The Wishbone Alley GazetteMay, 2003
Raindrop 2003-by Ron Sorem.
Rainier Auto Sports Club and Rally Master Steve Willey put on another wonderful daylight run through western Washington. Maybe it was just a day of sunshine after a week of drizzle...
My regular navigator (Max) said last month that he thought he'd be too jet-lagged from Europe. I contacted Tom Palidar to serve as a stand-in. His first jibe was as to whether we could run in the geezer class. ("Ask Satch", he said)
At the start, Tom and I compared notes with Gary Reid and Steve Richards (another pair of old-timers) and determined Vintage had to include the driver's ages as well! Gary took it one step further and claimed the age of the car had to enter the equation. They totaled 154 with a 38-year old 1965 MGB, versus our 1988 Integra, and so unofficially were the Geezer Winners (154 VS our 116).
Tom and I have lots of rally years as SOPers separately; this would be our first rally together. To top it off, he had basically only "seen" the Alfa we were to use. I have watched in great interest as Max massages the buttons, but usually my "paying attention to the road" is more in our best interest! As a result, aside from both Tom and I reading separate manuals, we would be on a very steep learning curve for "Unlimited" on Raindrop.
We leave the start and for some reason the Alfa is not behaving quite right- something about being in "Park". No problem, let's go back to the start and get it right. All is well; the odo is coming up fairly close. Some marks are long; some are short- Let's see, "What was this measured in?" Ah, that might do it, different configuration- At the end of the Odo check, our mileage is not good enough and we have the Alfa calculate a new factor. (Just to double check, we manually compute a new factor. Now we have two factors to play with!) We are off and running through Bonney Lake.
Instruction 5, R at Stop, Pause 12 : I'm showing something like 14 late on my display, "Wait, that's 14 minutes late- in 0.32 miles? " This should be good! I fall into SOP mode while Tom tries to figure out what the *!@#$ went wrong. I run through a couple miles of instructions and ignore another pause, while waiting for cross traffic. Car 2 hasn't caught up so we aren't too late yet (only at the finish did we find that car 2 didn't start!). Tom thinks we're early and demands I stop so he can play with the Alfa, so being an obedient driver I stopped- For a little bit.
I'm thinking massive lateness so off we go. There's the first control, "Oh well, I guess we'll find out later". As we close out the Section, the rallymaster is behind us. To clear the intersection, I go straight and park- the rallymaster honks and turns left. OK, we've found some of the problems and have reset, so here we go again, back to the course and into Buckley Transit.
Transit over, Tom is trying to figure out the pause, but as we would find later the buttons are sensitive and "enter" didn't Enter. I SOP the pause, get into traffic and dive off the highway at the end of the free zone to find a control crew (?) not ready for rally traffic. We've decided to run the 12-second pause as a 12 extra on the clock- or should that have been 12 less than the clock?? This debate went on for a while, past Mr. Nolte's control and up to the Section end at Mud Mountain Dam.
Rallymaster Steve Willey is waiting, shakes a finger (index) at us, and leaves. As we turn around in the park, reset odo, reset clock, Steve comes back. "I guess I don't even want to know about how many time-decs you guys have planned already." We all chuckle; Tom starts looking for the time-declaration sheets.
Neither of us are time-dec masters, but we needed to do something about this Section! We decided that the "running 12 difference" on the clock had actually been in the wrong direction so we were 24 off-time for a time-dec of 30 seconds, right? (Except, I had been early, the 12 pause put us closer to on time, and the time-dec scored us late. No wonder we kept catching the pace car! )
Enumclaw brought some clarity for our crew- We found the "enter" button quirk: "Push it harder, Tom!" We decided to reset the calculated time readout every Section time, instead of adding seconds here and there. We have found our rhythm- if the factors are right. Mileages began coming up dead-on, and so, times apparently got better, too. Back into Buckley and an apparent typo in the instructions. "Cast 22 for .01, Right, Cast 23". Just for reference .01 is 52.8 feet. The distance was closer to .001 or 5.28 feet!
