Hold on to Your Hat!
The drive across the USA, from sea to shining sea, is one of the must do trips on many a drivers’ bucket list. Whichever roads you choose, this transcontinental odyssey is sure to captivate you as it has for countless other travelers, writers and artists over the years.
Throw in an element of competition and timing, along with an exquisite vintage Bentley mo-tor car and, what you end up with, could be argued to be the journey of a lifetime.
The third edition of the Endurance Rally Associations’ classic American road trip was ac-claimed by some as the best yet and, along with another 32 crews, Bill and Julie Holroyd, in a Medcalf prepared 1927 Bentley 4 ½, took up the challenge.
Their route to the chequered flag was a typically tough one and it led them from the charming southern city of Charleston, on the hot and humid South Carolina coast, all the way to Seattle in the cold, clear Pacific Northwest.
Covering an impressive 8,000km over 22 days, the rally saw everything that only such an epic road trip could produce. Temperatures in the Deep South approached a fuel boiling 40°c, a tropical storm, Alberta, soaked everything and everybody to the core, the 4302m altitude and thin air of the legendary Pikes Peak, tested the fuel / air mixtures and the brakes and steering in equal measure, whilst a drag strip test in Woodburn was guaranteed to show up any weakness in the transmission.
Bill himself admitted that the rally was very demanding. “One day was 750km long and I felt like I had undergone a full-body workout each day. Thankfully, the car was faultless for the entire trip which is a credit to the preparation.
Credit must also go to my absolute rookie navigator who started the rally telling me to slow down for every corner but by the end of the trip was exhorting me to drive like a mad-man”!
It wasn’t all work and no play though, on the way to the finish line there was plenty to do and see away from the road. Four rest days were scheduled including two in the legendary music venues of Nashville and New Orleans, another in the high and dry desert city of Santa Fe in New Mexico and a final one in the beautiful mountain town of Aspen.
In Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley, Bill recalls a most bizarre incident. Being inter-viewed by the local TV station and then having pals from Switzerland getting in touch saying “Hey, you’re on TV!”
Whatever was thrown at it though, either by mother nature or the rally organisers, Car no. 1, the Cricklewood Cruiser never missed beat and continued to turn heads along the way with its ageless charm and style. Bill had already taken on the tough, five day French Blue Train Challenge in 2017, but this was his and Julie’s first long distance event.
Their final placing, third in class didn’t quite reflect the facts of their rally, as the crew had to fly back to the UK for a couple of days after New Orleans before rejoining in Santa Fe. A ‘relief crew’ took charge of the vehicle but the hiatus, albeit a planned one, doubtless affected their rhythm.