Thursday, August 16, 2012

New England Forest Rally


The Nowicki/Brandt Rally team treated the New England Forest Rally (NEFR) as an extension of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) in June.  With a long “service” between events, the 1980 Mitsubishi Plymouth Fire Arrow was set to go in similar specification for both events, with a few minor tweaks and improvements to help reliability and confidence on the stages.  Some of these “improvements” did nothing to insure confidence – such as the new starter that wouldn’t start the car 30% of the time.  What is it with re-build quality these days?  This is the second starter that we have had issues with, this one being completely unreliable and requiring parking on downhill sections waiting to start, or even getting a push out of the delayed start at a control! With OEM starters non-existent for the car, we have to find another source for the next event.  It was quite nerve wracking to play roulette with the starter key.  Nonetheless, we completed the rally, or rallies as it actually is since we entered the regional competition which split the full distance into separate events, finishing THIRD in class (Group 2) both Friday and Saturday.  Not bad for a fossil car, and dealing with a few minor distractions along the way.
First distraction was a low hanging header pipe that hit a rock and crushed one of the four downtubes nearly shut, and turned the 2.6 liter engine into an anemic 3 cylinder unit with 5 stage miles to go in Friday’s competition.  We were fortunate, as service was open for the evening, with no time limit placed on regional competitors.  Three hours of volunteer cutting, fabricating and welding a repair on the vintage header, and we were good to go for the Saturday event!  My special thanks to all who helped directly and in-directly with this repair, and allowed me to make the beer run!  Much thanks to my crew and supporters, Ken, Jim, Mason, and for the super welding support and get it done attitude, Jesse Lewis from Exhale Performance Engineering and his support group.  The service area was a pretty cool setup, as multiple teams that were nearby all worked together and shared equipment and tools to get everyone back on the road.  That was a highlight of the event, experiencing the team approach of multiple competitors!

Back to the rally.  Roads were great with the exception of the huge rocks to deal with in a few areas, especially the one that got our right front four miles from the stage finish on the second day.  We didn’t lose too much time but couldn’t make left hand turns at speed.   Tire changed in transit we were good to go to the end, with just fuel and minimal checks along the way.  We are happy with our third place finishes, and with Jim Brandt in the co-driver seat, we had a great run considering we didn’t get to to the reconnaissance due to a Delta issue getting him to Sunday River a day late.  Fortunately we were only a dollar short but made that up with some DMACK Rally Tyres coin from the US distributor Greasecar, and some Hawk brakes contingency!  Thanks Guys!

So with three rallies down, and three finishes, we have hit all the goals for this year.  Get back on the stages, be reliable, be quick and tidy with the driving, and finish in the top 3 in class.   Not sure what is next. Stay tuned.