Toward Wilkeson and then South Prairie. toward Orting and into the Fish Hatchery. Everyone found the Route Control, right? South of Orting to end the Section, then debate whether to use the optional "gravel" or the "paved" portions of the next Section. We chose gravel. However the debate took a little too long, and we "psyched" the other competitors in the parking lot by leaving about 30 down! The result being off about 10 at the CP before the gravel. We are on time through the section; regain the main paved road, and later wave at the CP just before Kapowsin Highway. We show on-time at the end of Section a quarter mile later, and the miles are spot on.
A neat little Section through Ohop Valley, past the Pioneer Farm, and then the beginning of the Silver Lake Monte. This Rally Transit Zone (RTZ) was 15:30 with locals and some twisty roads thrown in, but no CP at the end.
While debating the merits of "no CP", I find that the Cast is getting hard to keep, with traffic and stop signs. The route book said this would be the last chance to accumulate points. I was hoping we would not validate this prophecy and fortunately we didn't. A zero is a nice way to end a rally, don't you think?
A word to future Car #1 crews: Tom had called Friday night and asked what it would take for an old friend to get another old friend really disgusted at him. "Well, I don't know Tom, probably pretty hard to do." "What if I told you we were Car #1?" Tom had specifically requested that I not get a number under 12.
Tom has been burned several times as first car and is unusually adamant about "waking up control crews". At the finish, we knew we'd taken several points with the computer problems, so we didn't pay too much attention to scoring. The Kapowsin control had missed us! This defaulted in the scoring computer to a max! The scoring was remedied, without changing the final award results, but OUR feelings are a lot better.
Just so rally novices don't think that only computers will win events, take note: First Overall, with 12 (!), was accomplished in Vintage (the Geezers), with a Halda mechanical odo and a Curta calculator. (Now you'll think you have to be a geezer…) But- 2nd O'all (Unlimited) had 15 points, 3rd O'all (Unlimited) had 28, then Fourth Overall a SOP team with 31 points for the day. There's hope!
See ya on the road.
Stats: 43 cars: 5 UnL,5 Equ,16 SOP,14 Novices, 3 Vintage. 10 CP's scored in 7 Sections.
Rally New Zealand Trip -By Jim Hogan
Late last year I got a ticket to New Zealand just to burn up some United miles, but I wasn't sure I would go. When Lucent officially laid me off on March 27th -- call it denial! -- it seemed like the only logical thing to do was to take a vacation!
I left April 5th and went to Auckland via LAX on United and Air New Zealand, arriving early AM on the 7th (that whole date line thing...). I drank coffee for a few hours to avoid Auckland rush hour (such as it is!) and to prepare for my first experience of driving on the left. Avis gave me a Honda Accord, a bit bigger than what I asked for, but I figured that could come in handy for sleeping on the stages, and it was all they had left with an automatic (no way was I going to deal with RHD *and* a stick).
I was quite fortunate in that I had previously hooked up with a gent, Greg Nikoloff, in Auckland via a techie BBS. He and his wife, Nico, offered to put me up and I stayed with them the night I arrived and the 2 nights before I left. That was fun. Very nice folks who were a wellspring of information about New Zealand and I got to sample some of the local Thai and Italian food with them.
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday touring the east/Pacific coast of the North Island and then headed up to the "Northlands" where Friday/Saturday stages would take place. Rally New Zealand now charges modest fees to spectators, and I decided on arrival just to buy a "whole rally" pass.
This came with a logo tote bag and a nice color program. The program had great little mini-maps of all stages and access roads that made finding my way around a breeze. Some of the roads were closed on Thursday for recce, but I managed to drive pretty much the whole Brooks stage and Parahi stage in the Accord. Great roads. Really interesting alternating cambers!
