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How to see the world in a hooptie without leaving Texas

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Photo courtesy Italy to Paris World Rally of Texas.

The road from Italy to Paris stretches 150 miles, runs through Athens, and is fraught with the potential of getting egged. Or, at least, it does on the outskirts of Dallas when the annual Italy to Paris World Rally of Texas returns like a strange reoccurring infection this spring.

“Think of it as a mix between the worlds of Burt Reynolds and Wes Anderson; more of a state of mind than a state of reality,” the organizers of the rally describe the event.

Or, to continue the event’s description-by-comparison, it’s like a Gambler 500 without sponsors or a LeMons race on the open road, sans safety equipment. Or like the New London to New Brighton, though with nothing in common save for the borrowed geography theme. The idea is to round up “the most ridiculous ride(s) for the least amount of money” — usually via insufficiently thought-out purchases made shortly before the rally — and to send the vehicles barreling along from Italy, Texas, to Paris, Texas, with bonus points to any participant who makes the side trip to Athens, Texas.

Points, however, seem to be pointless. Rules are made up on the fly. Crudely drawn maps are handed out only moments before departure time. Roads sometimes lead to nowhere. Prizes go to whoever has the worst oil leak. Costumes are encouraged for participants and their vehicles, but given that it’s Texas, end up incorporating cowboy hats. Eggs, feathers, and other projectiles get flung from car to car.

Ultimately, whatever money the rally raises — and sometimes the participants’ cars, whether they finish the rally or die along the way — goes to the Texans Can Academies.

RSVPs encouraged. The rally takes place April 13. For more information, visit ItalytoParis.com.