Getting personal: Master Sgt. Chris Egbert and Tech Sgt. Michael Philpot
February 11, 2009
In just a few weeks, Master Sgt. Chris Egbert and Tech. Sgt. Michael Philpot, both with the 372nd Training Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, will embark on the ride of their lives. They will be the first all-American team to compete in the Macmillan 4X4 U.K. Challenge, which draws competitors from around the world.
The long-distance, four-wheel-drive rally event to aid the Macmillan Cancer Support fund will send 60 two-person teams on a three-day, 1,000-mile race across the country. The catch? They won’t have a clue about the route or the undisclosed finish line until they show up for the race.
Stars and Stripes caught up with Egbert at a barbecue fundraiser last week to find out more about his latest philanthropic endeavor.
Can you tell us a little about the race?
Well, we start out just north of London on March 6 and are expected to be at a banquet on that Sunday at a hotel somewhere. We don’t know anything at this point. … It’ll be everything from off-road sections to the motorway. We’ll literally go everywhere.
Why did you want to do this?
It’s the chance of a lifetime. In the States, they don’t [have] so many off-road challenges. And there’s 120 competitors from around the world.
You and Mike are part of a Land Rover club and will drive yours in the race. What’s so fun about racing a Land Rover?
First of all, both of us are big guys and we don’t fit in them. So it’s uncomfortable to drive and the top speed is only about 65 (mph). But it’ll pull a house down and cross a river. … It’s just one of those things. …
So your truck is, shall we say, distinct? What kind of response do you get on the roads here in England?
My buddy Andy calls it "tastefully over-the-top." When I painted it orange, [the guys in the Land Rover club] just shook their heads. I have an exhaust system from a tractor coming out of it and a deer head painted on the side, so yeah, I get some looks. … But that’s how people know me, the guy in the orange truck. … It’s even got a name. We named it Jaffa because it’s orange and black like Jaffa cakes.
So how does the fundraising aspect of it work?
Well, it’s a 150-pound registration fee and then an additional 600-pound entry fee. We’ve also got to pay for all the fuel out-of-pocket, too. We’re trying to raise the money now but it’s been tough with the credit crunch.