Amazingly, I found a motel room Thursday night in Dargaville, just a bit north of Paparoa where the Friday/ Saturday Service Park was situated. The rest of the rooms in my motel were taken by a couple of New Zealand teams, and Ford had taken the entire motel across the street. I got up extra, extra early on Friday to return a phone call from a Seattle recruiter before heading into the woods, so I was parked on the stage ahead of most anybody else. Like a lot of WRC events, New Zealand ran many stages twice. Also, the program showed two types of spectator points: "Prime" spectator points -numbered spots with easier access and little corresponding maps/diagrams in the program and "tier 2" spots which were indicated on the map, but which looked like they would be harder for day-trippers to get to. I decided to go to these tier 2 spots and was able to get to two different spots on Friday on the Brooks SS3 and SS8. It was a good decision -- good spots but not crowded at all. A sudden bit of rain as the first cars came around our corner on SS3, but that was the *only* inclement weather I experienced in the whole trip!
Perhaps due to the rain, Patrick Richard went off on SS3 (somewhere before the corner where I stood, I think; I'll have to check my video for car #76!).
Sans hotel room, I took my sleeping bag and camped out Friday night near a spectator point on the Parahi stage with access to SS10+13. The designated, fenced-in spectator point on SS10 was interesting enough, but by the afternoon I was restless. Along with a fair number of locals, I "went bush" and shagged along a tree line and through a pasture to come up by a corner where a farmer's water tank stood. I gather that the very restricted spectator areas this year are due to some spectator injuries last year, but I'd say about 10 percent of spectators broke the rules and walked through the woods; marshals for the most part left renegades alone.
We laid low by the water tank as the sweep cars came through and as RNZ's little 2-seater safety chopper made its final pass.
We stood behind a gate next to the water tank, ready to dive behind the tank if needed. First car through was Francois Duval in the new Focus and he cut a nice line through the corner. As I watched him exit I felt "Whack!" on my forehead and knew I had been seriously beaned by a good-sized road rock. No loss of consciousness or anything, but I took off my hat and about 4 of the Kiwis said in unison "Mate, you are bleeding!" Which I was. Quite profusely. I shook my fist at the Focus and yelled "Duval! I'm from the U.S.! You'll hear from my lawyer!" That got a laugh. We all agreed that tiny little face/head cuts bleed like a stuck pig. One of the gents loaned me his small supply of tissue, I applied pressure, and it all came to a stop in a few minutes. Just a little half-inch cut, with maybe a very small depressed fracture. Nothing to write home about (just one more dent!).
As we anticipated Gronholm's approach on SS13, we heard his engine around a bend and then heard it cut out and we knew something was up. We saw 2 "renegades" run just out of sight around that corner and then Gronholm appeared, 30 seconds late. Gronholm had flipped up on the passenger side on a corner that was at least a kilometer from any official spectator position. I heard him grouse on TV later that "It took a while. Spectators here are not so professional....". Marcus, if it weren't for a few "illegals" on the stage, you would have dropped to 6th!
I got to drive the Accord out through the rest of Parahi and Ararua (SS14) and, while a bit rutted, it was fun.
What is the most significant thing I can say about Rally New Zealand? Not crowded!! No traffic to speak of as I drove the Accord down the track.
There *were* highway cops all over the place around Paparoa, so I was definitely not surprised when I read about Makinnen's radar gun bust in the Auckland newspaper. Oh, Tommi, don't give the nice policeman the finger!!
I had decided that I wouldn't drive south on Sunday for the stages but would stop in Auckland and hang out with Greg and Nico instead...maybe go watch the finish at the Manukau stadium. With time on my hands I decided to take the more scenic route back into Auckland along Route 16 and this was also the rally route. As I turned onto 16 in Wellsford I fell in behind Didier Auriol in his Skoda and did my best to keep the Accord in line on its squishy suspension (oddly better on gravel!) until we came up behind a slow, lumbering farm tractor and cart. Auriol easily passed in a spot where I wouldn't trust the Honda and disappeared into the distance.
