Monday, January 23, 2006

Euro Trekkin'

7 Days, 7 Nights, 7 Countries

Well, technically it was 7 days, 7 nights, 5 countries and 2 principalities, but that just doesn't flow as nice. The following is a short recap of the last 7 insane days in Europe.

Corrigan's Log

Eurodate 1.16.2006

American colleagues arrive for 2 days of sales meetings.

Monday night, “team building” at the bar followed by more “team building” at a “table dance bar”.

Eurodate 1.17.2006

Hangover. I may, or may not have gotten some work done.

Eurodate 1.18.2006

Wake up at 5:30, pickup coworker and drive to Z├╝rich to pick up customer.

Customer's plane is 2.5 hrs late.

3.5 hrs, 2 muffins and 4 cups of coffe later, arrive back at work.

Eurodate 1.19.2006

Wake up at 6, meet back up with 2 coworkers, pick up customer from Austria and drive to Germany.

Eat Schwabian food for the first time. It's good.

Drive back from Germany, thru Austria, thru Switzerland, back to Lichtenstein.

Eurodate 1.20.2006

Work half day tying up neglected loose ends from the week.

3:30, Leave for Monaco, France. Drive south thru switzerland, thru Italy into the French cote d'azur.

10:30, Arrive at Monaco (Principality of...), meet up with friends to plan the race weekend. I missed day 1 of the race, but i made it for day 2 and 3.

Eurodate 1.21.2006

6:00, wake up and drive into the French mtns to St. Antonin – Toudin.

Hike up to stage and wait....

Rally!

Walk down to food truck and eat some sort of “American Sandwich”. I'm from America, and i've never had anything like this.

Walk back up to St Antonin and wait for the cars to rerun the stage.

Stage is cancelled due to many spectators. What the f*ck! I thought this was a spectator sport!

Drive back towards Genova then inland towards Sospel. Catch the night finish for the day.

Eurodate 1.22.2006

Wake up at 7 and drive into Col st Roch, Lantosque.

Rally!

Lunch

Nap in the French countryside.

Rally!

Drive back to Monaco for the ceremonial finish at the 800+yr old Monaco castle.

Drive back to Lichtenstein from France, thru italy, get lost in Milano, thru Switzerland.

Sleep

This was an insane week that culminated in one of the funnest things I've done so far. During the last seven days, i learned that:

-A Toyota Yaris has a top speed of 185km/hr, and can maintain 140 km/hr for hrs on end.

-The French Rivieara is incredibly beautiful and high on the list for a return visit.

-People you meet on the net aren't serial killers.

-Italian drivers are crazy. A left turn signal from the car behind you means get over. A left turn signal and flashing high beams means get over now.

Of all the different motor sports in existence, I think rallying is one of the coolest forms out there. I've been to a Nascar race in Bristol, I've been to the Top Fuel drag races at IRP, although I've yet to see a F1 race so I reserve the right to amend my opinion. Luckily, i can be at any number of F1 races within a few hours (Monza, Monaco, Nurburgring, Spa etc.)

The thing that makes rallying so cool is that not only must the cars must be 100% street legal, but they also race on public roads. The stages they run are closed public roads, but the road surface is completely unprepared. Dirt, snow, sand, ice, whatever nature throws down the drivers must take on. The drivers also have to use public roads to get between stages. There were a few times when i was trying to get to a stage that one of the race cars passed me on a public highway, that was a cool sight. When they strap into the car at 7 AM, they're stuck there for the entire day of racing which is often 10hrs or more. It's an endurance race not only for the drivers but the cars too. Building a street legal car for 8+hrs of racing each day for three days, with only one 60 minute service stop per day is a huge challenge. It's not unusual for a team to swap an entire transmission or even an entire engine during the 60 minute stop. When you add it all up, the demands on the cars, drivers and teams are pretty intense.

Oh, and there are no tickets. Just show up to the stage, find a nice corner and camp out till the fun comes. You can get incredibly close to the cars...dangerously close. I took a bunch of pics...below are just a few.

To sum it all up....I highly recomend attending a rally.

And if you have the chance...do so in a Toyota Yaris.


St Antonin - Toudon, day 2, stage 8 and 10. I love my new camera.

St Antonin - Toudon, Day 2 stage 8 and 10. Good illustration of the proximity of the spectators to the "track"

St Antonin - Toudon, day 2 stage 8 and 10. Hard Left!

Renault Firetruck. So i guess the french can build some cool stuff.

Sospel, stage 12, day 2. Unfortunately this car moved during exposure. The red is the glow of the ceramic breaks after the stage. what's that smell?

Sospel, stage 12, day 2. I love this picture, the glowing exhaust and the flames from the left side are awesome.

Sospel, stage 12, End of day 2. this isn't for good aeodynamics..the bumper was torn off.

Nick and Cecile. New rally friends.

Service stop after day 2. 60 minutes for full service....go! I couldn't get much closer unfortunately.

Lantosque (stage 14 and 17). morning stage..the track was pretty wet and icy.

Subaru "pignose" WRX. i like the old style better.

Lantosque (stage 14 and 17). Another good corner for photos. I'm not sure it's a good idea to stand on the outside with the cars screaming by, but i did (next photo)

Powerslide!

Lean a bit closer!

Lantosque (stage 14 and 17). this was a tough corner...lots of powerslides due to the dirt on the track.

Lantosque (stage 14 and 17). This car went off stage, but the damage is on the other side.

Closing Ceremonies and awards. Part of the old castle can be seen in the back.

The french town of Luceram. This "building" is actually remanents of a castle that have slowly been expanded into an entire town, perched on a hill. Not so many earthquakes here i think.

The mediteranean from Monaco Castle.