The Wishbone Alley GazetteOctober, 2003
Wild West (September 6/7)
The forests were so dry. The record-setting lack of rain brought forced everyone to pray that there wouldn’t be a spark that would quickly flare to full-fledged forest fire. The small group that organizes stage rallys had their hands full with all the distractions.
So the forest was closed from 1 until 8PM. The “split” day extended the rallying on Saturday into the night.
Handed the “Deckerville” Stage, the challenge of finding workers was supposed to be expedited by having workers sign up on the SCCA Web page. The process was easy and painless, except that it didn’t ask all the right questions, so the volunteers had to be contacted, to discover they were already enlisted with the RASC crew, or not. Some tweaking of the process will be required.
Hoping to start the process of bringing a WRC rally to the US, and the Pacific NW, Ken and Sue Lingbloom rented a motel room for a week and “filled in”. One of these tasks turned out to be the deliverers of the T-shirts and various other worker-related bits. A barely-organized “gathering”, before the workers converged on their stage positions had them trying to distribute the goodies while the Stage Captain was assessing the assignments, and trying to make sure everyone had some idea what they were supposed to do.
Rally America is the name a small group named themselves “to assist rally organizers”. They own the fancy clocks and timers. Despite some intense effort, the Flying Finish setup wouldn’t work. Ideally, the photocells would radio the passage of a rally car to the TAG-Heuer clock at the STOP control. The radio connection didn’t work. Tom Palidar, lacking a rally car to run, filled in as Finish Captain, and eventually used our tried-and-true FF clock and FRS radio system.
The Start clock is a wonderful thing, with a big, proper countdown clock. Ours had had a previous life as the timer for ski contests, right down to the audible tones you hear on TV when a skier is about to race downhill. For stage rallying, the ability of the Starters to be away from the flying rocks of a start is obvious.
Part of the starting “kit” is photocells that would confirm that the rally car didn’t jump the start. We didn’t have those set up. Jarvis Owens was Starter, and decided to just put the big box that the clock travels in opposite the clock. It looked like a photocell setup; good enough to keep the rallyists from even thinking about false starts!
Saturday night was a dusty affair until the stage was completed, at which point the rain arrived with a vengeance. Sunday’s event reverted to the original schedule.
Both days’ stages ran safely, not without the usual apprehension when a car went AWOL. The Ham radio net functioned OK, not without going to “plan B” each day. Such is rallying. –MN
Mountains to the Sea Rally 2003, by Ron Sorem
September 27, Eastgate Plaza Portland to Robert W. Straub State Park at Pacific City Oregon.
I don’t know if the rally omen idea bothers you or not, but as food for thought, during the driver’s meeting, the sign for the first instruction was blown down by the wind while being pointed out as the first tricky little turn. As they say, “…things that make you go Hmmmm?”
The Odo Calibration section took the rally south on 205, west on Borland to Wankers Corner and south toward Stafford. Mountains to the Sea is timed in hundredths of a minute, most timepieces are in seconds, so, at the end of the Odo Check, the first trap (“the only traps are those you make for yourself”) was the conversion from cents to secs for the pauses. One tenth of a minute calcs to six seconds, easy enough, but after three calcs to seconds the next pause was actually in seconds… in a “senior SOP moment” I took an amazingly long time to try to convert seconds back to cents, which of course was totally unnecessary. Sue and I had a good chuckle over that… she may not let me do the calcs any more.
Oregon rallies have a distinct order of precedence for course following as do Washington events, with one last concept that makes a great confidence test. “Leftmost” applies when all other uninstructed turn opportunities have been applied and no turn determined. Coming into a “T” with no instruction in Oregon allows the rally to continue “Leftmost”. This was encountered just out of the Odo Check and kept out-of-Oregon crews wondering if they were still on course, until a hard-point mileage and reference matched, and thankfully a checkpoint. The rally skirted Wilsonville, traversed Pleasant Hill and began the tour through Parrett Mountain’s grand estates and grand views of Washington County to the north, the rolling hills of Yamhill County to the south and east, and spectacular Mount Hood.
