On your mark, get set, go!

Early the next morning, we were back in the cars racing towards Surrey to get decals from a corporate sponsor, Wonderful Pistachios, put onto our cars. Once again, the drive time took much longer than expected (this time due to Friday being the last day of classes at English schools and fams going on holiday en masse) and we were only able to get one car decal’d professionally.

The cars reconvened at Goodwood Raceway (one car had to go into London to pick up the remaining group gear and deal with city traffic during a rainstorm…brutal) late in the evening and began applying the decals (unprofessionally). As these decals (aka huge stickers) take up the entire back end of the cars, this was some serious work. But we pushed on as our love for pistachios is unconditional, partly because these nuts will likely save our lives in the Gobi desert.

Many Mongol Rally vehicles had already arrived at the Goodwood campsite and were fully peacocked in their collective glory. There were a ton of awesome cars, but the most impressive setup was an authentic fire truck that had been entirely outfitted in furry fabric transforming it into the world’s longest-haul fur truck (check out their website at greatballsoffur.com). Another group had a tiny Micra like ours, but had strapped a 15-foot Viking canoe to the top of it, ‘cause nothing screams “canoe trip” like a 9,000 mile overland journey. A matte black, stretched Volvo limousine called the batmobile will also be making the trip, complete with giant molded bat wings on the trunk.

One car, the Jersey Boys, chalked up the first accident of the rally.  During the confusion of finding the actual camping field at Goodwood, they somehow encountered a large sign post, which took as a toll a fair portion of the front left of their vehicle.  With a bit of clever mechanical shenanigans, they had a new radiator and were back on the road.

The morning brought another fairly frantic round of decal application, interspersed with a full-bore repacking of the cars.  These repackings will continue until we settle on the perfect car-pack, likely somewhere in Siberia.  As the clock ticked towards launch time, we ended up pretty much throwing our gear back in the cars; I can proudly report, however, that we were not the last cars to decamp (though we were certainly in the running for slowest wranglers of chaos).

The collective might of the rally squadron assembled at the raceway was quite impressive.  Rallyers and spectators milled around the vehicles, many costumed in various fineries.  As expected, there were a gang of Borats, many Soviet authorities, and even a small Russian orphan attempting to hitch a ride back to Siberia (Brad told her to shove off).

Paul received his Russian and Kazakh visas in the nick of time, at the Goodwood starting line approximately an hour before we began the trek to Mongolia. We were in the second group of cars to depart and we took our kick-off lap around the historic goodwood racecourse – move over formula 1, you ain’t got nothing on the Airag Addicts.
[photo of raceway lap]

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