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Oregon Trail Recap…

by on May.19, 2010, under Photos


Coming into day three, there was only about a 20 second gap between 4th-7th place in the MaxAttack! race… it was time to step things up.  The stages on day three were VERY fast… a few times when I looked down, the speedo was over 120mph (which is not correct, due to gearing, but still puts us over 100mph on twisty gravel roads).  Steve and I were on, and stages 14 & 15 felt very fast.  On the last stage of the day, I was feeling a bit TOO confident, and came around a right 4 over crest a little bit too hot.  With exposure on the driver side, the rear end of the car was almost off… when we regained traction, we were shot back across the road up onto a bank and narrowly escaped rolling.  Coming back down from the bank, we bent the rear end (again).  The rest of the stage I was a bit unnerved, and the car was shaking at high speeds.  Regardless… we finished the day, and the race… 1st place in G2 on day three!


- We ended up with a 4th place finish in the MaxAttack! series, taking home $800!
- Steve and I were awarded Novice driver and co-driver of the event.
- 3rd place finish on day 2, and first place on day three.
- 2nd place finish in G2 regionals, over all three days.

Not bad for our fourth event!  Now it’s back to the garage, with only a few weeks before our next event in North Nevada.

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We beat Ken Block and Dave Mirra!

by on May.16, 2010, under Photos

Day Two of Oregon Trail Rally is COMPLETE! Not a lot of time for a write up, so here is a quick one:

The first two stages DEFINITELY thinned out the competition with LOTS of attrition! Out of the 60+ cars that entered, I think we probably passed about 20 of them on these stages… including both Ken Block and Dave Mirra, who rolled their cars in front of us.

We had a near off on stage 2, which put our rear driver side into a ditch… I powered out of it just barely missing some trees and large boulders, but as we exited, we separated a brake rotor hat from the disc and bent the spindle. The rest of the stage was SCARY with no rear driver side brake and some pretty crazy rear steer. BUT, we finished it! Made it back into service and scrambled to find parts from other competitors. Thanks to Chrissie Beavis and the Lockharts for getting us back on the road. We ended up leaving service 4 minutes late, but that was not too bad considering the repairs we had to get through… 40 second penalty for being late.  We got popped speeding at an observation control (something we’ve never seen at the smaller regional events we’ve done) on a transit stage.. 20mph in a 15mph zone and ended up with another penalty… 1:30… DAMN!

The rest of the stages on day 2 were SUPER fast and fun… LOTS of spectators!

Met some new friends on Day 2… Tony from Idaho helped us out with service and made our lives a little easier.

We are looking forward to making up some of that lost time today and getting back up into the Max Attack money standings… pushing for 4th place!

If you are looking for the results at you need to look at the regional events… when entering a national event as a regional competitor, they treat each day as a separate race.  ”Wagons Ho!” was day one, “Shunpiker Stages” is day two, and today is “Trails End”.  RALLY!

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Oregon Trail Rally… Day One… Done.

by on May.14, 2010, under Photos

Tonight was the “Fan Spectacular” at the Portland International Raceway… 4 stages with about 50% tarmac, 50% gravel.  This is primarily a dog and pony show for the public and it was a cluster fuck.  Incorrect start orders, people writing shit in the wrong boxes on time cards, times on two of the stages reported incorrectly, sitting and waiting 20 minutes to start a stage while officials run around shrugging their shoulders…. is this normal for a national event?

Stage 1: Steve decided to work out the kinks right away, and got lost after the second turn.  I thought we had taken a wrong turn and slowed down quite a bit while we got back on the notes… oops… not sure how much time we lost here… 10 seconds?

Stage 2: With the kinks worked out, we had a decent time on this one… the stage ran partially through a motocross track…. unfortunately there were no jumps.

Stage 3: This was a repeat of stage one.  I think we did considerably better… Steve and I are locked in and ready to go tomorrow!

Stage 4: A repeat of half of stage 2… about 3/4 of mile  total distance… over before it even began…. we didn’t do bad.

I understand that with the fans involved, short stages, and 60+ cars, things can get a little confusing… but the regional rallies that we have done have MUCH better timing equipment, instant (and accurate) scoring, and seem to run more smoothly.  Tomorrow will be a more telling experience though, as tonight was really just a show for the crowds…. hopefully the disorganization is only temporary.  Either way, it was fun…  RALLY!

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Car #78… ready to go hot!

by on May.14, 2010, under Photos

Sooo… we got through recce yesterday!  It was evident as we were driving over an hour outside of Portland that these stages were going to be picturesque, but we had no idea how amazing it would be up here.  Driving up into The Dalles and Dufur was a TON of fun.