Parrett Mountain Road is a scenic twisting undulating two lane with very little opportunity to pass. When confronted by slower local traffic, crews are basically stuck with taking a half minute late penalty or stopping for an additional minute to take advantage of the first step in time declarations, 1.50 minutes, 2.50 minutes and so on. Several drivers commented this became a challenge in itself: Time Dec or try to make it up? An additional factor in the decision was the existence of occasional “Passage Controls” where crews were timed without stopping and which would be scored parallel to the regular “Stop Controls”. The first passage control was placed at Heater Road, off of Parrett, and at a point where the discussion of time decs was just heating up. Heater added another challenge for drivers, in that a large well-attended VolksWalk had been scheduled for rally day and there were hundreds of walkers along both sides of “our” road… twisty and challenging at 30mph, scary at 20-something with walkers everywhere. Leftmost at Ladd Hill, return to Parrett Mtn Road. More traffic, straight this time at Heater and the passage control. Continuing on Parrett to Corral Creek and a short section of 22mph gravel. The VolksWalkers turnaround checkpoint parked in the middle of the intersection. Walkers in both directions on both sides of the narrow road. Oncoming vehicle traffic and another passage control just before Right at Ladd. Whew!
Two miles later we encounter another passage control, then follow the Willamette River to Newberg and a checkpoint in the middle of an instruction beginning with the words “60 minute lunch break”. Careful re-reading of the entire instruction and careful noting of punctuation or lack thereof, actually told crews they had a checkpoint approx 0.5 miles ahead, where they would receive a new scorecard… Unfortunately I failed to take the hints and was fully planning on calculating the last section during lunch to have the absolute correct out time at the end of the lunch transit… all for naught, as the checkpoint of course included a new out time!
West from Newberg through the nut orchards and the Chehalis Valley with a twisty section over Woodland Loop to the Yamhill Do-It-Yourself checkpoint. Possibly more like do-it-TO-yourself for some cars!
West of Yamhill, teams climb the Coast Range for a Stop Control and descend into the Nestucca River drainage with a rest stop at the very scenic Dovre Campground before another DYS and into Beaver for a Stop Control. This section had woodland lanes, picturesque streams and foliage, and another section of gravel. While at modest speeds, with little dust, the roads kept drivers’ attentions. South on Hwy 101 through Hebo to Cloverdale and on to the finish at Pacific City.
The setting at Robert W. Straub State Park is outstanding. Although cooled by an incoming weather front, the beach is enjoyable under the encroaching fog. The BBQ is underway, scoring is underway, and a beach fire is begun… The brats, beverages, popcorn and smores are followed by final results.
First SOP and Seventh OA to David and Marcus Gattman; Second SOP and Eighth OA to Ron and Sue Sorem.
Mountains to the Sea was first run in 1965 and has become a family tradition rally. Of the 34 teams entered, 20 were spousal teams, with other father-son, father-daughter and uncle-nephew crews. Also present were other venue participants, for example an SCCA bug-eye Sprite racer taking on navigator duties for MTS. Another tradition with the presentation of the perpetual trophy is the “trophy dance”, this year performed by Russ and Katy. I can’t remember seeing such fancy footwork from Russ, unless it was in a spectacular recovery on an icy parking lot in Canada…
Mountains to the Sea is one to put on your family’s schedule for next year!
Night on Bald Mountain 2003, By Ron Sorem
October 4, Tumwater Washington. New venue, new cool spooky logo by Rallymaster David Treen, and all the road variety you could ask for, short of snow.
Night on Bald Mountain, in recent history, has been run through the Cascade Mountains of Washington near Bald Mountain at Stampede Pass. This year, 1982 NoBM rallymaster, David Treen “returned” to a rally venue familiar to some of us from the ‘70s and ‘80s. For years, prior to the ‘90s, rally organizers utilized the network of DNR roads in Capitol Forest, between Olympia, Elma, and Oakville. A primitive triangle bordered by Highways 5, 8, and 12.
