This site is no longer active. We're leaving it up as a kind of scrapbook of one of our greatest adventures. - The Tartan Eagles.

First Week Update

February 7th, 2010

Well, the Tartan Eagles Banger Racing Team has grown a lot this week with the addition of our first dozen team sponsors! Thanks to everyone who has gotten on board with the Tartan Eagles. And if you haven't become a sponsor yet, what are you waiting for? You can donate via PayPal on the homepage. Not totally convinced that you want to become part owner of an awesome racing team? Get your questions answered on our FAQ.

Stay tuned – we should have information on our car in the next couple of days!

Meeting Maxi (The Car)

February 20th, 2010

Thursday night we went out to Wishaw to take a look at the third member of the Tartan Eagles road team: an '88 Ford Escort who goes by the name of Maxi Jazz.

For added entertainment, here is a video of Laura psyching up her current car (The Nugget) to meet Maxi.

Maxi's Almost Ready

April 3rd, 2010

We just got word from our EXTREMELY helpful new friend, Adrian, that Maxi (the car) is almost ready. The photo above is of the mechanics installing a Fiesta RS Turbo gearbox and a new clutch!

Tartan Eagles Unite

April 7th, 2010

Tracey, Laura, John, and Maxi.

Yes, the road team is together at last! On Easter Monday, Laura & I drove out to Wishaw to pick up Maxi Jazz. The photo doesn't show it, but it was raining buckets.

We cannot thank Maxi's former owners, Adrian & Tracey, enough for everything they've done to get Maxi ready for the great white north. Cheers, dudes.

Sticker Test

April 8th, 2010

This sticker in HALF the size of the £5 level sponsorship stickers

Laura & I have thought a lot about how we were going to "put" sponsor names on the car. The right solution had to be economical and efficient. You can see an example of what we've come up with in the photo above. It is a custom printed sticker with clear contact paper (a.k.a. "sticky-back plastic" in Scotland) covering it.

We are getting the first batch of stickers printed tomorrow and we will be affixing them to Maxi this weekend. The second (and final) batch will be printed on Monday, April 12th. We will continue to accept sponsors throughout the rally, and while they will still be recognized on the website, be included in the email updates, and emailed a team photo, they won't have their name on the car.

NOTE: Since this was a test, the sticker in the image is half the size of the stickers we are making for team sponsors at the £5 level.

A Savage Attack!

April 9th, 2010

Maxi's Wound

Last night, some horrible savage smashed in one of Maxi's quarter windows! If they had looked in the window before they smashed it they would have seen that the car was totally empty. Thank you, west-end thugs.

Glass in the back seat.

Final Preparations

April 16th, 2010

Here are some photos of the sponsor logos getting added to Maxi. In the end it took about 4 hours and a whole roll of contact paper to affix all 39 sponsors. Special thanks to Haids for the help.

Adding the first row of sponsor

John & Haids working on the hood (bonnet)

John and Haids working on the hood (bonnet)

A Finished Maxi

And We're Off!

April 16th, 2010

On the Ferry to Holland

April 16th, 2010

The Tartan Eagles have made it the first 151 miles from Glasgow to Newcastle and are now on the Norwegian Princess bound for Amsterdam!! The drive south was easy enough, however getting Maxi onto the ferry was not quite as simple as we had expected!

Whilst we waited in line to drive onto the ferry, petrol from our tank had left quite the noticable puddle underneath the car. So much so infact that a nice Scottish man from the car next to us came to warn us. We thanked him for his concern but said we realised and it was fine. On buying the car we had been warned that the tank may leak a little if filled more than half way but we had decided to buy a whole tank at Gretna anyway in order to judge how many miles we could expect to get from a tank. The petrol gauge was a bit dodgy on the drive down and we were willing to put up with some leakage in return for having enough fuel to get us where we needed to go.

