November 19 & 20, 2005. Cache Creek to Clearwater, British Columbia. The West Coast Rally Association presented the 2005 Totem Rally. Totem is Round 7 of the 2005 BC TSD Championship and Round 4 of the Pacific Coast Challenge, both very, very close in points and Totem may be the deciding factor.
Tech Inspection and Registration went smoothly at the Bear's Claw Inn in Cache Creek. Most of the 26 entrants arrived Friday night (rather than Saturday), giving more time for rest, camaraderie, and good natured-ribbing of old friends and Co-Organizers Paul Westwick and Tony Latham, and their five checkpoint crews (including myself and Steve Brown).
Saturday morning seemed colder, but there was still no snow in town. This would change.
"Battle Creek" Regularity covered 20.48km; uphill from the CG, crested a ridge and dropped into a small valley, then narrowed with a couple of twists. Turning onto Cache Creek-Deadman Road, the speeds increase to 65, including the switchbacks down to the "Yawning Pit of Death", with a CP at the entrance, and photo ops through the big sweeping corners.
A short transit east on Highway 1 replaced an impassable section. When you wish for snow, sometimes you get more than you want.
"Red Lake" Regularity (49.03km) began with sharp lefts and rights up Sabiston Creek Rd, becoming hairpin after hairpin on a steep ascent into the clouds. Visibility, fresh snow, sharp corners and 53km/h CAST challenged all teams, including the workers. At 5km, entering a hairpin, Steve commented we were more comfortable working than competing in the whiteout. Our checkpoint at 10.97km was downhill, easy left, into a long hard right. The "line" through our corner was "different" for just about all of the AWD cars except the BMW 325ix of Eric Horst and Steve Willey. At only 3late, they had the best time, and best driving line. Eric's smooth driving, with Steve tweaking the computer, would lead to a First Place finish for Day One.
Sabiston Creek Rd dropped steadily to meet Copper Creek Rd and another CP. A long hairpin right marked the twisting steep hillclimb to Red Lake. "Caution: Exp R for 1.6km" warned the drivers of the danger. Car 1's (Lee and Rod Sorenson) radio call warned Car 2 "not to follow his tracks": off the outside of a corner and down an embankment, completely hidden from traffic. The excursion would require "professional help". Our CP car took the crew and luggage to the nearest motel. Shaken and stirred, but with nary a bruise or scratch, they would return Sunday to recover the car and drive it home!!
Our taxi duties precluded running "Watching Creek" Regularity (67.22km), then the transit into Kamloops. This section has been run both directions, as a nearly 120km TSD.
Radio reports kept us up to the minute on late and missing rally cars, and we rejoined the game for more checkpoints.
The rally went north, for "Louis Creek" Regularity (28.21km). The section began with CAS 65km/h, increased to 70, then down to 55 for houses, and ended at 65 over the last 2km.
At this point it was dark, foggy, snow on the road, "limited" visibility. It would get worse. "Johnson Lake" Regularity (38.60km) climbed into the clouds at 50km/h. Just over 19km later "Hairpin R, Caution! Blind entrance" started the descent through "Hairpin L" "Hairpin R" "Hairpin L" "Hairpin R" to Adams Lake. This downhill is scenic in daylight. Perhaps the foggy whiteout was best, with no view of the major exposures.
"Dunn Lake" Regularity ran north 58.47km, and was smooth and relatively straight at 70km/h, interrupted by a twisty little section through an avalanche zone, then briskly toward Clearwater. But wait! Dropping to 50. These hairpins were not in the route book – surprise!! Then 72km/h reaching the Wells Gray Inn and a welcomed finish of Day One, showing First as Horst / Willey, Second as RJ and Ren Carrol (son/father), and Third as Jason Webster / Brandon Harer.
Day Two began climbing west on "Camp 2" Regularity, 40.41km in the snow. The first cars were overdue at our CP, then all at once: Car 2 at 62-late, Car 3 at 4-late, and Car 4 at 7-early? The mystery was solved, by a slow-moving lowboy, followed very closely by a frustrated STi, also unable to pass. Leaving our control, we found a WRX wagon less than 50 meters away, facing traffic, in the snow bank. A quick tug and we added "Sweep" duties to our rally résumé. Sweep and CP duties completed, we chased the rally through the course.