After a short stint on the freeway the 18 teams entered the Black Hills, west of Rock Candy Mountain, at the Thurston County ORV Park near McCleary. Quickly the crews climb up the north side of the hills, crest out, and drop into the Porter Creek drainage. The first regularity was named “Ghost Town”, but the hunter and camper traffic certainly belied the population of any ghost town. Occasionally teams were forced to bunch up with three cars in the same minute while “crawling” along behind a big Dodge pickup. “Campers Transit” and its quiet zone though the horsemen’s park (the rally had been warned not to spook the horses!) led to “Raven’s Grove Monte Carlo”.
“Capitol Peak Regularity” began briskly with speeds of 32 and 30 but fog made the speeds a bit scary. Car 4’s Mike Daily commented he spent “five minutes at four late”, just couldn’t see to make it up, with short straight-aways and so many blind corners. We were 18 late on the box, following a hunter, in the fog, and eventually made it up. Have I mentioned yet, I really dislike driving in fog! Fog is an equalizer though, no matter how spiffy your car, if you can’t see it you can’t drive it. “Bordeaux Monte Carlo” was an additional 5.46 miles of the twisty roads, fog, and loose surfaces. While not timed, this Monte was still a test for the drivers: Get to the next regularity on time.
“Citadel Regularity” began with a slow tour past the prison, concertina razor wire and floodlights. Don’t screw up here! And don’t pick up hitchhikers. The section continued through the Cedar Creek drainage south of Fuzzy Top Mountain through areas of current logging with its myriad piles of logs, rough roadways, and past heavy equipment just off your mirrors. A short transit into Oakville brought a welcomed rest from the fog, re-adjustment of driving lights, re-arranging of flats and spares, and the first tales of close encounters with wildlife and ATVs. Attrition count: Car 1, BMW 325ix, missing and misaligned lights by bambi, who got up and ran off without an apology. Several flats. An exiting Jetta exhaust, repaired by a spare fan belt! One DSM Laser, minus oil pan, DNF.
“Catamount Regularity” would be 11.66 miles with more varied roads, including dust, mud, smooth as concrete dirt, and two-inch gravel. Followed by “Dunwich Monte Carlo” and “Porter (Creek) Transit” back through the horsemen’s camp, still quietly, and then a new road up to Buck Ridge.
“Buck Ridge Regularity” has been used for performance stage rally in the past and Car 2’s Ben Bradley was busy pointing out “we rolled here once…” and “we went off here once…” to navigator Russ Kraushaar in the Mazda 323 GTX. At about 1.5 miles into the regularity our TSD rally comes face to face with performance rally. A bright rally blue Subaru Impreza was parked on our right side apex of a corner at an intersection with no lights, not that any of them would have still worked, but taking up a lot of the roadway. There was no identifying number on the door but the rest of the I.D. package was on the car. “Someone” using Capitol Peak for practice had severely damaged his car, while by himself, and had limped/dragged the hulk of his Subie this far until met by our pace car, helmet in hand and somewhat disorientated, wanting to know how far it was to Oakville. (Comment: I’ve been in this situation, but with a co-driver… practice alone is just foolhardy. Take another car, take radios, have a way to get out to the highway…) This distraction caused more than us to be off time at the control just a few hundredths away.
“Larch Mountain Monte Carlo” was 12 miles with few references but lots of tight and twisty stuff with a 24mph average that still didn’t leave much time at the end. “Capitol Peak Regularity 2” started on familiar ground but memories become dull after several foggy hours of driving and the route went past landmarks on different sides of the car. Didn’t they? At least the mileage was different.
“Dusty Way Monte Carlo” was a short section back to “Ghost Town Regularity 2”, which was the reverse of the beginning of the rally, out of the woods, this time without traffic, more controls, fresh marbles because of the earlier run, and a welcomed return to pavement and the Black Hill Transit to the finish.