Bad idea...we're number one in line to board and we're pulled over by one of the officials who is concerned that we are leaking quite a bit of petrol and that this could be a danger to the ferry. The captain was called and he said we couldn't board unless our tank was empty...
Departure time is T minus 15 minutes and we've got more than three quarters of a tank. How the hell are we going to get rid of it!?

Numerous phone calls were made...we needed a hose, we needed a bucket for petrol, we needed help...our hearts were beating fast, our palms were sweating. Time was ticking away and as the final trucks loaded onto the boat the prospect of us waking up in the city of red lights and giggles was becoming less likely.

As we waited, desperately searching for an answer, a hippy dutch couple pulled up in their truck to ask if we needed a hose. From the back of their truck, which looked like a hardware store/junk shop, they pulled out a bright orange hose and a water jug. The guy stuck the hose into our tank and sucked on it like it was something he did everyday. As petrol began leaking into the jug, we thanked the helpful couple whilst the guy returned to his truck in search of a beer to destroy the taste of petrol.

T minus 5 minutes and the petrol has stopped flowing. John has a suck to get it started again and it works...we're all hoping that a wee taste of petrol isn't too dangerous:-/ Let's be honest, can it really be worse than a Gregg's sausage roll?

We were told again that the captain would only allow us to board if the tank was empty and that they would send someone out to help push us on board. We probably had almost half a tank left but the dripping has stopped and we had about 8 litres of petrol to show that we were doing what they had asked.

As the crew were convinced we had an empty tank a man came over on a forklift, attached us with a tow rope, and led us onto the ship.

We handed over the jug of petrol we had removed for them to put in a safe area and headed upstairs to our little sea facing cabin.

A Guinness to mask the taste of petrol and a glass of vino to relax...Laura, John and Maxi are heading for the continent!


April 16th, 2010

After yesterday's antics with trying to make it onto the ferry, The Tartan Eagles have made it to Amsterdam safe and sound...despite travelling by boat on the 98th anniversary of Titanic's maiden and only voyage. We found our petrol cans waiting for us beside Maxi in the morning and no more petrol appeared to have leaked out overnight.

Step one after getting off the boat was to find our way to the apartment of our Dutch friends. Unfortunately our GPS had other ideas and when the irritating English woman said 'You have now arrived at your destination'(which was meant to be Amsterdam city centre!) she was clearly playing some kind of trick on us. We were in fact in the middle of nowhere next to a farm house and lots of swans! We then rebooted the GPS and tried again...thankfully this time with more precise results.

We spent a lovely day in Amsterdam with our awesome Dutch friends and their beautiful baby girl, Jasperine. We strolled around picturesque Amsterdam, sat in a few trendy coffee shops to watch the world cycle by and enjoyed a fantastic gluten free home cooked lunch and dinner! Laura even managed to squeeze in a relaxing run around sunny Vondelpark :)

Our friends kindly suggested we stay at their apartment for the night so we used the Icelandic eruption as an excuse for cancelling our night at the hostel.
Good night from the Tartan Eagles...tomorrow we have an early start before a 10 hour drive to Copenhagen!

Amsterdam to Copenhagen

April 17th, 2010

Bad omen from the sat nav

The Tartan Eagles have arrived in Copenhagen! This morning we woke up in Amsterdam and a little over 10 hours later we made it to the Danish capital.

There were no mishaps to speak of today and Maxi was on top form, getting up to over 90 miles an hour on the crazy German highways.

Today was a day of firsts:

Laura drove on the right side of the road for the first time:

We spotted our first fellow challengers – Some impressive designs and stickering but nothing quite as spectacular as our Maxi.

We reached our first Scandinavian country!

It felt as though we were filling up constantly since we are now a bit wary of filling our tank more than half way as a result of pre-ferry escapades. Petrol is expensive in this part of the world too, but not when compared to the bridge tolls.

We're off to sleep in our ghetto hostel without locks on the doors...tomorrow we're going to say hej to a little Mermaid before taking off for Oslo!

