Monday, February 19, 2007

36th T-Bird Rally, Feb 17-18 2007

The 36th sort-of-annual T-Bird (actually the 50'th anniversary of T-Bird #1...a few years in hiatus I guess) was my 2nd T-Bird and Stephen's 3rd. I had to miss last year on account of an awesome honeymoon trip to New Zealand. ;)

All cars are welcome at T-Bird.

We competed as part of 6 car team called..........wait for it..........Team eis munky!!

The team consisted of:

  • us in Stephen's 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX wagon (calculator class).
  • Peter and Tim Ryce in a 1988 Mazda 323 GTX (unlimited).
  • Gil Stuart and Briane Carriere in a 1967 Volvo GT123 (historic).
  • Rob and Lucille Anderson in a 2006 Subaru Impreza STi (novice).
  • Gord Ryall and Jen Daly in a 1991 Subaru Legacy (calculator).
  • Alan and Emma Perry in a 1997 Audi A4 (paper)
This T-Bird was a decidedly less snowy affair than the 2005 version. Less snowy == more muddy this time of year. Some of the mud was so bad that the final regularity of day 2 had to be cancelled!

As usual, T-Bird started off in Merritt under the glowing pink neon trim of the Best Western motel. The 1st regularity of day 1 passed without incident. We were car 25 so I had plenty of time for calcs before the start of the reg. We ended up zeroing three checkpoints in a row only to be 10 late on the final checkpoint. Reg 2 was also successful...we scored just 12 points and had some fun hydroplaning across potentially car-swallowing puddles. By the time we arrived at Rally HQ in Vernon, we only had 47 points on the day; good enough for 17th out of 48 cars.

After grabbing dinner at HQ and getting the results, we headed off to our 'hotel' for the night. For a change, we happened to be staying at the nicest rally hotel ever: Chez Michael and Joan in nearby Coldwater. Heating, hot water, no domestic disputes at 2 AM, good rates (free!) and excellent company! What more could you ask for?

Day 2 started out with some mud, then some snow and then some cancelling due to mud. We were a little shocked in reg 1 to find car 26 right on our tail about halfway in. I was pretty sure we were on time and I was right for a change...they dropped back after awhile but not without getting a 52-early on a checkpoint. Ouch.

The second reg of the day ended up producing what has arguably been one of the most butt-clenching moments of our rally careers to date. We were approaching an acute left at km 23.84. It was nice, wide and flat. Stephen could see it coming and was well prepared (especially after the recent ice-racing days at Burns Lake). To make things even more perfect, there was a checkpoint at the turn and we were only 2 late. Anyhow, back to the butt-clenching...

Stephen gave the car a little flick to the right and turned into the corner. The car started oversteer slightly and Stephen was maintaining a perfect drift around the apex.


Unfortunately, there were 24 cars before us to polish up the road and we started to fishtail instead of straightening out nice and smooth.

As we started heading for the snowbank, car drifting forwards and to the left (no more rotating at this point), we saw a rather large tree approaching from the left. Regardless of how slow we were moving, the car is no match for a tree. Even with the pre-damaged special rally bumper Stephen keeps installing every rally, this tree would have laughed at the bumper had any altercation between the two arisen. We just kept coasting with no traction across the glass-like road. Snowbank approaching, tree right behind it. The tree was now dead centre in front of the car and we were still heading on a trajectory about 45 degrees left of straight forward. Getting closer. Tree getting bigger. Not sure we're going to miss it. Poof! Snow everywhere! No crunching noise. No crunching noise? Yay!! Here's how close we came:

After we let our sphincters unwind for a couple seconds, we sprang into action. I ran back to the corner to put out our triangle (didn't want anyone trying to park in the same spot) and Stephen grabbed our spiked floor-mats to see if they could give us enough traction to get off the bank. Sadly, we were quite a bit 'off' and would need a pull. Car 26 went by as we were trying to extricate ourselves with the mats we were almost ready with the but car 27 was kind enough to stop and let us hook up the tow rope to get us out of there.

Credit to Warwick Patterson of Formula Photographic for the photos. All photos of the 'off' are copyright Formula Photographic.

