The Trans America Challenge 2018

27 May - 17 June 2018



JUNE 8, 2018

Amarillo to Santa Fe

Route 66. A Fine Country for Old Cars


We’ve just tipped over the halfway point today and there’s definitely a change in the air. For a start it was windy this morning and, also much cooler because suddenly we find ourselves at 1,200m and, roaring across the open prairies with tumbleweed and little else between us and the horizon Trans America started to feel a bit more epic.

Our first stop today was a Passage Control at the Cadillac Ranch, an odd but colourful set of 10 upended and part buried Cadillac cars which the public are invited to, nay encouraged, to cover with their own graffiti.

These world famous motoring monoliths, which can trace their genesis to 1974, can almost claim to be the Carhenge of Northwest Texas and they certainly attract the crowds who are more than happy to add their aerosol additions to them.

The next Control was at the Old Route 66 Mid Point Cafe in the town of Adrian, which served up coffee, cakes and cinnamon buns. The gift shop also did a brisk trade in stickers, key rings and fridge magnets and, from this point, the signs told us that we were exactly 1,139 miles from either Chicago or Los Angeles. The old Route 66 has largely been swallowed up by bigger and faster roads but this little slice of the past was well worth a visit.

The border with New Mexico "The Land of Enchantment” slipped by shortly before the Old Route 66 gravel section, which eventually led the rally back onto the Interstate and then to lunch in the ‘Kix on 66 Diner’ in Tucumcari. A special Trans America had been devised and, perched on bar stools, the crews enjoyed some excellent food.

The afternoon section was billed as a pretty dramatic one and it surely lived up to this. Almost as soon as we’d left lunch, we were onto Route 104 through the low mesas of the old Comanche country. It was a hot, hilly and impressive road which rose quickly to 2000m on the way to the Las Vegas Time Control at the foot of the Sangre de Christo Mountain range. The Plaza Hotel, which was used as a set for the Film no Country for Old Men, looked after us very well with cold drinks and snacks on offer to see us thorough to the end.

From Las Vegas, the Santa Fe Trail and Interstate 25 snaked though the forests and the mountains into Santa Fe itself and the night halt at the El Dorado Hotel. At almost 2,200m this could rightly be described as a cool place, thanks to its altitude and the vibrant artistic scene which the city supports. It was still warm enough to eat outside though and, the carpark buffet rounded off an exceptional day with the cars forming a circle into which  our dining tables had been laid and a bar set out. Naturally, it was Mexican food which was on the menu washed down with some good local wines.

As there’s been no competition today, the results haven’t changed so Jim Gately and Tony Brooks can sleep soundly this evening knowing that David and Jo Roberts and Mike and Lorna Harrison still have some catching up to do on Sunday.

We’re also pleased to report that with just over one week to go, the entire field is still running, with no hire cars or substitutes in the mix, but it’s been a long hot few days and this has taken its toll on one or two of the cars which means that the sweeps have been busy as usual.

Erik van Droogenbroek and Adrian van der Linde’s Volvo still has fuelling issues and has now worked its way through four pumps. Tomorrow, the plan is to remove the foam lined petrol tank completely to see what’s causing the problem but there’s a hunch that the ethanol in the fuel may be part of the reason.

Alan and Tina Beardshaw’s Triumph blew the master cylinder this morning so was limping for pretty much all of the day with much reduced braking capacity but they arrived in Santa Fe just in time for dinner.

Tomorrow we enjoy a well deserved day off and there’s plenty to do and see, once the cars have been fixed.

Syd Stelvio



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