Car rally to make pit stop in Aspen |

Car rally to make pit stop in Aspen

Katharine Weiss
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Pink Lincolns, white Porsches and customized black-and-white Mustangs will roar into Aspen on Sunday for a pit stop in the Bullrun car rally.

The Bullrun, started in 2004, is a seven-day, 3,000-mile, cross-country car rally involving an estimated 100 cars, a handful of celebrities, and a party in a dif­ferent city every night. As its website states, “The only obliga­tory rules are to party, drive and enjoy …”

Bullrun spokeswoman Helena Barton said the event is known for attracting a wide range of participants, as well as throwing outra­geous parties.

“Traditionally, the Bullrun always attracts a great mix of interesting characters, from sports persons such as Dennis Rodman to actors such as Hay­den Christensen and Paris Hilton,” she said. “You also get car fanatics, wealthy tycoons and a great mix of other characters. The Bullrun parties are notorious because of the kind of people they attract. There is a lot of antics and mayhem because of the nature of the crowd.”

The drivers come from all over the world and go through a series of checkpoints, learning of each destination daily. This year’s ral­ly started in Calgary.

Andrew Duncan, partner of the Bullrun, said that Aspen has always been a desirable destina­tion for the rally, but only recent­ly became an option.

“Colorado is a beautiful state to drive through,” he said. “There are some truly amazing roads and scenery to be enjoyed. Aspen is such a fun and interest­ing town. We’ve been meaning to come to Aspen for some time, but it had to be a year when it was a fit with the overall route of the rally.”

While Duncan insists that the rally does not discriminate, the event has a $20,000 price tag that makes it hard for an average per­son to enter the event.

“Everyone makes the mistake of thinking it’s all rich playboys,” he said. “We put the event together very carefully, we don’t advertise and everyone gets referred to us or comes via friends who have done the event. Sure, we have our share of wealthy individuals who own businesses, manage hedge funds or have family money, but we deliberately complement this.

“The event is about like mind­ed people from all walks of life ” we’ve had motorcycle gangs, punk bands on yellow school buses. … The event is a zoo of cars and people.”

Celebrities who’ve participated in the past include Carl Lewis, Helena Christensen, Mario Andretti, Ryan Dunn, Rodman, Chris­tensen, Paris Hilton and Corey Feldman.

Rising gas prices, Dun­can added, aren’t affecting the ral­ly.

“Once you’re bought into our event, the extra gas charges are not too much of a problem,” he said.

While the Bullrun is not con­cerned with gas prices, a 3,000-­mile rally has an undeniable, neg­ative impact on the environment that the rally officials cannot ignore.

“We promote a carbon-neutral website to all our drivers to offset their carbon emissions,” said Duncan. “It’s roughly about 1 1 ⁄ 2 to 3 tons of carbon dioxide pro­duced per vehicle over the 3,000 miles we travel. We’ve spent months trying to get car manu-f­acturers of green or hybrid cars involved also without much suc­cess; this is generally quite new without too many green press cars around. Although we’re much lower down the food chain we share the same issues of F1 and NASCAR.”

Another issue the Bullrun faces is safety.

“We like to get to know our drivers,” said Duncan. “Seventy percent of our business is repeat business. The remainder are referrals from people we know you are interviewed and we gen­erally do not take anyone under 21 years of age.”

Duncan also said that all drivers are held within the guide­lines of the law.

“If our drivers get over zealous, they get a ticket ” they all know this and are required to act accordingly,” he said. “So far from the people who have cov­ered our event we’ve received very favorable press but we’re always trying to improve across the board.”

However, shortly after Dun­can’s claim of a commitment to safety, he brought up one of the most memorable events in the Bullrun’s history, in which two cars drag raced at 180 mph.

“We had Dennis Rodman and Hayden Christensen drag race each other on the Bonneville Salt Flats a few years ago in Lam­borghinis at 180 mph,” he said. “That was pretty amazing to watch, especially after Hayden spun out.”

But what should Aspen expect when the Bullrun comes racing through town Sunday? Barton says to expect something like you have never seen before.

“There will be the most incred­ible cars you have ever seen. There will be Supercars, Lam­borghinis and Porsches, every­thing from racing cars to cus­tomized cars,” Barton said.

The Aspen party will be held at 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel and, according to Duncan, all are welcome to join.

“Expect to meet some very cool people who have a lot of energy and love to stay up late,” he said.