Before starting recce, multiple people told us “…just get through stages 1 and 2 and you’ll be ok…”.  These first two stages are EXTREMELY intimidating.  Super fast downhill sections into tight corners on off-camber exposed cliffs… and the trees… HOLY SHIT!  I expect some DNFs on these first two.  Us So. Cal boys have never had the pleasure of going 100mph down shaded tree lined roads.  All the guys from back east are asking us how the hell we read desert roads, and I am wondering how I am supposed to drive these tree lined roads without shitting in my nomex!  We were told there are some gnarly rocky sections on these stages, but after running our first three events in some of the rockiest terrain around, I am hoping we can gain some time on other drivers who will be lifting through these spots.

After making quite a few changes to the notes on Stages 1 and 2 (mostly to keep my lead foot in check, and Steve from freaking out and giving up on me), we drove into what seemed like never ending rolling meadows of grass.  Newly groomed roads that will be FAST FAST FAST!  There are quite a few man made chicanes on these stages in order to keep the speed down, something that we haven’t had experience with yet.  We will have the in car camera running, so I’ll get to watch back and enjoy the scenery.

Today we got through registration and scrutineering without any issues.  While making some final adjustments to the car in service, we had quite a few people come up and talk to us about our fast stage times… weird… people know who we are?  I don’t even know who we are.  We seem to be the only two man team here, which means we need to find someone to drive our tow vehicle between service locations tomorrow.  Hopefully the offer of money and beer will tempt someone.

Now just trying to relax and make up for all the lost sleep before tonight’s spectator stages at the Portland International Raceway.  These stages should be fun… half tarmac, half gravel… and THOUSANDS of spectators.  Quite a change from the 10′s of spectators at our previous 3 events.  RALLY!

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Plan B Rally Recap

by on May.10, 2010, under Photos

So… I had about 15 hours or so of total sleep for the week, but Steve and I made it to Plan B and back!  We did a LOT of work to the car before the event, and unfortunately didn’t get any time to test.  Our plan was to be packed up and heading to Indio by 2:00pm on Friday… we ended up getting the car back together at around 3:00pm and on the road around 5:00pm. Big thanks to Charlie’s Garage in Ramona for helping out with the exhaust in exchange for some cold Corona.  Let’s get to the details:

  • Stage One:  2nd fastest time overall!  The car felt AMAZING… Steve and I were linked up right off the start.  New transmission mount, shift bushings and USRT linkage, and a drastic change to the brake biasing… but most important, we finally had new tires.  It’s hard to relay how much of a difference this made, but I was on the brakes 75% less with the new tires… I could actually use throttle to pull me through corners… combine that with the brake biasing adjustments and I was no longer having to battle with the motor to initiate oversteer… SPEED and clean lines!

