The Trans America Challenge 2018

27 May - 17 June 2018



JUNE 5, 2018

Galveston to Austin

Surf and turf

The isthmus, that is the coastline to the south west of Galveston took us straight from the hotel this morning down to the most southerly point of our route via salt grass marshland and rows of neat stilt mounted holiday homes.

In the town of Freeport we finally said goodbye to the Gulf coast and struck northwards to the first time Control in the Bay City, Dairy Queen Cafe. There we found some crews who had just scraped in to the control within the 15 minute window, thanks to a freight train, some hundreds of meters long, which had ground to a halt on critical level crossing.

With just about enough time for a coffee and a comfort break it was then time to head to the first Regularity, the Texas Flats, a gravel blast through cotton fields, corn fields and pastures filled with livestock.

The Texana Raceway “your favourite small town dirt track” was up next and this short, banked oval was the venue for the days Test. Two laps, with a slalom and a stop astride thrown in for good measure opened the ERA 'run what you brung' championship in the good town of Edna.

Iris Tripet was in the driving seat this morning whilst Jean-Philippe took over pace note duty and were first in line for the Test and looked to thoroughly enjoy her first time driving on a track, as she and her Fulvia roared away from the line showering the start marshals with a plume of grit and gravel.

Stephen Hardwick was also happy today finding himself at the wheel of a tail happy Ford, which has finally arrived from Mexico after a bit of reworking and finessing. He and Samantha have finally ditched their SUV and were delighted to announce to everyone that, on the roads arounds Houston, the Falcon had landed.

This was a busy morning and the second Regularity at Texas Ranch helped the Rally to build an appetite for the grill at the lunch Time Control in the H&H Cafe in Yoakum. The air conditioned dining room proved as big a hit as the food as the mercury had climbed to 37°c over the course of the morning.

As all good things must come to an end though, once the plates had been cleared away the crews were obliged to tear themselves away from their cool sanctuary and head to the third and final Regularity for the day around the Texas Vines. Like the two before it this was a dry as a bone gravel section with several square corners in the finest American tradition and herds of longhorn cattle looking on.

From here, the home run took us through Delhi, which caught the eye of those crews looking to take on the Himalaya Challenge later this year and soon after we just missed another called Rockne, named after the founder of the car company, which must have grabbed Manuel Dubs’ attention. The fact that we finished in Austin can’t have been lost on Philip Blunden either.

The massive Circuit of the America’s came and went on our right hand side, just before we swung onto the ring roads and freeways, which would take us into Austin, the capital of Texas, which claims that it is the “live music capital of the world” although having been through Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans, some of us may beg to differ.

There has been some swapping of seconds within the top three crews today but the broad picture is still the same.  Jim Gately and Tony Brooks maintain first place ahead of David and Jo Roberts, with Mike and Lorna Harrison just behind them in third place.

The Hotel Granduca is where we find ourselves this evening and it was good to see our old Friend Manoj Saxena in the carpark as we drove in.

Over dinner it was mentioned that the state of Texas was recently voted the 47th safest State in the Union but, erring on the side of caution, we made sure that we’d locked our doors and windows before we turned in.

Syd Stelvio



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