Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes they look like Steve, our mechanical mastermind for the Team Anastasiadate.com and Team Asiandate.com Camaros, bravely keeping two 46 year-old vehicles roadworthy over the course of thousands of miles at highway speeds. And sometimes they resemble a group of kids from Norway who drive through the night to bring you a mission-critical part that's otherwise made of unobtanium.
It's one am near the Gumball Rally grid, and Steve has the hood open on the red '69 Chevrolet Camaro, picking pieces of rotor and cap out of an otherwise spotless engine bay. To his right stands Anthony and the Ryska Posten logistics team that's been instrumental in keeping our 40-person crew running like a well-oiled camshaft.
- Also: Gumball 3000 Rally Day One: Stockholm to Oslo
- Also: 2015 Gumball 3000 Rally: Stockholm To Las Vegas, In A '69 Chevrolet Camaro
It's Ryske Posten and Another Brother, the photo and video crew filming the cars this week, that have put together the least-likely rescue story for our otherwise-sidelined muscle car. Oscar, a photographer, put his feelers out into the Norwegian drag racing scene and through an intricate game of phone tag and instant messaging sent a flare in the form of a photograph of the exact MSD unit we needed for the car. Within two hours a spare had been located, and four hours from the hunt's kick-off point a group of youthful Norwegian gearheads have hand-delivered the crucial component from 300 kilometres away to an appreciative Anthony and Steve.
A quick install, followed by adjusting the advance to the suspected correct setting (pre-timing light), and the Camaro's 383 cubic inch V8 was once again roaring and ready to devour Scandinavian asphalt. For their part in the rescue operation these Norge fans could have commanded a king's ransom. Instead, they shyly ask for some gas money. Like the thousands of people that have crowded roadsides, streets, and overpasses to greet us at checkpoints and everywhere in-between even in the rain and the long, drawn-out Nordic dusk, these young men simply want to be a part of the Gumball energy.
Welcome to Norway.
Welcome to Gumball.
Back In Black (And Red) (And Yellow)
With the two Camaros back on the official starting grid, it was time to hit the road and stare down the kilometres separating Oslo from our lunch stop at the Koenigsegg supercar factory located in Ängelholm, Sweden. Our ultimate destination is Copenhagen, Denmark, but since we're in the neighbourhood, it seems right to stop by for a visit and a quick tour.
I'm riding chase car all day today, and with me is my colleague and unfortunate former detainee of local Swedish law enforcement, Jeffrey. Born and bred in Los Angeles, Jeff is bewildered by how casual his entire afternoon of incarceration turned out to be the day before. No cuffs, he tells me, and they just asked him to walk along behind them into the hospital where they took his blood after their roadside breathalyser failed. Unsurprisingly, Jeff passed with flying colors - but not before he witnessed the two older officers bicker and complain about the old school testing computer that neither of them knew how to operate.
'The first officer looks at me with an angry face and says, "Sometimes I just want to take my nine millimetre and just fill this damn machine with bullets." As I'm processing that, his partner chimes in with "Yeah - I'd empty my entire clip into this thing."' Jeff is incredulous, and even more so 30 minutes later when the partners in anti-crime drop him off in front of the curious Gumball crowd, shake his hand, and tell him it was nice to meet him.
Born From Jets
Koenigsegg is a mass of Scandinavian color as throngs of onlookers crowd the former airport that now houses the automaker's production facility. We 'ooh' and 'aah' at the hand-made Ageras and its various siblings, and see demonstrations of the carbon fibre layering process that keeps the cars strong, light, and in contention for the title of world's fastest ride. A chance to pilot a Koenigsegg on the track is cancelled due to the now-persistent rain we seem to have picked up, but a flyover by the Swedish air force is not.
If only we had access to a jet on our way back to the Gumball route - or maybe Dmitri's helicopter. The crowd at Koenigsegg has grown so large that our Volvo support vehicle is stuck for 40 minutes trying to travel 700 metres to the road. It's only some quick off-roading and a complete disregard for property law that sees us exiting the gridlock well ahead of the snarling exotics (and our two Camaros) that don't share the generous ground clearance of our XC60s.
On the way into Copenhagen we straddle the strait that separates Denmark and Sweden by way of the Øresund Bridge, and ponder a question that's been bothering us since the beginning of the rally: how the hell is the one Tesla Model S entered in the event managing to keep up when each checkpoint lies well over the car's full battery range? I'm unable to locate the owner of the electric ride until just before dinner, when the stickered sedan appears at a stoplight leading a column of more modestly-decorated local Tesla owners on a joyride around town. He disappears in a silent blur before I can make my way over to him and satisfy my curiosity.
Tomorrow, it's Amsterdam, and a trip across Germany's autobahn that will test the will of Gumball drivers and the tolerance of a country whose past relationship with the Rally has been strained at best. Tonight it's three hours of sleep and the fervent hope that in the morning, everything starts.
Gumball By The Numbers: Day Two
Number of first-gear cut-offs witnessed: 75-plus
Number of burnouts by a completely-stock BMW 3 Series while stuck in traffic: 3 (all from the same driver)
Celebrity Oddness Meter: 0/10 (no Dolph Lundgren sightings today)
Camaro Reliability Index: 9/10
Number of times someone in our chase car mooned someone in another chase car: ????
Exotic Death Count: 0
Total fines levied by Sweden against our convoy: $620
Fines avoided by sheer chance: $10,000
New Danish Words Learned: 'Havefrue,' which means Mermaid, as in 'The Little' (Den lille).