The Wishbone Alley Gazette
THUNDERBIRD RALLY THROUGH the EYES of ALASKA’S BREAZEALE TEAM
By Cristy Breazeale
Fifty-seven cars entered the 2001 Thunderbird Rally in Cache Creek, BC, one of the largest entry fields in the rallies 30-year history. There were five classes, including a historic class with three Saab Sonnets and the infamous Hawg of Steel. There wasn’t as much snow as there has been in years past, but the conditions were still challenging enough to send several rookies into the landscape. The route would be familiar to anyone who has run Thunderbird before, starting in Cache Creek, following the backroads up to William’s Lake for the overnight stop, then more backroads to the finish in Cache Creek. We had almost 300 miles of regularity sections over the two days.
Yours truly got a better score this year than last; however, so did our competition. Gary Webb and John Kisela won with seven points (7 seconds error over two days!). We were way back in third with ten points. Satch Carlson and Russ Kraushaar won the historic class with only 30 points. Canadians Roy Lima and John Rapson won Calculator class. Washingtonians Ron and Josh Sorem won Paper(SOP) class; the Fealks won Novice class.
2001 Thunderbird- by Ron Sorem
The Subaru RX Rally Team took the Sport Wagon to Canada to play in the snow at the West Coast Rally Association’s 30th annual premier winter rally. Driver Ron marked the 30th coincidentally, as his first Thunderbird was in 1971. The Thunderbird has existed for more than the 30 years but this is the “modern era” and has run continuously for the last 30, under the same leadership.
Registration and Tech Inspection listed 57 starters although only 54 pulled away from the Start under the Mayor’s waving flag.
Day One began at 1100 AM under blue skies (but cold!) at Cache Creek in central BC and ran on dry gravel for much of the first Regularity called “Deadman” (great start), then to snow-covered roads “Bonaparte”, “Bridge Lake”, “Canim Lake”, and “Forest Grove” toward 100 Mile House for the end of Leg One. Then “Lac La Hache”, and “Spokin Lake” via the Luge Run which is just as it sounds, very steep, icy and narrow. On to “Mountain House”, “Soda Creek North”, “Meldrum Creek”, and “Soda Creek South”, where Leg Two’s roads vary from broad dry gravel to narrow twisting between-the-trees snow tracks which are now being enhanced by darkness. Excursions along the route include a 323GTX and a 2.5RS sufficiently off to require tow strap assistance by sweep, a Sonett in similar straits assisted by another competitor and a British SUV (which shall remain nameless) that tested the roof rack by slowly putting the entire weight of the vehicle on it then returning to its wheels with only minor metal damage. After ten hours of challenging roads in great conditions the first car reached Williams Lake at 900 PM.
We run just pencil and paper, no rally speed tables, no calculators, just Seat-of-Pants by the driver and any calculations of Time-Speed-Distance being performed in long division, long multiplication, and lots of addition by navigator Josh. (There is as much black ball-point ink on the back of every page as there is printer’s ink on the front!). We are tied with 59 points with friends in calculator class, and everyone above us is running unlimited with computers for navigation.
Day Two: drivers meeting brings news of a couple of withdrawals in the Historic Class. The Dodge Colt lost their alternator and decided lights were probably a good idea so they withdrew; the Karmann-Ghia lost all but the E-brake but did arrive at the overnight; the Range Rover stowed all the bits and pieces and was ready to rally; the rest of the field was ready to go.
While seated at breakfast in the Headquarters Hotel some drivers commented on the lack of snow. They spoke too soon…
At 730 the snow began, the cars were covered, the streets were covered and the start delayed, one section deleted (not weather related), and crews wondering what lay ahead. Needn’t wonder, it was snowing! Fifty crews sat along side the snowy track at the end of the morning odo check and watched those ahead disappear into the powder and later near white-out conditions through “Springhouse”, “Dog Creek”, and the Gang Ranch Suspension Bridge over the frozen river, with notes of Hairpin, Hairpin, Hairpin. Caution! Exposure! Hairpin R, Caution!!! Exposures and hairpins next 3km. Beware of brake fade! We definitely were to be careful through here. After a pause at the bridge, we start out for “Meadow Lake” at 50km/h. 31.1 mph doesn’t look fast on paper although we see several near “offs” leading to the deep snow on the outside of some corners and we’re late at the first control. The hillclimb hairpins and control were video taped and everyone had the opportunity to critique style points later. Meadow Lake was the last regularity with seven checkpoints and some very deep snow at pretty brisk speeds. Several times the speed was 40.4 or 44.7 when only 35 was attainable until some long straight enabled 55 for long enough to catch up. It has been a custom to end Thunderbird with a few laps on Barnes Lake, this year the lake was not scored so it became just a two lap “fun-run”, then stand around and holler and wave to your fellow competitors, then off to the Finish Banquet at Cache Creek. Another day, another 7 hours of rallying.
