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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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’
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.
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.
It has been far too long since our last post. Everyone has been busy preparing for Mexico. Adam decided to wisely call off racing as his build was too far from ready, and the time and money investment was too much for an incomplete car. I, possibly unwisely decided to forge onward. Adam got Van Vanlandingvan ready to go for the trip, while I prepared the Purple Panda.
Jeff and I left Seattle Friday Morning March 1st and headed on our way. We had a wonderful lunch in Pendelton Oregon and made it to Provo Utah the first night. We got up at 530am and kept hauling the next morning until we reached Los Cruces New Mexico. We had a good time and met some nice Bartenders at the M5 club that night.
Once again getting up at 530 we bolted through the endless desert that is Western Texas and arrived in Laredo in the evening. Sadly, as I write this we are still in Laredo. We got up this morning and headed for the border, didn’t have issues crossing, but because they think of the box van as a commercial vehicle we were denied a temporary permit. We spent 12 hours at customs waiting for brokers to try and figure out how to get us through. Around 630 we decided to call it quits and headed back across the border to get dinner and a bed to sleep in. We think we’re going to be able to get across tomorrow, but if that fails we’re emptying as much into the rally car as possible and driving the last 600+ miles to Leon. Here’s hoping for us not being forced to that.
Hello friends and family,
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.
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.
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
I just wanted to share a great experience I had. I was looking for lights for the upcoming night stages of the Olympus rally. I went to http://www.visionxwholesale.com/ and talked to Rick Freeman, their Accounts Manager. Far too often good customer service and knowledgeable representatives are hard to find, but I can say that this was a truly pleasant buying experience. If you guys ever have any lighting needs don’t hesitate to talk to Rick.
Hello Rally friends. The weekend of Olympus, September 22 and 23rd, is upon us, and set to be an incredible race. Last year’s Open Unlimited class winner David Higgins is returning with a healthy lead in the championship. Ken Block, one of the only Americans in history to score points in the WRC championship is bringing his 2012 Ford Fiesta. While the Open class may be roaring their way through the hills of Shelton this year, let’s get to the most exciting thing about Olympus, this year has the most exciting 2WD line up you will probably ever see in a Rally America Event. Below I am going to go over the competitors I know and tell you what I know about them. If I miss some it’s only because I don’t know enough about them, so be sure to check out the spectator guide as well as the entry list here to pick your favorite.
TEAM PANDA-CRANE: Who would I be if I didn’t talk about us first? Adam Crane is busy building Corolla Rally Car 2.5, Hatches. In the meantime Patches, as always, is running like the pieced together monster it is, and will be bringing all 114HP to Olympus with Adam’s incredible piloting with it. The Purple Panda suffered a friendly cliff dive through a tree into a roll last winter, but has a new front end, brand new 2.5” exhaust for the 20V to breathe through, and is ready to roll. Dustin is hoping that the configuration is finally in a stable place and will hold the car together long enough to finally put his arch nemesis Dave Clark firmly in his rear view mirror.
DAVE CLARK: Speaking of Arch Nemesis. Dave Clark is an extraordinarily talented driver in a pretty new 1985 Toyota Celica. This will be the third race for Dave Clark in this new car built by Barrett Dash. He has plans to drop a turbo 1ZZ in this car soon, so this may be Dustin’s last chance to beat him before he has a real motor on his hands. Keep a close eye on Dave, he’s a textbook case of driving talent making low power go fast. Also, his wife Jenatte is by far the brains of this group.
WILL ORDERS: Talk about power. Will’s 1989 Silvia is packing a turbo and he has no qualms using it to project him and his car to victory. He’s already shown what he and his car are capable of, squeaking a 2WD victory out of the hands of the capable ACP at Oregon Trail and coming in 4th overall. This man from Australia is to be feared and admired, if your eyes can’t catch him coming by, make sure and listen to the sweet turbo music echo through the hills.
ANDREW COMRIE-PICARD: ACP as he’s known is currently in second place in the nation for 2WD. He’s got a turbo Scion xD. He’s an experienced, talented driver with a record to prove it. Look for an epic battle between him, Chris Duplessis and Will Orders for the win here at Olympus.
CHRIS DUPLESSIS: Chris has instructed at both Dirt Fish Rally and Team O’neil schools. He has spent the last year racing at the WRC Academy level. He has a healthy lead in the 2WD class and looks to keep it here at Olympus. Chris is fast, and well-known here in the Northwest.
