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The rally's eclectic cast of more than 200 motorists from 22 countries includes a prince, a romance novelist, a brain surgeon and guys nicknamed "Mom," "Chic" and "Too Tall." Here are some of the more intriguing entrants:


Hermann the German

Donald "Too Tall" Jones

Surtees the Stoic


The Bon Vivant

The Darling Dalrymples

The Bentley Boys


Thelma and Louise

Dimpled Dan

Go Carr Go


Auto-Addled Genny

"Chic" Kleptz

Biker Burt


Lean, Mean & Neon-Green

Capt. "Zen" O'Neill

Pink Tank

Hermann the German Hermann the German
Hermann Layher is crazy about cars but he knows their limitations. "I don't love cars. I'm not a pervert," he says. "I love my wife." The director of the Auto + Technik Museums in Sinsheim and Speyer, Germany, had his first brush with the historic race at age 7, when he lived in Manerba, Italy, near the island owned by the family of the 1907 rally winner Prince Scipio Borghese. Ninety years after the first rally, Layher is determined to follow Borghese's example and has chosen to drive a 1907 La France, a car much like the Prince's Fiat Itala. The La France is the oldest car in the race and maintaining it on the road will be a full time job for Layher and his Canadian partner John Dick. A retired fire truck, the La France has wooden spoke tires that must be soaked twice a day. Layher hopes this will give him an advantage at river crossings. Back to the top

Donald Too Tall Jones Donald "Too Tall" Jones
Donald Jones thinks in capital letters: Information Age, Cyber-Democracy, the Race for Ideas. The Wisconsin-based telecommunication entrepreneur and self-described "idea generator" has made his fortune in the broadcast, cable and Internet industries. A believer in both technology and civic responsibility, Jones created the Congressional website THOMAS and was an adviser to House Speaker Newt Gingrich on telecommunications issues. Jones and his co-driver Carl Schneider drove their 1954 Packard Convertible from New York to San Francisco, to complete a circle around the globe. Jones compares his relationship with Schneider to a marriage. The two were "set up" by friends who sat them next to each other at a wedding, knowing their shared passion for vintage automobiles. Of the meeting, Jones says, "It was love at first sight." Back to the top

Surtees the Stoic Surtees the Stoic
Unlike whiskers, fingertips don't grow back when they are snipped. Though Phil Surtees was able to retrieve his tips after his Jeep rolled in a recent race, all attempts to re-attach them failed and the doctors were forced to amputate. "I'm not going to let a little thing like a couple fingers put me off," he says. Surtees and fellow Brit John Bayliss have another pain to deal with: the 1 1/2-inch seats in
1942 Willys Jeep are easily the least comfortable in the rally lineup.
Back to the top

The Bon Vivant The Bon Vivant
"I will be traveling with two cases of the finest white wine," says Erik Christiansen, the Danish financier and entrepreneur. When he is not dashing about in his Rolls Royce collection, Christiansen is flying his two-seater from the Bahamas to Brussels and toking on cigars, flammables be damned. Christiansen says he enjoys a life of relative anonymity in the Bahamas, where he lives with his wife of 30 years. However, she didn't accompany him to the rally because, he says, "I want to remain married." Instead, he is driving with an American mechanic, Philip Compton. Christiansen had never met his co-driver but did interview him over the phone and concluded that the Californian had "a language and choice of words that gave me a certain sense of civilization." The two are sharing the front seat of Christiansen's 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud S3. Back to the top

The Darling Dalrymples The Darling Dalrymples
Often, focusing on little details can be helpful in coping with larger fears. Faced with the daunting 10,000-mile rally, Patricia Dalrymple thought about undergarments. "When I started thinking about all that could happen during the race," she says, "getting kidnapped in Iran, breaking down in Tibet ... I realized that underwear was a top priority." When Patricia first agreed to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary on the road with her husband and co-driver, she had visions of a romantic rendezvous in Katmandu. "Now I find out we will be in a tent in Tibet," she says. The handsome, good-natured Dalrymples have no motor sport experience but they shrug off grim predictions about their chances in their 1949 Cadillac coupe. Back to the top

The Bentley Boys The Bentley Boys
Americans William Binnie (left) and his pal Edward "Ned" Thompson say they aren't racing to win, but that didn't stop them from making a special trip to London to check out the competition. The plastics mogul and canvas company CEO poured over a 1928 Bentley owned by Danes Kjeld Jessen and his son Hans-Henrik. A near mirror-image of the Bentley they are driving, the car is one of the team's true rivals in the rally, which, explains Binnie, is several races in one. Newer, faster cars drive up to 135 mph and "get all the beer, the fuel, the best rooms and the sleep." The touring class cars travel at a leisurely pace more suited to the sightseer and can expect reasonable accommodations. Older, slower cars get the worst meals and no beer. "Naturally I chose the latter," Binnie says. Back to the top

Thelma and Louise Thelma and Louise
In 1907, women stood on the side of the road and waved hankies at the rally motorists and, if they were lucky, were blown a kiss. Nine decades later, the "girls" (as Jennifer Gillies [left] and Francesca Sternberg [right] are described by the male competitors) are fiercely determined to complete the treacherous route in their 1964 Volvo Amazon, "Gordon." Neither of the two have motoring experience, but Sternberg did drive a truck through Eastern Europe. And both are worldly sorts. Sternberg, the younger daughter of Lord and Lady Plurenden and the leading lady rider of American Quarter Horses, backpacked through South America and sailed up the Irriwady River in Burma. Gillies, a Scot raised in Malaysia, decided to do the race after reading details in a fax sent to her then-boss. They are one of only two women-only teams in the rally. Back to the top

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