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Wishbone Alley Gazette March 2005

Rally News

Thunderbird 2005

by Ron Sorem © 2.21.2005

February 19 & 20, Merritt-Kelowna-Merritt, British Columbia. The West Coast Rally Association presented the 34th running of their brisk Winter TSD.

Friday evening tech inspection was under clear moonlit skies with brisk temperatures. Saturday morning tech and late registration found cars covered with a "dusting" of powder snow and what seemed like colder temperatures, and an increasing cloud cover.

The Odo Calibration ran southwest on the Coquihalla to Coldwater and doubled back on gravel roads, to begin the first Regularity through Kane Valley, at 57km/h on a wide forest road with mixed bare frozen gravel, ice over gravel, and a dusting of fresh snow over ice, as the route gained elevation. Average speeds increased to 60km/h as the route leveled out. Continuing through the ranch yards and twisting along the valley the snow depth increased as well. At 15.62km a right turn, at a checkpoint, then slowing to 45km/h the route became a narrow twisting track through the trees, with occasional sharp turns and exposures on the outside. Not a place to try the unbroken snow. Hidden ruts pulled against steering. The best line through the corners was probably staying in the line the last pickup truck made before the freeze. Between exposures on sharp corners the rally was under the watchful eyes of a large herd of wooly horses at the Black Pine Ranch, and of course, the watchful eyes of checkpoints as well. The last 4km of the Regularity drove through ankle-deep to boot-top deep new snow with only the tracks of the advance cars to follow.

A short Transit south of Aspen Grove on 5A took the rally to Coalmont Road and the Otter Valley Regularity. 70km Otter Valley was the longest of the day and began with wide groomed smooth snow with occasional sweeping bends at 72km/h, allowing drivers to practice technique while offering a bit of recovery room between actual snow banks. At about 13km into the section the banks became noticeably closer together and the average dropped to 60km/h. At 17km the practice should have paid off as the average cut to 50km/h, just in time for a sharp left down hill, not in the route book. Very "slippy", followed immediately by a checkpoint. The route now narrowed through a canyon but was fairly level as speeds increased steadily through 60, 65, and 70 at pavement. The shaded, icy corners along Otter Creek provided ample excitement and the following checkpoint at 40km caught a few by surprise. Slowing through the pioneer town of Tulameen at 45, up to 68, then 45 again through nearby Coalmont. After dodging the snowplows and avalanche rocks, teams were greeted by a checkpoint coming out of the twisty bits at 72km/h. Surprisingly the first eight cars zeroed this control, 12km before the break at Princeton.

Leaving Princeton the Transit headed northeast toward Osprey Lake. A section of loose gravel over the pavement in a tight chicane caught the first casualty. An impromptu and unplanned shortcut took out one Golf control arm, and although this stage-prepared car's sponsor had an outlet in the area, they could not get a replacement and were out of the rally.

Osprey Lake Regularity claimed the only other car to be forced out of the event. Dennis Gunn's 1986 Audi 4000 Quattro, with Brian Hackney in the right seat, made it 24km into the section under its own power. The rest of the trip to Penticton and Kelowna was with a tow truck attached to the front bumper. A futile search for a replacement spindle would have to continue on Monday.

East of Penticton the rally climbed steeply up the bluff overlooking the city and Okanagan Lake for the 51km OK Falls Regularity. An acute right, onto more snow, interrupted wide smooth snow pack at 70km/h, with tree-lined roads interspersed with exposures and hairpins. At 45km the route began its descent through more hairpins and exposures (including one spot from several years ago that retired a Mazda 323GTX). Once into Okanagan Falls, the rally followed Eastside Road into Penticton for fuel then up the bluff again for the same start as OK Falls.

Idabel Regularity traced the previous run through 14km then left instead of right and an average of 72km/h on a virtual main highway in the woods. Six checkpoints kept crews on their best behavior. Teams encountered sections of deep snow, bare gravel with dust, and a brief episode of snow over ice.

A short Transit brought the teams to the Big White ski area Regularity. A 4km climb up the pavement (with heavy skier traffic), then an acute right, down the twisty narrow descent back to the highway, through two checkpoints for a transit across the highway and back to the end of Idabel.