Unfortunately, we tied up the road for a minute caused a bit of a log-jam for a few cars behind us. The next checkpoint about 4 km down the road saw us 260 late. Better late than never.

Here is the T-Bird thread from
NASIOC that also discusses the events of the day.

By the way, did I say mud?

After 2 days of rallying, we finished with 331 points (most from the drift-gone-bad) for 25th place out of 48 cars. Sadly, our team effort did not do so well. Out of 6 team entries, we ended up last on account of a DNF or two. You have to finish first to finish first.

We didn't come away empty-handed though! Awards were given out for the 2006 year and Stephen and I were awarded 2nd place driver/co-driver in the 2006 BC TSD championship for calculator class.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Time to catch up...2006

Almost caught up now...2006 was a less busy year for rallying due to fewer rallies and a minor scheduling conflict (wedding). Here are the deets:

Coast to Coast, April 29-30, 2006. Coast to Coast is always an adventure...whether it's domestic disputes outside your motel window after last call or driving over another team's obviously surplus muffler, this event produces memories. 2006 was no different.

I had high expectations of myself coming into this rally as it was my first navigating with the aid of a precision odometer. We borrowed the odo from a friend
(thanks Brian!) as I was a still a little skeptical about dropping $300 on a box that looked like a Radio Shack kit (sorry Helius). Here's Stephen getting it all wired up:

The Helius odo has 1 meter precision and other nifty features like freeze and bump to help maintain accuracy over long regs.

C2C covered over 700 km this year. Day 1 took us from Port Alberni to Nitinaht and back. There were a few navigational errors (even during the odo check before the 1st reg) on the day but we managed to come out with only 121 points over 35 checkpoints. Strangely enough, the most tense moment of the day was when the fancy odo lost power about 2 minutes before the start of reg #1. We were able to make a very quick fix to get it up and running before the reg but it was close. Day 2 was spent going in all directions in the general area around Port Alberni. We improved on day one with a score of 66. We ended up with 187 points total to capture 3rd in calculator class and 7th overall out of 14 teams.

If anyone is wondering if their car would be good enough for TSD rallying...

Heart of Darkness, May 13-14, 2006. Two short weeks later we were back at it again with the HoD Hope-Merritt-Hope all-nighter. I've lost my route book so I don't really have much to report other than I must have made more than 1 heinous navigational error because we ended up with 571 points for 6th in our class (out of 7) and 8th overall (out of 14). Sorry, no pix for this one.

Gold Digger, August 26-27, 2006. GD moved back to it's original locale of Pemberton this year. Again, no log book can be found but the event was memorable enough by itself. The short story is, we had our best event ever. After the initial results were in, we were 1st overall! Unfortunately, one checkpoint was out of position and the checkpointers were apparently not recording things very accurately. Most cars were 33 late for this checkpoint and we were 27 early. If you do the math, with the car in front of us being that late, us being that early and starting a minute behind the car in front of us, we would have been right on their bumper but we were sure that we never saw another car during any of the regs. That checkpoint got tossed out and resulted in a 33 point improvement for 2nd place and a 27 point improvement for 1st...which meant we had now swapped spots as we were less than 6 points apart before the correction.

Oh well, victory was sweet while it lasted. We didn't even get to keep hold of 1st in our class either as the team that won was also a calculator team. At least we beat all of the unlimited teams.

Midnight...cancelled. Boo.

Totem, November 18-19, 2006. Snow rallies are my favourite and Totem is one of the reasons why. Two days of fun in the car; sliding around on the snow/ice. Even the hotel in Williams Lake was nice. Teams come from far and wide for this one. Stephen and I managed a very respectable 69 points for 11th overall (out of 25) and 3rd in our class (out of 6). We obviously had no offs to tell about at this event. We did have an ominous start though...right before we were about to start on the 1st reg of the day, a truck + horse trailer pulled up and started chatting with another car parked further up the road. The truck stayed and chatted while blocking the road until 15 s after our scheduled start time! We weren't very impressed with the other team to say the least. Oh well, that was our worst hiccup of the day so we can't complain to much.

Totem was also the debut of our fabulous new window name bars!!

Here we are lined up ready to go on day 2.

Post's a good day when it's hard to see the colour of the car from behind.