Fun sign in Denmark

The Trip to Oslo

April 19th, 2010

We woke up in Copenhagen ready for another day on the road but first decided to make a quick stop at The Little Mermaid statue in Hans Christian Andersen's home town. Unfortunately, and quite comically, it turns out that she is no longer gracing the shores of Denmark but is in fact currently at the Danish pavilion of the EXPO 2010 in Shanghai.

We then headed in the direction of Sweden across the spectacular Öresund Bridge that we had recently watched a show about on the Discovery channel. Whilst the show explained the massive feats of engineering that went into building the bridge, it failed to mention that once completed it would cost punters half the price of their rally banger to cross it!

Today's mission was to reach Oslo before it got too late so we blasted through Sweden, stopping only for petrol and to take photos outside IKEA. Yes, we know we've visited numerous IKEA stores back in Scotland but there is something strangely exciting about seeing a store in the motherland.

Half way to Norway we started to get a little worried about Maxi. He was backfiring and stalling and Oslo was still a long drive away. We stopped at a gas station to see if we could figure out what was wrong and while we were there, we spotted a Google street view car filling up.

Google Street View car in Sweden

We struggled with Maxi all the way to Oslo with the feeling that he just wasn't sounding right and hoped that when we reached our hostel in Oslo, there may be someone with more car knowledge who could help us out.

Arriving at our destination we were welcomed by lots of other rallyers and their tricked out cars. Up until now we had only caught a glimpse of a few on the road so it was nice to see everyone together. We found out that one of the guys is a mechanic, told him what had happened and showed him what we thought it might be. He said that it probably wasn't that but he said we would be fine if we just kept giving Maxi plenty of gas. Him and his second driver had lots of fix 'em up stuff in their boot and said to keep with them on the road to Trondheim the following day in case something went wrong.

In the evening we took a tram into Oslo's centre, hungry for something to eat. Amazingly we came across a little take-out cafe which sold gluten free curry and rice so we each had a little box (very tasty!) before having a couple of drinks in a downtown pub with fellow rallyers. We only had a couple as Oslo is the most expensive city in the world.

Tomorrow we're off to Trondheim via a stretch of road touted to be "the best drive in the world."

"Best Road Trip in the World"

April 20th, 2010

Waking up in Oslo we had a choice of routes to take to Trondheim. One was a direct route of 320 miles and the other was a far longer, round about route of over 500 miles. The later would involve 2 ferry crossings and numerous bridges but would also allow us to drive through some of the world's most amazing scenery and have the "best road trip in the world." We were already pretty tired from the previous day's driving but decided that we had to give the more exciting route a chance. How likely was it that we would in a position like this again any time soon and we were on this trip to drive....we weren't was amazing!!!!

We had to wake up really early because we weren't sure what the roads would have waiting for us and since two ferry crossings were part of the route and we didn't know the timing of these we had to ensure we got going as early as possible. Our hostel in Oslo was the first to offer breakfast and Laura was delighted on asking if they had gluten free bread when they gave her the rest of the bag...breakfast and lunch, check! :-)
We drove the astoundingly beautiful roads to Trondheim in a convoy with 10 other rally teams. This gave some reassurance that there would be someone to help out if something were to go wrong in the middle of who knows where!

Today's mishap was when we ran out of gas in Lillehammer.

Our petrol gauge isn't the most reliable and our mileage maths wasn't taking into account our driving speeds. Nothing too much to worry about though as Norway's Olympic city has plenty of gas stations to fill up at, leaving us good to go.
Today's drive took us through some of the most amazing mountainous landscapes we have ever seen.

The roads were exhilarating and the 'best road trip in the world' was definitely worth taking the long way round!

Over 12 hours and 500 miles after leaving Oslo we arrived in Trondheim, a tired tartan and a sleepy eagle.

The Arctic Circle

April 20th, 2010

Today we reached the Arctic Circle!

Literally on the Arctic Circle

The drive from Trondheim to Fauske was another absolutely gorgeous one...I can't believe how beautiful it is up here...there are constant woooow's and look-at-that's coming from the car at every turn. So far the roads have been completely clear but the surroundings are covered in foot upon foot of crisp snow and this evening we saw a herd of reindeer!