McCulloch Regularity began on a wide route, with wheel high snow banks at 60km/h. The road narrowed and the speed dropped. The road narrowed further, actually becoming pretty tight in spots. The snow was getting deeper, as were the ruts. Then McCulloch dropped off the mountain with hairpins and exposures above Hydraulic Creek, into Kelowna for the night, after more than nine hours of rallying over 460km (286 miles), passing 27 scored checkpoints.

Day Two's morning driver's meeting brought news that the rally had been caught up in Kelowna's street racing enforcement campaign. Citizens seeing cars with numbers brought the 911 call log up to speed, so to speak, and with the cooperation of RCMP, the organizers agreed to scrap the second running of the crowded Big White Regularity to avoid the skier traffic and a potential repeat of the previous night's complaints. McCulloch II Regularity would give teams a chance to see the ruts and exposures on a clear and bright morning.

Once again through Kelowna, crossing the lake, climbing west into the hills. Bear Creek Regularity covered seven checkpoints over 72.45km. This Regularity started deceptively. Dry gravel and dust would soon change to snow patches, then, with the warning to watch for logging trucks, the road was snow covered in the shaded areas. At 16km the rally left the main haul-road. The path was narrower but still recently graded. There was much more snow as the route steadily gained elevation and the graded banks were now hood-high. Speeds dropped from 72 to 68 to 57 and 50 for a tight section with occasional recreational traffic. The scenery was spectacular with white over green, under brilliant blue skies. At 39km the rally overlooked Cameron Lake with a post card perfect scene of the lake, the campground at the west end, and the white velvet broken only by a lone animal track; a straight line westward across the frozen surface. Within the next kilometer a checkpoint and photo-op would record the continual widening of the road, with several cars exploding through the fresh powder and at least one taking the ever-widening track a bit too far, then as spectators, waiting for sweep. The route was well packed, the elevation gains and drops were minimal now, and there were few sharp corners with which to contend. One such corner however, was troublesome for at least four competitors. A pickup truck was parked at the exit to a downhill left-hander. If the rally cars were the least bit out of shape here, the choice was truck or snow bank. All chose the snow bank. Unfortunately, a checkpoint was only a short distance away. Car 8 (Horst/Willey) completed most of Bear Creek with a flat tire. Whether the flat preceded the snow bank choice, or the other way around, they managed to recover before the checkpoint and tie Car 1 (Wallace/Dumaoal) for the Regularity, but would fall two points behind them for the Overall win. At 52km another checkpoint was well hidden and cars were timed entering a bridge before they had a chance to see the checkpoint crew. 10km further along, in much deeper snow, the rally cars shared the road with snowmobile traffic, some nearly maintaining the 55km/h average, on and off the road. Surprisingly, no conflicts; both sports enjoying the drive. The deepening snow brought a choice of line through some corners. For one checkpoint crew exiting the stage, avoiding the slippery inside line for the less traveled outside line proved to be the wrong choice. Their long "off" into knee deep soft snow was the second of the event for Brian Hackney. Saturdays' broken-spindle-Audi navigator had volunteered as an extra checkpoint crewmember, back seat ballast, and as it turned out, an extra hand at the shovel.

A 15km Transit on 97C, then Elkhart Lake Regularity began at 45km/h with the warning: "Caution!! Big Frozen mud hole, suspension-breaking if you take it wrong, followed by ruts for 250m". Speeds for the first two-thirds of this 38km stage never exceeded 50km/h, but were challenging for the technical aspect of the route. An acute right turn (with checkpoint) tested hand-brake versus three-point techniques. Later, two hairpins proved tricky; one "caution-ed" in the route book, the second possibly more treacherous, without a "caution".

A quarter kilometer Transit (under the highway) led to the start of Kentucky-Alleyne Regularity. Running reverse direction from past years, the route passes Loon Lake, Kentucky Lake and Alleyne Lake (hence the name) ending with a warning of winding roads for 6km, at 50km/h, only to increase average to 68 a mere 1.24km later.

