Around the World in 80 Days Motor Challenge
Anchorage, Alaska - June 10-12
On June 10, the Around the World in 80 Days Motor Challenge arrived in Anchorage from Beijing, China. Rallyists made the trip by regular flight, but their cars crossed the ocean via the gargantuan Russian Antonov AN-124 cargo plane. Forty-three rally vehicles made the trip, 40 competing cars plus support vehicles. The teams did maintenance and made repairs on June 11th, many with assistance from local repair shops who opened their doors to the rally cars on a Sunday. Those that were not in need of major work were put on display on the Delaney Park Strip. The intrepid rallyists took to their cars once again on the morning of June 12th and headed for Tok.
Cheryl Babbe, Regional Executive of the Alaska Arctic Region of SCCA organized a welcome party for the rally participants and local car enthusiasts:
Greetings from Alaska!
Hurry up and wait has a whole new meaning. Through Rally-L, Cheryl Babbe, RE of the Arctic Alaska Region, SCCA, heard about the event from Tim Winker of Minnesota. After learning about from the event website that Anchorage was planning all kinds of festivities, she contacted the Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage Convention and Visitor Bureau only to find out that was not the case (they did come through in the end). We had our first meeting on April 27th with representatives of the Antique Auto Mushers and then it was hurry up and wait.
Shops were called to provide "x". The x-factor was the unknown. Would the cars need repairs of the welding, fabricating or rebuild type, or would they simply be oil changes. Dave Kincaid, who has one of the best outfitted shops in town (and quite creative with repair) said sure, whatever you need. EERO VW, who has been very supportive to the Region and motorsports, said if Jim Sloan would be willing to work--sure, whatever you need.
The community came through when asked to give, even though we didn't know what would be needed! The SCCA, Arctic Alaska Region, the Alaska Power Club (tractors and steam engines), the Midnight Sun Street Rod Association, Anchorage Corvette Association, Arctic Wheels of Fairbanks, Vernon Nash, Alaska Chapter of the Porsche Club of America, British Car Club, and the Antique Auto Mushers mailed the invites to their membership. All of Alaskaıs premier marque and active motorsports clubs became a part of the event!
The three-day plans included a reception on Saturday evening, June 10th, their arrival date hosted by the Region and the Mayday Mayday XIV Road Rally. The teams were greeted at the airport by a crowd and handed their invites for the evening and with the arrival of their vehicles delayed until "sometime" after 8PM, they were looking forward to the evenings plans. "Welcome to Alaska!", was frequently followed by, "You speak english. Ah, civilization." Often, firm handshakes and hugs.
The reception was held on the shores of Lake Hood, at the Aviation Heritage Museum, with a menu of Alaska Sockeye Salmon, good ol' burgers and dogs with the works, salads, beans, wine, and Glacier Brewhouse Ale (generously donated). Entertainment included a welcome dance from the Critters, the Anchorage Convention and Visitorıs Bureau costumed dancing Alaskan animals, three young lads from the Crow Creek Pipes and Drums with a bit of bagpiping, and a greeting from Cheryl Babbe which included a reading of the Proclamation that June 10-12th, 2000 be known as the Around the World in 80 Days Motor Challenge. Cool, huh! Thanks to Bill Demming for providing the verbage of the proclamation at the request of Representative Halcroıs office for the Governor.
Dermot Cole, author of Hard Driving, the account of the 1908 New York to Paris Race was in attendance and gave two presentations of slides and conversation. One competitor came up after and stated that this group is a bunch of "whooses" in comparison to what the 1908 competitors had to endure!
A silent auction was held with items ranging from flower arrangements, Sunoco racing fuel, Porsche sweatshirt, event banners, Auto Union model, to fine art with $1836 raised for HOSPICE of Anchorage and Childrenıs HOSPICE Association, Scotland which competitors Peter and Ann Hunt were supporting on this adventure.
The membership and friends of the Region came out-of-the-woodwork. I received phone calls and e-mails from former members, rallyists of days-gone-by, and folks off the street who worked the hearts out to help make this a success! Bill Tobin, a local newspaper man for the Anchorage Times, gave us two editiorial columns on our efforts. I would like to give credit for making this happen to George Glassman, Tracey Duffield, The Main Family-Bruce, Frannie, and Treat, Cody Sloan, Laurie of the Aviation Museum, our Chef Mary Helms, Jim and Charleen Hutton, and our HOSPICE volunteers. Members Bill Demming and Gail Engblom for supporting my idea from beginning of ³we can't let this pass through town without doing something², Jake Engstrom, Kris Oldenburg, John and Mary Calhoun of Homer, Tom Prunty, Darin Minkler, Charlie Crump and Christie Black, Ron and Noel Dike, Barbara and Dwight Bowden, Joe Asarisi, Charles Johnson, Vicki Race, Jim Sloan, Jack Swanson, Randy Kimpton, David Kincaid, and Michael Linz.
Sunday, the Delaney Park Strip was the sight for the AAMA car display of local car clubs and the ATW80 vehicles. With the vehicles not getting into the competitors hands until almost 10PM, many could not begin repairs until morning, yet supporting the communities activities many came over for a bit--espcially the lucky ones whose repairs were minor.
Crowds lined the streets and a few enthusiasts played hooky from their offices to watch the official restart of the rally. What a spectacular sight! The Around the World in 80 Days Motor Challenge made it's stop-over in Anchorage and left fond memories in the minds of the competitors. More importantly, Anchorage motorsport enthusiasts got to be a part of this historic event through the efforts of the Arctic Alaska Region!
Safe Travels, Cheryl Babbe
Story in the Anchorage Daily News, May 11, 2000.
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