RASC Snowflake

Rainier Auto Sports Club  

The Wishbone Alley Gazette

July, 2004

Rally News

No Alibi 2004,  by Ron Sorem © 2004

June 19 & 20,  Ellensburg –Clarkston- Ellensburg.


 “It’s about the Roads, man.  It’s all about the Roads”.   And the scenery, and the camaraderie, and it’s about the organization.

Rainier Auto Sport Club’s No Alibi Rally 2004 lived up to its growing reputation as one of the West’s best brisk gravel rallies.  Two days of smooth gravel, unexpected wilderness pavement, and paved transits, covering 572.7 miles.  The Odo Check was separate from the main rally and could be double- or triple-checked at leisure, so the first transit encompassed a grand total of 0.19 miles from the start.

“Ellensburg Pass” was the first regularity, covering 18.25 miles over the old wagon and stage road, west then south, toward the Yakima Valley.  Just less than five miles into the leg the rally turned to gravel, climbed between Manastash Ridge and Umtanum Ridge, then was treated to a spectacular view of Mount Rainier, before getting twisty and narrow.

Four checkpoints in the first TSD section tested driver skills and navigator patience.  In our case, setting the next CAST after the 24-zone was a navvie challenge.  Both the previous and next speeds were 33, so a simple button push on the Alfa was all that would be needed.  However, within 3.1 miles, a CAST 38 would be difficult, as the knob had fallen off!  Washboard road surface, two controls, oncoming traffic, a speed change, and three hands searching frantically for a black knob on the dark gray floor mats and under the navvie’s seat.  Found after 3.0 miles and re-installed just in the nick of time, we then began searching for a small-enough screwdriver to tighten the setscrew.  Things always go better after the first TSD.

Fifteen miles of twisting two-lane blacktop, including a nice little corkscrew drop into Naches.  Fifteen more miles on the freeway through Yakima, then four to the next regularity.

“Hops Fields TSD” was just that, a tour through the hop fields, vineyards, and orchards (with active harvest of cherries), over Konnowac Pass through Parker Heights to Donald.  A nice little paved section, with one hard-to-see right turn (no sign) which we missed, and burned a time-dec to zero the control.  Yesss!!

Out on the freeway again for 28 miles, with spots along the way for gas, breaks, and refreshments, then 11 more miles of two-lane through pasture and orchard to the next TSD.

“Ward Gap” began uphill on loose gravel at CAST 15, quickly becoming CAST 31.  Uphill traction was tough.  Wheelspin added miles and altered our times.  One can expect a checkpoint at the top of such a climb to keep all classes on their toes.  SOP’ers just go for it.  Calc and Equipped navvies hope for a hard point mileage reference before the top.  Unlimited just hope they’ve “corrected early and often” enough to catch a zero.  There was the control, on a bench, in a turn, between the steeper climbs at 1.96 on our odo, 1.93 officially.  With ample wheelspin, but not enough correction, we show a zero but catch a three late.  Several UNL cars were just a bit late, but the eventual rally winners were fighting the car as well as the hill.  Their X3 has a “great” new BMW feature that shuts off the power whenever wheelspin is encountered.  This is of course very frustrating for the driver (Satch) trying desperately to go faster up the hill, only to be told by the navvie (Russ) to go slower to take advantage of a minute-and-a-half time dec!  Listen to your navvie; employing this tactic several times, they won the event!…  The leg topped over Horse Heaven Hills for the first time, ran east three miles on pavement, then north again on gravel at CAST 48, dropping (very descriptive!) off Horse Heaven into the “suburbs” of Prosser.

Thirteen miles of brisk pavement climbed Horse Heaven again, topped out in wheat fields and set up another gravel TSD.

“Webber Canyon” TSD began due north on gravel at CAST 48.  Watching the one-minute dust clouds we could count ahead four miles before the dust disappeared.  There was no pavement in the route book for quite a while, so four miles must be the top of the hill.  Badger Slope is a popular hang glider point and several were waiting for just the right time for takeoff…  The rally was about to “take off” as it dropped off Horse Heaven one last time, on McBee Grade, overlooking Benton City and the Yakima River.  (For those who would entertain revisiting the area, check out Webber Canyon, paved, Badger Canyon, gravel, and Coyote Canyon via Clodfelter Road, paved.  Some interesting loops with McBee grade.)