At last, the 5A Transit took the competitors to Merritt for the finish and awards after a Day-Two drive of 274.24km (170.41 miles) in six hours.

Thunderbird 2005 covered just over 734km (456 miles) in Spring-like weather. Never-mind there was still a month of Winter remaining. Current (1987-2005) Rallymaster, Paul Westwick, assembled a great route and a great crew of workers providing timely scrutineering, ample checkpoints, and prompt scoring.

Vehicles ranged from 2004 Subaru STi (3) to Volkswagen Type 1 Beetles (2), BMW 2002 (2) and the 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S… crowd favorite, finishing only one spot behind one of the 300hp Subarus.

Classes ranged from 22 Unlimited to 13 Calculator, 11 Novice, 5 Historic, and one Paper S.O.P. purist.

Manufacturers other than Subaru (26 of 52 starters and 16 of the top 20 finishers) included Audi Quattro, Austin, BMW (325ix, 325is, and 2002), Chrysler family (Shelby Lancer, Laser RS and Voyager AWD), Ford, Mazda (323 and RX7), Nissan, Saab, Toyota, and VW with Beetle, Golf, Jetta and Rabbit.

Congratulations to Glenn Wallace and Miller Dumaoal (11 points), holding off Eric Horst and Steve Willey by two points, for Glenn's second consecutive Thunderbird win. One point further down were three cars tied at 14, all past winners of BC snow events.

Moving up to Calculator class from Paper, Dan and Stu Fealk continued their string of class wins, again by only two points over Martin Chung and Christa Monasch.

First Historic went to Larry LeBel and Marcel Chichak in the Bright red Mini with 92 points.

First Novice went to Jayme and Ava Franklin in a '04 Subaru WRX with 189 points.

Complete results, photos, and more rallies can be found at

Doo Wop 2005,

by Ron Sorem © 03.07.2005

Aberdeen, WA. March 5th & 6th, 2005. Team Vanquish and the Pacific Rally Group presented "The Doo Wop Rallys 2005", sanctioned by NASA (National Auto Sport Assn.) Rally West.

While some rally folks may still feel frustration over being dropped by SCCA, all was well in "The Harbor" for Doo Wop. Grays Harbor County, Pacific County, and the Quinault Indian Reservation provided the roads; Team Vanquish (aka Ray and Janice Damitio and crew) provided the initiative; and the Pacific Rally Group (the former stage rally arm of NWR-SCCA) provided the organization and "the troops". The combination produced two days of great roads and great fun.

Friday night's Registration, Tech Inspection, and Welcome Party put everyone in the mood. Saturday morning saw the "Advance" cars (John Nispel and Dave Folker) up early and into the woods. "Slow Pace" (Ron Sorem/Max Vaysburd) would run a few minutes ahead of Fast Pace verifying the route book, the marshal and communications locations and getting the control crews up and alert. "Fast Pace" (John Lane/Vance Walker) combined 1 small car, 2 drivers, 3 cylinders, and 4th fastest time on Crane Creek. The crew, who happen to share identical stage times on Brooklyn, squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder into Ray Damitio's Geo Metro as the final set of eyes through each stage, declaring it "Hot" and ready for Car 1.

Crane Creek Parc Expose, Service Area, and Driver's Meeting is 49 miles north of Aberdeen, 6 miles north of Lake Quinault, and free of the coastal fog covering "The Harbor". The gravel Transit into the stage is a "Quiet Zone" by definition. The lack of houses brought speculation of "spotted owl" habitat, but the steep 4 miles at 15mph was at the "request" of the Forest Service. Lake Quinault can be seen to the south as the teams near Stage Start.

Crane Creek Stage is 8.39 miles of smooth gravel, beginning at about 2000 feet elevation, topping out at 2500 and dropping quickly to only 450 over the last two miles. Exposures begin right away, several-hundred-feet down to the right, through small new growth timber. Photos and video of the stage should be plentiful; nearly every exposure on the uphill section had a camera. As the course crests the ridge, the exposure is possibly greater, but Advance, Slow Pace, Control Crews, and Sweep will be treated to spectacular views of the ocean under bright blue skies. The rest of the field may not have this luxury, as they should be paying closer attention to the road. At about mid-point there are spectators and more official photographers, then, "caution, off camber approach, hairpin right, tightens", followed by hairpin after hairpin, again with photographers in the steep descent toward the Flying Finish, and Service.

