|Photo Courtesy and copyright by Jason Swoboda|
The event, run on the longest daylight day of the year, was as nearly perfect a rally as one could hope for (other than one position out of winning) in the sense there were no "gotcha" or scary moments during the 75 stage mile NASA event. Some may say, "you are not going fast enough then". I say, "you are right". Well, some of the time. Most stages we set some pretty representative times for the car's potential, without tripping over ourselves, and a few early on, well, I might as well have been in bed sleeping. Early on the driver had to figure out the welded diff in the dirt, what the hell rallying was all about again since January, and listen to Benjamin Slocum esq. call the shots quite differently than I was accustomed to. First off, this was NOT a pace note rally. So called blind, the route book contained about 30 instructions per *average* 8 or 9 mile stage. Significantly less than a noted rally, significantly more than an old school blind rally. Hmmmm. And what the hell is a "medium" left when I am accustomed to numbers? So it took some time to figure it out. And figure it out we did.
During the last half of the event, the Nowicki/Slocum Rally Team picked up the wick, and started posting some respectable stage times. Although not first, since that was rarified air of a BMW M3 that pulled 4 or so minutes on the 2wd field, we were pretty much second quick at the end of the event. The BMW had some mechanical issues that dropped it to third at the end, so the race ended up being between the Huebbe Brothers, John and Mark in their super cool souped up Beetle and ourselves trying to make up the deficit we allowed at the front end of the event. Not quite good enough for the win, but we fought best we could, and came away somewhat satisfied with second place.
Technically, the car ran flawlessly, save for a cracked exhaust connector that nearly produced noxious fumes for the crew, and surely slowed the performance a bit. Otherwise, one quart of $2.00 20w50 Danica Patrick endorsed Peak motor oil and some tape on the left front tire to protect a slice in the tire, and we were laughing all the way. The rally's 12 stages were pretty darn quick, averaging us 53.6 mph for the entire event. Doesn't sound like much, eh, but from a standing start in soggy dirt and sand with maybe 120 horsepower, that is pretty darn tootin. Some sections of the event were pretty darn scary, nearly 100 mph on a long one mile plus straight with little room to the left or right between the bushes, but we made it safe and sound, and not a single scratch on the car. A lighter weight car by 80 lbs by removing the US spec big bertha bumpers allowed for better performance, mostly in the bumpy sections of the roads used for stages. Some of these were pretty bad, old school even, with lots of ruts and water splashes, just like the Safari or Ivory Coast, where Mitsubishi Lancers had their day in glory. Sorry Jodinger, we could only get second place, and will aim higher at the next event, later in the fall.