|Posted on Mar 17, 2010 02:21:55 PM | Angela Storey | 6 Comments ||
On the road again --
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life we love is talking Moonbuggy with our friends...
And we can't wait to get on the road again
Going places that we've never been
Seeing things that we may never see again
Can't wait to get on the road again
Like a trio of gypsies we go down the highway
We're now the best of friends...
Paraphrasing "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson seems appropriate as we embark on the third Great Moonbuggy Race Roadshow. Mike's behind the wheel and Lori and I and are booking interviews, while constantly filling his head with moonbuggy facts so he really sounds like the expert that he is.
Okay, if you're new to all this and didn’t follow the blog last year, you may be wondering, "What the heck is a moonbuggy?" If past designs mean something, it may look like this:
On April 9-10, over 100 teams with over 1,000 students from high schools, vocational schools, colleges and universities around the world will converge on at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. For the 17th year, teams will propel wheeled rovers of their own design around a simulated alien landscape -- and maybe launch future careers as next-generation engineers, scientists and space explorers.
Even though the Great Moonbuggy Race is still three weeks away, we decided to visit some of the racers on their home turf and check out the buggy-building in progress!
We started out Sunday meeting at the Huntsville International Airport -- not to catch a plane, but to pick up a rental car. I was at Alamo with Mike telling the rental agent that we needed something bigger than an HHR so we could have a place to sit after putting our luggage in the car. Meanwhile, Lori was looking for us at the Avis counter, where I apparently told her we would be. I promise I wasn’t trying to leave her.
After scoring a Chrysler Town and Country minivan, we left Huntsville about 10 a.m. Sunday morning headed to Ohio, where we were scheduled to be on WDTN in Dayton on Monday. In past races, high school and college teams from Ohio have carried home multiple awards from the Great Moonbuggy Race for speed records and pit crew performance -- so this is definitely moonbuggy country!
The state of Ohio might be known as the Buckeye state to most, but we saw items of interest that made our "eyes buck" while driving on Interstate 75. Little did we know that we'd see Jesus on the way! I told Lori and Mike about a sculpture that stands in front of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. It's suppose to be the largest statue of Jesus Christ in the United States, and you can definitely see it while driving up Interstate 75. BAM! There it was! We got off the interstate so Lori and Mike could get pictures, and while I was praying for safe travels, I overheard Lori say to Mike, "You never know what you’re going to get into when you're traveling with Angela!"
Then again, you never know what you’re going to get when you race a moonbuggy either. Check out this photo from the 2009 race. Don’t worry, no one was hurt!
We arrived in Dayton about 6:30 in the evening local time. We checked into hotel #1, got a luggage cart, made it to our rooms, met for dinner and then called it a night. On a side note, it's really difficult to unpack two suitcases full of clothes for two weeks when you just have to pack back up the next morning and move on. Let's just say our suitcases were a mess...and this is only Day One?
Day Two began with Mike's first big show: a noon booking on station WDTN. The funny thing is, everyone thought we were with Wright State University because that was the team we were there promoting. Every time someone would come up and introduce themselves, they'd ask, "Wright State?" The reply? "No, NASA." It became rather humorous to always be "wright" and still always be wrong. Mike even got on the set and the anchor said, "Wright State?" Well, no… He explained that we were with NASA in Huntsville, so the anchor said, "I've been there. My cousin lives in Madison." Just to show you what a small world it is, the anchor’s cousin lives in MY neighborhood!
So now you see what we do. We travel to various TV stations, targeting places where participating moonbuggy race teams are from. We contact media outlets to let them know that a high school/college/university in their coverage area will be in Huntsville to race a moonbuggy that they designed and built on simulated lunar terrain at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. We give a ballpark date of when we'll be in the area and ask to be on one of their shows, then pull all the dates and "takers" together to plot our course. (Our news chief refers to it as the "Moonbuggy Death March Across America.")
This year the road takes us from Dayton to Lima (Ohio); from Chicago (Illinois) to Hartford (Connecticut); then on to Providence (Rhode Island); traveling to Mobile (Alabama); onward to Baton Rouge (Louisiana); then a rapid-fire tour of Birmingham (Alabama), Nashville (Tennessee); and finally back to Huntsville -- all in just under three weeks. All in all, we'll cover a gazillion miles...I'm pretty sure that's a technical term. We're glad you're along for the ride with us!
By the way, this is what a "simulated lunar terrain" has looked like for past moonbuggy races. I don't think our minivan would be a good choice for this place:
Day Three finds us on the road to Chicago after a live noon appearance on WLIO in Lima, where we were joined by some of the Lima Senior High School team. This one we have to admit was a pretty easy sell because the news anchor's twin daughters are on the team! Mike even commented how nice it was to be interviewed by someone with "insider scoop." From there we were invited to Lima Senior High School, where we were greeted by their entire team and advisors in their "shop" where they have built two moonbuggies to race. Mike talked with them about their different designs -- he is an engineer, you know -- while Lori got a big head as the students recognized her from emceeing and announcing at the race every year. :)
We also talked to the students about how we'll be streaming the race live on our Web site this year so their friends and families back home can watch. They showed us the many awards they've won just in the past three years of competing in the race -- and we hope their fourth year is the luckiest year ever for them!
Wednesday will take us to Chicago TV stations, so wish us luck! (Get it? It's St. Patrick's Day!)
You can learn more about the race at these links:
Tags : Angela Storey, Great Moonbuggy Race, moonbuggies