In 2012 I met Courtney Barber on the Bullrun Rally for the West Coast loop. She was a super-chill chick from Folly Beach, South Carolina who loved her classic Mustang. I was there as a wildcard to drive when needed, either at the race track or in between each check point or for a day. Earlier this year we discussed hitting this year’s Bullrun Rally as not so much of a wild card, but to co-drive for Team Mustang Girls, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.
But after the Bullrun was over, Courtney was approached to be a part of Rally North America, a not-for-profit organization aimed at bringing car enthusiasts from all over the U.S. and Canada together for a common theme, which is driving for a cause. Since 2009, this rally has raised over $175,000 in direct donations to different charities.
When she asked me to be a part of something so special, I was super excited! It was for a good cause, and the participants were required to be professional, respectful, and follow the rules of the road, which means no speeding, so we actually stood a chance! I was in.
Driver’s Meeting Day
The action started on July 20th for Courtney. She left Folly Beach in route to Washington in her beautiful 1965 351-Windsor-powered Mustang. On the way she found the car running at a PRIME temp of 190 degrees on the highway and it was 230 degrees in traffic. On the way to our friend’s house she picked up a manual fan at Advanced Autoparts. The fan required a 2-inch spacer, the old one only needed 1. Some of the guys doubted her ability to change the fan, and while she was getting ready for bed; they proceeded to start taking apart the engine bay, which in turn caused a hole to be put in the radiator. Courtney woke up on Sunday at 6am to head to the parts store, she picked up some AlumAseal to stop the leak and went about her day.
As for me I headed to the airport to take a redeye flight out to Baltimore.
I arrived at 7am running on about 30 minutes of sleep, where I finally got picked up. We then proceeded towards Ithica, New York where we would meet up with Courtney along the way.
Next, it was off to Watkins Glen for the drivers meeting where they would discuss the rules of the rally, which are pretty simple: get your checkpoints, find them, take a picture. If you get a speeding ticket, you are no longer eligible to win any day of the rally, (which is lucky for us… we like to take it easy) and if you finish faster than a given time you also lose.
After the teams got recognized for their contributions at the driver’s meeting, we were able to step foot on the track. And since I was the co-driver it was only appropriate to instruct Courtney on the proper lines. Tina (her Mustang) did quite well. “The Glen” is one of the most famous tracks in the world. Rally drivers set out on the track in two groups following a pace truck for the purpose of keeping the group under 80 mph. We managed to make several laps without anyone else on the track. I’m still not sure how we pulled that one off.
Awake and barely bushy tailed, myself and Courtney headed to the driver’s meeting in the very rainy downtown Ithica. Then we were off to the first stop. The first checkpoint clue was simply a picture of a car that was built by a Buffalo, New York auto manufacturer in the 50s. To make this checkpoint, Team Mustang Girls had to figure out what kind of car it was, and then locate that exact car in a museum somewhere in New York. Through a little research, we found out it was built by the Playboy Automobile Company and the car was on display at the Northeast Car Museum in Norwhich, NY.
After finding that beautiful car in an insane show room at the museum, we made our way to the next clue… which turned out to be another picture. It was 45-foot horsetail-style waterfall somewhere in Montgomery County. I searched and searched and finally found it, Luckily, it was pretty close and once we got there I proceeded to run approximately two miles down to snap the photo of the falls and back up in sandals. Talk about some shin splints.
Our next checkpoint was “The monument that commemorates the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga,” we had to find it and take a picture with a Hagerty Insurance rep, one of the event sponsors. On the way to said monument we took a turn that said the road was closed. We all turned around and on the way to the detour sign, I spotted a side road that said “local traffic only.” While everyone continued to go straight we did a little slinky action and let them get far enough ahead to where they couldn’t see us turn. A little dirt wasn’t going to stop Tina! We knew this would make for a good finish for the day.
Checkpoint 4 had this clue: “This view awaits you if you navigate to the viewing center in Vermont named for Saint Bruno.” It was a beautiful picture of an overlook with some mountains and some greenery. After some searching, we found out this location is called Mount Equinox, and so we headed in that direction. Finally, we made it to the foot of the mountain, paid the lady the toll, got our coin and headed up.
Visibility was minimal due to the cloud coverage as we went up these steep, steep, steep, switch backs and we snapped the photo at the top which ended up being just clouds, and made our way back down. You could smell that fine burnt smell of the brakes and we hoped they wouldn’t fail. This made for some interesting sphincter exorcises. Note: Courtney’s brake booster was at home in her closet… NOT on her car for this trip. The finish line for the first day was at Baxter’s Restaurant in Rutland, Vermont.