Deer, rabbits, owls, ATVs, dirt-bikes, campers, and a bear! What a night.
NoBM (or maybe Rock Candy Mountain) was a great drive. Tires became a factor for some crews. The SOP team of Steven R. Perret and Kathryn Hansen, fresh off a First SOP at TRNT, suffered 4 failures and used up all 3 spares leaving them stranded in the woods. The Car 18 crew hitched a ride toward Elma with sweep car Greg and Nora Hightower, who in turn had another tire failure in the minivan, one flat to many. Calls to the finish brought help, and spares, from other competitors with matching bolt patterns and “hopefully” got them all home OK.
First UNL and First Overall to Ben Bradley and Russ Kraushaar with 31pts. Second UNL and Second OA to Eric Horst and Steve Willey (39 Pts.) Third UNL and Third OA to Dan Comden and Marvin Crippen (50 pts)
Great rally. Equal chances for all to shine or fade into the fog, and I can’t wait to get more stuff with the new NoBM logo! Is there a poster in the works? Please!
“Great job” to Dave and all the ORCA crews.
Ron Sorem Subaru RX Rally Team©2003
Night on Bald Mountain, By Steve Willey.
We were first put on notice that the animal world was pissed at us before we left for Olympia, WA and the start of Night on Bald Mountain
NoBM is a kick ass gravel-touring rally that begins before dark and ends in the late evening. It's put on by the good people of Olympic Rally Competition Association (ORCA) and this year's rallymaster was Dave Treen.
TeamD headed down with the three teams of Eric Horst and myself, Dan Comden and Marvin Crippen, and Jeff McMillen and David Carrol. Team Rainier Auto Sports Club had the above-mentioned competitors plus Ron Sorem and Max Vaysburd; Mike and Gretchen Jones napped out in the woods waiting to time cars.
This year we would be visiting the narrow windy roads of the Capitol Forest area with is just south and west of our Olympia, WA. This area is a traditional favourite of rallyists and other recreational users. At times thick fog hung over the road and we were thankful for the night vision system that came standard on all late '80s BMWs.
The rally had seven timed regularity sections with an almost equal number of brisk Monte Carlo sections and transits. Total mileage was 153 miles with a nice mid-rally gas/snack stop in the burg of Oakville.
We were visiting the forest a week before hunting season and the animals knew it. Getting ready to leave for the rally I had difficulty rounding-up my small flock of chickens for the night. One became agitated with my herding method (an all-wheel-drive BMW) and decided to escape into the neighbour's yard. A human chasing a chicken is pure and simple comedy, we might have bigger brains but their brain are optimized for strategic evasion.
Eventually the chickens were secured we headed off for the rally.
Our next encounter with the animal world was less comedic but we were very fortunate that it wasn't more tragic. Cruising thru one of the rallys many enjoyable Monte Carlo sections we hit a deer. Not a beer, a deer. The first thing I knew I was looking-up from my crossword puzzle to see a brown flash in the headlights followed by heavy thump. The deer was jumping from the bushes on the right directly into the path of our car. Eric was hard on the breaks when we hit it and had to be hard on the throttle immediately following impact to keep the car out of the ditch. The deer was thrown to the brush on the left and stood back up and kept running. Times like that make me very happy for the investment in harnesses, smashing the Timewise rally computer would have hurt our chances of winning, and might have hurt my head.
Not having the deer ride-up on the hood and into the passenger compartment kept us out of the emergency room and we're very thankful for that. We lost some of the forward illumination on the car but pressed-on with less light and more trepidation.
The roads winded on and our performance was solid throughout the event.
Eric did a great job of weaving around the suspended water droplets and I knocked-off a few chapters of the latest Harry Potter book. The fog adds a touch of the surreal to any scene and one especially surreal scene was rounding a turn to find an abandoned Pro Rally car dark and lonely in the middle of the forest. Apparently the driver was out cruising the forest roads when his Subaru was disabled by a shredded tire. No forest inhabitants were implicated in the incident.