Catching the last competitor on the road, we followed, slowly at times, with no place to pass until late in the regularity, then quickly zeroed the odo at Canimred Creek Bridge. We sprinted past nearly all the cars waiting out their pause, re-zeroed and sped to our CP, 30km into the 46.43km "Bowers Lake" Regularity. We were late. Rallymaster Paul Westwick set up our CP and timed the first cars. We caught Gary Webb and John Kisela in Car 7. Gary found a wide spot and pulled off in the deep snow to let us pass, with no harm to their time. We eventually found the Rallymaster, traded parking spots, did a tag-team switch of CP logs and watched as he disappeared in a cloud of powder snow, before the next car. From this point out, the route turned left onto Mahood Lake Rd and wound past lakes to end at Hathaway Lake and pavement.
Transit into 100 Mile House for fuel and refreshments. Checkpoint crews were on their own to shortcut the course, leap-frogging ahead of the rally. Our CP location at 7.68km into "Bonaparte Lake" required driving reverse course to beat the first car. The remaining CP cars had a leisurely drive to their locations.
"Bonaparte Lake" (61.73km) began smooth, and CAS 68 was apparently mild, as we logged the first 12 cars with nine 0s, two 1s, and one 3. The route turned southwest toward 70 Mile House, then south onto Boule Young Lake Forest Service Rd, to a left on Egan Bonaparte FSR running east again.
A short transit led to "Loon Lake" Regularity Beginning with 72km/h nearly due west, slowing to 62, with big exposure on left. Hairpin Left and straightening out for 72 again until we entered civilization at the east end of Loon Lake.
The 51km Transit into Cache Creek, for dinner and awards.
Having an excellent Day Two, the Carrolls', from nearby Kamloops, took First Overall/Unlimited away from Eric Horst and Steve Willey; scoring of 47 versus 49. The win clinched a First Place for the Carrolls in the 2005 BC TSD Championship. First Paper went to Steve Perret and Kathryn Hansen, to clinch First Place in the Pacific Coast Challenge series.
Totem covered 763.11km, just less than 474 miles, in 15-1/2 hours. Since its move to November, Totem has been described as "winter roads, summer ditches", a "must" on any brisk rallyists' calendar.
For those of us that love cold, snow and challenging rallying, the season begins in November just when others think it is ending. November brings us the Totem Rally, held in the British Columbia interior where the population is sparse and winter is a real season. Totem is an excellent two-day event that has conditions that can challenge the driver and navigator equally. In recent years the weather has been mild making Totem conditions a bit sedate; this year winter came on time and stuck around.
The route took us from Cache Creek to Clearwater Saturday, and back on Sunday. Rallymaster Paul Westwick had to reroute around several impassable sections due to snow, and continued snow meant that even the night before changes were made for roads that were unusable. Even with changes we found plenty of snow, ice and roads to write home about.
Rainier contestants included Jeff McMillen and Marvin Crippen in the 2002 Subaru WRX trying for their third PCC Series trophy. Stephen Willey and I took the trusty BMW 325iX up north to break our Totem jinx and grab the elusive first overall trophy.
The field was filled with the usual assortment of tough competitors; it was looking to be a battle for the top spots as well as roughness jockeying for class trophies.
However, trouble started right off for Satch Carlson and Russ Kraushaar who woke up with a clogged hard fuel line on their 1969 Saab. They improvised a take-up hose that ran out of the fuel filler cap, was duct taped to the roof, entered the hood and connected directly to the fuel pump. This extra effort caused them to start the first section three minutes late and thus out of the competitive running.
Another disappointing retirement came early on Saturday when consistent performers and regular winners Lee and Rod Sorenson misread the lay of the road and jumped their Subaru quite a distance off the road down a steep snow-covered ravine. Mistakes from the Sorensons are rare so it was a surprise that another contender was out early. The happy ending to this story is that neither of them was hurt. After leaving the car overnight and returning with a tow truck, the car was extracted. They were able to drive it back home to California.
Saturday afternoon featured sections with panrubbing deep snow and other mouth-watering bits but the most memorable section of the rally came Saturday evening after dark. It was called Johnson Creek, a road Paul has tried to use several times but always found impassable. It is a winding hillclimb that starts snowy and gets snowier before leveling off at the top and coming back down the other side. It's a challenge to maintain speed in normal conditions but the complication this year was fog: dense and white. The lack of contrast between white road, white shoulders and white air made the modest speed seem unattainable. I concentrated and worked harder on driving than I think I ever have. My experience has been that somebody always nails the tough sections and thus defeat awaits those that don't try 110%. The first checkpoint was 12 km up the climb pretty near the top and I was unhappy to have hit it 9 seconds late. Later I learned I had nailed it! Eventual winner RJ Carroll lost only 12 seconds and smooth driver Martin Chung lost 18 so the heat was close. Beyond us three maniacs, the section spread everybody out with points being amassed by all. Jeff McMillen fared better than most with a 45 second penalty but that was a big hit that foiled their chance at a top spot.