The 2nd day started out yet again with more rain. The first stop was Devil’s Bowl Speedway, a ½-mile oval in Fair Haven, Vermont. As we pulled into the track, we saw some fair-like equipment with a ride or two over to the left with the Speedway being to the right. A black stallion ran by pretty much right beside us, the horse had an odd cover on his face. Courtney then proclaimed “I want to take some pictures of a pony, with my pony.” I asked the pretty girl that was minding the horses, if we could bring a horse over to where the cars are to get some photos with a Mustang.” The nice girl then proceeded to say “I’ll getcha a horse… let me getcha a clean one, or… does it matter?” She got me a small black pony, handed me the rein and I walked back over to the cars. Courtney pulled the car around and we got some shots of the pony and Team Mustang girls. I returned the horse… kindly said “Thanks!” and we were on our way to the next stop.
The next stop was another waterfall. Followed by a general store. After this stop we saw the next clue… it ended up being for Ben and Jerry’s.
On the way to this stop we had a few fans that had been following Soundstream USA on Instagram. (For Rally North America, Soundstream did a giveaway. Each day they would post the clues on the IG account. If the fan could figure out where the next stop was, they could meet us there and get some swag.) So some guys in a nice Acura RSX-S followed us… and did so. They got some sweet Soundstream gear! We snapped a few photos with them, got the next clue at the Ben and Jerry’s grave yard and were on our way.
After we missed being able to even taste test, the next clue was for a haunted bridge known as Emily’s bridge (rightfully so), and of course Courtney made ME get out and take the photo of the car. The legend said that a lady hung herself on it… thanks Court. Following that good ole bridge can you guess what’s next?
Another waterfall was on the list, this one was gorgeous, and we hiked down snapped our photos. We were on the home stretch to Camp Sunshine itself (which was another check point).
We eventually made it to Camp Sunshine. Pulling into the camp was very emotional for everyone, as the kids and volunteers made hand-written thank you signs for all the teams. Once we pulled in, all the volunteers and families started clapping for us. Seeing firsthand what the donations from the rally were able to do and seeing those it helped was the highlight of the rally for everyone involved. We were able to spend time at the camp talking to families, meeting the kids, and getting tours to learn what Camp Sunshine was all about. The kids and many of the parents loved Team Mustang Girls 1965 351-Windsor-powered Ford Mustang and many even asked to sit in it.
According to the literature, “Camp Sunshine supports children with life threatening illnesses and their families. The camp has the distinction of being the only program in the nation whose mission is to address the impact of a life threatening illness on every member of the immediate family - the ill child, the parents, and the siblings. Since its inception in 1984, Camp Sunshine has provided a haven for over 30,000 individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Our focus is on alleviating the strain that a life threatening illness takes not only on the sick child but also on other family members. Families have an opportunity to rebuild their relationships together and meet other families facing similar challenges.”
After a great time at the camp, we headed to the hotel to finally relax.
Day 3 started in Lewiston, Maine. The start line was in a central park area that had a sweet trestle we took Tina on. From here we would make our way to Oxford Plains Speedway. This was one time when I saw Courtney’s face light up. However, we decided against making any passes as we had to ensure Tina was able to make it back down to Folly Beach. Our next check point was a lighthouse where we got a lot of exercise running. On this day we placed in the top 3. No stopping us!
From this lighthouse, we would meet up with Paul Bunyan and take a few pictures with his statue in Bangor, Maine. Then we would head to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. On the way I found a stretch of road I thought would be safe to take a nap for roughly 40 miles. That nap ended abruptly I woke up to an “Oh Crap!” from Courtney. The hood actually started to wiggle we had to pull over and do a little bit of redneck engineering. We did a quick tie, and later down the road we stopped for gas.
We finally made it to the Canadian border; it took us all of five minutes to cross and collect $200. Wait, that’s Monopoly. Never mind. Anyway, It took five minutes, and nearly five minutes after that, our cell providers didn’t hesitate to let us know that signal would be sparse. And texting would be pricey, as well as calls.
We got the general direction of where we needed to go to find yet again, the next waterfall. Pulling in, we were the 6th car in for the day! We enjoyed a nice dinner and some celebratory adult beverages for a successful 1,300 miles. Following was the awards ceremony.
Rally North America Wrap Up
The final total raised for Camp Sunshine was over $90,000. CJ Pony Parts alone donated $12,000, of which all proceeds will be used to send 45 children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to camp for a week. They will get to escape to a beautiful camp near Lake Elsinore, surrounded by others that are experiencing the same illness.
Being a part of such a great cause was amazing. We were thankful to be a part of something so great. We rallied for a cause and it was incredible to meet so many great new people who are so kind and giving. Team Mustang Girls finished with a nice top 10 finish each day, meaning we hit all the check points and had pretty much no problems. Out of 85 cars total, we are very proud with this placement. It was great to be a part of such an awesome team.
Soundstream would like to thank everyone who participated in the scavenger hunt. Each day, at each stop we had some fans who wanted to participate in this adventure. At the end of the rally we gave away a pair of speakers to a fan. We would like to thank the following sponsors: Soundstream, DDM Tuning, Stono Body Works, Impact Image Group, Superior Mustang Parts, Tuppers Automotive, Ravenel Ford, California Pony Cars and congratulate Justin Robinson on his win for the final day.
And we would like to congratulate Team Rental, including Jonathan King and Nick Hilton on their first day, First place win!