I’ve been trying to piece together the mad cap, Wacky Races style long weekend I had a few short weeks ago. Sometimes if you’re very very lucky and the stars align you occasionally get dealt a pair of aces. And then another pair of aces. And you try to sit at the table calm and collected when inside you’re smiling like the Cheshire Cat that got the creme. And laughing like the Mad Hatter.
I did the initial US Gumball 3000 rally from New York to Los Angeles. A bunch of demented lunatics hooning across the country with a death wish. Well, at least a Court date wish. The guy in the big Lambo lasted two days and change. But so would you if you’d been successively clocked by the rozzers doing in excess of 180mph on the public roads. Day in. Day out. I’m not sure what happened to him. Perhaps he had to take a cab home when they impounded his car. Who knows. Then there were the guys who exploded the AC Cobra, took a taxi 200 miles to the closest Ferrari dealership to buy a new one for the next morning, proceeded to blow that up and then ship in another beautiful vintage Ferrari from their collection to finish the race. Sorry. Rally. No racing allowed. Or booze. Or drugs. Or general disregard for the law of the land. It said it in the Release you had to sign. So it had to be true. Right?
And then there was the Mille Miglia Ferrari Tribute Rally. A whole different kettle of fish. Gumball for grownups I think I said at the time. Thoroughly condoned hooligan driving with Police escorts, screaming fans and pure unadulterated petrol heads communing with their God. Only in Italy could you be actively encouraged to drive as fast as is humanely possible on the public roads. While the public are also on them…
So I think its fair to say I’ve been lucky enough to have somehow become involved in some true bucket list experiences.
And then there was this.
Its not often Bugatti call you asking if you’d like to go drive the hell out of a Veyron. In fact it never happens. Until it does.
And what better place to have the beast gird its loins and stretch its legs than in a GoldRush Rally among its own kind.
The GoldRush Rally has its own flavor. Mostly golden and Champagne like. Or very exotic. Like Bugatti, McLaren, SLR exotic. The characters taking part certainly have a more lighthearted approach to life. While simultaneously enjoying the finer things. Let's remember it takes part in the home of the brave, and land of the free. So by definition it is tough to have a total disregard for your rate of progress. But if you are crafty enough to enlist the support of some seriously beardy private security in a hopped up Maserati with enormous aerials, radar equipment and more electronics than NORAD you tend to be Hatchet Harry at the poker game, not Eddy. Which means you know what’s coming long before it happens. Which gives you a certain amount of flexibility shall we say. After all, its not the breaking of the law that causes the real problems. Its the getting caught. Note to Gumball Lambo guy. Every now and then polite conversations are incurred with the local constabulary, mostly with them offering advice on the benefits of not speeding and suggesting the next County may be more forgiving. Sometimes things go sideways. And you find yourself in a Rolls Royce Phantom surrounded by multiple members of the Policing establishment. Not so much because of weaving through the traffic on the Interstate at well over twice the speed limit, but more because it soon becomes apparent that there are some herbal aromas wafting out the window in dense clouds as soon as the windows are lazily rolled down…no one inhaled…and no one did 220mph either. Well, at least that’s what I heard.
But I digress. My toy for the weekend. The Bugatti Veyron. Named after Ettore Bugatti the founder of Bugatti and Pierre Veyron who won the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans in one of Ettore’s cars.
Things have come a long way since Pierre lowered himself into the cockpit of the 1939 version. So much so that it's more like piloting a plane than driving a car. When at rest it fools your senses into thinking it's just some kind of fancy supercar. But then you get in and drive it and you realize that was a mirage. An illusion. Next time you are flying on a jet aircraft close your eyes and listen to the engines spooling up and down as you trundle around getting ready to take off. That’s a little like going to the shops in a Veyron. Those in the know call it a “Bug”. And although technically it is sort of related to a VW, that’s not what we’re talking about here. It's really a four wheel contraption with a jet-like engine and ailerons. Most of the time it just floats along as if on a current of air like a magic carpet. And then when you need to get somewhere you just visualize that point in space, plant your right foot, and disappear in a willow-the-wisp of blurred fury. Reappearing exactly where you had projected yourself. As if by magic. It is so tame and yet so fierce at the same time that if it didn’t do what it does when you give it the beans you’d believe it had about 50hp not over 1000hp.
We’ve all heard how much of an engineering marvel it is – 1001hp, 10 radiators, hand built tires that last only 15 minutes at its insane top speed (a recorded 400kph or 258mph). Thank the Lord it runs out of gas in 12 minutes at that rate of knots. Each one is hand built to order to minute tolerances and with bespoke parts that are turned out in some of the most high tech aeronautic plants in the world. From the rear air brake sensors to the front splitters this thing is balls to the wall all the way. It's no wonder the car world hadn’t seen speeds like this since the glory days of the Porsche 917 immortalized by Steve McQueen in the movie “Le Mans”.
Of course $2M+ is a hefty sticker for something that does the same job as a Smart car. But this is a life of stories. And in a world cluttered by sensory overload the Veyron makes everything else just seem like background noise.
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