We held on to our lead for 1st paper and finished the two-day, 17 hour, 553 mile event with 142 points (2min22sec) total error. The win is a great start to our defense of the Pacific Coast Challenge Championship overall win for 2000, and the BC TSD Rally Championship class win for 2000. The RX should be back on the road soon and we may move up to the Calculator class where scores tend to be closer to zero all the time. Drivers need to concentrate just as intensely, co-drivers get an opportunity to see some scenery instead of just mathematics on the clipboard.
Congratulations to Gary Webb/John Kisela 1st UNL (7pts))((; Satch Carlson/Russ Kraushaar 1st hist 30; Roy Lima/John Rapson 1st calc 54; Ron & Josh Sorem 1st paper; and Dan & Stuart Fealk 1st novice 377.
Comments from the competitors after the event indicate most will be back for more, and most will encourage others to come along for the fun. The organizers are to be congratulated for another premier Canadian event. Visit on-line at www.rallybc.com
For more information on the Subaru RX Rally Team contact: Sorem Motorsports 10835 SE 170th STREET, RENTON, WA 98055 ronsorem@hotmail
Rover, roll over- by Eric Horst
We take Rover everywhere. For the last two years Rover has been to nearly every rally we could think of. He went to Totem in 1999, to Alaska on the Alcan, No Alibi and The Road Not Taken last summer and Friday Nighters in between. Rover loved them all. He just loves it when the windows are down, the music is on and we drive like crazy.
This year Rover went to Thunderbird in beautiful British Columbia. It wasn't the usual team this year as my driver Steve Willey was off enjoying Antarctica this austral summer. Instead I rode along with Michael Garvais, Kim Prater (Steve's longtime girlfriend), and Rover.
Michael was the designated driver as he grew up in snowy Denver. I shared the navigation duties with Kim as she wanted to give her first go on the Alfa Elite.
The weather was beautiful on the way up and when we arrived in Cache Creek there were so many rally cars that we knew it was going to be a really cool event.
Saturday started out nicely: tech, numbers, breakfast, gas, air in the Hakkas--Go! As we drove the odometer check and the first few kilometers of the first regularity Michael asks "Where's all the snow?" The acute left and elevation gain arrived shortly after and the snow revealed itself.
The scenery got better and better. The first of the rally scenery popped up on a short uphill where we passed the local pickup truck with front grille and bumper in a deep embrace with a roadside tree and R. Dale stuck on the other side (I hear he simply stopped for aid.) I tried to imagine what stimulating conversation these two drivers might have had while standing there.
We finished that first regularity despite my woozyness from late application of the Scop patch. To prevent further trouble I talked Kim into moving up to the navigation position for the next regularity. Kim took to the basics of the computer readily but it took a bit more effort from Michael to keep the pace on this one. He was quickly coming to understand what BC rallies are all about. Pushing as hard as we could to keep on time it didn't take long for us to become part of the scenery. It was a nice easy left sweeper. I suggested "more power" from the back seat a little too late and we plowed firmly into the outside of the corner.
Michael thoughtfully unapplied power to stop us just shy of a small tree.
We set the triangle, dug a recovery path and waved at 30 or so more passing rally cars (and a frowning local.) We also found a fully functional outhouse with a well-stomped trail about 20 meters back up the road and took advantage. Sweep arrived shortly after and easily returned us to the road. Rover was still very happy too, although having his doggyness was a clear disadvantage.
After this delay we skipped a few sections and rejoined the rally at 100 Mile House for the transit to start leg 2. We were energized by the excitement of continuing (and recent rigorous digging.) It was getting dusky so we pulled the lamp covers. Michael was not shaken by our minor incident and was ready to go. Kim stayed in as Navigator. We began.
Michael drove with newfound respect but without trepidation. A checkpoint and not much too late. We were feeling good. Then our second incident arrived.
Michael steered gently into a downhill right curve and we got a little loose. Applying recently refreshed techniques he avoided brake and worked the throttle gently, we passed the traditional "off" point of the curve, and emerged into the straight. But we weren't well settled.
The downhill didn't help, the vehicle fished a slight bit and we found ourselves pointed in a shallow angle to the left bank. This time brakes were appropriate but not adequate. I think I closed my eyes as the bank approached and thought "great, not again." But it didn't happen quite the same this time. I remember only the clanging sound of a toolbox being dumped out and opening my eyes to be facing the wrong way on the road.
It took only a second to remember the rest--Rover had rolled over.
