2005 Bullrun: My steamy ride with Hot Wheels Amy

Sean O'Grady joins a race for spoiled millionaires across the Nevada Desert and discovers the desert isn't the only hot thing on the journey
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I'm on the Bullrun with Hot Wheels Amy. Our car is a 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS. The location is the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Basically the Bullrun is a race for the very rich. And a few journalists who tag along to cover it. If you're lucky, as I was, sometimes you get to ride in a wonderful car with some wonderful people. Amy Boylan and her Chevy qualified on both counts. She worked for the American toy giant Mattel, in the Hot Wheels model car division, and is now a consultant to Caroll Shelby, he of Ford Mustang fame. She's a Brooklyn girl, but lives in Rock Hudson's old place on Palm Beach and spends most of her time on the trip wisecracking with her co-pilot Anton, a doctor. The car was scarcely less special, a real old-fashioned growling American V8 muscle car. Driving through the Nevada Desert it was like being in a very hot oven with a very powerful fan.

Ah, yes the route. In brief it was 3,000 miles in a week. We went from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Telluride and Boulder, Colorado, Salt Lake City, the Bonneville Salt Flats, Reno, San Francisco and then back down the coastal road past the California vineyards to LA. Quite a pace and the Chevelle kept up quite well.

Now, I'm not really that big a fan of the Italian exotica, to be truthful, but I was still impressed by the array of Lamborghinis and Ferraris on the route. I was also pleased to see one of the new model Rolls-Royce Phantoms long for the ride, a new Corvette, old and new Mustang, some sort of 1930s hot rod and an Aston Martin. Various other supercars, notably a Mercedes McLaren SLR joined for maybe a leg or two of the run. Less impressive, but welcome all the same, were a Chrysler 300C, a Jaguar XK8, an Audi A8 and some Mercedes SLKs and CLKs, but, without wishing to sound too hoity-toity they are hardly the stuff of dreams. I would have liked a few plucky little 2CVs or old Beetles or a Fiat 500. For such cars doing 3,000 miles in a week would be a real challenge: it just isn't for a brand new hire car.

Neither were the celebrities the stuff of dreams. The biggest was Dennis Rodman. Who? A very rich, very famous basketball player. He had a loud Lambo with a spangly yellow paint job featuring his own face. The car's paintwork didn't survive unscathed as one of his minders managed to scrape it while showing off to the "Bikini Bandits". Very pretty, but their role on the trip always seemed slightly ambiguous to me.

In the publicity material I received before the trip from the PR agency I was informed that the celebrities that had been lined up included "Paul Whitehouse, John Thompson, Paul Gascoigne and his pal Jimmy Five Bellies and Goldie Lookin Chain in their Burberry chav mobile". Despite some trepidation about hitching along with Gascoigne and Five Bellies at 100mph+ it seemed a reasonably entertaining line up.

They didn't turn up. None of them did. Paris Hilton was supposed to wave us off on Hollywood Avenue, but we had to make do with someone else. If I told you that the headline Brit celeb on the trip was James Hewitt, I think you'll appreciate things. I had to explain to Hot Wheels Amy who he was. I mentioned Diana, then she knew. There were a couple of blokes off Hollyoaks or Casualty or something whose names I forget, Richard Blackwood, who used to be on telly, Phil Cornwell, who turns up doing impressions on Dead Ringers and was in the excellent Stella Street and , er, that was it. Actually Cornwell is a talented actor, if I might say so, but he's not going to turn heads down Acton High Street let alone in Vegas.

Hewitt, whose life has been destroyed by the press was the only entrant on the trip, apart from Hot Wheels Amy, that you'd be able to hold a sensible conversation with. He talks knowledgeably and impressively about his time as an officer, especially during the first war in the Gulf in 1991 and about what the troops are facing now in Iraq. He clearly hasn't got over being made to leave the forces, which were his home. After he was made to go he's been reduced to bumming around on reality TV stunts, and of course the Bullrun is just another one of those. They teamed poor old Hewitt up with someone from a TV show called Jackass, and I felt sorry for the major.

The millionaires from England and the States were boring, childish and spoiled. If only they were all like Hot Wheels Amy.

The Bullrun is on Bravo TV at 10.30pm every night.

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