For many years I was a professional car detailer. I’m good at it too. I built a reputation for being fair and doing a good job. And, only to boast slightly, I have driven some of the most amazing cars ever built. Lamborghini, Ferrari, McLaren, Maserati, the list goes on. One brand that eluded me was Rolls Royce. I always wanted to work on one and of course to drive one. I got my chance right when the Rolls Royce Dawn was just being released in the States.
I got a call from a favorite client who said he needed me to get some cars ready for a press event. I said “Cool, what are we working on?” “Some Roll Royce’s.” “No problem, when do you want me to come down and work on them?” “Yeah…they won’t be at the warehouse. It is an off-site event.” This was not uncommon from this client, but it was the way he dragged out the “yeah” that had me intrigued. I asked him where I was needed and he exclaimed the cars were being delivered to Sheridan. Now, I live in Denver, and we have a Sheridan as one of our suburbs, “Not Sheridan Colorado I presume?” “Wyoming. And it isn’t one, it is five.” This was getting interesting. “We need you to come with the team up to Sheridan Wyoming for a few days and then go with the press team to Yellowstone National Park, stay in Jackson, and then come back. Should take about a week. What is this going to cost me?” I had never been to Sheridan, and I had only ever seen the gates to Yellowstone and have wanted to visit there ever since I was a boy watching Yogi Bear cartoons. I was beyond excited. And this is my favorite client who only asks me to work on the really good projects. So I said “You want me to drive with Rolls Royce, a car I have never worked on or driven, to the one National Park I have always wanted to go to, and you are going to pay me?” “Yep.” “OK, I am in.” “How much?” “Whatever you want, I am in. Just say when.”
The Dawn is essentially a convertible Phantom, or as they call it a “drop top.” The precision and elegance that Rolls puts into every bolt, every stitch, and every knob is exquisite. The most astounding aspect is the weight of the thing. Coming in at over 5,600 pounds it is tank. The most luxurious, well-appointed tank you could possibly tour in. And it simply glides down the road better than anything you could imagine. But it the doors you fall in love with. They account for a significant portion of the weight and is second to the iconic image only to that of the Spirit on the hood. The suicide design is old-school, and they are so big they had to install a button for the door to close itself because otherwise you had to get out of the car to reach the handle and risk hobbling yourself Annie Wilke’s style. But the part that makes everyone smile at the attention to detail is that Rolls doesn’t waste an inch of space to provide one more amenity, is the umbrellas hidden in the fender accessible when you open the door. With a sticker price exceeding $330,000, I was very excited to finally get my hands the new Dawn. But for this trip it was not one, it was three. Plus, a Phantom and a Wraith. The cars were so expensive and heavy that the insurance company would not allow for them all to be placed on one carrier.
We departed Denver in a loaded up Suburban with the other two members of the Team and set out to Sheridan across the open, wind-blown landscape of Wyoming doing about 80 mph the entire time. As soon as we got to Sheridan I was immediately pulled over for speeding in a 25 mph zone after 6 hours of highway travel. The deputy took pity on us and after we told him why we were in town, he said “Well, I am going to let you off with a warning. I have a feeling that will see you again this week.”
A few hours later the trucks arrived and the cars were unloaded. We staged them while the folks from Piper Aircraft set up their display (more accurately they took the wingless airplane out of their truck). My job was to ensure the cars looked good for the press at all times. I even make the paper doing so. We wanted to make a huge impression. And the team at Rolls Royce wanted perfection. But, not in the stereo-typical pompous and British way I expected. The Team was warm and inviting to everyone whom came to see the cars. They would allow anyone to have a seat and enjoy the comfort. They could not have been nicer or more inclusive. After set up, a quick wash, a little polishing, and shining up the cars we then acted a chauffeur for the rest of the afternoon, picking up the VIPs at the airport and taking them to their hotel, the historic Sheridan Inn.
The next day the press did their drives, we kept the cars shiny and fueled, and everyone had a great time. Just as we were getting ready to leave we were asked if we would be available to drive as some wanted to have a few drinks. This was more of my mind set of “Sure, what-ever we can do to help” while thinking “I am being paid to drive this magnificent car around while you feed me and pay me by the hour.”
In town we were treated to a driving tour by the local fire department in the Dawns. At the Sheridan Inn there was a powwow where the local Crow people performed a dance and blessed our journey. We ate at the Frackelton’s, which is hands down the best restaurant in town and was our second trip there in two days it was so good. Our evening ended at the Black Tooth Brewing Company where again, all were welcome to experience the cars. Then we headed back to put these spirited cars to bed. The next day we left the people of Sheridan the way we found them, warm and welcoming.
The drive to Yellowstone from Sheridan is more of the wide-open expanse of Wyoming most expect. There are a few charming towns and small mountain passes sprinkled throughout the westward tour. But the real scenery begins in Cody. The foot hills become tall canyons and pine forests largely unspoiled. Then as we entered Yellowstone where we were greeted by bison, and even spotted a wolf. We kept the cars spiffy for photo ops at the geysers, and headed south towards Jackson through with the Grand Tetons out to the right the whole way. Once we entered the Parks, the cars were no longer the spectacle they were. No car manufacturer can take away from the beauty of that landscape, they can only be over shadowed by it.
The rest of the journey went well. More cleaning, more pictures, helping with the filming for the journalists, and more great food. Then on the last day we loaded up our gear, got the cars tucked into their transports for the next event, then the 8-hour drive back to Denver. The cars were amazing and the places majestic. But it was the people I was with and having that experience that made it worth it.
It was the perfect way to end my professional detailing career. The next week I started a corporate job as a regional manager. Now I just want to recreate that experience. See more of that area and beyond. Find other vehicles to experience this vast country. And share it with my family, friends, and readers. This is the goal of this website. To share experiences like this and encourage everyone to hit the open road with good people, and enjoy every mile, every meal, and every person along the way.