Two Michigan  natives are going on the ultimate adventure to cross more than a third of the earth’s surface.
Ross Lewicki, 26, of Detroit  and Todd Callahan, 25, a former Grosse Pointe resident, are gearing up for the 2010 Mongol Rally. It’s a thrilling and potentially dangerous international driving race hosted by a United Kingdom-based adventure company.
Lewicki and Callahan’s team name is The Griswolds, based off the popular 1980s Chevy Chase vacation movies. They will be traveling in a 2001 Chevrolet van that they decorated to look like the Queen Family Truckster.
“We really wanted to represent America and Detroit specifically with the American automobile,” Lewicki said.
The pair takes off from London  on July 24. Teams can choose if they want to take off from London, Barcelona or Milan.
The racers then drive through mountain ranges, deserts and border crossings before reaching their final destination in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. They can get there any way they want as long as they drive the whole route.
“If anything goes wrong, it could screw up the whole rest of the trip if you get delayed,” Lewicki said. “The biggest problems are going to be at the borders.”
To try to side step problems, The Griswolds are taking a lot of American cigarettes as leverage for negotiations.
The adventure is estimated to take anywhere from three to six weeks, depending on the route the team’s choose and the obstacles they encounter.
“It’s hard to know what to expect,” Callahan said. “The cultures are so different from our own.”
Teams will be raising money along the way for various Mongolian charities. The Griswolds’ charity is Mercy Corps, an organization that works to connect isolated herding families to economic and educational opportunities in Mongolia.
There is no big prize for the race winners, just a party at the finish along with the satisfaction of surviving 8,000 to 10,000 miles of difficult terrain. The team plans on documenting their adventures with pictures, videos and blog updates. You can donate and follow their whereabouts on the team’s Web site