Traveling across Europe with Red Bull as your only currency may seem crazy to most people, but these six students from two different UIUC teams are eager to take on this challenge. On April 2nd, UIUC students Matt McClone, Carson Masterson, Naveen Rajadhyaksha, Tim Lalla, Dave Smulson and Kailey Luzbetak will head to Europe to begin this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Thousands of teams applied, but only 100 were chosen to make the journey to Europe to compete in the “Red Bull Can You Make It?” challenge, and Team Illini and Team Corn Stars were one of 10 U.S. teams chosen. Last month, each team applied by submitting a video to the online contest to bring in the most votes.
“We thought our unique idea for this video – using only cans of corn to make it to St. Louis for Mardi Gras – would be well received, especially from our fellow UIUC students who are constantly surrounded by corn,” Team Corn Stars’ Smulson said.
The Corn Stars got nervous when they saw that another UIUC team had entered the contest. “We were sure Red Bull would only take one team from our University,” Smulson said. “Despite our doubts, Red Bull contacted us and let us know that the best possible scenario had occurred: both U of I teams were chosen.”
Once in Europe, selected team has just one week to travel from their assigned starting point to the designated finish line in Berlin, Germany while visiting selected checkpoints along the way. The catch: they can only use Red Bull as currency and will master the art of bartering cans in exchange for transportation, food and accommodation.
“We’re most excited about having to rely so heavily on communication to travel and survive,” Smulson said. “Obviously Red Bull will help with the currency, but the trip will definitely require us to meet and talk to as many people as we can, and what’s more exciting than that?”
The contest begins April 4th and ends April 11th at 5:00 p,m., and if the teams make it to the finish line in Berlin in time, then they will be greeted with “the party of a lifetime,” sponsored by Red Bull.
Team Corn Stars is made up of Lalla, Smulson and Luzbetak. Luzbetak wasn’t originally on the team, but after the third, original team member, UIUC student Kelsey Vlamis, was unable to make the trip due to an exam, Luzbetak joined the team. Team Corn Stars will begin their journey in London, England.
“There are four starting locations: Vienna, Paris, London and Milan,” Smulson said. “Team Corn Stars has the privilege of starting in London, meaning we will have to cross the English Channel to make it to Berlin. It’ll absolutely be one of the most difficult parts of our trip, but if any trio of an engineer, a biologist and environmental scientist can solve the puzzle, it’s us.”
Team Illini is composed of McClone, Masterson and Rajadhyaksha. They will begin their journey in Vienna, Austria.
Rajadhyaksha is more than confident that their team will cross the finish line. “There will be challenges, whether it be where we sleep or what we are going to eat,” he said. “The most important thing will be trusting each other and remembering the bigger picture of representing the ILL-INI!”
Social media is a key element in the teams’ journeys. “Our web page is our only way of communicating with anyone back home and will be filled with photos, videos and blog posts throughout the trip,” Smulson said. “We are representing everyone at this university, and we want to share this experience with them as much as possible.”
To follow Team Illini and Team Corn Stars through their trek across Europe, visit and “like” their “Red Bull You Can Make It?” team pages at www.win.gs/illini and www.win.gs/cornstars. The more likes each team has, the better chance they have of winning it all.
Red Bull is hosting a send-off party on Tuesday, April 1st at 10:30 p.m. at Brothers. Stop by to meet members of the team and to wish them good luck on their journey.
Her Campus wants to wish Team Corn Stars and Team Illini good luck! All of us at Her Campus know that you can and will make it!