We put the Hurt on Dirt


Idaho Rally 2011.

Smooth | [long version]

I ran the Idaho rally in 2009.  It was a round of the MaxAttack! 2wd rally series, so I had planned on showing up with a new motor, and racing my way into some money.  2 things stopped my high ranking ambitions; 1st, the motor I built (Scotty) spun a rod bearing forcing me to refresh my old motor (Bones), leaving me back with 90 wheel horsepower.  2nd, the road we used  for the final day of the event ended up being FAST, and since we raced it both directions, twice each way, our 5th place turned to 6th as Hurst’s killer Mustang kept setting 1st overall stage times.  Regardless, I had a fun time on good roads.

I missed the Idaho Rally in 2010 due to a conflicting event, but made sure to talk to some competitors and others involved.  Some said they wouldn’t go again, and others had fun, but thought that there was too much focus on the spectators, and not enough on the participants.  Entry fees were relatively high, and transits were long.

2011 is our year to do as many rallies as we can, but I was hesitant to sign up for Idaho.
Way back in April at the first event of the year I was standing around waiting for the final stage of the Olympus Rally (Taholah) to start, and Sean Medcroft said “Walk up the line,and talk to Dick and Marie Rockrohr. They are organizing the Idaho rally this year. trust me, you’ll go after listening to them.”  They addressed some rumors I’d heard, and sold me on the event in just 2 minutes.

Entry fee? – includes pace notes and free recce (a $200 value)
Transits? – 25miles to the start of the stages, then a cloverleaf layout made transit a non issue (how would you like to drive 200 yards from the finish to service, then a mile to the next stage?)
Roads? – only 3 stages run a maximum of twice each direction (I hesitated) Dick said this “You will never  run on roads nicer than these, and as a bonus the average speed should be around 40mph (The average on Taholah was over 60mph, we hit 102mph once, and competitors with actual power were over 120mph)”  A light, lower powered car like mine would have an advantage on tighter roads.

Dustin (driver of the Purple Panda) and I got our entry fee in just before the early deadline, then got to work making sure everything else was good to go.  Dustin needed to put together a motor after overheating issues at Olympus and Oregon killed Bones (and his 100% finish record) and get new Volvo wheels for his trick new struts (matching the upgrade I made before the GRC event).  I needed to do something about tires (for Rumbles the van and Patches the car) and get help with the ring and pinion, which caused our DNF at Oregon.  Thanks to Sean Medcroft for showing me how to set up a new ring and pinion, and for letting Dustin borrow the trailer.  Ken (service chief) and Dustin put together an engine from the pile of parts he’s got, and I tried not to be a bad neighbor while cutting, drilling and welding to put on his new struts with TSS Fab control arms.  Despite our best intentions, preparations went up to the last minute again.

As an added twist, I would be running this event without my usual co-driver Britta.  Don Burress agreed to ride with me once it became clear that the Demon Rally team wouldn’t have their Volkswagen done in time.

my drive out was long and uneventful. I now consider changing a tire on the fully loaded van on deadman’s pass a non-event. Maybe I’m some kind of Rally Robot.

In order to run this event “cheap”, i ended up camping at the organizer’s house with Don and a few other competitors.  Thanks for the hospitality! *and everything else you did to make the event fun! Cheap always ends up being relative, I spent as much on gas as the entry fee!  That was offset by all the free food we got over the weekend, supplied by Larry Miller Subaru, Port of Subs, the Polaris dealership, and the Idaho Rally Group.

Registration and recce went fine, except a recce video i tried making ended up showing nothing but a series of pictures.  a series of pictures of an amazing set of roads. They lived up to the hype. the surface could have taken 50 cars doing 3 passes instead of 20 and 2. They were smooth, varied, and exciting.

The Drivers meeting and start of racing was done in a unique way because of the Non-car competitors (UTVs, ATVs, and Motorcycles).  We had an early meeting, then a long long “transit” to the start of the first stage.  This was so that the ATVs could get dropped off, and wouldn’t be traveling on the HWY.  Idaho has a special permit that lets off road vehicles travel on some roads as they transit to off road areas. If we’d worked this out a little better after reading the Sups, we could have had a relaxed breakfast during transit.  as it worked out on Sunday we ended up going back to the camp to grab the camera equipment and my driving suit.

Harris creek uphill.
The first stage was a treat. After spending ~30mins talking to all the competitors, the first car took off. We were ninth on the road and because of the small entry, we all got 2 minute dust windows (that wasn’t enough for Dustin, who caught the GEO in the middle of the stage). It was exciting figuring out how much traction the new LASSA rally tires had on this new surface. I had figured that the as the tight part opened up I would end up more confident, but was distracted by the temp gauge which started climbing along with the road.  Don was on the notes from the start and didn’t get lost all weekend.  I’m pretty sure we had both contour cameras going for this stage, one on the crew, and one over the shoulders.  We were the second fastest 2wd behind Dave Henderson in the Mazda3.  Not to spoil the results, but the closest we could get was a time 1 second behind his. by then end of the weekend, he’d put over a minute on us.  good driving Dave. I’m not sure how we were stacking vs the AWD guys, they were a varied bunch.  Behind us were Barret Dash in the Flying Sentra, Dustin Embrey, and Jen Imai in the Geo.

the service area was real close, and we were given plenty of time to get there.
it was nice to check times with everyone, before service.

Grimes pass
woo hoo!  this is the one.
the one that I didn’t have any cameras running on.
it was just as long physically, but the time was LOOONG, because it was such a varied stage.  it starts with some very fun crests, which i got to see during recce.  with out that I may have been one of the cars making tracks in the bushes on the side of the road.
I think everyone made it out alive.

after a fun transit down a single lane road, we started alder.  When describing the road to Dustin, who didn’t recce I could only say “DRIFT SHOW”.  This stage was the debut of the bumper cam. hopefully it will look as fast as it feels.

free lunch! thanks for the BBQ – Polaris dealer

grimes again – same direction
CANCELED!! oh noes!
a UTV made it onto the course, and ignored the 0 car.  I hope he didn’t ignore the sheriff.
with the schedule moving, we turned around and within 20 minutes we were racing Alder again (the benefits of a compact course).

this is as close as I could get to Hendo.  The downhill helped.
once again, full media coverage.
only one iffy moment.
with roads this smooth and kind of wide, it’s tempting to turn in too early, which leads to a poor exit and a quickly disappearing road.

the only complaint is that we didn’t get to race the “downhill” of Grimes and Alder.

here is what I loved:
short route
awesome roads

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