The past 30 days have been insanely busy for me as I competed in the Fireball Run for my second year, our season finale at the Houston Grand Prix with Pirelli World Challenge and then a week in Austin, Texas instructing with Cadillac's V-Lab (not to mention I didn't see my front doorstep for about three months during the race season)! Needless to say, I'm happy to be writing this blog on my couch in my PJs.
You may remember my Fireball Run blog from last year but just in case you don't, allow me to first tell you what it's all about. Fireball Run consists of 40 teams from all over the nation to compete in an eight-day, 2,000 mile interactive motor vehicle adventure game. We have to navigate the route using everything (and everyone) at our disposal solving clues to accomplish missions. In other words, for eight days we turn our lives over to the Fireball Run and willingly agree to getting zero sleep and receiving no clue where and what we're doing each day. Sounds fun right?
But, let me tell you, this is one of the coolest experiences I've been fortunate to be a part of, getting to see America's great landscapes, seeing and learning about things I would have never forced myself to do on my own, creating new and unique friendships…all while helping aid in the recovery of missing children. Fireball Run is the nation's largest recovery effort for missing kids and since 2007 this “adventurally” is responsible for finding 43 missing children, which is fantastic. Each team is assigned a child from the region it represents, displayed on the car, and we distribute over 1,000 posters everywhere we go.
I always get asked, “Who competes in this and what kind of cars are entered?” This year we were among business leaders, politicians, stunt drivers, a two-time world champion female barrel racer, an astronaut, and even a legendary chief test driver for Lamborghini and many more. I competed alongside my teammate from last year, Tarah Mikacich, a professional wakeboarder who I grew up water skiing with.
The theme this year was “Movie Stars and Cars” and some people definitely played their characters well! Hendrick Honda and HendrickCars.com were extremely generous to lend us a brand new 2013 Honda Civic Si, therefore it totally made sense that we go as the chicks from the movie series, Fast & Furious! Driving the Hendrick Honda Civic Si was an appropriate return “home” for me, as I raced one of these in 2010-'12.
There was also a Lamborgini Gallardo Balboni, Ferrari 360, an ambulance wrapped to look like it was from the set of M*A*S*H, a Rally Fighter wrapped to look like a cop car, massive trucks, the Back to the Future DeLorean, a classic Trans Am, etc.
Having one year under our belts, we knew going into it how to play the game better. We had alliances from last year and extended our help when we uncovered clues to form more alliances and used CB radios to communicate. Why wouldn't we just use a cell phone you ask? Because Fireball Run brought us to ridiculously remote areas, I didn't have service for a solid three days and Tarah's was in and out a lot. We also tried to find locals in every town to show us the way, and when all else failed we stuck close to the other flamboyant and extreme vehicles! Our pink racing flag graphics thanks to VisionX Custom Graphics was hard to miss as well. From the get-go, we knew we were doing well simply because our competitors knew what our rear bumper said – “BeatByAGirl.org!”
Deciphering clues led us to some of the most beautiful places in America and the chance to interact directly with the communities we went to. We started in Longmont, Colo., which was affected by the severe floods. When we arrived, you could see where the water lines on homes and businesses were. Fireball Run came together to help deliver food to people through the charity Meals on Wheels and made financial contributions to the community. We went to the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum and sat in the cockpit of a Douglas Skyray, the Navy's first supersonic aircraft, built in 1955.
We now know what a $20,000 squash blossom-style turquoise necklace looks like on us while we were in Gallup, New Mexico. At a Navajo Chapter house we met one of the oldest living “Code Talkers” from World War II (Navajo was the only language/code the Germans and Japanese couldn't crack). Tears came to my eyes listening to the 92-year-old soldier as he sat in a wheelchair with cataracts covering both eyes. The sacrifice that he and other Navajos made for our country was very moving. The Navajo people, private as they are, welcomed us like family. They showed us their way of weaving, jewelry craftsmanship, and cooking.