Road Runners

Two Grosse Pointers are revved up for a grueling global rally


Driving spirit Ross Lewicki will embark on a five-week road rally with buddy Todd Callahan.

Photographs by Cybelle Codish

 Road rallies are a grand motoring tradition dating back as far as the first automobiles. Point-to-point road trips with drivers and co-drivers crisscrossed Europe in the first half of the last century.
The appeal endures.

Grosse Pointe natives Ross Lewicki, 26, and Todd Callahan, 25, felt the call of four-wheeled adventure, and on July 24, they’ll take on the Mongol Rally, a 10,000-mile journey throughout Europe, to the Arctic Circle, and as far south as Afghanistan.

Before embarking on the five-week rally, Lewicki discussed what persuaded the high-school friends to take extended vacations from their respective jobs: Lewicki from the family business, Ryan’s Auto Parts, and Callahan from Donghia Inc., in Connecticut.
Why do it?

The main thing is the adventure. On the [rally] Web site, the first thing that they say is, ‘The world has become too boring.’ I’ve traveled a lot all over the world, and it really has become too easy. Not knowing what I was getting myself into is what really drove me to do this. 
Will the teams travel as a group? Does everyone take the same route?

There’s no set route. The teams leave from three different cities: London, Barcelona, and Milan. Everyone meets up in the Czech Republic, [where the organization] rented a big castle to throw a private party for everyone. The [approximately] 1,000 teams that start will probably be on the same road [at first], and then everyone splits up and goes out on their own. Very few people travel entirely by themselves. From what I’ve read, you get into a group of three to five cars. You’re not necessarily driving right behind or in front of them; you’re within 10 to 20 miles.

What if the car breaks down? Are you and Todd mechanical?

We have really minor knowledge. I have more than Todd, since I work in the auto-parts business. Basically, we’ll have to figure it out or hope other teams around us have some knowledge. Our last resort is to find locals who can get us to a garage.
Your Web site says you’ll keep a blog. I assume you won’t find Wi-Fi in many of your locations. What’s your plan?
A team from Detroit did this last year. [They] said that, for the most part, your cell phone works the entire way. 
This race is a fundraiser. What’s your charity?

The Mercy Corps. [The Oregon-based non-profit helps families in Mongolia.]  
Tell me about your “race car.” How will you get it to Europe?

[The car has to have an engine size of up to 1.2 liters and be a model from 2001 or younger. If the vehicle is bigger, it must fit into a different category for donation.] The Astro van we picked had the qualification for the [Emergency and Public Services machines category. After the race, the team will donate to the car to Mongolia]. I’ll drive it to New York and put it on a cargo ship to London.
What are the living conditions?

In Europe, we’ll be staying in hotels. Once we get out past Turkey, we’re going to put a bed in our car, and we have tents. We’ll have two big tanks of extra gas, two big tanks of fresh water, and camping food — canned things.
What’s the first-place prize, and what’s your strategy?

There isn’t an official prize. They do give a small trophy to the team that finishes first, but it’s all for comic value. Everyone’s main goal is just to finish.

For information or to donate:

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

The Way It Was

Better Made Snack Foods, 1971

Do Good

The Greater Detroit Philanthropy Awards are back with eight new recipients

AFP Interview Series: Nominee Tracy Utech

With over 20 years of experience, Utech and her team have championed funds that have seen benefit outside of Wayne State’s campus.

AFP Interview Series: Nominee Karen Smithbauer

A career as a preschool teacher and battle with breast cancer, ground Smithbauer's philanthropic efforts

An Hour with ... Faith Duede

Founder, Rocky Horror Preservation Society
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2018
  2. Memories of Miya
    Citizen Yoga founder, Kacee Must Leeb reflects on her sister’s suicide, its impact on her...
  3. Introducing the Piekie
    These cookie-shaped pies win big on-screen and off
  4. The Sixth Man
    A youth basketball coach teaches lessons on and off the court
  5. Seeking Support
    Like many metro areas across the U.S., finding a therapist in and around Detroit can prove to be...
  6. Therapy in the Digital Age
    New innovations that revolutionize traditional approaches to counseling
  7. Food Recipe: Chili
    Michael Keys, of Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, shares his favorite chili recipe
  8. Author's Cuisine
    At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is...
  9. Mending Migraines
    Nausea, excruciating head pain, sensitivity to light and noise: The oppressiveness of the list of...
  10. Seeing Clearly
    The co-founders behind Genusee on making eyewear with a mission