The Trans America Challenge 2018

27 May - 17 June 2018



JUNE 1, 2018

Memphis to Jackson

Deep South

It was another morning after the night before sort of start to the day. Beale Street and the Peabody Rooftop Party - with Gumbo Voodoo - were in full swing till the wee small hours and God knows how those ducks got any sleep up in their penthouse pool.

We shot out of Memphis on the Interstate and then we were quickly into the first Regularity which took in a delightful mixed surface loop of the Holly Springs National Forest along Little Snow Creek. Thundery showers rolled around the Rally with some crews emerging on the other side as dry as a bone whilst others found themselves a little on the damp side as they pulled into the final timing point eager to learn how close they’d got to the ideal time.

From little Snow Creek we enjoyed an easy and interesting run through the back roads of Mississippi to the lunch Time Control in the Tupelo Automobile Museum. This wonderful collection of more than 100 vehicles spanning more than 100 years of motoring had many of the crews fascinated and in some cases even looking for spare parts.

Alex Vassbotten took a particular interest in some of the old Alvis’ on display whilst Bill Holroyd, the proud owner / driver of a 1927 Bentley, a marque not included in the collection, gave an interview to the local TV channel.

Tupelo is also famous as the birthplace of Elvis Presley and as a result there’s a museum dedicated to “The King”, as well as bars, restaurants and retail outlets along Main Street.

Crews were free to find their own lunch in Tupelo today, but John and Nicole Whitelock had to spend their time looking for a repair shop to fix a steering or suspension issue which they’d noticed over the course of the morning.

For the rest of the Rally, as soon as they’d seen and eaten enough, it was back on to the Natchez Trace Parkway and through the Tombigbee National Forest to the second Regularity. Before the clocks started though there was a very welcome Time Control in the Council House Cafe in French Camp, which brought everything back together before this section on the Road to McCool.

The Regularity featured some tarmac of varying quality and miles of fast and loose gravel and, as a result, there was some spirited driving on display. Morgan Hector and Florence Fontaine put on a big show in their Chevrolet Camaro. Kris Dillier wasn’t to be outdone with a little Corvette sideslip which also sprayed the delighted spectators with a wheel full of shrapnel. Otakar and Ota Chladek though looked very smooth and in control right through the bends in their big red Mercedes.

Timing though was everything and, along the route the organisers had placed several marshalling teams with clocks and clipboards to measure the progress of the cars. At one such control we saw that our new medic / marshal Sarah Ormerod had, fifty years too late, gone all summer of love with flowers in her hair.

Bob Hargreaves meanwhile was simply looking forward to a pint of Flowers after his long hot day in the woods.

Our old friend, the Natchez Trace Parkway then whisked us south, towards the Jackson Hilton Hotel where we were to bed down for the night and dinner was a convivial sit down affair with baked oysters and other southern delights on offer.

There was little to trouble the leaders today so the top three have kept their places. Jim Gately and Tony Brooks maintain their first place just ahead of David and Jo Roberts with Mike and Lorna Harrison close by in third place.

Syd Stelvio



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