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Panda on Parade – Mt Hood Rally 2015


Courtesy of Jace Tuttle, Dustin in the Panda at Mt Hood 2014

It’s been a full year since the Purple Panda has prowled the hills of Oregon. The Mt. Hood Rally is coming up this weekend, and I thought it would be good get some seat time, and show off Dustin’s car, the Purple Panda, which is now for sale.

Mt. Hood has always been a fun, low key event for us, with lots of good competition. This year the 2wd entry list looks very strong. The goal will be to get a feel for the stage, before turning it up to set some solid times on later passes. We’ll show the new folk what the Panda can do.

The Purple Panda is up for sale. Dustin is building a new car, and needs some cash and less distractions in his garage. It’s a well developed, reliable, safe and fun to drive car, as we’ll be showing this weekend. Come say Hi if you’re looking to get into rally quickly. See some of the details about the ‘Panda by clicking the link at the top of the page.

Europe Trip – Professional Motorsports World Expo

Britta and I (Adam) just returned from a trip to Europe. While generally having a good relaxing time, there were some opportunities to geek out on fun automotive type stuff. Most of this post will be about our visit to the opening day of the Professional Motorsports World Expo in Cologne Germany. At the end I’ll throw in a few observations about Europe and cars. In addition I’m adding a link to a gallery of photos to share.

I was looking forward to the PMW Expo because Toyota Motorsports Gmbh was supposed to debut their GT86 R3 rally car. Well, Rally GB, the final round of WRC was happening up in Wales, and that’s where the cars were. I did get a look at the mock-up. Oh well.

At the show I tried to see everything, but was paying attention to transmissions and electronics, which are items that Hatches could benefit from. Other highlights were complete engines sitting on stands, including Audi LMPs, Nissan’s 3cyl, old F1 engines, and some 4cyl race motors too.

After the show, and some days in Belgium, we took a quick trip over to the Nurburg Ring to do some laps. I was hoping to rent a Toyota GT86, but due to a lack of research, the RSR company didn’t have them available (another company did). We did 4 laps in a Clio RS200, which was a blast. Very much like a rally stage, with blind corners, and surprisingly slick.

Below is the gallery – and below that are my final thoughts

Some final thoughts –

  • Electric power steering in the VW Polo rental was bad.
  • Electric throttle and small displacement engines almost resulted in some roundabout disasters.
  • Lane discipline is amazing over there.
  • The Maximum speed alloud in Iceland is 100km/h which is a shame.
  • The Citroen C4 1.6td taught me to short shift.

’86 Day 2014

Another year . . . Another ’86 day.

The car we love to race goes by the chassis code AE86. Today is August 6th. This is ’86 day.

Dustin and I are both building new Corollas, Hatches, and ‘the Drop Bear’. While it’d be nice to share a gallery of build pictures today, we don’t have it ready quite yet. Instead, I’d like to highlight 2 new builds being done with the blessing of  Akio Toyoda, the President of Toyota. He’s an enthusiast and so are we. This is his idea of the future of the GT86, successor to our beloved AE86 Corolla.

Here we have a ‘WRC spec’ AWD version built by Tommi Makinnen. A beautiful car, on dirt.

GT86 CS R3

Here is a car built to the FIA’s R3 rules by TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG). It will debut at Rally Germany.

In summary, the future of Toyota in rally looks bright, from the top levels, to us (somewhere near the top, and always climbing). Thanks, and Happy ’86 day from Panda Crane Rally.


March, April, May

Things are going to get busy very soon for the Corollas of the Panda Crane Rally team. If you check the calendar, you’ll see a number of driving events coming right up. First is the Rally Cross at Monroe Speedway, then a Chump Car Race at Pacific raceways. And at the start of May will be Oregon Trail! We’re working on getting everything up to snuff. Here’s a photo for those who think we’re slacking.

Jack Stands

2014 – Updates

It’s been a while since we’ve had time to give a full update, so here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been up to since last year.

  • Dustin and Jeff placed 19th Overall, and 5th in class at the Big White Rally in Canada. He was setting 2wd podium times, until a snowbank caught them for  30 minutes on stage 5.
  • Patches was sold. It’s hard to say goodbye to a piece of your life, especially one that represents 10 years of growing up.
  • WRC Mexico 2014 – There will be no ‘Regional Class’ this year. Attending makes a great vacation, we recommend it, but won’t be there ourselves. It takes place March 6-9th.
  • The Cascadia International Rally Championship will be where we’re focusing our attention this year. There is going to be a very strong 2wd group at most of the events. See you soon friends!
  • Hatches, Adam’s new car is coming along. Look for pictures on our twitter feed and blog updates here.
  • Go Google ‘Drop Bear’ and try to imagine what surprise Dustin is working on.