DILLON VAN WAY: Dillon is a 2WD staple in Rally America. He is the 2009 2WD champion. He’s a young driver with a lot of talent. If he can keep the axles in one piece look for him to do well.
TOM BURRESS: Tom Burress is wicked fast. His turbo Golf has plenty of power, and he drives it like a man with no concerns. Lucky for his brother and co-driver Don, he is also extremely talented. Sadly the turbo power proved too much for the gearbox at last year’s Olympus and Tom blew it up besides a few of the higher gears. He’s got a new gearbox this year and it should hold out much better. Tom is my wildcard bet for the winner of 2WD at Olympus this year. Tom also gave me a ticket once, I forgive you Tom.
BRIAN GOTLEIB: Brian Gotleib has been getting quicker and quicker the more I see him. He’s got a sweet Civic and an even sweeter service rig. Chat this guy up in the pits if you’re interested in all there is to Privateering a team.
KRIS DAHL: I don’t know a lot about Kris, but I believe his Dad and him have been rallying for a while now. He’s got a very solid Civic that always looks clean. Look for a solid quick finish in Olympia.
GARTH ANKENY: Garth has an awesome ’69 Saab 96, and you won’t believe how fast he can make it move. You’ll find Garth at just about any event in the Northwest. If you need tires he’s your guy. In all reality he is the guy to go to for anything car building wise, because he knows everyone. Classic Rally for the win.
DAVE HINTZ: Dave has one of the first BMW M3’s I have seen rally in the Northwest. He’s like a Mathematician behind the wheel. Clean lines, clean car, clean race.
BARRETT DASH: Barrett will build a car, Barrett will race a car. Come talk to him if you are interested in building a rally car. Look for consistently fast times in his Mazda 3, which was used by Dave Henderson last year in the Pacific Northwest to crush the 2WD competition.
JOHN REED: John Reed sucks. And by that I mean he is awesome, and his car is awesome. As far as I know this is the first rally Corolla to get a Beams 3SGE swap. Adam is currently working one into the new car, and needless to say, there is jealousy that he is getting it done. Really can’t wait to see this car.
NATE TENNIS: Nate Fing Tennis. This man makes a Saab look like a damn Porsche out there. Tennis has been teaching at Dirt Fish recently, and it is great to see him out again. Look for some scary speed coming from him.
SEAN MEDCROFT: Sean Medcroft decided to use all 250HP of his Ford Merkur at last year’s Olympus rally and a tree moved his cage two inches inside the car. While he may have learned his lesson, his wife and co-driver quickly made him forget, and so another Ford was born. Sean is a great driver, and definitely someone to talk to about rallying. When it comes to consistent quality in a rally car, Sean is king. His cars are well thought out, solid, and built strong.
BRYAN WATSON: If my memory serves me correct, my first memory of Bryan was at Mt Hood 2010, where he managed to roll his VW into oblivion. Well now he is back with a Rabbit, and a turbo the size of Wiscaaaaaaanson. If the manifold bolts manage to hold the turbo on, look to see that bright green monster flying. This car laughs in the face of 16 valves.
EDWARD MCNELLY: I don’t know him, I’ve never met him. But he is here with a Fiesta R2. Come say hi to me Edward. Look for him to do well.
DERIK NELSON: Deep in the mountains of the Dirt Fish Rally School, a cloud has been cast over the 2WD rally world. Rumors are Derik Nelson has a BMW M3 within 100 lbs of the minimum weight limit for it’s engine. This is the first time you will see this car, this will not be the last.
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.
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’
I’ve managed to hit the two buttons on the computer that it takes to create a time-lapse video of our time at the car show. See if you can spot me!
If you want to be sure that I haven’t neglected the new car ‘Hatches’ just watch this:
Dustin and I are planning on taking First and Second at this years Greenwood Car Show. We’ll park ‘Patches’ and ‘The Purple Panda’ as close to 80th as we can.
For all the new visitors to this website looking for more rally information, I’m putting a few links below for you to check out.
NASA sanctioning body http://www.nasarallysport.com/main/
Rally-America sanctioning body http://www.rally-america.com/
NW Rally Experience/School – http://dirtfish.com
World Rally Championship – http://wrc.com
Our next event is going to be the Olympus Rally in Shelton Wa. on Sept 22-23rd.
Thanks for visiting!
