The Trans America Challenge 2018

27 May - 17 June 2018



MAY 27, 2018

Charleston to Charlotte

Sunday Best

We had a rude awakening this morning when, at around 6.00am, a fire alarm got us all out of bed and into an assembly area in various states of undress clutching whatever was precious to us. In Brian Scowcroft’s case this was neither his wallet or his passport, rather he grabbed his route book and time card. Surely an example to us all.

Once the all clear had been given though, and normal morning service had been resumed, then the crews made their way down to breakfast, had their time cards stamped and then strolled to the car park where they found Fred Gallagher waving Old Glory for all he was worth.

Bill and Julie Holroyd, in a 1927 Bentley 4½ led the charge from the start line and the Rally then enjoyed an easy run through the traffic free streets of Charleston along roads lined with churches and billboards exhorting us to better ourselves in every way and, in one case to specifically stop our ‘cussing’ whilst another proclaimed that you “need a test to have a testimony just about the time we passed by the Magnolia Plantation which claimed to be America’s oldest garden.

Pam King and Gaye Hill who are taking part in their first ERA event, in the number 12 Chevy Bel Air were accompanied part of the way this morning by their three rally dogs who sat on the back seat of the car calling out the junctions, checking the average speeds and watching out for cats. A quick glance through the archives confirms that this was most definitely an ERA first and, as per the regulations, could leave Mark Appleton, the Clerk of the Course, with a bit of a dilemma should they move up the leaderboard.

The road then ran alongside Lake Moultrie to the first Regularity at Clarendon County after some 93 miles. Thick woodland characterised this section along with a softy sandy floor and many alternative tracks from the left and the right. By the end of it there were some who were glad that they’d paid attention to the Gill Cotton briefing and there were some who perhaps wishes that they’d been there in the first place.

Soon enough, the lunch Time Control in Manning appeared and, a variety of all American eateries vied with each other to take our dollars and, from the reaction of the rest of the customers on the forecourt it was clear that they’d never seen anything like this collection of old metal.

David and Jo Roberts were a little late to the sandwich counter though as they had a few electrical issues to overcome first. An alternator fault was diagnosed and the offending piece was changed in less than ten minutes by Supersweep Bob Harrod leaving them just enough time to explain that they really didn’t eat meat!

It was but twenty one miles thereafter until the second Regularity at Brohum Camp where, quite aptly for a Sunday, there were some navigators seeking redemption after their performance over the morning.

Between signs, warning us against incursions off the road because of ‘air to ground bombing activities’ the cars threaded their way through freshly planted fields and thick stands of pine trees.

A picturesque run along the shores of Lake Wateree then took us to the Time Control at Dutchman’s Creek Marina for a spot of refuelling for both man and machine before the final push up the Interstate and the Billy Graham Parkway to Charlotte in North Carolina.

The Nascar Hall of fame is where the day officially ended and, after checking in their timecards, the crews were then able to enjoy some superb exhibits showcasing Nascar race engineering at its brutal best.

A few blocks beyond the museum lay the Hyatt Hotel where we were to spend the night and over a drink or two in the bar, the crews clinically dissected the days results which showed conclusively that Jeff Urbina and Chris Pike were sat fully in the driving seat leading from Jim Gately and Tony Brooks and Mike and Lorna Harrison.

Syd Stelvio



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