Mazda Adventure Rally Day 1: Where are We Going? And What are we Doing?

Mazda Adventure Rally Day 1: Where are We Going? And What are we Doing?

My boss called me a keener once for arriving to an event far earlier than anyone else, but today, being early is literally the only thing I can do to prepare.

Sitting in the gate two- hours prior to my flight taking off is not crazy. It’s being prepared. I’m here early in case there was traffic, or delays, or the usual security nonsense at the way into the airport.

Equipped with a ticket, but no explanation, I’m a little nervous. Mazda essentially said, “you’re going here, for this period of time,” with no details on where exactly we’re going, where we’re staying or what roads what to expect… It’s all a bit chaotic, and I’m worried about being at the mercy of chaos.

Mazda set up this event, a navigational rally, and decided to keep details to a minimum – top-secret, hinting nothing leading up to the flight-time – except for the rather enticing photo above. Like the X-files TV show, I’d be paired up with a believer: AutoGuide road-test editor, and most importantly, navigational rally enthusiast, Mike Schlee. Mike, is cool as ice. I’ve never seem him lose his temper, or stress out over any detail.

Myself, the skeptic of such an unplanned event, will have to rely on Mike’s keen sense of knowing how a navigational rally works.

SEE ALSO: Mazda CX-5 2.5L First Drive

My research is a bit more detailed than Mike’s casual description of the event. Participants will be given a vague location and will have to navigate their way to the checkpoint. Speeding is not a goal here, as the plan is to stay within the speed limit, and arrive properly, on time, like you knew exactly where you were going this whole time. If we delay, get lost, lose time, miss the checkpoint or anything like that, we’ll lose points. We have to maintain a steady average speed to succeed.

mazda cx-5 2.5l

Now an hour to take-off and Mike’s no where to be found. I imagine him strolling up to the airport door in his own stair-car (probably provided by the Porsche of stair-car makers) flashing his pearly whites, giving the wink and the nod and charming his way on the plane. We’ll see if that’s the case.

The only trip detail is a flight path. We’re flying to Denver, to meet up with a rep from Mazda. I’ve also finally learned what cars we’ll be driving, an important factoid when you’re an automotive journalist. Both CX-5 and CX-9 models will be made available. But do we drive both? Or just one? (So many questions).

We do, however, know that in three days, we’ll be flying home from Salt-Lake City. In between all Mazda would tell us was that on Day 2 (tomorrow) we will “drive, drive, drive,” followed on Wednesday by plans to, “drive some more.”

There you go, now you’re up to speed with me. How will we get to SLC, and what will the route entail? What challenges will come up, and how can I prepare for them? What do the folks at Mazda have up their sleeve here?

Some might just call this a vacation, a chance to just go with the flow, but there are stakes here. Mazda has promised that the team that emerges victorious from this event will get a significant sum of money ($10,000) donated to the charity of their choice. And of course, there’s always the glory of winning… something we can lord over our colleagues.

So, it’s a competition, Mike (still not around as of 30 minutes to take off) is probably relaxed, while myself, I’m anxious. With no agenda in place, snap decisions will have to be made, and the success of our team will depend on how Mike and I decide under pressure.

Follow along as we take on this unplanned journey, blogging, Tweeting, Vining and Instagraming as we go. Will we emerge as the victors in this crazy stunt? We might even need your help so check out our twitter profiles at and, and don’t forget to follow’s main twitter account for more details and updates of our adventure.