Thanks for your time! Wish us luck for the coming season which starts at the Oregon Trail Rally in May.

Patches For Sale – $4321.00 SOLD!!

Patches has been sold! Thanks to Peter, who will be showing some Californians how good RWD can be.

For Sale from Seattle Washington,
Log-booked 1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S $4321.00

Includes a full set of spares. Gallery
 Legal to run the full Cascadia Championship next season.
 It has raced and placed at most of the events:
 http://goo.gl/JUOXm2 http://goo.gl/XKNBY5
 1. Oregon Trail                   4th 2011
 2. Olympus                        5th MaxAttack 2011
 3. Idaho                          2nd 2wd 2011
 4. PFR                            2nd Gp2 2008 (day one regional)
 5. Rocky Mtn                      Haven't competed
 6. Big white                      3rd 2wd 2011

The car is well developed, fully sorted, and light weight. Details
See pictures http://goo.gl/RauRVY

Nameless Rally 2013 – TopGear USA

Guess which northwest RWD rally cars were highlighted during TopGear USA’s ‘Off-road Racing’ episode last weekend? That’s correct, both #742-Patches and #206-the Purple Panda had slow-motion sliding glory shots featured as the Nameless Rally segment was introduced. Why would TopGear bother to show us? Because we’re fast AND beautiful. The Panda managed to beat Patches (me) for the first time, securing 2nd and 3rd in the 2WD class. Results

Check out the footage at the 10minute mark by clicking here: TopGear USA ‘Off-road Racing’

always the center of attention

Corollas at the Nameless Rally Service Park

’86 Day 2013

Friends, it’s been too long since we’ve done an update to the blog. It turns out that winning events and prepping the Corollas for 3 events in 3 months is kind of time consuming. – Sorry, we’ll fix that this fall.

’86 Day, or August 6th is when Corolla people like to celebrate the Toyota with the heart of gold, the AE86 Corolla Sport! This year, we’ve decided to put together a gallery of shots from the past year’s rallies featuring the Panda-Crane Racing Corollas, #Patches, and the #PurplePanda. Highlights include WRC Mexico, Oregon Trail Rally, and Nameless Rally (the Idaho Rally was a low light, and won’t be mentioned). -Enjoy the pics and check out the quick essay about why we race these things below.




WRC Mexico Panda

Why the Corolla? We get asked this all the time and below are a selection of bullet points and stock answers we give to people.

  • Fun. The drifters know, stringing together turns is a blast.
  • Reliable. This is known. It is a Toyota after all.
  • Pedigree. The fact that there is a ‘Hot Version’, the GT-S with a Limited Slip Differential on the option sheet should be a clue.
  • Easy to Drive. Ask me to blaze away in your Saab or Subaru? I will understeer it into a curb. The Corolla gives me the ‘touch’, narrow and balanced, with great feedback. Ask me why my stock mirrors are gone (I clipped them on chicanes or trees, the fenders were untouched).
  • Enthusiast love. People complain about the ‘Drift Tax’, where prices on parts went way up when drifters started catching and crashing their AE86 Toyotas. We love it. The cars are rescued from junkyards, and any parts are always available.
  • Maintenance. Tiny FWD engine bays, with weird mounts and axles going every which way are cramped and awful. Longitudinal is the way to roll.
  • They look rad. Seriously, you’ve seen the pictures . . .
  • Suspension. We’ve got it. FWD cars (Honda . . ) don’t.
  • Balance. Throw a cage in a Corolla, 50/50 guaranteed.
  • The 1.6l 4age engine. Wikipedia will tell you why.
  • Economy. Everything is relative, but relative to some of the starter cars that show up, the Corolla is faster, fun-er, and cheaper.
  • SpeedHunters.com. Go check their coverage of ’86 day.

So, That’s all we’ve got. Come to MegaBurger in SODO Seattle on Tuesday August 6th around 7pm. We’ll be there showing off some well run Corolla Rally Cars. The hot tip is that we’re also building better, faster Corollas (#Hatches) as we speak.


