simply to be careful and use our heads. It does wonders for

Claus, who resumes driving ever so cautiously-fast, but safe.

We make it to Moroso Speedway, where we are given full access to its road course. No one is especially anxious to take the TechArt Magnum on the track, given its race-bred company. Porsche 911 Turbos, Ferrari 430s, Lamborghini Gallardos... these are the weapons of choice and their owners are amazingly liberal with the keys.

"You wanna take my Murcilago for a spin?" asks Robb Rill. "Go wild." And he chucks the keys at my head.

Robb and his wife, Tara, are part of the Darkcyd Racing crew and have brought a black-on-black 18-wheeler for support. The Rills' black Murci is wearing black Maya wheels and looks like evil incarnate. The Rills are great people and I take to them instantly. Tara will later prove indispensable as navigator for Claus during our balls-out run to Orlando. Cool, calm, collected, Tara is beautiful and smart. Oh, and she can drive too. I'm in love.

I decline Robb's gracious offer and instead hop into the Magnum. Despite its size, it behaves like a lifted 911 and is capable of positively amazing performance. Although I was impressed with our long-term Cayenne S, the Magnum feels like twice the car.

Claus is up at five the next morning and raring to go. He wants to win this next leg and it's all business now. I'm laying down in the back seat, nursing a hangover. Although I can't see what's going on, I know we're making good time. Claus starts screaming at us to scan for cops, not just on the road, but in the air, sea and underground. His mood alternates between considering us worthless bumpkins and beloved friends, a kind of Italian love-hate thing.

Eventually, we arrive at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Florida. I check in, brush my teeth, make a few calls, and that's all I remember. I have a photo of myself hoisting some woman above my head. From all reports, I had a blast.

The skyline of Miami appears and it's as if pure adrenaline has been pumped into Claus' brain. We are swapping places with the Mercedes CLK DTM, and Claus is determined to win. We get stuck behind a big rig and it costs dearly-we take second. It seems good enough, though, because-clever German that he is-Claus has a few tricks in store for tomorrow.

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.

We aren't the only ones to take advantage of a little alternative transportation. Jay Riecke and Byron Burkhardt (of Team Riecke), plus Richard Rawlings and Dennis Collins chartered helicopters. Meanwhile, a cargo plane transports Team Rieke's Renntech Mercedes CL 600 and the Rawlings/Collins Ferrari 550 Maranello from Miami to Key West. Rawlings and Collins broke the 28-year-old New York-to-Los Angeles record in a blistering 31 hours and 59 minutes-in this 550. The incredible feat was accomplished just prior to joining the Bullrun midway.

All told, the menacing Magnum ran the route in the least amount of time, collecting the most consistent top finishes along the way. By car, boat or plane, winning or losing, it really doesn't matter. In the end, the glory and unforgettable memories are shared by all.

In-Car Navigation

For the directionally challengedJust about every car on Bullrun had some sort of navigation or GPS aid in order to reach every rally checkpoint in the quickest way possible. Some even had multiple systems. Here are a few portable navigation devices to get you where you need to go, whether you're an aspiring Claus Ettensberger or an average Joe trying to shorten the daily commute.

Miami Vise

CEC opens new Florida tuning centerA couple of days following the Bullrun, Claus Ettensburger celebrated the opening of CEC Miami, a brand-new state-of-the-art tuning facility located in Coral Gables, Florida. Coral Gables is to Miami as Beverly Hills is to Los Angeles.

Conceived by architect Pierluigi Bonvicini, the 12,000 square-foot building is impressive inside and out, with giant storefront windows offering passers-by a clear view of CEC's world. The contemporary showroom features fully equipped vehicles from AC Schnitzer, Brabus and TechArt, to name a few. On-site services range from mounting/balancing wheels and tires, to installing aerodynamics, to extensive engine conversions with the latest, most advanced equipment.

In addition to the CEC Miami Tuning Center, CEC operates full service showrooms in West Los Angeles and Newport Beach, as well as distribution centers in California and Florida. Parts and services are available through a network of authorized dealers throughout the US, Canada and Mexico.

A Look Inside The Beast

It's almost 16 feet long, 6.75 feet wide and weighs some 5200 pounds. It's an intimidating machine, the mad spawn of a psychotic soccer mom and a steroid-snorting WWF wrestler.

Subtlety is not the TechArt Widebody Magnum's forte.

TechArt's aerodynamics essentially re-body the Cayenne with new door panels, fenders, bumpers, hood and rear taillight assembly. Designed in the wind tunnel at the University of Stuttgart, the system was designed for significantly more downforce and cooling, something a standard Cayenne Turbo has in adequate measure. However, the Magnum is far beyond a standard vehicle. Its 500-hp twin-turbo V8 has been significantly modified with larger variable vane turbos, gigantic intercoolers, custom software and new intake and exhaust systems. Now, more than 600 hp is funneled through all four wheels, leaving this monster capable of brilliant all-wheel-drive burnouts. TechArt highly recommends that Magnum customers have the car fitted with its larger eight-/four-piston brakes and 15-inch/14-inch rotors.