Two brisk transits with a 30-minute lunch break at refreshing Charbonneau Park on the Snake River took the rally to more gravel in the Sky Rocket Hills.

“Sky Rocket” regularity began with a caution of “exposures left and right” “next 2.4 miles” and the first instruction:  “Keep Right over crest (exposure left)”.  Loose gravel over rolling hills, unannounced hairpins, periodically catching two cars and the resultant zero visibility.  Add a checkpoint hidden in the wheat, a CAST 63 sprint for two miles of pavement.  Whew!  Now, more gravel and exposures for “next 3.5 miles”, including a “Caution, Steep Downhill”.  CAST 47, catching cars again, following the road by watching the ditches on either side of the car.  A mile-and-a-half of pavement to clear the dust, then right onto Sky Rocket Road.  Now there are three cars in the same minute, in the dust, very twisty, blowing through “gates” of tumbleweeds.  Climbing then falling, and four speed changes at mileages without any hard points.  Could we correct “early and often” for wheelspin?  We passed a SOP car and they dropped back one more minute, just before the control (time dec, and well done!).  Finally the rally descended out of the hills, into Prescott and a short transit to Lower Waitsburg.

“Hogeye Hollow” TSD began with a steep switchback on Miller Road to a control.  Then an acute left to rolling hills on Gerking Road and Middle Waitsburg Road.  Right on gravel and Londagin Road to a control.  “Straight over crest, end pavement”…  “What was that again?”   The route wound through more wheat fields, climbing quickly out of Wilson Hollow to a control, dropping down to Whiskey Creek past another control, before finally reaching pavement again on Hogeye Hollow Road.  And then, the transit through Dayton.

Dayton was interesting.  A car show closed the main highway through town and detouring a U.S. highway onto residential side streets, with some major utilities project happening, just didn’t help the nerves of Rallyists and Rallymaster alike.  At one point the RM was directing traffic, as the Chamber of Commerce detour had failed to account for an expanded car show, and our route was blocked.  No harm, plenty of time, and some very nice cars!

“Whetstone Hollow” at 32.76 miles would be the longest regularity of the weekend and warmed up early on with “Pavement Ends”, followed immediately with CAST 47.  Brief glimpses of pavement were followed by a loose surface drop into the Tucannon River canyon at Marengo, where a control car was in plain view (empty) and the control was unseen, apparently behind us on the hill.  “You can’t have a checkpoint at a stop sign!” was undoubtedly repeated in several cars.  The Marengo hill was a spectacular switchback climb from 1476 elevation to about 3000, ending with a control atop Oliphant Ridge.  East Oliphant Road passed through farmland with green fields on the left, green drop-offs to the right.  Gorgeous contrasts.  Down the slope to Pomeroy, elevation 1855, and the transit east via twisting and climbing Hwy 12, to finish in Clarkston.



~~ Dinner ~~

As an aside, when I first heard that the organizers had secured “The Tomato Brothers” for dinner, I mistakenly thought “they” would be the dinner speakers, as has become the custom for No Alibi, although I couldn’t place who “they” were.  As it turned out, the “Tomato Bro’s” is a nice family Italian restaurant in Clarkston.  “They” provided an excellent banquet, and Russ Kraushaar provided the rally lore generated over 30-odd years of rallying.

~~  Day Two  ~~

Refreshed, rested and well fed, the rally departed on a beautiful morning.

“Pleasant Ridge” regularity began with a gravel climb from the Snake River at CAST 37.  Welcome back to the dust.  Within five miles though, the dust turned surprisingly to pavement, and at CAST 49, Peola Road twisted through wheat fields on the right and steep drop-offs to the left into Asotin Creek.  This looks like roads used in car commercials.  Our California teammates dubbed this the Protest Road—paved in the middle of nowhere, narrow, with white fog-lines but no centerline, kilometer markers instead of miles.  “Someone must be protesting something”.  The river was at about 800 feet elevation.  The Protest Road has climbed now to near 3400.  Pavement ends and smooth drifting corners wind in between wheat fields and pine forests.  The route has a nice rhythm, broken by a short stretch of pavement then gravel again.  Left onto pavement, with exposure cautioned for the next 1.5 miles.  Watching the scenery and watching out for the exposures lulled us into too much of a rhythm—the CAST 25 twisty downhill section was “interesting” at 36.  As we began catching cars our “missed CAST” became apparent and a vital recalculation was completed just before the control, for only 10 early.  Ouch!