Nothing too disastrous held us back today...just a couple of minor annoyances, oh and we drove into Hell but that's just a small town up here!

This morning we weren't able to open Maxi's petrol tank...we tried and tried and WD40′d it and tried and tried and it took almost 45 minutes to get it to budge...fairly irritating since we are only filling the tank up half way each time. Also, about 150 miles from Fauske we were faced with a traffic jam resulting from an accident that had happened earlier in the afternoon. Luckily we arrived at the scene no more than 20 minutes before the road was cleared and we started moving again. It turned out that some of our fellow rallyers had left really early that morning and had been in the jam for 2 hours!

John is loving the driving down all the crazy, bumpy wee roads in Northern Norway.

Maxi has been doing really well and likes getting up to 80 mph. Since low Norwegian speed limits don't fit too well with ridiculously long daily drives, we have decided to pretend that their speed limit signage, which is in KM, is actually in Miles! 'Oh sorry Mr Norwegian policeman, whatever do you mean we were going too fast? Kilometers...what are they?'

Overtaking on small mountainous roads can be pretty fun too and as encouragement for Maxi when trying to get him to accelerate as fast as possible he shouts things like, 'Come on Maxercise' and 'You can do it Saxy Maxi' Quite hilarious although it does appear to work! A couple of the other rallyers have commented that when they are driving behind us it sounds as though they are behind a tractor and we are noticing that day by day Maxi is getting louder. Despite this though he's running well!

Tomorrow we're headed for Tromso and many more miles (or kilometers) of more jaw droppingly beautiful scenery I'm sure....

The Gateway to the Arctic

April 22nd, 2010

Tonight the Tartan Eagles are in Tromsø (home of Lene Marlin and Röyksopp) after yet another beautiful drive northward! At 70° N latitude, Tromsø is often referred to as "The Gateway to the Arctic." Similar to the last couple of days, there are mountains of snow surrounding us but the roads are still completely clear and perfect for driving! Today's drive involved a ferry ride and numerous crossings of concrete and wire suspension bridges.

We arrived in Tromsø early enough to take a stroll around the lovely town and to enjoy the arctic sunset, which started two hours ago and is still happening right now. We window shopped lots of lovely, expensive things and bought some groceries to make ourselves dinner in the lovely wooden cabin in which we will be sleeping tonight.

Whilst in town we got a call from one of the other ralleyers to say that another one of our crew had been stopped by the Norwegian police. Apparently they had been driving 90kph on a 60kph road. Norway has the strictest driving laws in Europe where speeding is concerned and as their limits are ridiculously low, it's difficult not to do some speeding.

Tomorrow we are heading to the most northern point of our trip, and of Europe. We are unsure where we will be sleeping yet but we have a long drive to work that out....

The Top of Europe

April 23rd, 2010

The Tartan Eagles at the top of mainland Europe.

The Tartan Eagles have made it to the northernmost point of mainland Europe: Nordkapp, Norway.

I must say the journey to the top has been breathtaking. Beautiful, towering, snow covered mountains line the clear roads on which we have driven for the past 4 days. Fields of deep snow seem to go on for miles and miles and there have been more sightings of Reindeer. Still no old men with long beards and red suits yet however...

It appears that we have been amazingly lucky with our timing too as this part of Norway can often be cut off from adventurers by avalanches and snow storms. Our experience of Norway is completely different to this...only the jaw droppingly beautiful scenery is covered in snow whilst the roads are clear and perfect for driving long distances.

Yesterday we mentioned that Norway and speeding don't mix too well and we can now give you an update on just how crazy Norwegian cops can get if you drive over the speed limit. Similar to the UK, Norway has different limits depending on the area but the highest limit they have is 90kph, which is only 56mph. When driving distances of up to 500 miles a day it's pretty hard to keep to 56mph, especially when quite often there is barely anyone but you on the road for miles.

