Boston Business

Scavengers Prowl During
Night of Long Cars

Bumper kissing bumper, 32 stretch limousines, each equipped with a color tv, cellular phone, and oriental rug, lined Lansdowne Street waiting to start "The Great Limousine Race". Inside a hip nitespot at 15 Lansdowne Street – 192 contestants anxiously awaited the pre-race instructions. Each of them had paid an entrance fee to face off on this three hour scavenger hunt on the streets of Boston.

At 6:45PM, David Goldstein delivered the ground rules. Each registered team of six, armed with an instant camera, was given a scavenger list of 100 items. They were to direct their chauffeured limousines to as many of the 100 destinations as possible within the time constraint of the race and capture the item on film.

The scoring of this madcap road race was simple. Each of the items were a point value determined by the degree of difficulty. For 40 points a team could pose with a team member completely in a dryer. A photo of a toll collector on the Mass. Pike was worth 70 points. And a cool 100 points was awarded with a photo at the Royal Sonesta with the crew of a Tall ship on tandem bicycles (this item was prearranged).

"It’s not how much you get, it’s how much it’s worth" said Goldstein in his instructions to the scavengers. Goldstein also advised the scavengers that item number 34 (80 points) a photo inside the trunk of your limo in the Callahan Tunnel – had been scrubbed for safety reasons. "The police are not welcome back here tonight!" he said.

More Wine!

By 7:20 most teams had found their limousines and were plotting a strategy. James Kurland, president of a local advertising agency and captain of car 12 said he held an office scavenger hunt to see who would qualify to represent the agency in the real event. With only six spots and 27 interested employees, Kurland said it was the most creative way he could think of to pick a squad.

Another advertising agency entered the race planning to take a different course to the winner’s circle. "We’re going to try and cheat!" said Dennis Kunian. In Kunian’s pre-race pep talk to his team, the captain said "One thing we need to do is get more wine."

The event also attracted representatives from three local radio stations, car 28 with a crew from WBCN, WXKS, and WBZ was heralded by the sponsors as the most effective communicating group entered. "The group could sell you a piece of broken glass" said one member.

As the flag was about to fall, Tom Upton, Chauffeur of limousine number 23 had these parting words, "This is the craziest thing we’ve been asked to do all year. But they are paying the bill and if they are not going to throw bottles out the windows, things will be ok."

Horns-a-honking the race cars bolted away at 7:45. The forcast was for heavy activity in the Back Bay area. Drivers were instructed to obey the rules of the road. The chauffeur of limousine number 11 David Vanorden said "I’ll swerve a lot to make them think I’m going fast."

Did they Squeeze the Charmin?

The destination predicted to have the most activity was the Royal Sonesta hotel, where seven members of the America’s Cup loitered in the lobby waiting for photo sessions. At t10:40 the first limousine returned to Lansdowne Street. Within the next 17 minutes the entire fleet arrived, which made for some rather tense moments on the four-lane, one way street lined on either side with parked cars.

Ran 22 Red Lights

Car 11 was one of the first to arrive back. Wearing a tired smile, team captain Dennis Kunian saod, "We took 40 photos and quit. A homeless person at the Boston library wanted me to buy him some booze." Soon after, car 12 rolld in. "We had to buy more film," captain James Kurland said. "Our driver knew every backstreet in Boston."

When all the photos were submitted, Goldstein and his crew retired to a back room in the nightclub to total up the points. At about midnight, the nine judges returned with a verdict. With 2809 points, the radio team walked off with first place. "We counted. Our driver went through 22 red lights and down two one way streets said team captain Micheal Cohen. "He put that limo where Fiats have never been."

The grand prize winners were treated to dinner for six and oddly enough, five hours of limousine service. Goldstein and his crew are now taking reservations for another limousine race. Some of the same teams have signed up, Goldstein said "and even have requested the same driver.

— M.J. Woods

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