A few minutes later I saw a Citroen in the rear view leap-frogging up the line until he was right behind me. Sainz or Loeb? (McRae was long gone), I could not tell, but I started thinking about finding a place to turn on my blinker and edge over just as we entered an uphill, fairly tight right curve. I thought, "no way here!" and at that moment the Xsara was directly alongside.... [pause here to note that this was perhaps a stupider move than the *stupidest* move I have ever made in a motor vehicle...made me feel better about my driving history!]
...I let off the gas just in time to see a mid-sized stake-bed truck emerge from behind the trees zooming downhill in the other direction. I hit the brakes, the truck hit his brakes, and the Citroen missed the truck by about 2 feet and the front of the Honda by about 9 inches!
At that point I could only see the shrinking tail of the Citroen and still wondered who was behind the wheel, but about 2-3 miles later I spotted a rest area and stopped to clean some trash out of the car. As I went to pull back out onto 16, I saw the other Citroen roll by: Loeb/Elena.
We spent Sunday having brunch and taking a ferry ride across the harbor and later watched the local coverage on TV. Not many changes, except that Martin and Rovanpera had both retired on SS14 late Saturday. Of interest, and I didn't hear this mentioned on the Speed Channel coverage, Gronholm was the beneficiary of a rock in his windshield on the last stage thrown by a spectator, it seems. That made a front-page story in Monday's New Zealand Herald, with rally officials indignantly promising to "invite Donald Rumsfeld to North Island to strategize on how the offender could be tracked down and liquidated".
- If you happen to have a spare helicopter, this is the place! There were lots of them about. Just land in any handy paddock and walk to the fence to watch the rally go by.
- As places to make the first attempt at driving on the left, this had to be the easier. Not too much traffic, pretty civil drivers.
- Kiwis I met were very nice, intensely interested in the sport and also very, repeatedly curious about whether rallying was increasing in popularity here.
-There were 86 starters. Not all were Subaru's - there were 44 Mitsu's, (EVO's 4 up to 7). One Peugeot 106 and one Daihatsu Charade GTI, all alone in group A6!
- I chatted with several of the marshals, some of whom were completely new to rallying, but who came as part of a club or group. Even with some of that, it all seemed very well run. The people in charge of the groups seemed to be working with very detailed instructions about where to set barriers and signage, how to deploy marshals, etc.
-The guide maps I used were included in the program, which was published by a NZ autosport magazine.
Very slick and worth the $15 NZ.
-Tommi: New Zealand Herald headline read "Police Radar Nets Flying Finn". The fine: $NZ17,950 ($US9,800!), and he got to stay in New Zealand for a court appearance on Monday up north in Whangarei!
* Heart of Darkness, 4/27-28, British Columbia. 14 entrants, 6 of them Novices. Fouse/Wende won. Good roads, scoring went cleanly. Weather was good, too.
* No Alibi coming up May 31st/ June 1st. Things are coming along well with the organization of the rally. We have 17 entries so far. The start location at the Family Pancake House and Best Western Summit Inn (Snoqualmie Pass) are awaiting our arrival.
The Best Western Ramada Inn in Ephrata is just about filled up for Saturday night, but there is alternate hotel accommodations available. Saturday's dinner at the Country Deli restaurant is all set up and our guest speaker for Saturday night dinner will be Gary Reid.
Saturday's route is complete and is looking to be a long day, but full of great roads and beautiful scenery. Sunday's route is progressing along and I have been waiting for the snow to melt off of a particular road on Blewett Pass. Roy and I have been up there the past 2 weekends trying to get through and each weekend we get further and further into the section only to find the road covered with just enough snow to make it unmeasurable. If the weather holds up, it should be ready to be measured soon.
Check out is May 17th. If anyone, not entered in the rally (!), wants to participate in the checkout, or would like to come out and work the rally, give me a call, we can always use the help. Look forward to seeing everyone there. -Kirk Simons (425) 806-1741
* Shitepoke/Dryad Quest, June 7/8. Stage rallying resumes with back-to-back Club Rallys. RASC has once again been asked to man stages.
