So what happened?
Day 1 - The Launch...
Excited was one way of putting it... as those who have been following my blog for a while will know I've been building up to this for quite a while, Just as people who obsess about Glee are Gleeks by similar methodology I am a Sceek, Ie someone who may take it all just a little too seriously! but hey ho that's me!
We met up at some services about 20 miles from brands hatch (sat nav has ruined my uk geographical knowledge) and met up with Team Floppy Throttle in their escort cab.
After a quick tour of each others motors we had to run off because they had arranged to meet up with a few other teams but in true Joe style I wanted to rock up at the launch nice and early...
When we arrived at the launch (something like 5th or 6th in the queue, we made our typical noise and fuss and I got the impression that a few of the new teams were a little concerned about what they had got themselves into!)
The four event team cars were lined up like f16's on a aircraft carrier ready for take off. I've never been a massive beemer fan but the site of 3 5's and a 3 lined up in camo was very cool
Ed was his usual cool, calm, collected self, armed with walkie talkie ensuring all went to plan...and of course it was...the participants hadn't really arrived yet!
As they let us in (in batches of 3 cars) we realised our first challenge of the event, before we had even registered, there was a ditch / hill into the paddock that we managed to dig plenty of dirt out of with our splitters!
The event team stickered up the car, this was a challenge given our crazy paint job not leaving alot of room but thanks to a scalpel and some creative placement they all went on...errr fairly haphazardly!
and there she was, sat in the paddock ready to meet and greet the other participants
We were of course fully adorned in our matching outfits, loving crafted by myself the day before in my drive
The car seemed to be creating quite a stir, we got a lot of comments about how low it was, the amusing thing was it can drop another inch and I wanted to do that before the event, but it's probably a good job I didn't as I am not sure we'd have even made it into the launch paddock!
One element of the car that people seemed to comment on a lot was our dash board, This surprised me, for me gaffer tape is the obvious choice when sticking random bits of equipment to a dashboard!
Now I know it's a little early to be giving awards out. But I'm going to anyway, So here are a few Bugsplat awards, these may come back later in the blog...
The Bugsplat award for best wheels goes to one of the events 540s
The Bugsplat award for best car and best entrance goes to the snozzbangers (the tank guys)
The Bugsplat award for best 'noisy mod' goes to the guys in the 7 series with this on the back
The Bugsplat award for being most innovative use of gaffer goes to the red cabby for this (note this is the LAUNCH)
The Bugsplat award for most bravery in their choice of car goes to this beast of a vehicle
Once we were all registered and had gone around meeting loads of mental, i mean lovely people and their various crazy cars we were beckoned to head for the track for a 'parade lap'
David took the wheel (turns out for the only real time!) and we did a few laps of the track. Here is a shot of tinatastic flying past, I unfortunately have no photos of the bug in action (but with captain slow driving it's for the best)
After the lap we parked up and took a few posing shots.
After that we moved that cars back into the paddock and then headed into the main building for the launch party itself.
I didn't take any photos in the party as I didn't want to scar my fragile little mind. After some food the dancing began, mostly by the 'ladies' (and I am not talking about real ladies)
We needed some fuel so we headed down the road at around 10.30 and got some petrol before heading back to the launch.
At about 11ish we headed down to the ferry and we were warned that the police at dover were already aware of us and our impending descent to the docks. We were warned to hold off for a bit so alot of us congregated at a petrol station down the road.
I have a vague recollection of a family in their crapbox doing a 35 point turn to get out of the car park and almost hitting about 3 of our cars...
We got to the ferry and sat waiting, I tried to sleep. but sleeping in an mx5 is impossible, its like someone handing you an icecream tub and saying sweet dreams...
Day 2 - Off we go...
So the ferry was quite simply enormous! it was their P&O's new beast and this was compounded by the fact that as the car was soooooo loooooow we were directed not to go up the ramp to the upper level like all the others and to go downstairs with the HGVs, we were accompanied by the fire engine participants (yes you heard that right)
On the ferry i tried to sleep, I think I got a grand total of 4 minutes sleep. plenty enough for a full day's rallying across France.
On the ferry we were issued with our route card, the final destination was Strasbourg (not to be confused with Strassburg)
and there were 2 checkpoints, these were alcoholically themed which was very apt given the caliber of the people around us ;0) These two checkpoints were the head office of Veuve Clicquot and Moet & Chandon in (unsurprisingly) the Champagne region in Reims.
We exited the ferry and hit fog, thick fog, visibility at times was down to maybe 50metres, so we decided to stick to a steady 85. I didn't see the point of taking any photos, plus I was concentrating on the vague movement of shapes in front of us.
Apparently most of the other teams were more sensible than us as we got off the ferry first and we barely saw another soul until the fog lifted and sun came out! Then the fun started.