Yesterday, en route from Fauske to Tromso, the police became aware of our rally and have been keeping a watchful eye on us ever since. It appears they may have checked out our route plan from the organisers website and now have intel on where we will be. Unmarked police cars have followed numerous teams, police have been at the roadside with radars and some rallyers have been cautioned. We weren't aware of anyone actually being done for something until we arrived at our hostel in Nordkapp this evening. We then discovered that 5 rally teams had been stopped and heavily fined on today's northward drive. 2 teams were done for 'dangerous driving' and were fined £500, whilst another 3 teams were done for speeding and fined £500, £850 and £1000 respectively. Maxi has been behaving, or at least is being careful. We do not want to end the trip with these sorts of ridiculously expensive fines!

John also took advantage of the midnight sun and went sledding down a nearby mountain. It was a really fast run, but a wee bit dangerous as you can see from the photo below.

The Plymouth Boys' Sledding Injuries

Heading South into Finland

April 24th, 2010

After reaching the most northern point of mainland Europe, there was nowhere to go but south. So that's what we did (much to the relief of our wallets). We headed for Rovaniemi, Finland – the capital of Lapland. For those non-British out there, Lapland is the traditional home of Santa Claus.

The Finish landscape is very different from Norway. Our driving has been mostly on long, straight, hilly roads lined with 50 ft. tall trees on each side. While the breathtaking mountains have disappeared, the animals have come out and we were treated to dozens of reindeer and a handful of moose over the course of the drive.

Rovaniemi was also the location of the rally's fancy dress party ("costume party" in American) which was held in a karaoke pub next to our hostel. I say "pub", but after a little while mingling with the regulars, we were all pretty sure that it was really a brothel (or just a place where hookers hung out and drank).

Tomorrow is going to be our last full day of driving, and its going to be a big one. We will be driving south through all of Finland to the capital, Helsinki.

Exhaust Fail

April 25th, 2010

We knew today's drive was going to be a long one. Rovaniemi is 600 miles from Helsinki and it is 2 lane roads most of the way.

Around a hour into the drive, the shit hit the fan, or more specifically, the exhaust pipe hit the ground!

We obviously couldn't drive with it scraping along the highway so John did his best Macgyver impression and tied it up with bungee cord and zip ties.

Amazingly it held for almost 2 hours but unfortunately just as we were pulling into a gas station, it dropped again. Our on the road mechanic, James, told John to kick it off.

The next step was to dispose of the evidence and make a hasty escape. John found a dumpster with a tyre next to it and figured that must be where old car parts are meant to be left.

For obvious reasons, driving was now deafening! Ear plugs helped slightly but hearing the radio or each other was almost impossible for the next 300 miles.

Despite all of this madness, the Tartan Eagle arrived safely (but definitely not discretely) in the Finnish capital.

End of the Road

April 26th, 2010

End of the Road

The Tartan Eagles have made it to Tallinn! We had to run a few red lights through Helsinki to get to the ferry, but we made it.

3700 road miles after leaving Glasgow we arrived at the Hotell Athena on the coast of Estonia (just east of Tallinn). It was a sad moment, but Maxi Jazz performed better than we could have hoped and it was time for him to retire.

Now that Maxi is on his way to the Sunflower Foundation, Laura & John need to get back to Glasgow. That means they can have dinner and a few drinks in Tallinn before catching the 12:30am bus the Riga airport (in neighboring Latvia).

Back to Glasgow

April 28th, 2010

We are now safe and sound, back in Glasgow. In the end we spent 11 days driving 3700 miles to Tallinn (which was awesome) and 19hrs, 5 countries, 3 buses, 2 planes, 1 lost rucksack and a sprint through downtown Manchester getting back (which sucked).

Thanks again to all of our sponsors for making this trip happen. We hope you enjoyed the updates. The last posts we will add to the site will be a photo gallery of the trip & a collection of videos that we shot, but didn't get picked for the daily updates.

Tartan Eagles: out.