  • Stage Two:  I guess all good things must come to an end.  We got about 100 yards into Stage 2 and the motor died.  2 minutes of fiddling and it started back up and we were on our way… for a 1/4 mile… then the car started bogging and dying again.  We limped through the stage without being caught by the car behind us, but ended up with a horrible stage time.  The car finally shut down completely about a mile into the transit stage back to service.  We had offers for a tow back to service from #322 and #15 but declined while we tried to figure out why the car wouldn’t stay running.  Time was running down and we couldn’t troubleshoot any longer… we had to get back to service… QUICK!  #34, John Black, pulled up in his Production class Ford Ranger and we hooked up the 15ft tow strap to him.  This guy HAULED ASS… THANK YOU JOHN!  We averaged 60mph back to service on a 30(?) mile transit… half on desert dirt and half on tarmac… I was surprised the little Ranger could move that fast through the soft dirt with #78 hitching a ride.  Unfortunately the rear drive tires and short tow strap caused a barrage of rocks that attacked the windshield and left 4 or 5 cracks, as well as taking out a few headlights.  At least we didn’t DNF… AND we made it back to service with 2 minutes to spare.  Dead last on this one.
  • Service:  We apparently smacked something with the gas tank on the previous stage because the in-tank transfer pump was no longer doing it’s job.  Our issue soon turned into a group effort, and other competitors started turning wrenches and helping out.  A fellow VW driver knew what the problem was before we even pulled the pump from the tank… thanks Eddie!  The filter at the end of the pump had been smashed apart, so the pump was now sucking itself to the bottom of the tank and not pulling up and fuel.  With some zip ties, we fixed the pump and popped it back in the tank.  We even got it fixed fast enough to do a full service check on the car, throw on the light bar, and grab a bite to eat… or so we thought.  We lined up to leave service and transit to stage 3 when the motor died… ugh… apparently the fuel pump had taken quite a beating and was no longer up for pumping fuel.  Back to troubleshooting… with only 30 minutes to get out of service before being disqualified.  With some help from Mr. Rood, we pulled the pump completely and dropped a hose straight into the tank.  We got out of service with 2 minutes to spare.
  • Stage 3:  Our first night stage!  It was immediately evident that without that transfer pump in the tank, the motor was going to be starved for gas.  Heavy load, and deep into the throttle caused the car to bog and even die a few times.  We didn’t do very well on this one, 9th overall, but we didn’t DNF!
  • Stage 4: Learning how to deal with the fuel delivery issue, driving a tighter stage, and acclimating to the dark, we took 5th overall on this one.  Steve was still hopped up from the frantic service, and was off pretty much the entire stage, but he would redeem himself soon enough.
  • Stage 5: Due to another car rolling on Stage 4, we got to take a quick break before starting this one.  For some unknown reason, #78 is dubbed “Balls Deep” for the weekend and is starting to feel a bit more responsive… before starting the stage, I tell Steve, “…we are going to drive the night stages at the same speed that we drive the day stages.  Stay on the notes, and I’ll drive what you tell me… I don’t need to see what is coming next…”  Steve was ON and we started getting the hang of the night driving.  2nd overall, 5 seconds behind Chernis in the open class Subaru WRX.
  • Stage 6:  Started this stage at around 10:30pm.  Probably the most fun stage of the race!  Car getting about 90% of the fuel it was asking for, so not as much bogging.  After a few bad calls and some over anxious driving, Steve and I linked up and got it going.  The tightest corner on the second half of this stage was a 4+… it is a RUSH being pinned in 5th gear for almost 4 minutes and not being able to see very far ahead.  1st overall on this stage!
  • Unfortunately, with over 4 minutes of road points for the service issue, combined with the slow times on those few stages, we ended up 4th in CRS-2, 6th in Rally America G2, and 11th overall.  BUT, we finished!
  • Home at 4:30am on Sunday morning, and back up a few hours later to re-prep the car for Oregon Trail next weekend.  Luckily we got away with about 5 hours of prep time and not too many things to fix or replace.  We still have a fuel pump to find and replace… door handles to replace and make work… front brake rotors and pads to replace… a windshield and headlights to replace… and a fuel test port to install.  Due to over $100 in next day air shipping charges, we’ll hopefully have most of these parts tomorrow… which is nice because we are leaving for Oregon… TOMORROW!  We are planning on stopping by another VW drivers’ parts yard in Long Beach late Tuesday night get some help with the doors and fuel pump.

As I said, we are leaving for Oregon Trail TOMORROW!  As rough as getting ready and through these past three races has been, I have a feeling this one is going to dish out some SERIOUS punishment.  But when you are doing 100mph through a twisty dirt road in the black of night, it all becomes worth it… I love this shit!

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Press about us… cool!

by on May.05, 2010, under Photos has some press up about our rally this weekend. This is going to be a SUPER competitive race in Group 2… I love 2WD rally!

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by on Apr.18, 2010, under Photos

…and due to quality AT&T cellular coverage, we weren’t able to post an update after Stage 5, which gave us our best time: 7:59! Out of 20 cars, that was the 4th quickest. AND, we also ended up with a 4th overall finish! Most importantly though, it was FUN!

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Part two…

by on Apr.14, 2010, under Photos

The second rally we’ve ever raced (or even attended) is this weekend… we are both super excited! Because it is a considerably shorter race, I am thinking we should be driving the shit out of 78 right from the beginning of the first stage.

At our first race we used all of day one to feel the car out, learn how to read/interpret stage notes, and establish consistent communication with each other. It wasn’t until day two that we started to have pack leading stage times… and more importantly, a LOT of fun. No time for warm up on this one though :)

We learned that horribly minor procedural mistakes can not only lose a race, but drop you quite a few spots. We are hoping not to make any more of those!

After this weekend, we’ll have one more race before our first Rally America national event, Oregon Trail Rally. I’m hoping we can have the car completely shook down, and our skills honed in by then. I’d love to see how we rank against national drivers, but those roads look pretty tough… one small mistake and there can be some stiff penalties. This desert racing stuff doesn’t seem nearly as intimidating.

On a more personal note, I must say that I am fascinated by racing the rally car. I have like six other adrenaline creating hobbies, but this is by far the most intense thing I’ve ever done. Having to stay in control while being out of control at the same time is a great challenge! Oh… and the adrenaline high is nice as well :)

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Rally that bitch!

by on Mar.24, 2010, under Photos

On the e-brake and singing ‘Oneilieus!’

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