ICEngineering Subjects

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sno-Drift 2012 back-from-the-dead update, and the 'State of the Rally'

All the way back on July 1, 2012 I excused my lack of posts, and mentioned that Sno*Drift had not gone as planned.

At the time, I'd said: "Coming up soon: rally storytelling, fabrication and repair explanation and pictures, and future plans."  Well, it's taken 2.5 years now, and I've almost forgotten the story.

Mostly, I was embarrassed.  About both the rally (and letting down the most amazing crew ever by withdrawing after the first day), but maybe more so that I would probably be quitting stage rally, but didn't want to rush to conclusions.

     Sno-Drift Recap
We were so ready for Sno-Drift 2012.  The car was all set up with the new 2.0L, and electrical was all proven with Black River Stages under its belt. As mentioned in the older post, the goal now was to go fast.
Final Touches before Tech
We had the F150, which is a bit of an adventure but worked great.  The truck was on great new tires, all of us could fit (and did! three across the front, two in the back...hehe, I sat in the front middle and mostly annoyed Jon), all our stuff was under the cap in the bed, and we were pulling the rallycar on a trailer behind (Side note: the F150 had a 3.2:1 final drive, a broken leaf in one of the rear springs, and no factory tow package... so we were REALLY overloading it - - - worked fine)

Recce (special stage) with the truck...

And the lodging situation was awesome.  We were sharing a cabin with Billy Elliot and Dmitriy Martynov

Looking at the pictures now, we really left to start the rally all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

Unfortunately, the next bit of the story goes "At Sno-Drift 2012 (which 2.5 years later is the last rally I've done or have plans to do) we had, in fact, hit a tree"

We were moving well, driving fast, and it was even still daylight.  (I know, pics or it wasn't fast, but we didn't have charged batteries in the camera to get any of the in-car when we were really cooking in those first couple stages)

The tree was entirely my fault, I caught my foot up on the brake when moving over to get some gas, and missed the inside line on the turn in.  The conditions were unforgiving and off we went!  I remember quite clearly my mild curse, which probably got Kenneth's head out of the route book in time to see we were NOT making that corner...  We went off, and as we hit the tree I thought 'crap.  I'M the one, the third owner, on this car's 14th stage rally, who finally totaled it.'

However, checking out the damage, the wheels were still attached and the car still held its fluids.  We started waving for a tow and (after almost getting hit a couple times as other cars came sliding our way) we were yanked out by a fellow awesome competitor!

We were able to continue down the road, it was only another couple corners to the finish of the stage.  Quickly we slashed a tire on the bodywork during the next transit (bummer, new tire!) and had to pull bodywork as best we could and get the spare on there, but we held enough schedule to keep in the game before the next special stage.  We tiptoed through another special stage, and brought her home to service.

Us coming into service after ~5 stages

The crew sawzalled us and we went back out, but my confidence was gone.  The car was pretty fine though.  Miraculously, the alignment was intact better than most events, and we had re-aimed the driving lights.  Another shake (I almost forgot, was this during this rally?) was that we cooked a relay halfway through the night!  We smelled this terrible burning, we lost all lights (!) and I could see something glowing hot behind the fusebox!  I pulled over, telling Kenneth quite urgently to get the fire extinguisher out, and shut off the car.  However, without power, it cooled down before becoming a bigger problem.  Brutal acrid smoke all over though, really bad.  We limped around, using as little electricity as we could by turning off the driving lights (I really don't remember, this may have been at Black River!)

Finally, after midnight and with the transmission making a heck of a whining noise (turns out the fill plug had been knocked out in the tree incident and it was very low on oil) we finished out the day, and got it back to the cabin.

After looking at the car (but really, I was already done before we even pulled in), we quit the event and didn't start the second day.  Sleeping in was really nice on Saturday...rally really is brutal.

Heading back out after the first service

Post-day inspection


Goodnight bruised car

Over a year later, I checked the results.  We had been running 2nd in the regional 2WD classes through the first 3 stages, and reached 10th overall, but the 4th stage, where we had the off, we lost 10 minutes and dropped back to 10th in G2, 11th in 2WD, and 29th overall.  Disheartened and having lost my confidence, we tiptoed through the rest of the day, ending up 7th in G2, 8th in 2WD, and 22 overall (of 38 competitors).

Those results are actually better than I had expected.  And I am glad to see our pace on the first 3 stages!  We were running ahead of all our friends, and many other much more experienced competitors.  Of course, their experience showed.  The race is 2 days long, 20+ stages... we found the tree early.

The big thing was that I really didn't WANT to rally the next day, and had felt that way since night fell.  I was embarrassed by that, like I was giving in.  So, hence the delay...

I'm hoping to finish out this story so I can face up to this blog a bit better, and get back to updating it with all the awesome other motorsports stuff which has been going on!

(most of these pictures from Kyle, thank you!)

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