We were looking really sexy in our caps werent we...
So something I havent mentioned as yet was about our sat nav, or lack of it... There is some ironic fate at play here. I remember about 6 months ago putting a note on the forum about people attempting to do the whole rally without the use of sat nav. I then bailed out about a week before the event and purchased the copilot software for my phone. (and yes it was the european version) but apparently it didnt want to find anything in europe... so alas we had nothing but a map of europe that made belgium and calais about 1 inch apart and the useful art of stalking other teams... now thankfully I am a master of this... so it's a good job we bumped into laurel and hardy!
We actually met up with them at what appeared to be the first checkpoint, we found a Veuve Clicquot building in the middle of Reims, hey presto we thought, until we realised that the photo we had looked nothing like it... we took a photo anyway just in case, so we effectively made up a 3rd checkpoint.
This is where we found that Laurel and Hardy had a sat nav that actually worked and we followed them a couple of miles down the (awful painful arse scraping bumper killing cobbly) road to find the 1st actual checkpoint
We then had to zip off to a place a few miles away called Epernay which homed Moet and Chandon. We found this quite easily (again thanks to L&H)
We then had a look at the map and realised that while I was naively thinking that most of the driving for that day was done, or at least we'd broken the back of it, it turns out we had about the same to drive again to get to our campsite in strasbourg! Alas this was a stark reminder of the kinds of distances we cover on scumrun. Remember at this point, 4 minutes sleep!
The drive from Reims to Strasbourg was actually a really nice pleasant drive, the french country side was amazing.
Somewhere towards Strasbourg we happened upon the NY taxi who were very helpful and knew where they were going, a bonus in this event...we followed them into strasbourg (another place with god forsaken roads) and after a little tooing and froing and ignoring of the official directions (just turn left) we found it.
I was pretty much a wreck...
so given we had done well and arrived around 4ish I grabbed an hours kip in my tent
That evening I opened the bug bar which amazingly in my stupor, I completely forgot to take a photo of, but the rear wing had a little sign fitted to it, with cups, 2 bottles of jaeger and a crate of the lambo energy drink that was doing the rounds!
In the space of about 2-3 hours ourselves, a few other teams and these guys especially helped me finish it all off... and Lads, i really tried to remember your names, but all I can remember is, Jack, Chris, G? and.......nope gone, sorry guys, but we had a ball any way.
later in the night was some Kareoke, the less said about this the better.
Day 3 - The Bug Bites Back
Now firstly a disclaimer, I have less photos of this day due to the nature of our issues so thanks to others for the use of their photos
After getting a luxurious 4 hours sleep I woke up to carnage around the bug, the bug bar was dismantled and I cooked up a tin of hunger breaks (YEAH!!) on the gas burner, along with the cappuccino this was lurvely.
We got our route card which said final destination - Prague, with a checkpoint in nurenburg. That my friends, is a bloody long way from Strasbourg. We decided not to rush off like many of the loones who had now decided that it most definitely completely and utterly (did I say definitely) was not a race as they wheel span out of the campsite. We had to fix up the cars splitters first.
Here I need to say a massive thanks team tubbies! Not only did they dismantle their barbecue in order to find a washer that would hold my splitter on, but they also kindly offered to carry loads of our stuff!
We started up the bug and immediately knew we had trouble. She coughed and spluttered like an 11 year old trying his first cigarette... misfiring like a german Messerschmidt. Bugger we thought. we had a quick look but couldnt see an immediate cause so we headed off anyway thinking it could just be a dirty injector or something and it may clear up after a bit of a 'blat'
David took the wheel for about 5 minutes, scraped 2 curbs and dropped her in a massive pot hole, after a short 'flap' he decided the bug was too scary to drive and we swapped. Here is a thankyou to my beloved copilot as he was quite happy as a passenger and didn't moan at all about it when many would.
We headed up trying to keep the engine on 4 cylinders as much as possible. Pretty soon it got a little worse and we stopped with our convoy we had caught up with to have a quick look
We were pretty certain it was one of 3 things, an HT lead, a spark plug or (and hopefully not) an injector. In retrospect I have now replaced with a new set of leads and all is fine so it was that but at the time when you hurtling across Germany its a little more difficult and slightly more panicky, but alas this is part of what Scumrun is all about, and in comparison to some of the other teams we got off lightly!
So we decided to stick with the crew we were with which (and fair play to them) included a 1 litre Polo! so we were never going to fly along too quickly, this worked for us as we werent sure as to the extent of the issues with the bug.
It started to rain...
At first I refused to put the roof up...I'd said through hell and high water would I put the awful looking roof up during the rally, but David, and more to the point the video camera was a little more sensitive to it than I was so we stopped to put the roof up and get fuel.