“Starve Out Ridge” regularity began quickly with the first control hidden behind a “combine” parked some distance from another empty checkpoint car.  Still speculating as to the control’s location the rally dropped off the plateau to the Tucannon River with “extreme exposure” noted.  Two miles of pavement in the canyon, then left on Hartstock Grade to climb out.

Did that sign say, “Not recommended for through traffic”?

Topping out in the wheat for another checkpoint, then gently down to pavement toward our break in Dayton.  Of course there was a hidden control on this road too.  The car was there, but where was the crew?

The transit out of Dayton passed Lewis and Clark Trail State Park, then a barn with the sign “Star Farm 1859”.  There is a lot of history in this area.

“Sorghum Hollow” regularity at 31.44 miles was the second longest of the event and alternated between gravel and paved, with speed changes seemingly every two miles.  All fairly brisk, including a narrow blind crest in the dust.  Then, slowing to 25 for another of No Alibi’s signatures, we encountered The Tunnel, this time without a checkpoint.

“Lyons Ferry” transit had opportunities for rest breaks (abundant on this year’s event) at the Hatchery Visitors Center, Lyons Ferry State Park, and again at Palouse Falls State Park with white waterfalls dropping off the lava plateau into the river.  The bridge over the Snake, replacing the ferry, is said to be recycled from the Columbia River crossing at Vantage in the 1960’s when Wanapum Dam raised the river several hundred feet, and U.S. 10 was replaced by Interstate 90.  Between Lyons Ferry and Palouse Falls is the Marmes Man Shelter, a pre-historic site flooded by the rising waters behind Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake.

Like horses headed for the barn, the rally was headed for Ellensburg at a rapid pace.  “Nunamaker” regularity covered 4.5 miles of gravel, 4.5 miles of paved, then 10-plus of gravel with lots of speed changes before the long Hwy 26 transit due west to Royal Slope.

“Royal Slope” regularity began in fields of (fragrant?) mint and followed the south slope of Frenchman Hills winding west along irrigation canals, through orchards, wheat fields, alfalfa fields, and sagebrush, to end above Vantage, only 33 freeway miles from Ellensburg.

In addition to setting high marks for roads and scenery, Rainier set a new high level for rally scoring.  The club fielded two teams of checkpoint cars with score-on-the-fly on board.  By working a control or two, leap-frogging ahead of the rally, collecting checkpoint logs as soon as possible, and doing data entry over some of the same gravel that the rally traveled, “scoring” presented provisional scores in Ellensburg before most crew’s dinner arrived. 

As mentioned earlier, the X3 of Satch Carlson and Russ Kraushaar took First Overall, with 37.  First Equipped went to Don Gibson and Mike Workman, with 65 (3 cars tied with 65 overall, 1 EQ, 2 UNL).  First SOP went to Philip and Patrick Widner, with 430, some of those points from stopping to reinstall an intercooler hose.  First Novice went to Rob Bouthillier and Jody Phillips, with 428.  And the Type-1 Beetle of William McRae and Dave Harms took home First Vintage. 

Our 80 accounted for 7th of 12 in class.  Our highest penalty on Saturday was 7L while searching for the Alfa knob, and 10E on Sunday recovering from the missed CAST 25.  Following through the splits, we need to “correct early and often” more than ever for wheelspin…

There is no advance word on locations for next year’s No Alibi, but be certain to keep your calendar open for a premier brisk gravel rally in the beautiful northwest.


* Other No Alibi: Kirk is sure happy its over, and can’t thank the workers enough. He was frustrated that wife Terry got stuck at home for the weekend, not being able to see the results of all her work over the last few weeks.

RASC had 14 crews. This includes the two sweep crews who traded off duties. The result was posting scores just as the entrants were finishing up their meals. 18 checkpoints over the 221 miles on Saturday, and 24 for 263 miles on Sunday. And those 42 CP’s were within the TSD’s, roughly a third of the 494 miles.

Notable were Carl and Ellen Graff meeting the rally from their home near Deer Park, and Richard Fuhrman coming from Pullman. Richard drove a rather scruffy pickup, and then completed the camouflage by wearing typical farmer flannels. One story had him peering at the engine with the hood up, then twirling around to clock the rallyists when they least expected it! -MN


* Mt. Trials- 19 entrants for this Canadian event, a few from Stateside.


