Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Well, THAT should explain the weekend!

This event and I have a thing going. In '04 Dennis Martin and I rolled off the mountainside. In '06, Matthew Johnson and I won PGT and finished 5th overall....and this year? Well, read on.

It was a character building weekend. The intrepid George Beckerman (another vintage rallyist....not the cars...the rallyist!) stopped by my home on Sunday before the event to pick up my "stuff" and head to Hillsboro, OR (a suburb of Portland) where this year's edition of the Oregon Trail Performance Rally was to be held. He arrived Wednesday night and checked in to our hotel and everything was just going swimmingly. Curt Faigle from the 100AW committee and I jumped on our Southwest Airlines flight the next morning and got into PDX right on schedule Thursday afternoon. Justin got to his hotel at the airport (because it was right down near where registration and tech were going to be the next morning) about midnight. All was in place.

Friday morning we went through scrutineering and got all our other paperwork taken care of and headed out to Portland International Raceway where the organizers run some short "public relations" stages from 3:00 to 9:00 or so. It was fun, but not real rallying.

And that's where the problems began...let me start the list!

1. Our super-duper Peltor Communications system failed. Would not work. Period. We borrowed a portable version from ACP's co-driver, Marc Goldfarb for the duration of the event.

2. We had to run the PIR racetrack on worn out gravel tires, 'cuz it didn't make much sense to buy $1000 worth of tires for 2 miles of racing....but just about everybody else had some from somewhere. Even at that, Justin's track experience kept us in the hunt losing only about 6 seconds on those stages.

3. L3+ rocks outside. We got past that, but in the next R3, we clipped a rock and tore a lot of the right rear off the car. Body work, bumper cover and bent the rear control arm. Which meant we had to limp around to the FTC and get a bad time....AND....figure out a way to fix it in 35 minutes before we ran two more stages. Thanks to the team of Mennig and Schnell (local rallyists with big hearts and GREAT air tools, and Jonathon Bottoms who had the parts, we got it all patched up for the last two stages....which actually went very well. At least something went well!

4. By the second stage on Saturday we had jumped a little hard into a ditch on the left coming out of a right hander and caused something in the transmission to make it take away 2nd gear. Now THAT's annoying. We cam into service at the Vernonia School where George (the aforementioned George) and Lew Bailen (my old friend from the 100AW committee who'd moved to the PNW to be nears his daughters and thier families) were awaiting an easy service. Mostly all we could do was change the tranny fluid and hope.

5. Driving compromised by the missing 2nd gear, we drove quite well on several more stages until 3rd gear disappeared....than shortly 4th gear. We drove most of a 17 mile stage on 1st and 5th gear alone! UGLY! Cost us about 8 minutes we guess. We had a spare transmission, but no skills to get it swapped......hmmmm

6. Upon exiting that last stage and facing a 30 miles transit back to Hillsboro, we were fairly sure the 5th gear would take us that far. WRONG! We hardly got out of the FTC before the car pretty well just refused to travel any further. The 00 car of Bruce Davis and Jimmy Brandt agreed to two us back to Hillsboro (allowed) so we could check into the last control of the day and get to work on the car. 50mph up US26 and something shifts in the transmission and all the wheels on the Subie lock up for a few feet.....then let go. We decide to put the car on the trailer (George is by now following us back to Hillsboro). I get into text messaging with Matthew (Johnson, PGT God and knower of everything Subaru/PGT) and ask if he and his crew would like a little practice on a tranny Saturday night. True to Matthews unbridled enthusiasm he texted me back "bring it on!".

7. Thinking we're "just" swapping a tranny, we pulled into the Holiday Inn Express garage (which looked like a full rally prep shop.....4 cars on jackstands, rock/rap music rupturing the concrete and a dozen guys buzzing around Matthew's car (trans went on that one too), Otis Dimiter's car, Pat Moro's car and Matt Iorio's car. A quick inspection reveals the little highway adventure has shattered three of the four drive shafts and Otis's crew jumps in. Unbelievably 3 1/2 hours later the car drives out ready to go again Sunday morning. THANK YOU MATTHEW, JOHN, OTIS, JEREMY, and ANY GUYS WHO'S LEGS WERE STICKING OUT FROM UNDER THE CAR WHO'S NAMES I DO NOT KNOW. YOU WERE INCREDIBLE!

8. There's a little difference between the transmission we removed and the one we replaced it with. The first box had "diffs" slip differentials front to rear and in front. This one was a stock box with open diffs there. The limited slip Kaaz diff was still in the rear, but as we transited to the first stage (35 miles) it was making some very "screaming" noises. So driving this car on Sunday was going to be a lot different than driving it Friday or Saturday.

9. We ALMOST ran one full clean stage....but Justin and I got confused at a "T" intersection and he went left when we wanted to go right. Postings on indicate we were not alone in that silliness. We ran VERY well on that stage...things were looking up and we were hoping to make a run at Subiegal Janie Thomas and Pat Moro who was only 4 seconds ahead of her.

10. R3+ into L4. Justin got a little too high on the crown in the L4, and it was over in a flash. Full chat in 3rd gear we slid off sideways into a bank fortunately impacting evenly from the front bumper to the missing rear bumper (on my side, of course), and laying on the co-driver's side. We had seen Mike Goodwin in EXACTLY this position yesterday....including the turbo fire that ensued. We emptied two extinguishers efficiently on the turbo trying to cool it so it would not keep igniting the oil that was dripping on it....and ran out. THANK YOU Kyle Sarasin for stopping and lending us did the trick and we prevented a red cross situation AND a completely lost car.

11. Sweep got us turned over. We replaced the flat right front tire and got towed out to Timber Junction on Rt. 26 where George and Lew were awaiting us. We had no real reason to go back to Hillsboro, so we decided to head to Lew's beautiful estate in Camas Washington (just across the river from Portland) where we were going to spend the night. Burgers and beers were in order. The actual body damage was over-comeable. a couple of doors, a rear bumper cover and some juscious tapping/bondo/and vinyl and we were good to go for Olympus. Then Justin looked under the hood. The wiring harness looked like burned spaghetti....along with some tubular noodles that used to be hoses. The turbo fire had taken it's toll.

So Lew took Justin to the airport (he left at midnight to work Monday) and the rest of us headed for bed. George (CHANGE OF PLANS, GEORGE) left the next morning and we'll see everybody at STPR in June.

We were but one of the sad tales of the weekend. It appears fully 50% of the starters failed to finish. The roads were incredible. I'm really going to miss running Olympus....I've never had the pleasure.

Nuthin' you can say, but "that's racin'."

You can go see the Driver's point of view here.