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ReflectionsOfTheDrive: Dustball Rally 1500: The Experience


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No Sniveling

First off, I think a quick description of the Dustball Rally event is in order. The 2010 Dustball Rally, in its fifth iteration, is a 1500 mile event. The 1500 miles are covered over three days…two 750 mile driving days with a party rest day in the middle. A great part of Dustball is it being a gimmick rally. A gimmick rally is basically a road rally where the object is to find answers to clues, which sometimes even direct you along the appropriate route. The gimmick portion, while being a lot of fun, serves a bit to keep the speeds in check. To describe the Dustball Rally best, it is a cross between the Cannonball Run movie and a scavenger hunt.

Some more background might be in order too. A little over a year ago, I had never heard of the Dustball Rally. I helped a friend, of Team Hall & Nass fame, apply the Dustball decals to their Corvette prior to the rally. That day I was hooked. His experience last year brought about the genius idea of purposely running in a pack of cars this year, all with a method to communicate while on the road. So that’s what we did. Team Hall & Nass labeled us the Hamthrax Avoidance Alliance. Our mascot…Pirate Pig.


After a Thursday night drivers’ meeting in El Paso at La Terraza Mexican Restaurant, Friday morning began with taking some photos, receiving the gimmick packet, and hitting the road having no idea where we would end up that night or the route to get there. After many calculations, finding many gimmicks, and not finding a few, we arrived at our checkpoint that afternoon in Santa Fe, Only then did we discover the Warwick Denver Hotel was the destination. I couldn’t have been happier, as I absolutely love Colorado. After a (too) long break, we were back on the road and the hunt. Our alliance arrived toward the back of the pack and after midnight in Denver. From this tremendous first day of driving, I learned two things for (hopefully) next year. One, gas and gimmick stops need to be just that, gas and gimmick stops…not social hour. Also, unless part of the event planning, never ever sit down with a group for a meal. However, aside from a few people making a donation the Colorado highway fund, there were no problems. It was one of the best days I’ve ever spent in a vehicle.

Saturday, some attended a scenic mountain drive. Some had leisurely lunches and dinners. All participated in enormous amounts of bench racing. We even discovered that Cyprus Hill was staying with us at the Warwick Hotel while in town for the Mile High Music Festival. That night was an all-out exclusive party at a Denver night club. While quite eventful, Saturday was a much needed day of rest before another full day and another 750 miles hunting gimmicks back to El Paso.


Sunday morning we met in a local park and started off again after receiving our gimmick packets for the return trip. I was a bit bummed to see we’d head straight out of Colorado, with no back road aside from Raton Pass over the state line. However, the brilliant route through the New Mexico mountains easily made up for it, and those who had hamthrax encounters Friday night were happy to get out of the state. Sunday the Hamthrax Avoidance Alliance was much better about taking less time at gas and gimmick stops. We even were completely successful at our primary goal of Hamthrax avoidance! While a downpour of rain toward the end of the day slowed us down and motivated many of us to skip over a good portion of gimmicks, we made much better time. Let’s just say the open runways roadways of New Mexico really were quite helpful in having a higher average speed for the day. Our new-found diligence served us well that day, and the HAA comprised most of the top 10 cars getting to the finish line. Let me remind you Dustball is a rally and not a race. So obviously our finish order had no importance whatsoever. It’s all about the gimmicks. Needless to say, we didn’t win the gimmick portion. Maybe next year.

Outside Taos

I knew I’d enjoy Dustball, however I didn’t expect to immediately be addicted and craving next year’s event before I even got home. All in all, my car covered over 2800 miles in four days of driving. It was an honor to participate and an honor to meet the grandson of Willie Williams, the legend behind the idea and spirit of the Dustball Rally. Team Prostin, without a doubt, deserved the spirit of Dustball award. Also, kudos to Team Hazmatt for winning the gimmick portion and being the overall rally winners. The Dustball Rally organizers, Andy and Lea, did a superb job planning and implementing such an event. My many thanks to you both and all involved as well as to my co-driver Rob. We had a great time and you were an invaluable asset, even if you never wore pants.

And for the record, no, I was not passed by a Prius!

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