BABE Rally stops in H’burg

Brent Finnegan -- May 23rd, 2008

It’s not what it sounds like. This is the third year the Big Apple to Big Easy (BABE) junk car rally has stopped in Harrisonburg.

I found out about last year’s BABE Rally stop a day too late. This time, I was able to check it out. I shot some video last night and this morning in the Best Western parking lot behind Shoney’s.

BABE is an annual event for junk car enthusiasts in the U.S. Think Car Talk meets Hunter S. Thompson at a demolition derby, and you get the gist. The concept is pretty simple: each team can pay no more than $250 for a car to drive from New York to New Orleans. Some cars make it, others end up in junkyards along the way.

Organizers Justin Clements and Karin Ransdell of Street Safari put the first American tour together in 2006, after organizing several popular “banger rallies” in Europe, like Staples2Naples, and Home2Rome. But as Clements puts it, “Americans like their cars, and these cars become their pets. And you don’t just throw your pets out at the end of the day […] In Europe, none of [the cars] ever come back.”

Today, the eclectic community is on their way to Newport, Tennessee. Organizers expect to stay the night in Harrisonburg again next year.

10 Responses to “BABE Rally stops in H’burg”

  1. David Troyer says:

    great reportage, brent!

  2. Kai says:

    Quite an art form! My favorite exchange is when the guy who heats his canned food under the hood doesn’t skip a beat when Brent asks, “Is that safe?” Response: “Haven’t had a problem with it.”

  3. Thanh says:

    That’s awesome.

    (Thanks for sharing Brent!)

  4. Thanh says:

    I was just reminded that its not very environmentally friendly.

    I know. :(

  5. Fuzzwell says:

    Fantastic! I’m going to be in this next year! Thank you Brent for covering this and turning me on to this awesome fantastic funfest!

    My buddy Peter and I will be doing this next year!

    Dan Drumheller

  6. Kyle says:

    Doesn’r surprise me that the people of SV are intrigued by this white trash event. You want to be viewed as cerebral, but when it comes down to it, you’re the epitome of southern stereotypes. Can you blame Corp America for outsourcing?

  7. David Miller says:

    I don’t want to be perceived as “cerebral”, I don’t want to be perceived by you as anything, who are you talking to?

  8. Karin says:

    Kyle, it is unfortunate that you have somehow labeled the BABE Rally as a ‘white trash event’.

    You may be surprised to know that all types of people participate in these events, not all of them white, and certainly not trash. Several of these people have supercars at home in their garages, and could write checks from their personal accounts enough to pay your annual salary several times over and think nothing of it.

    Everybody plays in their own way.

    I don’t suppose you see the irony in the fact that by calling BABE a ‘white trash event’, *you* are in fact the one that is guilty of perpetuating ‘southern stereotypes’?

    Do yourself a favor. Instead of being bitter over the happiness of others, why not step away from the keyboard, get out more and maybe even get a life of your own and stop judging people who already have a life.

    Just a thought ;)

  9. Karin says:

    Thanh, you bring up a good point that deserves some clarification.

    You may be surprised to know that this event isn’t nearly as environmentally unfriendly as one might think. Most of these cars are in better shape than a lot of the cars driven daily in the rural countryside that the event passes through! haha.

    For the most part, these cars are salvaged from barns, fields, junk yards, and other places where they would just continue to sit and rot away, creating far more problems for the environment than being driven one last time to a scrapyard for recycling.

    Remember that all the cars must be safe and road-legal, that is to say a car must pass its inspections as required for proper licensing and registration in its home state.

    Once in New Orleans, several of the cars were donated to a charity that fixes them up for people who desperately need them. Others are sold off, given away, or delivered to scrap yards for metal recycling. The rest go back home as pet projects.

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