Tim Patterson and John Allen, in the Cascade Autosport "rental" EVO VII, were "off"; sufficiently high centered to require an assist by sweep crews, but once on the road again the bright white Mitsu was fine and running strong. The recovery delayed the second running of Crane Creek a very few minutes and everyone's times were just a little better with notes from their first time through the tricky spots. The AWD Dave Hintz/Rick Hintz Subaru WRX set the fastest times on both runnings, followed very closely by the 2WD Derek Bottles/Jason Grahn Gr2 Golf (two seconds on SS1).

Service again, then Transit to Taholah, along the beach highway to the mouth of the Quinault River. Taholah stages were to be run twice clockwise and once counter-clockwise with service stops between each stage, along the river in town, sheltered by the low dunes.

Taholah 1 & 2 began in thick deep dark mud, with a driver's notice of "Slippery for .39 miles" and another notice of "Very Slippery" last three miles. The first notice was accurate. Possibly a little toward "Very Slippery". A hard right out of the mud took teams onto narrow fast roads. The next 7 miles were busy: Hint--read this as one sentence-- "90 Left. 90 Right. Right over crest. Left over crest. Easy Right over crest. Left over crest off-camber. Road drops into Left (double caution). Right over crest (double caution). Hard Left (caution, stump on exit) into blind Left over crest. Right over crest into sharp dip (double caution, tree on exit). Left over crest (double caution). Right over crest off-camber, road drops. Narrow and soft, exposure both sides. Left over crest (caution). Right over crest (stump on exit). Downhill easy Right, stump in apex." A brief .8-mile straight into 90 Right at Spectator, then "slick" to finish. This main line was good gravel with some wet clay showing through; fast but slippery. To keep speeds down and add a bit more technical nature to an already twisty stage, barricades were set up as chicanes, with stiff time penalties for hitting a barricade; first gear, nearly stopped, then up through the gears. "Right over crest (double caution). Road drops, Left over crest. Over crest into easy Left. Over crest into 90 Left". Flying Finish. Whew!

Now that you are short of breath from reading "over crest", the rally will do it one more time, only faster. Trading places for most of the rally, Cavett/Dillon were quickes on T1, Hintz/Hintz fastest on T2.

Taholah 1 & 2 claimed two cars, to be left in the stage until after Taholah Reverse. Fling-Pu Racing Mazda pickup truck found one of the "in apex" objects and removed a bit of bark—the "object" removed the right front corner of the truck, center of grille to corner of windshield, gone. The crew was a bit confused and amazed, but OK. The second casualty was the bright Orange Impreza of Deborah Blanchard and Tina Warner, out with mechanical problems and the car became "a big orange traffic cone" in one of the corners for the next run. Jamie "Subie-Gal" Thomas and Matt Gauger lost an inter-cooler hose on the WRX wagon, went through Service for repair, returned for part of Taholah Reverse, but would be towed back to Service and trailered into Aberdeen to re-start on Sunday.

Sweep's recovery of the Mazda truck and relocation of the Orange Subaru delayed the final running. Advance and Slow Pace ran through in dusk and the incoming coastal drizzle. The rest of the field ran in darkness and rain, only a few minutes later. Dave Hintz and Rick Hintz pulled out the win by nearly half a minute over Gary Cavett and John Dillon this time through the stage.

Sunday morning began with a Tarmac Stage. Blue Slough Road is "Two Lane Blacktop". The Stage is 4.16 miles of rolling shallow rise and fall with most of the crests followed by Left or Right. Spectators were positioned at most of the barricade "chicanes" placed along the route to slow cars down. Tim Patterson and John Allen ran the gauntlet of crests and zigs and zags in 3:31, which calc's out to 70.909mph, including the standing start and the five "nearly stop-and-go" chicanes.