This is where our issues faded into insignificance. The floppy throttle boys had big problems, their electrics went up the swanny, no windows / wipers amongst other things, they were going nowhere. We (and i mean the other 3 in the convoy) showing true Scumrun loyalty, ditched the crippled cabby and buggered off leaving them to wait for the AA to sort them out. I will refer you to the link on the right of the page for team floppy throttles blog if you want to find out what happened!
We did attempt to have a little fun in the car park while they figured out their next move...
But it didnt really work so well on 3 cylinders (that said we managed to get 110 out of her on 3 cylinders later in the event)
We headed off and drove towards nurenburg where we were looking for that place you see in all the black and white films of Hitler where he did his speeches / rally things... An interesting choice of historical checkpoint given how respectful we all are I thought ;0)
We eventually found it thanks to it being the place where 'Volkfest' or something was and there were signs everywhere.
Note the guy on the left was Jon in the T5, and I found out on day 4 of the event that he was a copper, GULP, but he assured me 'what goes on tour stays on tour'
Here's another more compromising shot of him in case I need it at a later date
We followed the long road towards Prague going through loads of great scenery, we completely missed the Czech border checkpoint, having driven past it 5 mins before we even realised we were supposed to find it!
Eventually we rolled in to the campsite at about 8pm, the exact time that the coaches were meant to be taking up into the centre of prague for the main event party!
luckily they were a bit delayed, I had time to get changed, David decided in with wise old man ways to stay behind and setup but he did my tent so I'm not complaining!
We headed on the coach to the centre and thanks to 'senior nutjob' of the snozz's (Who I just happened to be sat next to) we had a stink bomb on board with us!
I had a relatively serene evening as quite frankly 4 hours sleep in 72 hours and circa 30 hours driving is enough to tire any man... few beers with the tubbies boys and we got a cab back, well after almost being conned by a dodgy cab first, but we just got out of that one!
I got back to the tent and cooked up some chilli about 1am then got at least 6 hours sleep!
I hear some other teams had a far more mental, expensive and less savoury evening than myself, but it's not my place to divulge such stories!
Day 4 - The day where the tunnels arrived...
We woke up in Prague and there were a collection of groggy looking individuals staggering around sharing stories of the night before, none of which are bloggable... Someone up there obviously thought we needed waking up a bit because the heavens opened for a while!
We got our route card for the day, it had a final destination of a campsite in the middle of a national park in northern germany somewhere near a place called Vohl.
So we had a little trouble with the Czech coppers here, someone during the night at about 4-5am decided it was the perfect time for some drifting in the car park, alas it wasnt long before the coppers were called.
The other challenge we had was their road tax system. We did not know but if you use Czech motorways you are supposed to buy a little window sticker as road tax with a huge fine if your caught without one. Turns out that most of us didnt get one, so David went on a wonder into the prague suburbs at 8am and found a garage that sold one. Well done David!
All the cars gathered in the car park outside the camp site
the coppers turned up just as we were leaving so there was some frantic CB radio action warning all where they were and what they were doing, it was quite exciting really!
We drove through central Prague thanks to Jon's off road focused sat nav, now central prague is basically a patchwork quilt of roads of varying types, surfaces and bumps! scrapage ahoy was had by the bug!
Eventually after several loops we made it out of central prague and headed out on one of the motorways, a few miles out of town we decided to stop for breakfast at macdonalds. Here we created a bit of fuss with the locals, Including one particular Czechian (or whatever they call themselves) who was eying up our motor, he got duly papped
So a little way onwards and it was apparent that this was going to be the best set of roads so far. We were not disappointed... respect to the edman for planning such a great route, took us up through mountains, through plenty of tunnels...ohhh the tunnels, I can't really explain the tunnels, just watch the video, it does a better job.
We were with our main crew once more, floppy, top gun, the polo and the T5 we blatted up through the mountains having a great time.
somewhere into germany we lost these lads apart from the T5 and apart from a short siting at some services didnt see them until the evening.
Jon's sat nav came good this time and took us to the first checkpoint 'euro eddys' almost straight away.
We met up here with the firebird bmw and a jag and started following them as they seemed to know where they were going. What I didn't realise was the speeds they were cruising at!
Now luckily the bug had been much better today, and as long as you took the time to accelerate smoothly performed pretty much as normal, we even topped 125 on the autobahn with the roof down at one point! not bad on a dodgy 1.6 engine!
With cruising speeds of 110+ we were sitting at around 6000 revs burning the fuel happily away! The T5 didn't quite feel comfortable sitting up there (understandably its not friendly on the fuel bill) and dropped back, we felt a bit bad leaving them on their own but my inner speed demon took over, sorry Jon and Kelly!