* Winter Alcan news articles are listed at http://www.alcan5000.com/2004Wreports.htm

The Automobile and Road & Track articles are both very good, in the July issues. R&T also did a sidebar bio of Jerry separate from the event review.

* Summer Alcan (August 18-26), Jerry previewed the course early in June.


RASC Calendar

Stage Rally - The NWR-SCCA has filled the summer with rallycrosses. The Thurston County ORV Park is still closed (and the State has asked the county to give back some money intended to keep it open). There’s a July 18 parking lot event at PR in Kent. Then there’s something at Jenkins Farm in Brooklyn on August 1.

Ray and Janice Damitio have some property at Montesano that they think will work, so August 7 & 8 is a rallysprint.

July 11- Highway cleanup.  Contact John Nispel for information.

Sept 11- Sou'Wester, Olympia, WA

Sept 12- Simpson Stages, Shelton, WA



• Call the NWRC Hotline (206) 256-9627 for latest info on Puget Sound TSD events. NWRC Friday Niters start at the Eastgate (Bellevue) Park and Ride. Reg opens at 6:45, FCO 7:31  Starting in June:  The construction at the “upper” lot is over, and the rallys will resume their traditional location under overpass.

July 17-18 –Golden West, Yreka, CA (PCC event, among others) Pete Soper, RM

July 24 – (Subaru rally?-ed) A TSD-Poker Run Rally (limited to 50 cars) and Import car show afterwards (open to ALL imports! everyone is welcome!)

Sponsored in part by: Walker's Renton Subaru & Eastside Subaru

Driver's Meeting: 9:30 AM, "Rally" Start Time: 10:00 AM Rally route: Renton; mid-point Kirkland; finish Renton

Car Show Start Time: 1:00 PM, Entry Fees:

Rally $25.00 (includes BBQ for two)

Car Show $20.00 (includes BBQ for one)

Poker Cards (in a sealed envelope) to be picked up at each designated stop. Rally to be formatted in TSD with times and routes specified.

Separate prizes to be awarded for rally drive and best poker hand.


Aug. 13- Friday Nighter, NWRC/ORCA

Sept. 10- Friday Nighter. NWRC

Oct. 2- Night on Bald Mountain, ORCA

Oct. 8- Friday Nighter           NWRC/RASC

Oct 30- Midnight, Hope, BC

Nov 6- Armageddon XXIII, CSCC, Bellingham,

 Nov 13/14- Totem, Cache Creek, BC


Rainier Auto Sports Club will meet this coming Monday,  July 12 at 7:30 PM at Café Veloce at the Totem Lake shopping center. Best way I can think of to get there is north on I-405, take the "NE 124th" exit, then keep right under NE 124th and straight at the signal. This puts you on Totem Lake Blvd, not whatever the frontage road is next to I-405. Then right first poss, with the Café on your right at that point.

 Monthly meetings are the second Monday of each month. Past Members, visitors, and spectators are welcomed.


Agenda:  Anything more about No Alibi? Kirk wants the Worker binders back. Keep the contents, but the Binders get reused every year.

With the Summer Alcan a few weeks off, Jerry can report on the growing entry list, and response to the Winter Alcan news articles. Ed Millman might be getting close to a No Alibi financial report. There may be quite a parade from RASC to Golden West rally at the Cal-Oregon border. The Web master can report what’s going on (or not) with that.


2004 Board Members:

President: Steve Willey – (206) 417-8517; Vice-President:;   Marvin Crippen –(206)365-5915

Secretary: Eric Horst  (206)363-9752;  Treasurer: Ed Millman (206)361-7389

Members at Large:, Mike Jones- (425)823-8329, Jerry Hines (425) 823-6343



The Wishbone Alley Gazette is published for the members and friends of Rainier Auto Sports Club. Subscription price is $10 per year.

 The editor is Mark Nolte, ph. (425)652-3578. View back issues at http://www.rainierautosports.com/wag/default.htm

Contributions and paid/unpaid ads eagerly received at

 2108 NE 12Th. St., Renton, WA 98056  or e-mail: mnolte@blarg.net


Rainier Auto Sports Club, P.O. Box 852, Kirkland, WA 98134




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