A short Transit through Montesano, then up into the city watershed. Pico Left Stage is 9.42 miles and begins downhill in the open, with brilliant sun on the windshield, into a tight Left in the black hole of the trees. Down further into the small canyon with a medium Left, tightens, over "slick wood plank bridge". Then a sharp Right uphill to start the roller coaster ride again. Abundant tight corners, over-crests, and exposures fill the stage. "(Caution), easy Left, tightens at blind crest into (caution) easy Right over crest, road drops, into (caution) easy left over crest into easy Right". All of this within .11 mile. Dave and Rick Hintz would again post the fastest time, followed seven seconds later by Patterson and Allen.

Subie-Gal's WRX suffered mechanical woes and was towed out, engine at idle. Several cars "collected foliage" and a few lost time in the process. A quick Service Break in Montesano, then the return to Pico Right.

Pico Right Stage has a completely different feel, over the same roads, in reverse direction. Times are, for the most part, slower this direction. Exceptions in the top ten are identical times for Bob Trinder/Adam Trinder (RHD '95 Subaru WRX, Open class) and also for Gabe VonAhlefeld/Jody Olson ('90 Subaru Legacy LS, Open class). Service again, then off to Brooklyn and Smith Creek county roads.

Brooklyn West starts uphill on loose gravel, quickly gains speed and elevation. Exposures, double- and triple-cautions, including "90 Right, road narrows". Recent logging has created a panoramic open viewing area for spectators, covering nearly a mile of the stage. This will be a crowded spot for the next 10 to 15 years, until the new growth obscures the view again. The Hintz WRX covered the 6.94-mile stage in 7:01 (59.345 mph) followed by Cavett. Service at the Brooklyn Grange, then on to Smith Creek.

Smith Creek West is 6.56 miles, beginning with a steady climb for the first mile, then along a narrow ridgeline and into a steep downhill into double caution 90 Right into 90 Left. With about a mile to the finish the high-speed crest is defined by a series of barricades, where it is best to stay in the middle of the road.

Smith Creek East is a quick turnaround and is only slightly shorter at 6.37 miles with times 10- to 15-seconds faster. Hintz and Cavett traded top times for Smith Creek: 5:43 vs. 5:44 and 5:34 vs. 5:30 (69.49 mph, the fastest of the gravel stages). Another Service at the Grange, then the final stage.

Brooklyn East is 6.97 miles and parts are very fast, earning it the reputation as one of the best stages in the country. Gary Cavett's 7:02 (59.46mph) is not a record but is top time of the day. Hintz's WRX lost a rear differential (now 2WD) then one front axle, then the other front axle (now no wheel drive) and coasted through Flying Finish with a sufficient lead to hold down second place for the day.

Cavett and Dillon towed the Hintz Brothers to the finish for a split on the weekend, with the Hintz's '02 Subaru WRX taking Saturday's event and Cavett/Dillon '95 Subaru Impreza taking Sunday. First in G2 for both days were Nate Tennis and Amity Trowbridge in the '73 Saab 99 EMS. First in PGT both days were Mike Goodwin and Debbie Wenzara in the '88 Mazda 323GTX. First G5 Saturday went to Doug Heredos and Dan Brown in the '82 Mazda RX7, followed on Sunday by Rick Schmeling and Richard Kasten in the '87 Mazda RX7. First Production class on Saturday went to Steve Greer and Kelly Greer in the '95 Impreza; Sunday went to Bruce Tabor and Janice Tabor in the '91 Sentra SE-R.

Attrition was light for a North West rally: 37 started Saturday, 32 finished; 34 started Sunday and 32 finished.

Club News

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Puget Sound-area TSD

NW Stage events

Canada TSD events

Rainier Auto Sports Club will meet this coming Monday, March 14 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: Raindrop plans, with appropriate arm twisting. Jerry says he's got all the workers he needs for Nor'Wester. But you can ask...

Discussion of 2005 membership card format may be contentious. Mike Jones took what he knows about the CP signs with him to Mariners Training Camp.

Novices to the Friday Niter series might ask some questions.

2005 Board Members:

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

Contributions and paid/unpaid ad eagerly received at 2108 NE 12th. St., Renton, WA 98056 or e-mail: