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Fireball Run races to completion in Bangor

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Fireball Run races to completion in Bangor edge photo by Jodi Hersey
Eight day road rally crosses finish line at Hollywood Casino racetrack

BANGOR - Car shows are a popular summer pastime in Maine, and this weekend Bangor hosted a show unlike any other. Fierce Ferraris, muscular Mustangs, lovely Lamborghinis, cruising Corvettes and dashing DeLoreans zoomed into the Queen city, the finish line for the 2012 Fireball Run adventure rally on Saturday afternoon, turning heads on every street they traveled.

"That was amazing. I had thoughts in my head how it would be, but to spend that many days with the same people traveling across the United States, we got to see amazing things that a lot of people wouldn't get to see and do in a race situation," explained "Timber Tina" Scheer of the Bangor Riverdrivers.

For the past eight days, 40 teams of two, a safety crew and several production crews traveled from Independence, Ohio to Bangor, Maine in a road rally that required participants to complete missions along the way in a life-sized game of trivial pursuit. It's a true reality show that can only be viewed online or in a documentary that will be released at a later date.

"The missions vary in degree of severity. It might be a simple thing like take a picture next to a road sign or ride a rollercoaster. Yesterday, they were paddling in a pumpkin [in Sanford]," said Ron Seggi, Fireball Run announcer. "These people have taken time out of their own schedule, they've left businesses and family and paid a very appropriate and high entry fee and paid for their own gas all in pursuit of bragging rights and a plastic roadside that says Fireball Run 2012 Northern Exposure.'"

Teams earned points along the way based on how well they completed that day's mission.

"We got to hold Lucille Ball's Emmy," said Tracy Leichtenberger of Pennsylvania's Team Pashmina. "They took her Emmy out of the glass enclosure at the Lucy Desi Museum in Jamestown, New York and gave us white gloves and let us hold it."

"One day we got to hold a Nobel prize and a Pulitzer prize the next day," said teammate Ariane Dart. "I wouldn't have imagined holding one let alone one, one day after another."

When the teams reach the final checkpoint on a given day, they must show the judges photos proving they completed the task.

"I have so many pictures I haven't done anything with other than show [the judges] that we've done the mission," said Carolann Ouellette of Team Bangor Riverdrivers. "Tina's done a good job of posting them. I think the pumpkin paddle has gotten the most 'likes' on Facebook."

Fireball Run started five years ago. As fun and exciting as the adventure is, the real goal of the competitors is to help recover and raise awareness about America's missing children. Each team represents a missing child from their area whose photo is depicted on their vehicle. Along their 2,500 mile journey, teams pass out flyers and posters of that missing child to those they come in contact with.

"Since 2007, Fireball Run has aided in the recovery of 38 missing children," said J. Sanchez, executive producer of Fireball Run.

The participants of Fireball Run 2012 Northern Exposure hope to add to that statistic.

"It was sad meeting the parents of these missing children and heartbreaking hearing their stories. We met a family in Schenectady, New York who was very grateful their son who would be 23 years old now but was 15 when he went missing [was included in this]," explained Leichtenberger.

The teams, which were composed of business people, professionals and celebrities, also made sure to buy toys, books, electronics and sporting equipment in each city they stopped at. Those items were then donated to a specific charity upon reaching the check point of that day's leg of the race.

"Every afternoon we get a charity mission for each location. They explain why it's important to the city we're visiting. We've donated to a few Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations, but other than that it's been a different charity all the way through," explained Ouellette. "It's really, really nice."

As the competitors rolled into Bangor, they had more than one task to complete before crossing the finish line.

"We went to the Cole Land Transportation [Museum] and met Galen Cole. We had to get his signature and he gave us a replica of a truck. Then, we went to the Thomas Hill Standpipe and got to hold the sword Mr. Chamberlain used. How crazy is that?" said Scheer. "Then we rushed over and had a Brady reenactment of the shooting in front of Bagel Central and were welcomed by the troop greeters."

Meeting up with our state's famous troop greeters turned out to be the most memorable part of the journey for the Bangor Riverdrivers.

"Maybe it's because we know so much of their background that it was more meaningful [for us]. Nonetheless, just having them standing there as veterans themselves, it was very moving," said Ouellette.

"I've had some emotional times on the road, but when I got to Bangor and the Maine Troop Greeters said, 'Welcome home Tina,' I lost it because I know what they do," explained Scheer.

Team Pashmina will never forget their missions at Watkins Glen race track in New York or the Lime Rock Park race track in Connecticut.

"We were driving and we did two different auto crosses. The first one we did poorly and laughed the whole way through. The second one we did well and laughed just as much. It was a terrific experience together," said Dart.

However, nothing sticks out in the minds of Team Ogunquit-A-GoGo more than the people they met along the way.

"We were greeted by the best America has to offer," said Robert Levinstein, former Ogunquit Playhouse employee.

"The people who came out to see us thanked us over and over. I wasn't prepared for that," said Leanne Cusimano, owner of Cafe Amore in Ogunquit. "They said it would be emotional and it really was."

Competitors finally put on their brakes when they crossed the finish line at the Hollywood Casino Raceway, a spot that wasn't easy for many of the participants to find.

"This is such a relief [to reach the finish line] because we had been driving through the parking garage at the casino. It's truly a race to the end," said Dart.

Once the teams reached the track, they were given their very last mission - to bet on one of the horses competing in Saturday's harness races.

"To see so many having fun, enjoying themselves, doing it for a good cause and ending it right here in Bangor is a touching and fitting celebration," said Mayor Cary Weston. "We're happy as heck to host them and hope we've given them something to remember."

After spending eight days on the road, the teams slid back into their vehicles for one more drive - a parade down Main Street in Bangor where spectators were lined up to catch a glimpse of these unique and exotic Fireball Run vehicles.

"I just want to thank everyone and the city for doing such an amazing job," said Ouellette.

"Everyone else had home stops along the way and had to leave the next day, but not us. We're home, the way life should be," said Scheer.

For more information on the Fireball Run Northern Exposure, log on to www.fireballrun.com.

Last modified on Thursday, 04 October 2012 08:51

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