The Crane Rally Crew has ended their long off-season with a mid-pack finish at the 2012 Idaho Rally. Adam and Britta in #742 ‘Patches’ were 5th in class, while Dustin and Jeff in the #206 ‘Purple Panda’ managed 8th. The Idaho Rally was a perfect event to come back to. The organisation was excellent, the roads were great, and the competition was top notch. 39 cars entered, 15 of them in the 2wd class. Regulars from the NW like Dave Clark, Jason Staats, were joined by Sean Lane, Michel Hoche-Mong and several other competitors from down south.
While the event and competitors were prepared for us, we weren’t ready for them. ‘Patches’ got a bit of cleaning and love, but I came down with a cold that had me feverish and snotty all weekend. The Purple Panda got some new body work, but was missing some power from the engine, which had only a quick shakedown before the event.
The Olympus Rally is next on the calendar, but it’s a long ways off, in September. Look for more refinement from your classy pals in the CraneRallyCrew.
Videos are up Here: http://contour.com/users/acrane
See http://www.IdahoRally.com for more info
This is just a quick post to thank everyone who made the 2012 Idaho Rally a fun event.
Competitors, Organizers, volunteers, photographers, diesel pumpers, teammates, our crew (Ken), our hosts (Neal, Priscilla). Thanks.
Here’s a video of the prep to keep you busy while we finish the event write-up and up-load the incar videos.
If you keep an eye on our twitter feed, you’ll have first dibs on the videos as they’re published.
The 2012 Idaho Rally is next weekend, and boy are we excited! The Crane Rally Crew’s last race was the crazy snow filled adventure called the Big White Rally. If you live in a place that has seasons, you know that snow happens in the winter. Winter was a long time ago, and we’ve missed the fun of racing our rally cars. The Oregon Trail Rally was just a few weeks ago, and I went to help crew, take photos, and hang out with my rally pals, but it’s not the same as strapping in and putting the pedal down against your fast friends. There were a couple of reasons for missing Oregon including the Purple Panda’s snowy roll, and the ongoing preparation of ‘Hatches’ for WRC Mexico next year. It’s finally time to race.
Idaho Rally has been a favorite of the Crew. The roads are amazing, the organization is great, and they care about everyone who takes part, from the volunteers, to the service crews. You can read about our experiences last year -here-. The roads remind me of my eastern Washington youth; smooth, with good sight lines, and variety of turns and elevation. Dick Rockrohr and the whole group of organizers have been growing and improving the event each time we race. Speaking of ‘growth’ this year there are more competitors than ever! 49 car teams, ~20 of them 2wd. There are a bunch of crazies racing in UTVs, ATVs, and Motorcycles too. Carl’s Cycle in Boise, and Larry Miller Subaru sponsor the event.
The Crane Rally Crew is ready to Race! I’ve had a fun few weekends dusting off ‘Patches’ the Corolla for what may be his last race (really?). Updating the safety gear, and counting my old tires are where my prep has stopped. Dustin has had a fun few months repairing the Purple Panda. A new hood, fenders, headlights, bumper, frame, suspension, radiator hose, body moulding, alignment . . . hmm, I’ll stop there. A race is what we’ll have. If Dustin in the Panda can put the power down, he’ll be a podium contender.
We look forward to the weekend, follow us on Twitter @PandaCraneRally
He’re a video shot at last year’s event to whet your appetite. Idaho 2011
And a classic!
Oregon Trail Rally In-car videos!
I’m going to put them all here, and if you’ve got more info, leave me a comment, and I’ll update the captions.
Sorry about the washed-out roads, we didn’t have time to center and aim the cameras quite right. Go to my Contour page to see the videos with the GPS maps.
Dave Clark is a friend I grew up with in Yakima, on the east side of Washington state, area code 509. He got into rally a few years ago and was supprized to see me already there. He’s had All-Wheels-Driven, in Bend Or. build him a new RWD Toyota. I’m going to see if I can be of any help to him this weekend.
Good Luck Dave!
Thanks for coming to check out what the team is up to in the weeks before the Oregon Trail Rally. The Rally is May 4-6th and we’re looking forward to seeing our racing buddies. Our racing buddies on the other hand, are looking forward to a race without us clogging up the top steps of the podium. We aren’t going to be competing at Oregon. I’ve got a couple of videos that should help explain why:
1. Purple Panda Repair.
2. Introducing Hatches
3. Getting the Funk off the Front
To sum everything up, we’re fixing the Purple Panda for the Idaho Rally in June, and starting to build Hatches, the new car for WRC Mexico.
We’ll keep the blog up to date with the progress.