The second checkpoint was a statue called Hercules in a place in germany I forget the name (could have been Hercules to be honest!) and it was odd because although the statue was very obvious on top of the hill, the actual coordinates we were given were for a pharmacy shop called Hercules at the bottom of the hill, so being a bunch of lazy gits we went for the easy option!
Now we were on the home run into the campsite near Vohl. Some of the scenery here was amazing, and again I didnt get a single photo because I was driving.
We got a bit lost, following around still with the bmw and the Jag and we had picked up the white Porsche on the way as well. Eventually we made it to the campsite around 7 I think and pulled up next to the Fiat coupe which had made it there first! apparently they had 147mph out of her! nuts!
There were some great highlights from this campsite, the lexus drifting round the field at every opportunity, the tank doing what they do best, creating havoc, but one thing I thought was brilliant was the big dog lads who seemed to spend the day 'collecting' various large mementos!
The evening consisted of a barn kareoke party...where we spent most of the evening planning the tubbies next theme but I won't put any spoilers here!
Quite late on the polo / floppy / top gun boys rolled in and Ive got to say looked pretty knackered, but sounds like they had some fun!
The only negative from this place was the temperature, it dropped to -4c overnight, I came up with an ingenious method of central heating for my tent. NOTE THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED
I got the gas burner, put it in the middle of the tent gave it a blast for a minute or two and it stayed toasty for a while, if I woke up cold, pull it back in, light it up, wey hey, central heating.
Day 5 - Limping home
The next morning was a beautiful day, sun was out and there wasn't the usual lull of the 'damn we have to drive back to calais now' feeling that you can sometimes get.
We got route cards that took us via a checkpoint in Bruges centre.
We had some fun driving out of the campsite, lovely sweeping corners through valleys, the bug however was really limping now, she was on 3 cylinders all the time now, it turns out one of the HT leads had completely given up the ghost.
We ended up in loads of different convoys on the journey to bruges. At one point we ended up in a 'super convoy' where 3 or 4 convoys met up heading for bruges and for at least 10 or so miles we had a line of 20 cars cruising at about 80.
Now it was all going well mechanically, she was limping along fine on 3 cylinders, we even got 110 out of her at one point. However there was one significant downside to her tricylinderitis... Fuel... She was drinking it, and not just how people say 'oh shes a bit thirsty' she was getting through a full 60 euro tank in about 45 minutes! I guess it was all going down the exhaust!
This led us to a slight predicament... there do not seem to be many petrol stations in Belgium, and we were below empty... we had to leave the convoy and peel off the motorway to find a remote little fuel station in some place I cant remember.
But they have unmanned petrol stations everywhere in Belgium where it is all pay at pump. Which is fine if your cards work in the machine! none of ours did! So we had to flag down a local girl to use her card and pay her cash!
So fueled up we got going again but given our rather stricken situation we decided that although we were going via bruges we would miss out the final checkpoint and head down to calais.
The final checkpoint was the old now deserted Eastenders cash and carry at Calais, this happened to be the finish point for the 2007 rally (our first rally) so was quite nostalgic
We headed round to the ferry port and met up with the various people we'd seen on route.
It wasn't until we were on the ferry and chatting to the T5 guys that we realised that the polo / floppy / top gun lads hadn't made it onto the ferry! We had no idea why they werent there, and the crazy antics they had caused in the centre of bruges! apparently the top gun boys FTO had broken its suspension causing grid lock during rush hour!
On the ferry we had the winner awards, These were voted for by all the participants so nobody could argue about the decisions!
The spirit of scumrun went to the YMCA boys, who we didnt really see alot of to be honest but I heard they were fully in character, doing the dance wherever possible!
The best dressed scum was never in doubt, the ladies, winners of the spirit last year, they more than deserved all the praise, Kev and the lads were legendary this year!
The best dressed car award was given to the tank, for me the best vehicle on the event, the fact that they built a working turret that rotated, tilted and even fired, deserves mucho respect.
The best modified car was the one that a small hidden part of me hoped we had a chance at, but as soon as one particular vehicle rolled in (which I had heard alot about before the event) the orange 540 bmw I knew our chances were dashed. It was an awesome beast, well done lads!
Ah well there is always next time!
The final part of the blog is dedicated to 10 minutes of cacophony I will never forget...happens every year, but this year was something both ridiculous and special. The noise of 116 cars, horns ablaze, with various exhaust tones rattling the ferry to its very foundations (should it have any) was spectacular, you may have seen some of the video footage, they do no justice to the splendor of those final moments. An amazing way to end and amazing rally...
Roll on the next one, and a genuine heart felt thank you to all you people who make it such a brilliant event to take part in and a massive thanks to the event team for all your hard work!
Rock on! - Joe - Team Bugsplat