The Ultimate Road Trip
I was driving from Ottawa, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia with my old college buddy, Ken Langley, in the fall of 1977 when the idea first surfaced. In our mid-twenties with challenging jobs, both of us had travelled extensively since graduation in 1972. We got into a discussion about what would be the ultimate road trip and it soon became clear that an around-the-world drive would be about as good as a road trip could get. Fascinated with the idea, we began organizing an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for Around-the-World driving. I resigned my commission as a Captain in the Canadian Forces and then, with 47 shareholders and much ado, Ken and I incorporated Odyssey International Limited.
1st world record
Odyssey's initial objective was to administer an attempt to take 36 days off the existing 103-day record for Around-the-World Driving. The logistics and financial aspects of the project were daunting but finally after three years of planning and negotiating, Sowerby and Langley set off from Toronto's CN Tower in a new Volvo station wagon. The team was back 74 days, 1 hour and 11 minutes later having driven 26,738 miles through 23 countries. The adventure earned them and the Volvo an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as well as a spot on the front cover of the 1984 edition.
2nd world record
In 1984, Sowerby and Langley went on to break the record for driving from Cape Agulhas, South Africa to North Cape, a Norwegian island at the northern tip of Europe. During what was at times a nerve wracking affair, the team manoeuvred a 1984 diesel GMC Suburban truck through a variety of African road obstacles including an ambush in Kenya's Kasuit Desert and a civil war in the Sudan. The team chartered a smuggling boat to cross the Red Sea, slipped through the Iran-Iraq war and baffled the bureaucrats behind the Iron Curtain on the adventure of a lifetime. They brought home Odyssey’s second long-distance driving record and a truck full of bullet holes.
3rd world record
Pan American Challenge
In 1986 Ken Langley left Odyssey to practice law in Nova Scotia. Garry Sowerby teamed up with Rolling Stone Magazine's Tim Cahill who had just finished writing a book about a serial killer and was in search of lighter fare. With Tim on board to handle the book, Odyssey began planning an assault on the last of the trio of long-distance driving records recognized by Guinness.
Then in the fall of 1987, driving a GMC Sierra pick-up truck, Cahill and Sowerby halved the existing 56-day record for the drive from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. When the duo completed the 14,642 mile route in just under 24 days, Sowerby became the first person to ever simultaneously hold records for the three longest drives in the world. Odyssey International learned how to make things happen on the road under conditions ranging from sickness to ambush to the outbreak of war.
4th world record
Frontera World Challenge
Garry Sowerby and his two British co-drivers completed an around-the-world drive in a record time of just 21 days, 2 hours and 14 minutes. The three left Greenwich, England on October 1, 1997, travelled east and returned to the same point December 11, 1997 after driving 18,344 miles through 16 countries and across four continents.
They travelled in a virtually standard 1997 Vauxhall Frontera Estate powered by a 2.5 litre turbo-diesel engine.
The Guinness Book of Records has confirmed this as a new record for "World Circumnavigation by Car".