The Trans America Challenge 2018

27 May - 17 June 2018



JUNE 17, 2018

Newberg to Seattle

A Maiden Win

Well that was some victory lap. If David and Jo Roberts thought they were in for an armchair ride to the finish today then they were quickly disabused of any such notion as the last day of the Trans America Challenge 2018 unfolded.

From the lovely Allison Inn in Newberg, there was an easy run to brunch in Astoria and, the meal itself was a very civilised affair in the Bridgwater Bistro. Under the magnificent Megler Bridge where an excellent selection of quiche, cakes and coffee was provided by the Rally Organisers.

Two tough and demanding Regularities followed soon afterwards, around the renowned Brooklyn stage of the Olympus Rally which tested the crews to the limits of their last day reserves. Thick forest, an uncertain surface and many timing points made this section, the sting in the tail which some had been dreading.

As tough as it was, it was also pretty short and with audible sighs relief the rally eventually hit the highway and set a course for the finish line at the Tacoma Motor Museum where the time cards were collected and the clocks were stopped.

Sadly, after three weeks of hard work and determination though the Bristol driven by Paul Hicks and Sebastian Gross had to be towed across the line because of an electrical fault.

However they managed it, once through the finish arch, all that was required of the crews thereafter was to drive into Seattle, park up at the Fairmont Olympic, await the awards dinner and collect whatever prizes were due to them.

It was good to have Pam Lyford sitting down with us for dinner, she and her late husband Chuck won both the Vintage Cape Horn Rally in 2013 and the Rally of the Incas in 2016. Many crews with us tonight remembered their infectious enthusiasm and competitive spirit and Pam, along with Rally Director Fred Gallagher and Clerk of the Course Mark Appleton took charge of distributing the awards and offering a few witty anecdotes.

Fred summed up the mood of the evening when he said that it had been ‘a great event with a fabulous bunch of competitors’.

For David and Jo Roberts, the overall winners, this has been a long time coming. From the Peking to Paris in 2007, when they rolled into Place Vendome with Jo holding a can of oil on her lap, to the Classic Safari of 2017 which involved Jo flying back to the UK and returning with a new swing arm assembly this couple have travelled a hard road but have never failed to finish a rally.

Mike and Lorna Harrison, who were in second place in the Classic Category were almost as delighted as the winners were. They’ve had a brilliant time storming across the USA and were generous in their praise of both their erstwhile rivals and the ERA team for putting on this event in the first place. Mike loved the route, loved the variety of landscapes and loved the competition. He finished by saying that he’s already looking forward to his next outing - once he’s got the car serviced.

Jim Gately and Tony Brooks, so often the bridesmaids but never the brides, were pipped at the post at the very end of the Blue Train Challenge when the wheels quite literally fell off their wagon and now they were beaten by a power to weight deficit on the track. They’re fighters though and, taking home the Vintageant class win and third place overall against a field of newer cars was a magnificent achievement.

After the dinner, David Roberts drew on his decade long experience of listening to others making their victory speech but reassured us that he wasn’t going to talk for as long as Bruce Washington did in Paris 2016. He thanked Jo for her efforts over the last three weeks and he also thanked all the Porsches, Datsun 240Zs and every other fast car which didn’t come to Charleston to start the rally

He then informed us that Alan Beardshaw had offered him the use of the winners speech which he’s been carrying around in his inside pocket for the last 25 years. As David didn’t know any greenkeepers or caddies though he politely refused and continued to use his own which recounted his and Jo’s triumphant fancy dress outfit, the pub quiz victory and the many discretionary awards picked up along the road.

As well as the  overall and the class awards, there were a couple of discretionary awards presented as well, the Spirit of the Rally Award went to Team Urbina and the http://www.drive4stageiv.com crew which was collected by Tim and Peggy Eades on behalf of Chris, Jeff, Gaye and Willie.

The Against all Odds trophy was then taken by Mick and Grace De Haas who battled back to rejoin the Rally in Aspen after a fuel pump fiasco in Santa Fe.

Finally, we’re sad to report that Pam King, from the Chevy Bel Air died last night after a long illness. Her husband Chris, along with her good friends Jeff Urbina, Gaye Hill, Tim and Peggy Eades and Willie Willie McNickle pulled out all the stops in an attempt to get her to the finish line and to fulfil her dream and we salute the entire team for this.

Syd Stelvio



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