Interior upgrades include TechArt's custom airbag steering wheel-a nice piece of work featuring a thick diameter and perforated stitching. Mats, door panels, seats and shift knob are TechArt pieces too.

A standard Cayenne Turbo requires $93,700. The TechArt program adds another $52,000 to that. Although it's a huge chunk of change, it will allow you and your four best friends to breach 60 mph in 4.6 seconds or cover the quarter-mile with a 12.7.

Be sure to ask them for gas money.

2007 Techart Widebody Magnum

*Layout
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

*Engine
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, TechArt turbochargers, intercoolers, oil lines, intake pipe, headers, catalysts, exhaust

*Suspension
TechArt height adjustable module

*Brakes
Eight-piston calipers, 15-inch rotors (f)Four-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors (r)

*Wheels and Tires
TechArt Formula GTS, 10x22Michelin Diamaris, 295/30

*Exterior
TechArt front bumper, rear bumper and diffuser, side skirts, rear contour door panel, headlamps, taillamps, four-inch fender flares, aero hood

*Interior
TechArt sport steering wheel

*Performance
Peak Power: 600 hpPeak Torque: 630 lb-ft

No Sleep Until The Pacific-The Other Trans-US Dashes

Cannon fodder

It started with the Cannonball Run. No, it wasn't just some string of suspect '70s movies starring Burt Reynolds and plenty of dodgy moustaches. And its full name-The Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash-would need a wide screen to fit.

In 1933, Erwin George 'Cannonball' Baker, a former vaudeville performer turned motorcycle and car racer, took a Graham-Page Model 57 Blue Streak 8 (why don't cars have cool names like that nowadays? Really, what the heck is a Tiguan?) from one coast to the other-one of many transcontinental jaunts-in 53 hours and 30 minutes, a record that wouldn't be broken for almost 40 years.

Fast forward to the '70s fuel crisis and blanket 55-mph speed limits, and who gets the bright idea to follow in Baker's tire tracks? A car journalist and racer, Brock Yates.

The Cannonball Run went from the Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street in New York City (subsequently the Lock, Stock and Barrel in Darien, Connecticut) to the Portofino Inn at Redondo Beach, California, just south of Los Angeles. The idea was to complete the journey in as quick a time as possible. There were no rules about participating vehicles (which ranged from Rolls-Royces to Dodge vans) or even which route to take. American racing legend Dan Gurney won one run in a Ferrari Daytona, with Yates as co-driver, clocking 35 hours and 54 minutes. But the fastest ever time was by Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough-32 hours and 51 minutes-in a Jaguar XJS, no less. Who'd have thought a Jag of that vintage would actually make it out of New York without breaking down?

Of course, it was all unsponsored and completely illegal.

Lap Of The Goods

Obviously, the Cannonball Run could not be allowed to exist. So Yates got involved in the One Lap of America. The first event took place in 1984, when Yates circled the lower 48 states. It got better. First by being a series of timed stages on public roads, then developing into a succession of track stints, with competitors driving from one track to the next (at legal speeds, but sometimes for 24 hours). Once trackside, the race is against the clock, not each other, with participants divided into classes according to retail prices, number of doors, etc. The duration of these events has been variable, with one covering 10,000 miles in 10 days and another completing 4000 miles over six days. In either case, the rules state that only one set of tires can be used, which makes things a little more interesting.

Smoking Gum

The Gumball Rally was a 1976 movie, reputedly a comedy, 'inspired' by the real-life Cannonball Run. Its name was hijacked by a bunch of rich, spoiled brats who think nothing of handing over thousands of dollars, pissing off every other road user and blasting their fast cars through various parts of Europe and the US, all in the name of fun. The Gumball 3000 is so-called because participants must cover 3000 miles in six days. Its organizers claim it's all done at legal speeds, but the reality is somewhat different. The Cannonball Run only saw a broken arm. In Europe, the Gumball 3000 has seen two fatalities, neither of whom were participants.

Lap Of The Goods

Obviously, the Cannonball Run could not be allowed to exist. So Yates got involved in the One Lap of America. The first event took place in 1984, when Yates circled the lower 48 states. It got better. First by being a series of timed stages on public roads, then developing into a succession of track stints, with competitors driving from one track to the next (at legal speeds, but sometimes for 24 hours). Once trackside, the race is against the clock, not each other, with participants divided into classes according to retail prices, number of doors, etc. The duration of these events has been variable, with one covering 10,000 miles in 10 days and another completing 4000 miles over six days. In either case, the rules state that only one set of tires can be used, which makes things a little more interesting.

Smoking Gum

The Gumball Rally was a 1976 movie, reputedly a comedy, 'inspired' by the real-life Cannonball Run. Its name was hijacked by a bunch of rich, spoiled brats who think nothing of handing over thousands of dollars, pissing off every other road user and blasting their fast cars through various parts of Europe and the US, all in the name of fun. The Gumball 3000 is so-called because participants must cover 3000 miles in six days. Its organizers claim it's all done at legal speeds, but the reality is somewhat different. The Cannonball Run only saw a broken arm. In Europe, the Gumball 3000 has seen two fatalities, neither of whom were participants.

SOURCE
Miami
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By , Rob Hallstrom
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