Many months ago, we caught up with a man in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, Ireland. That man was a one-eyed guy, Gary Ó Keefe. An adventurer by heart, on a new crazy mission. What could possibly go wrong?!
Upon entering the 1 Eye On The World workshop, I spotted some bikes, a chassis, and some custom/vintage looking vehicle. That set the tone.
Gary and a team of welders & mechanics were tinkering away at what looked like a darker, more aggressive Mystery Machine, the van from Scooby Doo!
Guys n' gals from all over the world, pulling together to turn that mystery into a world record mission. 2 actually! What were they giving birth to?
CJ and Ang from Canada, a load of guys from all over the world and some local talents watching as the back doors and panels of this mystery van were being sawn off! There to capture the moment was Claudio Von Planta (yes, the Documentary film maker from the famous Long Way Round (2004) documentary with Ewan McGregor & Charlie Boorman). That moment was a pivotal ground work point as the metal broke away from the bulk of the van shell without any damage or cracks. The van needed to be extended to fit the longer chassis (pics below). Most of The Baikal Team were there for a planning/briefing on the mission that lay ahead, The Baikal Project. The custom van would be an UAZ shell, on a Toyota engine and chassis.
Take a look at some photos below of the prep work on the custom UAZ that would eventually set off on that 750km journey, across ice 1 mile deep! Oh and in temperatures upto -60C.
Now to get that shell onto this engine & chassis...
CJ, the Canadian Welder taking a break...what's he drinking?
Before she lifts off...
Beam me up!
Up she goes...
Wow that's dark...that's what it's like looking into the 1 mile deep Lake Baikal!
Gary and Claudio...what could possibly go wrong?
Some sponsors on the wall....oh and I wonder what Ang and Karolis are talking about?! Funniest caption wins...
Claudio captures it all as Gary pushes buttons and gives orders
Kevin Emans and Declan McEvoy check the final touches on the back doors before it's dismembered from the shell.
Looks of excitement, tension and worry just before the back panels come off...
Ahhh...a sigh of relief and cheers all around as the the team successfully remove the back doors and panels to extend out the UAZ.
Sizing up the new sheet metal that will extend the UAZ van to cater for the chassis and load to be carried.
The Bootcast with Gary Ó Keefe
After a few weeks of meeting Gary, we did an episode of The Bootcast to get the low down on The Baikal Project and an insight into the mind of an adventurer.
Catch it below:
The Mission - 2 World Records
1) Longest drive on ice in 7 days
Due to a motorcycle accident in the past, Gary was bound to the pleasure of driving the UAZ on this epic journey across the mammoth block of ice, Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia.
Lake depth: 1 mile deep!
2) Longest ride on ice
The five riders of The Baikal Team took to the ice on customised motorbikes, along with a backup team for supplies, health & safety and of course media coverage.
The Baikal Team
The Adventurer - Gary Ó Keefe
The Brains - Declan McEvoy
Project Manager - John Quinn
Project Manager Russia (Extreme Logistics Expert) - Maxim Anokhin
The Film Maker - Claudio Von Planta
The Producer - Darragh M. Kettle
Film Maker - Alexander Hick
Art Director - Simas Šuminskas
Aspiring Film Maker - Naoise Kettle
The Five Riders
- KAROLIS MIELIAUSKAS - The Survivalist
- FRITZ KREIS - The Beauty
- MARK KEMP - The Balance
- KEVIN EMANS - The Brawn
- MARIANO CARLONI - The Expert
Just last week (22nd Feb 2020, at 16:35), the guys finished that mission they set out on months ago! They crossed the line to be added to history books, in achieving two Guinness World Records.
More info on The Baikal Project and the Team
The Baikal Project website
Well done to Gary and the team! An amazing story and achievement for everyone involved!