It seems that the left front quarter of our brave Range Rover hit the left bank first and started the rear coming around. That put us sideways and brought the right front tire into the soft hardness of the left ditch.
The sudden implant of that right front into the snow and the top heaviness of the springy Rover flopped it over on the right side, then top, left and back to its feet. During the roll the hood rode along the top of the snow bank while the back rolled on the roadbed. All the while the back end was finishing its trip around spraying luggage, toolbox and other contents out the now open rear hatch. We stopped.
Rover had come to rest very firmly planted in the left bank, on all four feet, listing to the right, facing the wrong direction, engine running, lights on, computer calmly ticking off our lateness. I looked to get out but the snow was up to my window. So I crawled out the roadside door.
I jumped out to find the triangle conveniently dumped near my exit. Michael and Kim were deciding if they were all right while I headed up with the triangle. When I came back down I found they were undamaged and were busy getting our stuff out of the road. Once again we waved at passing rally cars while smiling with that giddy "holy sh*t, we're actually OK" look.
We salvaged what we could of the roof rack, picked embedded sockets and wrenches from the road and got everything repacked making sure no wallets or keys or glasses were left behind in the snow. We dug out the rear recovery point and got the strap ready. This time we didn't have to wait for sweep as car #56, an F350, stopped and gave us a quick pull.
The Range Rover came out as easily as the first time. No fluid leaks were found and a little bashing got the hood latched again. The rear hatch wouldn't close so we bungied that up as well. Finally we picked up the triangle and were on the road again.
It wasn't too much further that we came across some of those nice Tabor people off the outside of a smooth T intersection and a few meters down an bank.
Impreza launched off the other side. We stopped to gawk and see if we had the power to pull either out and found that we didn't. We hung around watching the stars and the recovery attempts until sweep came and rescued them both. All of us off-roaders paraded in to the Fraser Inn (except sweep who turned off to patrol the last sections.)
The beer tasted good and the food was rejuvenating after a long Saturday of rally. We ate dinner and told stories with Gary Webb and John Kisela. In hindsight it was a symbolic meal with them, the ultimate winners (Gary and John won with 7 points) and us who finished last (except for the DNS and DNF's) with 3100 points.
We talked until midnight and slept only six hours. The three of us woke tired and not sure we wanted to continue day two. I went out to see the Range Rover in daylight and was greeted by several teams who were surprised to hear what happened and through conversation gave the moral support to continue. We couldn't quit, the old Rover was still perfectly fine (on the bottom at least, where it matters.) We packed, ate, drivers meeting, fuel, and ready for another day. I stole the wheel from Michael for a bit that morning so I could experience the joy of TBird driving.
It started snowing, making for an interesting change from the clear day before. I drove a few hours in the morning and confirmed for myself that our Range Rover is absolutely not the vehicle for Thunderbird (high center of gravity, way too springy and relatively skinny tyres.) It just doesn't wanna behave. Michael swapped back into the driver's seat again halfway through the day and drove us to completion.
Sunday ended on the ice track where each car got a run around the track in exchange for picking up all the course tires. It was a fine way to stay busy waiting for scores. I bowed out of the ride leaving Michael and Kim in the Rover for the lap. I'd driven the Rover on an ice track or two on the Alcan so I let them go. My advice to Michael was "have no fear, there's nothing to hit on a lake." And have no fear he did. They did need a little help from #56 again on the most distant hairpin when they got stuck driving over the snowbank to get back onto the course. After that he made one more lap and definitely had gotten the knack of it.
We journeyed back to the Wander Inn making a quick stop along the way to pick up an incident report form from a friendly RCMP officer in Ashcroft.
The food, stories and videos were fine. We were so glad to have stuck with it and finished the event. As rally cars departed we found that we just couldn't leave Canada behind. Rather than head straight South to Seattle we decided to head North and then South on scenic 99. We overnighted in Pemberton, brunched in Whistler, coffeed in Vancouver and the Rover brought us home safely for dinner.
Will we be back next year? Yep! It was the best. The organization, the cars, the people, the roads, the snow--what a package. The Rover probably won't be back but we'll always remember TBird 2001.
Oh, there is that one nagging issue, the valiant Range Rover actually belongs to Steve who graciously volunteered it for TBird use. He is relaxing in New Zealand and Fiji on return from Antarctica. He has yet to be briefed on TBird. How does one spin that tale? Well, he does get the Internet.
Doo Wop IV- RASC didn't have a stage to "man", but raised a crew to tend the Brooklyn Stage. Meeting Stage Captain Diane Duran at the Oakville end, we got our assignments.
Rod and Phillis Johnson parked at Instruction 4, then someone realized there was a HAM available and Rod spent the day at RI 10, where Joe and Navonne Waterhouse set up a public address system to keep the 100+ spectators happy.
