2006 Bullrun: Christensen and Michels Win Coast-to-Coast Exotics Rally

As far as raw hedonism goes, this finish line wasn’t all that much.
Sure, there was a cigarette, a couple of bottles of Korbel champagne sprayed about and a couple dozen or so open cans of light beer.

After the rally’s final leg, the earliest teams to arrive in Beverly Hills posed, en masse.

And, yeah, there were two guys in matching yellow emu, or maybe it was ostrich, costumes, flitting about — members of the rally team Los Hermanos Cubanos. And, indeed, there was a beautiful woman wearing a short plaid skirt, fluttering the fabric with her hands, trying to stay cool.

But mostly, with the exception of screeching, smoking, post-rally donuts done by the arriving exotic supercars, the mood last Friday afternoon at the finish line of Bullrun 2006 — the coast-to-coast rally that began on July 22 in Times Square in Manhattan and motored for seven days through checkpoints in Toronto, Chicago, Kansas City, Vail and Las Vegas — was a subdued and fraternal one. Perhaps this was the calm before the storm of parties due to occur later that weekend.

On Friday at 4:27 p.m., five cars arrived at a hastily arranged end-point — the second uncovered level of a parking structure adjacent to a Robinsons-May department store and the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches and the like soon rolled in, one after the next.

This was but one single, albeit the final, Bullrun rally stage. Later that evening, the overall award winners were announced. Tove Christensen and Peter Michels, who co-piloted a 2002 Porsche 996 Turbo, won first place in the “Always First” category. This is egalitarian Bullrun’s closest equivalent to declaring a 2006 champion.

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Christensen and Michels were among the initial group of racers to arrive in Beverly Hills. Christensen said he received a speeding ticket 14.5 miles from the finish line from a police officer on a motorcycle.

“He was like a ninja cop or something,” Christensen said. “Like David Copperfield, he magically appeared there.”

Christensen said his brother, Hayden, of Team Star Wars, who drove a Ferrari 360 Modena, received five tickets in one day. Other participants told their own stories of three-digit mile-per-hour motoring, along with subsequent friendly, and occasionally less so, run-ins with law enforcement officials.

Tickets and even arrests were an anticipated nuisance for the rally participants, some of whom employed for the event radar detectors, laser jammers, CB radios, helicopter spotters, sweet talking and, if all else failed, bail money.

Racers said that serious calamities were few and far between. A sole one-vehicle accident was reported involving a Cadillac Escalade — hardly a high-performance, active-safety vehicle.

“Nothing dramatic happened,” said Bullrun director David Green. “Some people had to hide under blankets as we came back into America from Canada because they’d lost their passports after a bit of a night out in Toronto. Some people-smuggling — but apart from that, I think we’re good.”

Richard Rawlings, a Bullrun and Gumball 3000 rally veteran revered by fellow participants, said he spent much of the week relaxing, running blocker for his friends. “I took my [BMW 745i] touring car,” Rawlings said. “I wanted to kind of kick back a little more and take it easy.”

“You gotta party, you gotta haul ass,” he said. “I mean it’s kick-ass. The most fun anyone can have, period, far as I’m concerned.”

Carl Lewis, Former U.S. Olympic Team Member
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Bullrun entries are by invitation only and cost $14,000. The rally is scheduled to air as an unscripted series next spring on Spike TV.

Olympic track-and-field legend Carl Lewis was another first-time Bullrun participant. Lewis joined Spyker executive Carsten Preisz in a silver C8 Spyder.

“There is no one thing that this whole thing is about,” Lewis said of the rally. “It’s about the lifestyle. And to me, like I’ve been saying all the time, it’s amazing because there are people from all walks of life; all ethnicities; different countries. And one thing brought them together: their love of cars.”

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