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Running with the Bulls

It’s early in the morning as Courtney Barber walks out of her hotel after a night of pre-race partying. She’s heading towards her very own vintage muscle car, checking the tires and license plate to make sure everything is in order. As she gets into the car, she is handed a piece of paper with nothing but an address written on it. She has never been there and has no idea where it is, but knows she must get to this destination by the end of the day. And this is just the first day of her week-long journey. Welcome to the 2014 Bullrun Rally.

The Bullrun Rally is one of the most exciting underground cross country races in America with various stops at high profile bars and luxury resorts via some of the best vehicles in the industry. “With Bullrun you never know what's going to happen,” says Barber, head driver of Team Mustang Girls. “Someone may have to leave early; the car may break down; whatever it is you just have to be ready to roll with it.” And roll with it Barber does, continuously upholding her team’s motto of “Keep on truckin’” throughout the years.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Bullrun Rally, here’s the break down: it’s a week-long cross-country motor vehicle race in which each morning the racers are given instructions on where to go and must depend on their navigator to guide them to a mid day check point and final destination. “I love having no idea where you are going,” Barber explains. “It's fun to guess and then end up going north instead of south; it just adds to the adventure.” And the adventure can be a long one as Barber’s record mileage for a Bullrun race is up to 8,000 miles.

Barber working on her 1965 Ford Mustang.

Barber working on her 1965 Ford Mustang.

Several years ago, Barber gave up her old life working in real estate to pursue her dream of racing. “I always loved classic muscle cars. There’s something beautiful about the lines of a classic car,” continues Barber. “Who needs aerodynamics when you can look cool!” For the last two years Barber has driven a 1965 Mustang adorned with the Inked logo in the Bullrun race. We caught up with her last year after her journey to New Orleans and this year, we are back to check in after her impressive 6,200-mile journey for the 2014 Bullrun.

This year Team Mustang Girls found themselves starting in New York City and taking a winding road all the way to Scottsdale, Arizona with many pit stops along the way. “I think Hot Springs, Virginia had to be my favorite [stop]. The hotel was a huge castle resort that was a little town of its own,” says Barber. But that’s just the location; it’s all about the people on Bullrun that make the race so eventful. Everything from grabbing a beer at the Raven nightclub to pranking one another on a daily basis can occur. “There’s lots of wrapping of cars at night, so you wake up to a pain in the ass in the morning,” Barber explains. “People stay away from my car. I think they’re scared something will break if they touch it. We’ve had some crazy license plates before, though. They tape fake ones with weird stuff over your real one. We drove around for half a day last year before we noticed it.”

People are worried Barber’s car could break because it happens to be the only vintage car in the race. But don’t worry; her 1965 Ford Mustang is anything but elderly. “I have swapped out to a 351 Windsor, C6 transmission and a 9 inch rear end,” remarks Barber. “But then I met Mark Flavin from Speed Direct and they have taken my car to a whole new level with a Steeroids rack, pinion and Vortex Series Suspension.” Her car’s latest makeover seems to have really helped Team Mustang Girls boost their speed in recent rallies, allowing them to finish third on the final leg of this year’s Bullrun. “What’s best about it is the adjustable shocks. When you set it up to race you want everything stiff. If I had to drive around like that all the time I would have to start wearing a bra more often!”

Site of one of the many pit stops Team Mustang Girls made.

Site of one of the many pit stops Team Mustang Girls made.

Along with some new additions to her car, Barber is also looking for some new additions to her skin. “A lot of people think driving all day is a horrible vacation or that tattoos are unattractive, but if you love to do something, it doesn’t matter what other people think,” explains Barber. “I drive because I love the feeling of freedom it gives me. I love my tattoos for the same reason.” Though her consistent time spent racing has prevented Barber from getting any new ink in the last year, she still has a plan for some upcoming pieces. “I keep trying to get in with Brian [Warnekros] at Black Orchid in Savannah, but he’s too good for my crazy schedule,” says Barber. “Once I get back from this next rally I plan on getting some work done. I’ve warned him already!”

With a handful of races and hopeful tattoos lined up, Barber has a lot to look forward to, including another hopeful odyssey on the 2015 Bullrun Rally. “I've learned to appreciate not knowing where you're going next or what may happen along the way,” concludes Barber. “It makes getting to the end even sweeter.”

To see more photos from Team Mustang Girls' journey on the 2014 Bullrun Rally, check out the gallery below.