tm/FM may actually make Gorman Ridge Rally this weekend…

by on Aug.25, 2010, under Photos

It’s 2:00am… Steve and I just got done with ANOTHER long night working on the car… but we have some good news…

…let’s recap first though… In the last 3 months, we have:

  • Won 2nd place overall in Group 2 regionals at Oregon Trail Rally.
  • Won 4th place overall in National 2WD at Oregon Trail Rally.
  • Won novice driver/co-driver of the event at Oregon Trail Rally.
  • THEN… destroyed a motor.
  • Missed North Nevada Rally.
  • Pulled a VW motor and tranny for the first time.
  • Missed Idaho Rally.
  • Dropped in a junkyard long block.
  • Struggled to finally get it running.
  • Dropped the tranny AGAIN to fix a clutch issue.

…ANNNND we finally had everything back together!  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the thing to run under load.

Now that we are caught up;  In order to make Gorman Ridge Rally, we need to have the car tested, prepped, packed and on the road this Thursday.  We agreed that today would be our last effort to try and make the race this weekend.  It feels like the bad is starting to overshadow the good… not funny, not fun.

Tonight, after FINALLY resolving an issue with a Motronic sensor, we got the thing running GOOD!  And after dialing in the motor, I GOT A TASTE… OHHHHHHHhhhhh I forgot what it feels like to get sideways in a little front wheel drive car… incomparable!!  My motivation has been replenished.

When this dirty piece of shit got done belching out clouds of black smoke from crap that had built up while sitting outside for over a year, it slowly started to remember how to breathe.  I revved the piss out of this thing… 7,000rpm in 5th gear for quite awhile!  It tops out MUCH faster than the old “race built” motor and feels like it pulls way harder on both the bottom and top end.  It does seem to be lacking mid range torque, which makes it really hard to fight the brakes up front, so I think there is going to be a lot of mid corner downshifting if we get on stage this weekend.  Hopefully, we will get to find out!

After getting back from our test drive, we discovered the engine compartment and underside of the car covered in about a half quart of gear oil.  It looks like the final drive seal on the passenger side of the transmission is leaking.  This is a show stopper.  According to the manual, these seals can be replaced without dropping the tranny.  Wednesday (now today) is our last day to try and get this leak taken care of.  The plan is to see if our friend Charlie @ Charlie’s Garage in Ramona can take care of us… neither of us want to touch this car again until we have helmets and fire suits on.  We are about 75% go for this weekend.  I’m tired.

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Back in this bitch…

by on Jul.29, 2010, under Video

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by on Jul.16, 2010, under Photos

Soooo….. what has been going on since Oregon Trail Rally?  WELL, we started by replacing our bent rear end with a straight one… new spindles, bearings, brake lines, rotors, etc.  Then did a standard prep (fluids, plugs, cap/rotor, strut bearings and mounts, check bolt torque, and some other minor things).  We finished all of this and got the car back together at 2:00am… we were supposed to leave for North Nevada Rally only four hours later at 6:00am.  In standard tm/FM form, we had to take it out for a late night test session.  We made it about 3 miles from my house when the car lost power and would not restart.  After a long walk home through the pitch black mountains, we grabbed the tow rig and got the car back into the garage.  A few more hours of troubleshooting, and we realized that we would be forfeiting our entry to North Nevada Rally.  We thought about pushing the car out of the garage and lighting it on fire, but decided to just go to sleep.

We had suspected a broken crankshaft, but a bit of troubleshooting would disprove that theory, and put a major damper on our rally plans.  What we found was the keyway on both the crank and cam timing belt sprockets completely sheared off.  After pulling the head and seeing that all the valves were bent to shit, we also found a few cracked pistons.  We rallied the piss out of this thing…. damn.

With Idaho Rally a month away, we formulated a plan to swap in a junkyard motor so that we wouldn’t have to miss another event.  Finding junked Mk2 VWs in San Diego is not an easy task.  Removing the tranny and motor from a Mk2 VW for the first time without proper tools is not an easy task.  We worked hard and did many late nights in the garage, but hit a ton of roadblocks and just couldn’t get the car together in time for Idaho.  The final blow was opening the head gasket set and finding the intake gasket missing, going into the weekend before the Monday that we were supposed to leave.

Three days late, but we finally have a running motor after even more roadblocks; brand new plugs fouled after only running for a few minutes…WTF?!  Steve was very excited, and documented this moment here:

We are now faced with the task of putting the front end of the car back together, rechecking all bolts, and tuning this thing.  Hopefully we’ll get at least one good test run in before our next event, Gorman Ridge Rally during the weekend of August 27th.  RALLY!

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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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Oregon Trails: rallied!

by on May.16, 2010, under Photos

Full write up soon!
4th Max attack
3rd G2 on Saturday
1st G2 on Sunday
Novice Driver of rally
Novice Co-Driver of rally
Max Attack “Recovery” Award 26 seed to 4th place!

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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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We made it…

by on May.12, 2010, under Photos

Well the car, driver, co-driver, recce vehicle, service vehicle and service crew made it… All of the aforementioned being GVB and myself…

We are dead tired, but pulled in to see one of the big boy cars sitting in the lot… It was a quick jolt… Damn, we’re here!

Recce tomorrow and then the kids from the EC are going to lay it down!

Also, Rally America just released a news bulletin for the Oregon Trail Rally today, and it has a blurb about us! Check it out at

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NorCal, Weed and Oregon…

by on May.12, 2010, under Photos

Made our way through beautiful norcal after driving all night… Many thanks to Eddie FioRally for letting us pilage some parts off his car in Long Beach last night…

Had a quick lunch in Shasta and made a quick stop in Weed, CA (stop by and say hi to our man Stacy at the Weed store…)

We are just north of Medford… Lots of nice gravel roads right off the freeway. I’m thinking we need to test out the new fuel pump… Hmmm

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