Wednesday, 5 September 2012

70-yr-old American makes history in Ladakh, drives his 1923 Rolls Royce on 18,380ft high Khardung-la

Himachal Vacation Travel News
After making record of driving 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost on Manali-Leh-Srinagar highway and 18,380 feet high Khardung-la with help of Himachal Vacation Travels and Adventure, Rick Brown, 70,  has planned to challenge the terrains of Nepal and Bhutan this month. Rich has so far driven his car 3,50,000 kms (since 1996) in 60 countries.
Rolls Royce at Nakeela pass (15,547 feet) on August 31

MANALI/LEH: Rick Brown, a 70-year-old cheerful American and his 1923 Springfield Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce, after visiting 59 countries and driving 3.5 lakh kilometers, have had a dream long back to drive on some of the highest and challenging mountain passes in Himachal and Ladakh. It was Monday and Tuesday, when Rick made history after successfully driving his 89-year-old vintage car on 18,380 feet high Khardung-la. According to Rick, his car is the most driven Rolls-Royce of the world. 
Rick Brown wich his 1923 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in Manali

Keep driving his car is the passion of Rick who proudly said that India is the 60th country he had visited on his Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost but he was upset as he could not obtain permission from Defense Ministry and Home Ministry to drive on 18,634 feet high Marsimik-la for September 5. “Now I can drive only up to Pangong Tso. Still I’ll be driving on some high altitude mountain passes here till next couple of days,” he said.
Most of the people would be terrified only with imagination to drive on terrains along Manali-Leh-Srinagar highway with some of the highest motorable passes of the world like Rohtang, Baralacha, Lachung-la and Khardung-la. But, this elderly American is going to do so with his 1923 make vintage car. And he has s
uccessfully cleared all hard phases of the tour. When many modern high efficient jeeps had given up before bad condition of Manali-Rohtang highway, Rick drove his car like he was enjoying a ride on super highway
List of the countries Rick has travelled so far

“I’m not intended to make any world record but I love riding my second wife (Silver Ghost) and I’ll keep exploring the world till I die,” Rick said, while driving over the Chang-la, on way to Pangong Tso. “I purchased it in 1996 and have driven it over 3.5 lakh kilometers.”
Tom Stevenson, a 59-year-old Canadian, has joined Rick in his adventurous journey. They are fishing friends and have travelled many countries together. Despite being the oldest model, the duo -- Rick and Tom -- came first place in the pioneer division of the 17,000km Peking China to Paris Motor Challenge 2007. Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ceuta, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Denmark and many more countries, Rick and his Rolls-Royce have experienced driving in various climates and altitudes.
Rick has never had an accident or major break-down in his car so far and he can fix all problems himself. To make car to be able to run on and off roads, extreme weather conditions, he has made some modification in his Royce. He replaced its electrical wiring, put some comfortable seats and made lots of space to carry spare parts and his luggage.
“It has a good ground clearance and a fuel tank with capacity of 83 liters and extra tank to carry 20 more liters. It runs on petrol and gives mileage of around 3km per litre. After India, many other countries are waiting for me and my car,” he said.
Rick’s Himalayan expedition
Rick Brown has had a dream to drive his car across the toughest and highest Himalayan mountain passes a long back. He attended the marriage of his ground daughter and got opportunity to live his dream and left for India where Tom joined him. 
Rick and his Royce cross Beas River in Manali
His expedition to India’s Himalayan regions started in second week of August when his car arrived in Mumbai port. After six days of paper formalities, he finally started his car and left for Manali via Delhi and Chandigarh and it consumed his two weeks.
\“I reached in Manali on August 27 and prepared strategy for successful Himalayan tour with my Himalayan tour organizer Suresh Sharma, managing director of Himachal VacationTravels and Adventure. We made lots of shopping and collected enough fuel, medicines, water, food and necessary things. Sandeep and Sanjeev have been given the task to guide us all the way. We are enjoying challenging the mountains and my Silver Ghost is performing well as usual,” Rick said.
Rick with his machine
Tom, the navigator of Rick, works in oil field and he always remain worried about the Ricks health. He said, “Rick told me his plan to drive on highest motorable passes and I agreed to give him my company. He is wonderful person and keeps smiling always. India and its people are beautiful and I’m already making plan to visit Manali soon in future.”
According to sources, if everything goes right, Rick would be the first person to drive a vintage Rolls-Royce on Khardung-la (18,380 feet) in Ladakh. Before this adventurous journey, 13,000 feet was the highest driven by Rick and his car in Panama. He had started his real adventure to prove his mettle in Himalayan terrains on August 29 from Manali and  his dream journey is expected to reach Srinagar on September 7.
Rick loves to lend a ride to people
Rick spends most of his time getting clicked with his admirers and lending them joy rides on his car.
When he reached Manali and Leh respectively, tourists and local people started following him and surrounding his car. He somehow managed to reach his hotel. But people started gathering there to get them clicked with Rick and his wonder car. He also offered short drive to many of them.
“I was staying in hotel Park in Mumbai and I was bit confused that how to fulfill all formalities to get my car out of the port. I sought many helps from hotel staff and stayed there for six nights. Whenever I get help from one, I promise him to give a ride with me. And it was seventh day when I got my car and I ended up with giving 40 rides to fulfill my promise,” he said.
Rick said he knows that people stare at his car on road and they wave hands to express their love and curiosity. “I can have another comfortable and modern car but I won’t because Rolls is Rolls. Visiting countries with my wife (Rolls-Royce) is my passion and this passion would finish with my last breathe,” he adds. After India, Rick and Tom have planned to drive in Nepal and Bhutan in their wonder machine.
In Leh:
The team was given warm welcome by Leh tourism and administration during Ladakh festival. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah met Rick and his friend Tom and wished them all best for their unusual tour in Ladakh Festival. Hundreds of people thronged Polo Ground to meet Rick and his car.
Sonam Dorje, assistant director, Leh tourism, said Ladakh is lucky to have such guests who would be inspiration for lakhs of others. “The elderly foreigners have shown the courage which very few people do practically. Feeling bad that he would not be driving to Marsimik-la,” he added.
Leh deputy commissioner T Angchuk and additional deputy commissioner T Morup also wished him good luck for successful completion of his ‘Himalayan Tour’.
Suresh Sharma, managing director of Himachal Vacation Travels and Adventure, said that after completion of Himalayan Tour, Rick and Tom would drive from Srinagar to Delhi and then go to Nepal to try hands on some of the treacherous and highest roads. “After Nepal, they would drive to Bhutan and finally return back to USA to make strategy to visit more countries. Age is no bar for Rick and he would continue driving his beloved until he breathe his last,” he explained.

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