Barry Weir: 80 Days, No Tickets

Barry Weir was transformed into a classic sports car enthusiast after he received a Mercedes SL for his fortieth birthday, and it has made all the difference in his life. And his enthusiasm turned into outright passion after he got an Aston Martin DB7 for his forty-fifth birthday.

Barry Weir was soon involved in the sport of road rallies, racing sport cars in timed events on public roads. It was an all-consuming passion that had him participating in events all around the United Kingdom and abroad; he became the first person to race a DB7 in a track event anywhere in the world.

Then one day he heard about something called the Around the World in 80 Days Challenge, aimed at owners of pre-1960 sports cars. There was a small problem ­ Barry Weir did not own a pre-1960 vehicle. But his wife Roma did, a 1954 Aston Martin DB 2/4. Casually, he asked, "Roma, can I borrow your car?" He didn't say what for, or for how long he'd need it. By the time he laid all his cards on the table, he had already made a £5,000 deposit to save himself a spot. Roma took the news with laughter, Barry Weir said later. "She promised her unreserved and unstinting support."

The event was set for the year 2000, still two years away. There was an enormous amount of preparation to be done and the logistics involved were formidable. But on Monday, May 1, 2000, Barry Weir got behind the wheel of his wife's Aston Martin in London and headed off on a trip around the world, expecting to complete it in eighty days.

The Around the World in 80 Days Challenge took Barry Weir on an incredible trip through twenty-two countries in what turned out to be the longest rally ever in the history of the Aston Martin. "Competing in such a rally is not only a test of driving skills, but also one of stamina, organization and total commitment," recalled a friend. And Barry Weir demonstrated that he was up to the challenge. He completed the rally, and in perhaps one of its more remarkable footnotes, never did get a ticket. "I drove around the world," he later wrote in an account he called Driving Ambition. "Broke speed limits, went up one-way streets the wrong way and never did get a ticket." He drove triumphantly back into London, where the road rally had begun. Barry Weir emerged the victor in the Historic Sports Car Class. "We stood on the podium shaking hands [and] it was just the most fantastic feeling ever. I made it. 80 days around the world! And in an old Aston Martin Sports Car. A world record."

He gave his wife back her car.

And a few days later he got a parking ticket. "It has to be England!" he cried. "Yes, I am home."

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