A unique specialty of Odyssey is the customized adventure, sometimes a road mission against the clock, with one of the strategic goals being media coverage for the vehicle involved and for the program itself.
We conceptualize many of our programs then propose them to corporate organizations as an innovative part of their marketing plan for a particular product. In other events, such as the Alcan 5000, Odyssey acts as a sponsored participant.
Some of the adventures we have created:
Around the Bloc in a Week (1990)
Mission: To drive a 2,700-mile loop through Eastern Europe, behind the now-fallen Iron Curtain, in an attempt to log a record seven East Bloc capitals in a whirlwind seven days.
Starting in Berlin, the drive team and the 1991 GMC Jimmy completed the tour in six days, nine hours and 29 minutes
Atlantic to Pacific – Canada’s Terrific (1990)
A program created to make Canadians feel good during the nationally divisive debate on the Meech Lake Accord in 1990. Sowerby’s cross-country mission in his 1991 GMC Jimmy was to find 25 people in each province that would share with him their proudest moment as a Canadian.
Mission to Moscow (1992)
This daring program came about as a result of being in the right place at the right time (depending on which way you look at it). In England back in 1992, with some spare time on our hands before the start of a program in Finland, we decided to…
…take a detour through Moscow where we could research a driving expedition across Russia and the new Republics I was considering. We felt somewhat guilty about driving an empty truck to a place in need of so many things, so we decided to look for something in England to take to help out the people of Russia. Ideally, it would be something for children.
… we heard of an organization called "Book Aid" that had collected more than a million English books to donate to libraries and learning institutions in Russia…
We managed to cram about 4000 books into the truck; a lot more than we had anticipated. The down side was a complete lack of documentation regarding our payload. We would have to wing it, without customs or transit papers, through countless border posts and check points, not to mention legions of over-zealous radar-toting police.
~excerpted from “Mission to Moscow”, Sowerby’s Road… Adventures of a Driven Mind, 2003
Vehicle: 1988 GMC Sierra, world record-holder for fastest transit of the Americas.
One Lap of Iceland (1990)
A 2,500-kilometre mid-winter trek around the perimeter of Iceland through some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. In a 1991 GMC Jimmy, Sowerby and his co-drivers, author Tim Cahill and photojounalist Rik Paul, were constantly challenged by blinding snow, ice storms, lingering darkness and gale force winds.
The Great Ascent – Bottom to the Top of Toronto (1989)
Mission: To set a record for the fastest drive from the bottom to top of Toronto. A tongue-in-cheek goal which involved driving a Suzuki Samurai from the lowest point in Toronto, the underground parking lot of the Hotel Admiral, to the observation deck at the top of the CN Tower, the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Why? To increase public awareness to the upcoming fundraiser for the United Way. How? Sowerby drove the vehicle from the Hotel to the base of the CN Tower, where it was dismantled and carried bit-by-bit by a team of body builders, movers and fitness instructors up the 1,760 steps and re-assembled at the top.
Record: Fastest ‘drive’ from the bottom to the top of Toronto in 5 hours, 38 minutes at an average speed of 0.004367051 km/h.
UK Fuel Economy Challenge (1992)
Mission: Drive from London to Land’s End on England’s southern coast up to John O’Groats on the northern tip of Scotland and back to London without refueling.
I already had a vehicle capable of such a job. It was the 1988 GMC Sierra pick-up truck that Tim Cahill and I drove from Tierra del Fuego, at the bottom of South America to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in just under 24 days. The Sierra was already set up with an auxiliary fuel tank so we could hightail it through South American bandito country with minimal fuel stops.
Considering its overall fuel capacity of about 90 gallons, I figured the 8,000-pound rig would be able to complete the 2,000-mile loop of Great Britain without refuelling.
~excerpted from “The Winds of Chance”, Sowerby’s Road… Adventures of a Driven Mind, 2003.
Some of the programs we have participated in:
- 1991 Alcan 5000 Road Rally (Participant)
- 1986 One Lap of America (Participant)
- 1985 Alcan 5000 Road Rally (2nd place Winner)
- 1985 One Lap of America (Participant)