Stage 8 - Wichita, KS to Pueblo, CO

Accommodations: Pueblo Hotel & Conference, 
4001 N. Elizabeth
Phone: 719-543-8050
Driver: Jerry Gregg
Navigator: Bob King
Weather: Sunny and hot until Colorado, then drenching downpours, clearing up in time for the Parc Fermé
Events of the Day:
Saturday, July 1 - 
Today regular driver Bob Mead wanted to take a well-deserved break so it was up to Jerry to fill in as the substitute driver.  Bob King navigated today.

Jerry and Bob arrive safely in Pueblo

The day began very well as we completed our speedometer calibration run showing an error only in the hundredths of a second.  We went on the clock at 9:45 AM and realized it was going to be a hard day when the very first instruction was to go out at 55 mph.  We knew there would be lots of high speed runs today because we were expecting to cover more than 450 miles.  However, this is the first year that rally speeds have exceeded 50 mph.  We had been notified to expect a few 55 mph sections but little did we realize that about 80% of today’s run would be at that speed.

Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado are quite flat and the roads long and straight.  Most of the morning rally was long stretches of 55 mph with no turns.  As a matter of fact, there were no turns at all until well after lunch.  The good news about that is that it is pretty difficult to get lost.  And we didn’t!  So there was not a whole lot for the navigator to do and it was up to the driver to just maintain the precise speed.  We did OK with this, scoring 6 seconds on the first leg and should have had 7 seconds on the second leg that lasted for 3 hours and 16 minutes.  However, we later learned that we apparently misread our clock and started one minute early after one of the transits, resulting in an actual score of 53 on this leg.  Not good. (Continued below our support crew writeup)

About Our Support Crew:

Mary Ann and Macie have a very important job on this trip, and we want to make sure that everyone recognizes their part in getting us across the country.  The logistics of this undertaking are amazingly complex.  The Great Race entourage may be split up into three of four hotels in some cities, and parking for all the trailers, trucks, and cars is a nightmare.  Remember that the support vehicle for some of the "more serious" participants is an 18-wheeler complete with a machine shop, spare engines, and full-time mechanics!

When we leave in the morning, the support crew gathers up everybody's luggage and gets it to the location of the truck.  They have to figure out how to get all this crap into a fixed space, but the luggage keeps growing because of all the gift bags we keep receiving from host cities (not to mention our trophy!).  Then they proceed to hook up the trailer.  Mary Ann and Macie hook up the trailer by themselves.  Then they may have to get fuel before leaving for the next city.

They follow their printed instructions to the next overnight stop, find the hotel, check in for four rooms, and deliver the baggage to each room, keeping track of the keys and who gets which one at the finish gate.  After finding a storage location for the trailer, they unhook the trailer, find the location of the arrival festivities (which are often several miles from the hotels), and find a parking place for the truck so they can get pictures of us coming in and help greet the public, encouraging people to sign our banner supporting the troops overseas.

On top of this, they shop for the things we keep remembering that we forgot, and they have done 2 loads of laundry, carefully separating colors from whites!

Thank you Bobcat Support Crew!  Go, Bobettes!

Macie starts hooking up the trailer, and the support team enjoys an historical site in West Kansas

Our mid-morning pit stop was along the old town street of frontier Dodge City.  The residents warmly welcomed us and made all the racers honorary Marshals, complete with a tin badge.  The lunch break was an excellent stop in Garden City, KS.  The crowd was one of the best so far and they treated us to a steak with all the trimmings.

Darin sees Eleanor for the first time... Love at first sight!

After lunch we had more long, long stretches at 55mph until the afternoon pit stop in Lamar, Colorado.  On this leg we had an 8-second score.  After Lamar, we finally got to rallying in earnest with a challenging 2-hour, 32-minute leg through the Colorado back country with many turns, loops and speed changes.  Considering our level of fatigue by this time, we considered our score of 15 seconds acceptable.

Just as we got off the clock, we encountered a severe thunderstorm enroute to Pueblo and were slowed by blowing dust and rain.  The storm also felled a power line across our route and the detour delayed our arrival at the finish.  There we received more bad news.  During the day, our support team had inadvertently encountered race cars on the course.  This is a no-no.  Before they could extricate themselves from this predicament, they were observed by Greatrace officials and this resulted in a 1-minute penalty added to our score.  So-o-o-o-o, we wound up with an adjusted score of 1-minute, 59-seconds.  Our cumulative standing is now 56
th, not exactly where we wanted to be by this time.  But there are more rally days to come and we hope to move up steadily.

The pit stop in Dodge City, Kansas.

This was a very difficult day on cars and crews.  Most of the day, the thermometer was well above 100 degrees and, of course, we have no AC in the race cars.  These temperatures, combined with the long 55mph runs, took their toll.  Ten cars broke down and had to come in on the sweep trucks.  The motel parking lot is abuzz with activity tonight as support crews are spending the night getting these cars repaired.

On a personal note, Jerry Gregg’s son, Darin, drove down from Colorado Springs to greet us at the finish line.  He will also travel over to Durango so he and Dad can enjoy the day off together.