Just a few weeks ago I got back from the sold-out Underground UK event in London I put on with my British partner, Peter Woodhead.
I arrived in true James Bond style flying Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic. I guess you could say I was a “virgin” on Virgin since I’ve never flown them before (yeah…ok bad pun.) I have to say this airline was great! Here’s me on the way over to the UK –
You can see each person in Upper Class gets their own little “pod”. The cool thing is you can fully recline even on take-off. Then when you’re ready for nighty-night the seat turns into a lay-flat bed. The really funny thing is I’m really into luxury socks – I know sounds strange. But I like really cool socks and check out the little sleep footies I got from Virgin compared to my socks I had on for the flight –
Onboard the flight there’s even a bar where passengers hang out. This was a pic a random Brit drinking and then my hairy arm holding a Jack & Coke in the corner of the frame.
The funny thing was I went up to the bar and everybody knew each other. They didn’t work together or anything like that – they simply flew Virgin so much they that they all met up at the bar. Of course, I’m asking them all of them if they’ve ever met Richard Branson (one of my heroes) and there were some sightings. I just read his recent book “Screw It – Let’s Do it”. A good quick read.
We couldn’t do an Underground event in the UK without using the 007 theme. And my partner, Peter, mistakenly handed me a PK Walther BB gun when I arrived. It was like I was 8-years old all over again. Here’s me practicing with my Bond gun in our room. We ended up cracking a champagne glass during target practice. (Shhh…don’t tell the hotel.)
I took my target skills and started hunting down speakers during the VIP dinner and Casino night the first evening of the seminar!
I swear it quickly deteriorated to Junior High. I was going around shooting speakers with my PK Walther when they weren’t looking!
And more of the antics happened with the food. While my partner, Peter, was up mingling with attendees I decided to put a little salt on his dessert. This was a gag I tried in Vegas with Jeff Johnson but it didn’t work out. Here’s the back story…In Vegas during our July mastermind it was me, Jeff Walker, Jeff Johnson and Jason Potash at lunch. We were all craving hamburgers so we all ordered the exact same thing. Johnson went off the bathroom and the food arrived when he was gone. It was too good of a chance to play a little gag. We all chuckled as I grabbed the salt. I put a huge heaping on the back corner of the burger and then quickly covered the bun. Jeff came back from the bathroom and we were all trying to stifle our giggles. The damn guy never finished his burger so he didn’t get to the back section of the super salted burger. It didn’t work then – but I figured I’d try again.
Dessert was a delicious banana cheesecake and the salt was only supposed to be on the back edge of the cake (like the way we did Jeff’s burger). But Ros (Peter’s gal pal) said we should totally dump on the whole cake. Who was I to object? It looked like sugar on top of the cake and really didn’t seem out of place. Peter’s face was classic once he took his second bite. I think one of the attendees sitting at our table got this video – we’ll have to put it up somewhere. The funny thing is Peter totally got pissed off at Chris Zavadowski (one of Peter’s fellow Apprentices from his year) who was sitting to my right.
This was so good that once wasn’t enough because we got another speaker, Dianne Johnston, with the same joke. She actually went for like 4 bites before she realized! Like I said, totally Junior High but very funny!
At each Underground event, I put on a fun VIP dinner for the Early-Bird sign-ups. Previously, we’ve done tours of the Spy Museum and an Espionage Whodunit dinner. For Underground III (March 23-25, 2007 in DC) – the information is still top-secret on the evening’s activity.
Here’s a few shots from the 007 Casino night:
And here are a few crowd shots from the Underground UK in front of 2 Aston Martins and your favorite secret agents with the “Bond Girls” –
Just for the record, none of these Astons are mine… however mine just came in. I’ll be posting pics soon! Woohoo!!
I did get a chance to visit my car (sorta) during the Aston track day following the event. It was interesting driving stick with the shifter on the left-hand side. Three winners, including Secret Society member Lisa Hartwell joined me, Andrew Fox and Phil Gosling (winner of Underground UK marketer of the year). A bit of advice – don’t go driving Astons after 3 hours of sleep. 😉
We each got to drive all three different Aston Martin models from the super sporty AMV8 (my car) to the DB9 to the $285,000+ Vanquish super car.Below is Lisa signing away her life to drive the cars. And in the 2nd photo is top-secret footage from inside the Millbrook proving grounds. All kinds of manufacturers test their latest concept cars here so security is really, really tight. Our drivers told us there were cameras everywhere watching for people with video so I really couldn’t get any good shots. I did sneak one pic right before everyone took off for the first courses…
The facility is huge – I’m not sure how many acres but here’s a picture of the proving ground layout with the different tracks and courses:
Each course is designed to mimic different conditions and set-ups. Everything from country driving (with hills) to a spot with a continuous fountain so you can experience what it likes without anti-locking brakes in the rain.Course #3 is the mile-long straightaway where you can really open the Aston. I had the Vanquish on this one and got it up to about 135 – 140 mph. And then they do this exercise to show you the stopping power of the brakes. The driver tells you not to hit the brakes until he gives you the go-ahead. I’m watching the end of the track keeping getting closer….closer…closer…I’m thinking the guy has fallen asleep and forgot he’s supposed to tell me to jam on the brakes. Finally – he gives me the ok and let me tell you that car definitely stops fast!
Course #6 is really neat too because it’s a perfect circle. The track slopes upwards and each lane towards the guardrail is designed for higher speeds. According to physics you can take your hands off the wheel and depending on the speed your maintain you will sit perfectly in your lane forever. Trust me, it’s a freaky feeling to let go of the wheel at 100mph and have faith you’ll keep your line with other cars zooming around you. But it happened! Then after getting comfortable doing that – my driver had me move from the top-most lane to actually exiting the course without any hands on the wheel (just by controlling my speed). Now that was pretty awesome!
(Side note: When I picked up my Aston V8 from the dealer 2 weeks ago, I told him I did the driving course in the UK and he asked me if they had me put my hands while doing 100mph in a perfect circle. That we didn’t do – I guess they only do that for team membes. Now that’s frickin crazy!)
On the way home, my adventures didn’t end. I didn’t really think it would be a big deal – but I tried to bring my James Bond toy gun home. Mistake! Here’s the agent asking me if I have anything that is a weapon or could look like a weapon…yeah I guess so! (Actually, the manager in the hotel gave me a hard time because I forgot how real the gun looks and I was strolling around the lobby shooting friends while having a couple drinks.) We had to fill out a firearmas declaration form to get it through (pic #2).
After that hassle was taken care of Chris and I proceeded to goof off in the Virgin Lounge. That place is amazing! There’s a pool in there, beauty salon, sushi bar, media room, a garden, billiards room, etc. etc. Here are a couple quick pics since we didn’t have much time to enjoy the amenties after dealing with security.