So, for my birthday I had an opportunity pop up that I just had to jump on and treat myself. From previous posts you all know I take personal pride in stupid rallies like The Mongol Rally or The Rambler or The Rickshaw Run so when a friend told me he bought a firetruck and was going to drive it from Austin to Vegas, I had to be in.
The event itself is called The Fool’s Roll where a group of like-minded loons purchase vehicles and costumes on a theme then race from Austin to Vegas in said vehicles and costumes without changing. There is a 10k prize for the winners but ultimately, it isn’t about that. Now, as my team was driving a giant firetruck our level of competitiveness was pretty low. In fact, I believe we finished 2nd to last as our max speed was about 65mph.
The event itself starts with a kickoff party where all the teams introduce themselves, have a bit of food, grease the social wheels so to speak, then around 8pm, you launch.
It is a bit of a madhouse and journey for the next 18 to 22 hours depending on your vehicle(ours was the latter). All the teams kept in communication through a group chat a would send pictures, talk trash, and general keep the mood ridiculous. That was critical for us since our firetruck was built in 1982 that meant 2 of our team of 5 had to sit in the outside jumpseats the whole time just as a storm was setting in for the overnight portion of the drive. I was one of those two. It was freezing and I was wearing all the clothes I packed. The dalmatian onesie costume choice turned out to be a godsend in the cold. After about 4 hours of this and doing whatever was required to stay warm even if it involved a lot of beer, the sun started to rise, and temperatures creeped up with it. I could finally feel my extremities again and my energy/adrenaline kicked back in which is great because firetrucks are scientifically designed to be impossible to sleep in so basically none was had.
my jump seat teammate…
Along the way on this race there are a couple wildcard challenges that you have to complete that involve side trips and shenanigans. I don’t want to give anything away but this year we managed to solve the riddle pretty quick and not suffer any of the illegal but albeit mild consequences of what we had to do. Frankly, on the scale of the whole trip it wasn’t a big deal.
Now the elephant in the room, gas prices. I won’t lie firetrucks are not great on gas but this one was actually better than expected. I don’t know the exact mpg but we had to stop about every 4 hours and it cost about $200 to fill up each time. So I don’t suggest firetrucks for casual vehicles but this was a price we paid gladly.
Now the trip itself was a combination of a slog and a fantastic time. We would alternate seats, drivers, who got to enjoy the jump seats in the good weather, and passing other teams(well, they passed us). It is one of those experiences that is great on introspection, but must be experienced so I won’t bore you with the details here. Plus I am a pretty lazy writer anyway. If you want to see more journey highlights check out the official Fools Roll insta @foolsroll, that will show you more and we make appearances on it.
Additionally, we did suffer a minor setback with a breakdown. An airline was leaking and our brakes went out. Fortunately we happened to notice this at a rest stop and some Coca Cola guys working on vending machines had all the tools we needed to fix it easily! Needless to say, Pepsi was now banned from the trip.
When we roll into Vegas there was a lovely welcome crowd waiting. A lot of people did not think we were gonna make it which was probably fair. Honestly, I had no doubt but hey, there’s a reason I am not great at risk assessment. We were welcomed and smelly. Also the team members not dressed like dogs had to remove anything that made them look like actual firefighters and the valet was real anxious to get us to move the firetruck from The Wynn entryway. Fair enough. We parked the truck, went up to shower, and then the real endurance tests began…in another post…Oh also we made the Wall Street Journal!