Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lots of car parts!

Oergon Trail '08 should go down as the rally of the decade.....for attrition! Cars littered the hillsides of rural Oregon all day Saturday and Sunday. After running a handful of Mickey Mouse stages at Portland International Raceway Friday night and yet another in Hillsboro Saturday morning, we went out west to run some proper stages.

In the first 10 miler we saw 5 sets of triangles and drivers and co-drivers with OK signs. But no cars. The cars were all so far down the mountains they weren't visible at road level! Then into service at the Vernonia School and back out to a nice 16 miler....3 more off. In two stages we'd lost over 1/3 of the cars in front of us!

Dmitri drove a fast but cautious rally. Our times (when everybody was running) were in the 13th -15th spot among all the cars running (both National and Regional). We had a real battle going with Dave and Rick Hintz (local NW Rally heroes) for the overall win of the first Regional.
But by the time the day had ended, They'd broken a header and we'd lost a turbo pipe so we both dnf'd! SubieGal Jamie Thomas (I co-drove for her at the rain shortened Wild West in '06) inherited the Regional win in her PGT WRX Wagon. Great drive!

A similar story benefited Pat Moro over the weekend. Piotr Wiktorczyk had rented a PGT Subie from Cascade Autosport (the same guys who'd worked on Dmitri's car between Olympus and here) to challenge Stephan Verdier and Scott Crouch in PGT. Before the sun set Sunday, both Piotr and Stephan had gone off and dnf'd and Moro inherited the PGT win.

But close on his heels all weekend were the husband and wife team of Nate and Brandye Conley. While not setting blistering paces all weekend, their stage times were frequently in the top 10 which left them a position to inherit whatever anyone wanted to give them. Wiktorczyk and Verdier went off late. Add to that Norm LeBlanc flying off on the penultimate stage and Travis Hanson had gone off on Saturday. Jamie Thomas was only running the regionals, so PGT left the Conley's some real opportunities for points. And they took them. AND fifth overall! CONGRATS!

So next on the Hemispheric calendar is Rocky....in Alberta, CA. There are a LOT of cars withdrawing from that event this week!

Oh...and how cool is it that two of the podium cars are Mitsubishi's!!!!!

Off to STPR, but first a little diversion to the UK to see my daughter, Mindy, her husband Chris, and our rally buddies in the West Midlands!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Once more into the brink!!!

So Dmitri left the car with Cascade Autosport near Seattle after Olympus for some well deserved R&R. There I understand she received some gusseting in the rear suspension and a left front wheel that was actually properly located (thus allowing Dmitri to drive in a straight line!). Also she received new knees (rebuilt suspension struts) and had her internals examined (drive train found to be in excellent condition.....a phenomenon the Subaru guys wish they had...Mitsu drive trains are BULLET-PROOF).

So we'll meet at the Holiday Inn Express in Hillsboro, OR Thursday and start to figure out how to keep up with the Hintz Brothers (local regional experts at this) to try to get Dmitri some additional regional points. Chasing National Points with the likes of Block, Pa$trana, Pinker, Foust, Johnson, etc., etc., etc., is not worth the head games it plays on you.

Oregon is one of those irritating events that just eats up days. We have to be at Portland International Raceway (45 minutes from our motels) to run about 7 2/3 miles of stages between 7 and 9PM Friday night. Then we race all day Saturday. Then we race all day Sunday....so we get a lot of miles, but we also use a lot of motel nights. And those of us who live East of Oregon (and who doesn't) most likely will not fly out 'til Monday morning. But that's OK, too, 'cuz the party these guys throw at McMenamin's micro brewery is about the best in the business (although prime rib at Olympus last month was pretty awesome, too!).

Current entry list shows 60 cars entered and we're 22nd on the road....about where we started Olympus. But I'm looking for good things from Dmitri out here. He got real comfortable with the car and me and his driving as we ended up in Pomeroy last month....stage speeds were improving exponentially. And we're seeded in among some friends of ours George Georgakapolous in front and the Conleys right behind, so we're gonna have some good ol' fashioned mountain side racing fun!

Oh. I have a checkered record here. In '04, Dennis Martin and I fell off the mountain (literally)

Then in '06, Matthew Johnson and I won PGT out here.

And last year Justin and I tried a Formula Ford line through a crowned road L4-> that didn't quite work as planned. And that was after ripping off suspension parts and a rear bumper at PIR and then the next day running 15 stage miles with nothing but 5th gear and Matthew's crew and Otis's guys completely rebuilding the car in the basement of the Holiday Inn Express to the sound of many languages and some really esoteric music. The scene reminded me somewhat of Apocalypse Now!