Unfortunately, in all the excitement of the fog, my normally fastidious navigator missed a speed change and I plowed ahead in Johnson Creek slightly too fast. This mistake rewarded us with a 14 for being early at the next checkpoint. This doubled our score for day one and set the tone for day two.
Sunday was also complicated by more last minute route changes to allow for conditions. A few injured cars retired and headed home. Local logging operations also dogged many early running cars on the first Sunday section. A wide-load all-wheel-drive semi-truck headed up our section about 12 minutes before the first car. We prayed it would get a head start but it didn't get enough. Steve and I (car #4) encountered both car #2 and car #3 behind the rig about 10 kilometers into the section. Unfortunately the road was narrow and no passing opportunities appeared so we all drove together past a checkpoint and took penalties.
Unlike Saturday, in all the excitement of the truck Steve keyed in an extra speed change rather than omitting one so after passing the truck we set about making up time at the wrong speed. Confusion was rampant in our car for a bit but Steve worked it all back out and luck fell our way in not costing us serious points at the following control.
We also enjoyed some more deep powder snow on Sunday and many 'offs' were reported from the middle of the pack. Nothing serious though we did watch car #9 pull tree branches from their suspension and remove broken fog lights at one break.
In the end Steve and I lost first overall by only two seconds, a disappointment to be sure, but given the challenges to ourselves and the poor luck of those who retired we were grateful to end up so well. Jeff and Marvin were severely bruised by the fog and finished up by the truck so they were also let down, finishing sixth overall. Of 26 starters 22 finished and all drove home. Honorable mention goes to Rainier members Ron Sorem and Steve Brown who made the trek north as workers, rounding out a meager staff and performing invaluable service to a great event.
I consider this our warmup for the granddaddy of the season, Thunderbird Rally in February. We won't make the same mistakes there and look forward to a perfect game and that elusive BC winter rally win.
Subaru has lost control of some budgets but is still enthusiastic and will do what they can.
Hopefully this will include a Sunday reception at Kirkland Subaru and a nice dealer finish in Anchorage like 2004.
Nothing tickles the Editor like a series that has a "Pencil and Paper" team win. With a total of 32 points, Chuckanut Sports Car Club's Steve Perret and Kathryn Hansen won with 32 points. 2004 didn't repeat- the Unlimited team from RASC of Jeff McMillen and Marvin Crippen were second with 27. Not sure how they got points for No Alibi while working it, but sounds fair to me.
Top Novices in 2005 were Rainier Auto Sports Club members Bruce and Jeanette Weber, who only missed the April and August events, of the 10 monthly events. Roger Greene only went to five, but got the 2nd place trophy. Further down the results is Frank Garcia. The Lewellen clan: Duane, Carol, and Evan appear in the SOP results.
WHO: RASC members, friends, families.
WHAT: A Christmas party. Videos, music, food, and drink. A chance to swap lies, rally stories, obsolete parts, maybe a battery, and favorite recipes.
WHEN: Sunday December 11, 4 pm 'till 8 pm
WHERE: Dan & Louise Comden, 20327 42nd Ave NE in Lake Forest Park (see web links)
WHAT ABOUT FOOD & DRINK?: RASC is sponsoring munchies, turkey, salad, beer, wine, pop & such. Bring anything special you'd like to drink or share, or just show up! Click below for a map to help get there from I-5 or Bothell Way. The Comden abode is the yellow pin near the top...
Or try this one for a colorful invitation, with more maps & instructions - http://www.comdens.com/RASC/rasc-holiday2005.swf
Unfortunately the motion to retain the services of the previous Treasurer and Secretary did not pass ... so there will be some shuffling around going on.
We had 10 paper ballots at the meeting and 6 electronic ballots filed in the last two weeks. It seems like the electronic voting was popular, baring any negative feedback I suspect it will return for the elections next year.
The "RASC Christmas Party and 2006 Board Member Introduction" supercedes the
monthly meeting. It's this Sunday at
Dan and Louise Comden's house
20327 42nd Ave. NE
Lake Forest Park.
The Wishbone Alley Gazette is published for the members and friends of Rainier Auto Sports Club. Subscription price is $10 per year.