Many of us dream of what we could do with more free time and just a little bit more money. My father recently retired and, for a number of years, has wanted to take up fly fishing. Now that he has the schedule for it, he is in the streams as much as possible. I’m jealous, he’s spending his days doing what he loves and I’m continuing to work and will do so for approximately another 40 years. Depressing. As a car fan, I drift off from time to time dreaming of being a professional driver or owning an insane garage of high-end automotive exotica or competing in events at a whim, but they’re dreams and in the foreseeable future I won’t be breaking away to pursue them.
However, one man managed to find a way to catch his fish and eat them too, if you will. A supposedly unemployed Chicago man by the name Bill Caswell decided to not wait like the rest of us until 65 and not sit at a desk versus pursuing the very same dreams we have of one day driving in a professional motor sport event or even simply owning a beater E30 and driving the hell out of it for fun. Bill took $500 and his dreams and made them a reality. For the measly $500 Bill picked up a 1991 318i sedan from Craigslist. Obviously, a car, much less a Bimmer, costing $500 would need a little work done.
However, Bill, in addition to being a supreme driver is a supreme make-shift mechanic and was able to construct and repair the necessary items such as a FIA-spec roll cage he would need to compete in the World Rally Championship event in Mexico. Bill entered the WRC Corona Mexico Rally , along with Ken Block, Sebastien Loeb, the Solbergs and Kimi Raikkonen, and hitched up the E30 and picked up his top notch co-pilot Ben Slocum and headed due South.
Upon arriving in Mexico for the Corona Mexico Rally, Bill and Ben found themselves in a very unexpected situation of being the heavily favored underdog of the race. Not only that but the side stories of running flat out from stage to stage through crowd-filled roads while outpacing their police escorts are just as crazy. However, even crazier is that Bill and Ben managed to operate the whole time throughout the rally as his own mechanic and support team. As a result, Bill did all of his own welding, tire changing and general maintenance. So, Bill managed to wear all hats, sans navigator, for a major FIA-sanctioned event – in a $500 car with probably safety equipment worth more than the car itself. To put that in perspective, the cars they were competing against cost upwards of $400,000 and are run by teams of mechanics and engineers working around the clock to keep the cars fit and on the circuit. Between Ben and Bill, they managed to do all of those things and still find the energy to climb into the car and stay competitive in each stage.
However, the stages weren’t exactly easy on the pair nor the E30 318i with a transplanted S14 engine. In one instance, aside from getting mooned by fans, the underdog BMW barreled into a turn and was set for a course to shoot straight off of an unexpected bridge. However, through what could either be divine intervention or supreme car control, Bill managed to get the car, while balanced on a rear trailing arm, with the throttle wide open and managed to let the differential do all the work and retransmit the power to the one wheel with grip. Sure enough, Bill saved the car and managed to finish a stage where a handful of professional drivers had huge shunts.
After a week of sleepless nights and adrenaline-soaked days, fixing broken gas tanks and various bits of the car and avoiding massive boulders, the pair of gringos managed a third place victory for a professional championship race, establishing themselves as legends in the world of motor sports. At each stage, Bill and Ben found themselves overwhelmed by crowds begging for autographs and pictures – hordes of people in disbelief that the 19 year old car managed to take on modern WRC titans like the Ford Focus or Subaru WRX or Citroen C4 and win a spot on the podium. We salute Bill and Ben for their incredible effort – achieving a dream many thought unattainable and we think it is especially interesting that this major upset in Mexico is nowhere to be found on the official WRC homepage!
(Story and Pictures via Jalopnik)