Panda Crane T-shirts

Hello friends and family,

I am writing you this e-mail because Myself and Adam Crane are attempting to rally in the far off exotic country of Mexico.  First a little back story.  For those of you that do not know, Adam Crane has been rallying his 1985 Toyota Corolla for over 6 years now, and for the past two I have joined him with my own 1987 Corolla.  We have had a lot of fun with local rallies from Canada, to California, and everywhere in between.  Every year a rally takes place in central Mexico of the highest magnitude.  Adam and I have set the sights of team Panda-Crane to attend Rally Mexico in March of 2013.  Adam has been buried in his garage for the past few months building an all new Corolla for the event, and myself and Ken have been busy getting the Panda up to the standards necessary to compete in Mexico.
OK, enough of the boring stuff.  The reason for this e-mail is that we are selling T-shirts, Hoodies, and Dickie work shirts with the team logo on it to try and raise a little bit of money to help us along the way.  Everything is Navy Blue, the T-shirts are $20, the Work Shirts are $30, and the Hoodies are $35.  They will all have the attached logo on the back.  If anyone is interested please respond directly back to me with the shirt(s) you are interested in, and the size that you want. All of the shirts will be high quality screen printed and either mailed to you, or hand delivered by myself.  I will be sending the shirts out for print on November 9th, so I would like to get any orders by then, and will get them back approximately 2 weeks after that.  If you know of anyone else who may be interested that I did not include on this e-mail, please forward it on.  If we’re lucky enough we may raise enough money to buy a tire or two.  Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this post.
Dustin Embrey

the ‘Mountain Hood’

‘Patches’ at Mt. Hood 2011

There is an event in Oregon called the Mt. Hood Rally. Since Doo Wops has faded due to Ray’s passing, Mt Hood gained the title of the North West’s best ‘local’ rally. It has good roads that are consistent from year to year. The roads are a nice mix of tight and twisty, ‘thread the needle’ fast stuff, and some rough sections that can test cars too. Entry fees and it’s place on the schedule make it a kind place to debut a car, or driver. This year there’s a bit of ‘old’ being mixed in.

When I built ‘Patches’ I was issued a book, stating that the safety equipment met the rules. The book is also a log of the events the car has run.  Only the log book in ‘Patches’ knows how many times we’ve run the Mt.Hood. I haven’t had to staple more pages in, but I’m really close to 30 events, and for the first time, the driver’s signature on the page, won’t be mine.

I’m doing the event. I’m co-driving for Larry Clark, Dave’s dad. I’ll even be in a Toyota. Car #509. ‘Patches’ will be driven by Charles Buren of SafeDrives.com. I wish him luck. The ‘Purple Panda’ is hungry.

Come on down to beautiful Mt. Hood Oregon next weekend, October 20th, for the Rally.

Olympus Rally 2012 – Corollas Carry On


Adam Crane – Britta Nielsen
1986 Toyota Corolla, 2012 Olympus Rally

Dustin Embrey – Jeff Canavan
1985 Toyota Corolla, 2012 Olympus Rally


Thanks to the Organizers and Volunteers of the 2012 Olympus Rally, who, despite the fire danger and lack of spectators, gave us some long, fun, days of rally.

In case you were wondering, both Dustin in the Purple Panda, and ‘Patches’ with Britta and I, finished both days of the Rally. How did we do? There is a nifty results tabulator that can show you the 2wd stage results, which we think is better than sliced bread. – Three things to note, 1. Both Dustin and I ran out of gas on Stage 5. 2. Add 30 seconds to my time on Stage 3 (timing error in our favor- doesn’t affect our class results, does make us look like rockstars) 3. Stages 8 and 9 were canceled due to dust.

Did we have anything else to report? Sure. Volvo wheels are weak. Dustin bent at least 2 wheels, destroying both tires. I bent a wheel too. We’re hoping to find some budget to buy some wheels from these guys: BraidUSA.com. – I also owe Al Kun a fancy rally wheel for letting me borrow a spare wheel.

The next event is less than a month away! Mt Hood Rally will be down in Oregon on Oct 20th. ‘Patches’ is for rent, but Dustin is going to try and dominate like I did last year.

There are other stories to share, along with in-car videos and fun pictures. We’ll add them next week. Click Here to find our Olympus Videos

’86 Day!

Considering I’ve owned many of these great RWD Toyota Corolla GT-Ss in the past 10 years, I only got clue’d in about ’86 Day’ today. The car we love to race goes by the chassis code AE86. Today is August 6th. This is ’86 day.

Link to SpeedHunters post

Click the photo to read the post

I’d like to point to this other great blog and a post about a Norwegian with his own huge passion for Toyotas. His goal a finishing a car for a big event is something I can relate to. My favorite part (other than how cool his car looks) is his 80/20 concept; “If you are going to make something 100 percent perfect, it will require 100 percent of your time. But if you turn down your standards just a notch and make it 80 percent perfect, which is still pretty good, it will require only 20 percent of your time”

And finally, just to show how much tinkering I’ve been doing during my build of ‘Hatches’ the WRC Rally Toyota, I present the video, ‘Hatches.5’