Around The World In 80 Days Motor Challenge25 June 2000
"CATTLE AT LARGE" read the sign as rallyists crossed a cattle guard into open range. Cattle wandering on the road was but one of several obstacles encountered on what was supposed to be a fairly easy day. It turned out to be quite difficult for at least three Around The World teams.
Those three cars left the road and were unable to complete the competitive section, leaving them with maximum penalties. Fortunately the only injuries were to pride and pocketbook. The primary cause seems to be driver fatigue after being on the road day after day.
Today's section took drivers from Shelby to Bozeman. Most skipped the official route to Great Falls since there were no controls, choosing Interstate 15 instead of the prescribed course via county and state roads.
Lunch was in White Sulphur Springs, then it was off for the competitive section. The road followed the hilly terrain through pasture land and a very narrow canyon. Obstacles included dried mud ruts and Montana beef cattle standing in the roadway. There had been rain in the past few days, so dust was not a problem.
First to fall off the road was the Mercedes-Benz 230SL of Claude Picasso and Sylvie Vautier. Picasso met an oncoming truck and swerved to avoid a head-on collision. The roadster's tires caught the edge of the roadway, spun around and nearly rolled over, suffering considerable body damage to the left side and a broken windshield.
Near the end of the section, the Jaguar XK-140 Coupe of Dominicus Meeus and Johanna Meeus-Jonker went wide on a right hander and went off a steep 10 foot drop, ending up on it's roof. Shortly thereafter, the Austin Healey 3000 of Rick Dyke-Price and Stuart Onyett went off at the same point, but without quite the speed, ending up on the rocks that made up the embankment. All three made it to Bozeman under their own power after being extracted from their resting places by the very efficient official sweep crews. The Healey had minimal damage, but crews were working on the Mercedes and Jaguar until after dark. Locating windshields for the cars will be difficult on short notice, but phone calls are being made and replacements should be ready for installation in Duluth.
There was one other car to slide off the road, but with lesser consequences. The second place running Mercedes-Benz 250SL of Nigel and Paula Broderick became high centered, and was quickly aided by the third place Mustang of Edmund Holfeld and Justin McCarthy. The Flying Irish team could have left their competition for the sweep vehicle and moved up a space in the standings, but in a true sporting move, gave the assist.
Photos © 2000 by Randy Jokela