Besides putting together a great rally Mr. Treen put on his artists hat and make the finest cover art for a rally that I've ever seen. This dramatic artwork is also used on the cool trophies that are wall clocks. Yes, real live, ticking, clocks. Cool.
Despite our close encounter of the deer kind there were other cars that faired worse than ours. Punctures were in abundance with one car even getting one in the oil pan. Somehow Steve Perret and Kathryn Hansen got 17 (is this a typo -ed?) flat tires. Greg and Nora Hightower didn't want to get left out and got two flat tires.
Ben Bradley and Russ Kraushaar ran another near-perfect rally and got the better of us by 8 points. We like to think that it was because we were running in front of them and cutting a hole in the fog :) Congrats to us for 2nd Overall and Unlimited with 39 points
The 3rd, 4th and 5th place unlimited cars were separated by a piddly 4 points. Again proving that the competition in Unlimited is very tight. I mis-speak when I say 'Unlimited cars' since no one would mistake Dan Comden's Chevy Blazer for a car. The big red rally rig had broken four wheel drive (rumor is that only the wheels on the right were powered) but the wheels in Marvin Crippen's head were all engaging and their first time out with a Timewise 798A got them 3rd Unlimited.
An interesting trivia item is that the first three finishers all used Timewise rally computers as their (our) weapon of choice. Coincidence?
Honorable mention goes to Casey Woodrum and Benson Miller who used a Curta to achieve a very respectable 4th equipped with 178 points; I keep telling them that they need a vintage car to go with their vintage calculator. Ron Sorem and Max Vaysburd came in 5th unlimited with 53 points.
Huge thanks to Dave Treen all the rest of the ORCAns for making such a great rally!
Friday Niter, September 12, 2003, Rallymaster: Dan Comden
Summary: First time rallymaster Dan Comden writes an excellent event. From the usual start at the Eastgate Park-N-Ride the odometer check proceeded North to Bothell. The first leg wound through curvy residential areas of Bothell with a checkpoint near Abbey View Cemetery. Leg two saw the city of Brier and traveled North to a checkpoint near I-405 and Damson Road. The third leg sent competitors East, across Bothell-Everett highway, along Interurban road to a checkpoint in the Cathcart area. A short transit through Snohomish set everyone up for the fourth leg, which visited Lord Hill, and a straight shot toward Monroe for a final checkpoint on Tester Road by Monroe High School. The finish was at Alfy's Pizza in Monroe. There were 33 cars entered and all finished.
CP crew “C” was Mark Nolte and Ron Sorem. Arriving at the approximate CP location, the painted mark on the pavement for the in-cone couldn’t be found until Dan showed up and pointed to the tiny little splotch.
It must be noted that as a Driver, Ron was not at all embarrassed at how rusty he was about CP procedures. I think it’s a Driver thing.
The houses on the road were set well back, but the arrival was noticed- a sprinkler went on for some reason, in the dark, splashing the CP car.
After the rally cars had been through, one guy finally came down the street to find out what we were doing. Ron explained about rallys. The guy replied that his neighbors had guessed that! As he left to get back on the phone and assure his neighbors that all was OK, he mentioned that he worked with Steve Roberts! – MN.
The October meeting starts the RASC election process. Nominations for the 2004 Board are tendered, with the election to follow next month.
Transitions: The Lingbloom’s new ride is a Subaru Forrester. The detuned Sti motor makes passing slower traffic easier. Victoria Saager had an awkward moment with the family Subaru Impreza RS, resulting in a new, very blue, Honda RSX. Steve Roberts has bee associated with his bronze first gen RX 7 since Mazda introduced the sports car. He has finally replaced it with a blue 4-door Mazda. An RX8.
The WRC 2004 calendar has been revealed, with 16 events. Japan has the first week of September, Mexico is March 12-14.
The rules-makers at the WRC are also making a lot of other changes. Some of these make the SCCA’s structure look (almost) reasonable.
FOR SALE / Wanted:
NW Rallys- TSD & stage