Rod Chelgren, Tom Palidar, Mike Workman, and Mark Nolte settled down at RI 10. Jarvis Owens was with us until the parade of Oregon officials stopped by, wanting another body, and Jarvis volunteered.
Vince Plancich and Dave Folker went on to RI 18.
Ken and Sue Lingbloom came all the way from Bellingham, and were lucky enough to be able watch the rally from RI 4. Ask Sue how it went "I'm so used to doing something; I got bored."
Raindrop Rally- Aprll 29
Things got nicely squared away at the February meeting. Vince arranged for a Start location at the Lakewood Park and Ride. Pete Shelton is going to get the trophies done. Gretchen Jones vowed to keep RM Nolte away from the Registration process, to universal applause.
The course is forming, with an eye to an Olympia finish. So far, a nice 230 mile route is built, but since the rally should finish at a reasonable hour, should be trimmed to 140 or so miles. -MN
2002 Alcan entry is at 12 (8 'cars', 4 cycles), including '98 winners Walt Kamer & Jackie Adams in a 67 Alpine-Renault. Have another 3 vintage prospects, a 67 Alfa sedan, BMW 2002, and a 54 Mercury that's doing La Carrera this year. Any RASC types interested as 2002 control crews? Starting to get inquiries and want to keep room for the faithful (also remember a prerequisite for winter control crews is having been a prior Alcan entrant or control worker.
* February Minutes Summary
Treasurers Report- Ed found that we have $1825.86 in the bank with no outstanding payments due
Rainer Misc- A motion was passed to donate the bags of loose bannerguard to the region but keep the new untouched stuff and to keep the stakes. Kirk will keep the stuff…A motion was passed to post a $15.00 NSF charge on returned checks…Roy’s Mother passed away this month.
NWRC Meeting: We were offered use of magnetic signs and it was decided that the rallymaster would choose whether to use them or not.
Raindrop Rally- Gretchen will be registrar, the Simons will keep score, Greg Shelton will make trophies, Mike will get plaques. The budget will be available at the next rally meeting. Ed is making the flyers for the rally, Gretchen will print out the Route Instructions.
Eric Horst has thrown his attention to the RASC Web site, making temporary orphans of his two daughters. He decided to use the Paypal system for collecting entry fees for Raindrop, for instance. This allows seamless Registration for the rally, at a reasonable 70¢ cost to us. We won't be able to collect "plastic" in the parking lot, which may make pre-registration easier.
He somehow ran into a RASC old timer, Mike McCamey, who has digitized some of the ancient stuff- and it's appearing on the Web Page.
* Earthquake: Roy Ward was heading back to Bothell from Wenatchee over Stevens Pass Hwy when he hit a patch of frost heaves (he's been to Alaska). He looked in the rear view mirror, but didn't see any. At which point the radio announced "Earthquake".
Nolte was taking an off-ramp in the company van when it went all wobbly. "Damn, a flat tire". Got out to see which tire, and the car behind also pulled over. Someone parked up ahead yelled "Earthquake".
Sue Calvert was in her dentist's office on the 7th floor of the Cobb Building in downtown Seattle. The place rattled and shook. She won't forget that visit.
Vince Plancich was at a Northgate parking lot while Donna went into a store. As she came back, his car started to "ride" up and down. He looked around to see what was attacking his car, then turned to see Donna go down on one knee to keep from getting knocked over.
S. Richards didn't have any problem riding out the 'quake at work, but arrived home to find trophies from his (overcrowded?) trophy shelf on the floor.
Wayne Moddison had checked himself into Swedish Hospital when he had chest pains (He isn't running for Vice President, yet), still not 100% after the heart bypass. He felt the building sway, but didn't ask for more drugs. He's OK and back to work.
Having lived in S. California, Dave Folker recognized the quake for what it was, covered his head and headed for the parking lot.
Rod Johnson works at Darigold. While the 1907 building didn't suffer, watching cottage cheese sloshing in 40-foot long vats was quite an experience.
*Jerry Hines: It's been a learning experience maintaining Colleen's new 89 Corvette. Thought I'd do a quick set of plugs and wires, turned into a 6-hour job. The moron who changed them last had installed the short ones (6 threads) for cast iron heads rather than the long ones (12 threads) for aluminum. No damage at least, threads cleaned up nicely with some effort. Good testimony to modern engine design that it ran at all with plugs that didn't reach the chamber.
• Call the NWRC Hotline (206) 256-9627 for latest info on Puget Sound TSD events.
*Due to work pressure, The Road Not Taken is cancelled. Note the new "title" for the 9/7-8 rally weekend.
3/9 – Friday Niter by ORCA, Bellevue, WA