On Saturday, we get the first one, since it runs at 10:20, close to Hwy 101. Then pick up and move towrd Matlock for a 6 miler at 2:30.
Sunday is a variation (yet another!) of Taylor Hill- a little more than 8 miles. It's set to run at 12:20, and again at 3:20. It'll probably need 6 Road Guards, and those may be very, uh, picturesque. E-mail Nolte if you can volunteer for either, or both, days.
Since its almost a certainty that most of the RASC folks can't make it to Saturday's morning stage at that early hour, we'll take anyone we can get.
* Cherokee Trails International Rally, which was scheduled to take place between May 15-17th, is postponed. A new date in September is expected to be announced in due course.
* Friday Niters: They have started building a parking garage at the site of our usual start location on Eastgate Way. Most of the lot is fenced off. A new park & ride lot is now open. It is 0.50 miles WEST of the old start location, on Eastgate Way. The May Friday Nighter will start from the new P & R.
* Alcan: Entries at 18 for winter, plus
2 to 4 from Subaru, plus a fairly exciting press entry that's still a secret.
* Goran Ostlund works for Boeing- but in Europe. This arrived:
"My son, Hans Kristian Erik Ostlund (will go by Erik) was born in Stockholm on Palm Sunday, April 13th at 5:14 PM. Both mother (Salme) and baby are healthy and doing well. Erik weighed in at 6.75 lbs. and is 20 inches long and is now gaining weight, and size, like gangbusters. He has a healthy appetite to say the least and is keeping both mom and dad jumping.
"Also, Salme and I are getting married on June 21st in Stockholm and will be combining the wedding with the christening of our son. Salme is Finnish by birth so maybe Rally is already in Erik's blood; he seems to enjoy riding in my bright red Audi S3 Quattro promptly fitted with a Britax Baby Rally? Seat."
* The white 525ix belongs to Kirk Simons.
* E-mail to share with RASC:
"The 1st checkpoint for the Raindrop Rally was outside my yard (230th & Old Sumner/Buckley Hwy) yesterday.
"I wish I had known, I would have invited the guys to use my yard if needed, or at least I would have given them a civil welcome.
"I was unaware of the event. After the guy explained what was going on, & I convinced myself that this was indeed a legitimate run, I found myself enjoying the passing cars. You'll have to excuse my apprehensiveness, but when a decaled black sports car sits in front of my house for 1/2
hr, then a kid with blue hair zooms up, opens his trunk for something, then zips off down the highway, well, it's about enough to...
"Anyways, please pass this along to the guys who were stationed outside my house. Next time, I'll offer some coffee instead of ignorant questions:) Speaking of next time, if there's ever another run through this area, let me know if you need anything. Bathroom, coffee, observation space (so you don't have to park on the street,) whatever,
let me know.
Happy Motoring, Dave Guinn
p.s., I enjoyed your web site & learned a great deal. Thanks."
FOR SALE / Wanted:
* Lucas' 1994 Ford Explorer XLT is for sale. It's a 4WD 4-door with brand new automatic trans & brakes, looks & runs great. Factory alloy wheels, tow package, tinted glass $3950 (May special price), J. Hines 425-823-6343.
* '79 Plymouth Arrow (see description in April WAG- Ed) No reasonable offer refused. Ed Storer, 206-282-3145; email@example.com
* Future Classic: TSD rally-ready 1983 Audi Turbo Quattro Coupe. Mars red. 170K miles. Lots of goodies, well maintained by owner (retired mechanic) $ 7,500.00). E-mail Peter Linde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
•June 21st is the Madison House Retirement Community's 25th Anniversary celebration. From 11AM to 3 PM, they'll have a classic car show, Barbecue, and live entertainment. If you have a car you'd like to display, call Marianne Holman at 425-821-8210. Madison House is at 12215 NE 128th St, Kirkland, next to Evergreen Hospital. (They've hinted that they'd like a rally car on display).
NW Rallys- TSD & stage