Rally Driver Calls Rim Country Home

Strawberry man will drive BMW in AKA New York to Las Vegas Road Rally

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Residents of the tiny mountain hamlet of Strawberry enjoy many unique and fascinating hobbies.

But none is more unusual for a 51-year-old man than the pastime enjoyed by retired businessman Glenn Gormley.

"I love speed, I like to go fast, so I enjoy driving race cars, especially Porsches," he said.

Although Porsches are his transportation of choice, the Strawberry man will be driving a BMW when he participates Aug. 18 to 25 in the AKA New York to Las Vegas Road Rally.

"I'm going Aug. 15 to pick up the new BMW in Philadelphia then drive it (to New York) for the rally," Gormley said.

Along on the road rally with Gormley will be driving partner Robert "Rocket" Defibaugh.

During the rally, the BMW M3 the two are set to pilot will be sponsored by Verve, a nutritional energy drink made in Arizona.

Among the other cars in the rally are Corvettes, Ferrari, Volvos, Deloreans, Toyota Supras, Mini Coopers and a Lotus.

The most unusual entry in the 40-vehicle field might be a 10-inch lifted Dodge Ram truck with 37-inch tires and a modified 6.7-liter turbo diesel engine.

Also entered is a Ducati motorcycle.

Although all types of vehicles are allowed to participate, they must be street legal.

The drivers are a mixed group of racers from around the country, as well as a few mystery guests.

To participate, drivers had to pay a $3,250 entry fee.

On hand to televise the rally will be SPEED TV, which will dedicate six episodes to the event.

Although drivers know where the rally will begin and end, organizers have not made public the exact route and where the checkpoints will be.

Gormley suspects it might travel north from the Big Apple to near the Canadian border and then south to Las Vegas.

AKA is saying, however, the route will cover some of the most amazing roads in America.

Event organizer Chris Conner calls the AKA rally a "a high-adrenaline vacation for the true car enthusiast that blends the famed Cannonball Runs of the early '70s with the quintessential American road trip, a veritable right of passage for young adults."

Some might believe Cannonball Runs were only movies that starred Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett.

In truth, they were real races intended both as a celebration of the interstate highway system and a protest against 55 mph traffic laws going into effect in the early '70s.

Cannonball Runs were held four times from New York and Darien, Conn. to Redondo Beach, Calif.

Originally, there were no specified routes or maximum speed limits and the winner was the driver who reached the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach first.

After the original Cannonball races were halted, some organizations including, Car and Driver magazine, began to sponsor legitimate cross country rallies including the One Lap of America.

For Gormley, the upcoming AKA event is more than a road rally. It is also a tribute to a close friend who recently died of cancer.

"After we pick up the car, we'll stop by Signs of Tomorrow and have a memorial painted on it," Gormley said.In addition to competing in the AKA rally, Gormley is a member of the Rim Country Car Club.

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