We put the Hurt on Dirt


Pre-Rally Idaho

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!

For your Weekend Viewing

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.

Getting back to my Roots – Service for 509

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!

Pre-Oregon Trail post

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.

Down to the Wire. Finishing the Garage

I’ve got two more videos to share. The Crane Rally Crew garage is ready to rumble. I need to organize my tools and spares but that should only take an hour.

How we love thee, let’s Count-our the ways!

Contour, a Seattle based action camera company makes the equipment we love. We don’t mind pushing their product, because for the second time we’ve been featured in their monthly promotional email! Congratulations to Dustin in the Purple Panda for making the ‘breakthrough’, with his excellent footage from his roll at the Big White Winter Rally in December.

Click the photo below to see the email, and click around to see Dustin and Jeff in action!

Contour - Stacking With Style

Crane Rally Crew Rolls through the Highlights!

Dustin is working on the Panda as we speak. There will be a bit of gene splicing, if you know what I mean. Look for some more fun time lapse videos later this month.

Also follow the links from the Media page to see some of the GPS cameras in action

Preparing the Garage for Rally Mexico


You aren’t racing the garage at WRC Mexico, why does it need help? Thanks for asking! The garage is the home base. If something rally related is happening, most of the time it involves the car, and most of the time, the car is in the garage. The more stuff I have to trip over to get to the car, bolts, or random pile of jagged metal, the longer a task takes. Since I’m building a new car, there is going to be a lot of bolts, and metal. If the garage is dark, I feel like a raccoon in a cave, and end scavenging, and picking up tasty nuts instead of working. When the garage is cold, I end up in bear mode; so covered in layers, that I lumber into everything in sight, and wish I was hibernating. We are competing against time to get the car built, so starting with the garage is like building a stadium for the pros to play in.

We are doing 3 main things to help the garage, to help the team. First we’re going to organize the piles, and hide them so I’m less distracted by the shiny bits. Then we’re going to insulate the walls, so I have less excuses to stay in the warm house. Finally (sure, in the bible, this was first) I’m going to proclaim “let there be light”. Trust me (and all my mechanic friends that tell me what’s wrong with the garage), a nice work environment will transmute my brain-farts into golden nuggets.

I’ll keep updating this post as I get more videos together. The whole project should be done by the middle of March.

Now Enjoy – pt.1

And   – pt.2

Now – pt.3

CraneRallyCrew – 2012 – And Beyond!!

I hope everyone enjoyed the Super Long List of Wonder (SLLoW) that I put together to wrap up 2011. Now that our past is cemented in your brain, it’s time to talk about the Future of Crane Rally Crew.

CraneRallyCrew – 2012 – And Beyond!!

Last season, my goal was to do as many events as I could get to. That turned out great but, I was disappointed to have run so many events and not gotten to the top step even once. So, I passed from midnight 2011 with one goal: To get 1st in class in 2012. The problem with my one goal is that there are too many factors that are out of my control, including other competitors (no sabotage allowed). I’ve decided to change the goal to say: Prepare for each event so that I can focus on a 1st in class finish. This shift is important, because a lot of time last year was spent getting to events at the expense of preparation. It’s also going to effect what I have to say in the next paragraph.

I’m a fan of rally. I’ve been to a bunch of rallies, I’ve seen a bunch of rallies on TV, and I’ve competed in a bunch of rallies. I’ve seen some incredible driving, and neat cars, but I’ve never been exposed to the top level of rally in person; I’ve never been to a WRC event. WRC Rally Mexico is the only world championship event in North/Central America. I should go to that event. I should actually race in that event. In 2013 the Crane Rally Crew will compete in WRC Mexico.

Preparation for a WRC event is going to be a year long process. Patches won’t pass tech at an FIA event, so I’m going to start building Hatches, an AE86 ver2.7. I expect to do at least two events in Hatches before Mexico. Dustin in the Purple Panda has a head-start with a solidly built car (ver-2), but will need to work on finishing events this year. To help manage the team, we’re investing in the services of Jason Grahn, who will help keep our timeline and budget on track.
With that bombshell, we’ll start the 2012 season while looking forward to the WRC in 2013.

-For more information on the CraneRallyCrew, go to CraneRallyCrew.com

Crane Rally Crew 2011 Wrap-up

I wanted to end the year by compiling some of the information that I think is important to the Crane Rally Crew. It will be a long post, with lots of bullet points. If I can get my infographics team on it we’ll have a colorful update sometime later. The goal isn’t to bore anyone to death, just to show you how deep our love is for all things rally. It will also be a way to compete against Dustin.

Stay tuned for a fun future announcement in February, and thanks for all your support in 2011!

Twin Peaks Rally Cross
Oregon Trail*
North Nevada
Mt Hood*
Big White*
*with Dustin in the Panda

Britta         -The Gold Standard
Sean           -Mendocino
Don             -Idaho

Blog posts-
13 if you’re counting this one.

Video views-
contour -adam 2,351 [57 videos]- dustin 2,497 [10 videos]
youtube -blocked at work
Crane Rally Crew match books handed out ~212
Candy handed out to Volunteers ~32lbs

Stage wins-
OA             0  CRC
2WD          13 CRC        1 PANDA
Gp2           14 CRC         1 PANDA

Placing in Gp2
1st         0
2nd        6 CRC
3rd         2 CRC                1 PANDA
DNF       2 CRC                2 PANDA

Championships – CRC
North West Rally               2nd Gp2
Norton Championship       1st
South West Rally                2nd 2wd
Bilstein Cup                         2nd

Borders crossed
British Columbia

Rumbles -RIP         8-10mpg
Van-Tastic                13mpg

Nevada                 – great video
Mount Hood         – ended up in 3rd, from 1st
Big white               – ended up in 3rd, from 1st

Tires used
Rumbles                -5,         3 blowouts
Patches                  -18
Flat tires                -1 onstage
Tire Brands used        Hankook, Lassa, Silverstone
Tire compounds used        hard, med, soft
Favorite tire                Silverstone
Wheels Destroyed        -7 -don’t use soft Volvo wheels

Panda         -2
Patches      -2

Subarus Beaten
couldn’t begin to count.

Engines Used By Panda Team
3  – Bones, Reddy, 20v

Biggest competitors
Patches – George Doganis, Hendo, Gottlieb
Panda – Dave Clark, Patches
Biggest Fans – let us know in the comments

Most Missed Competitors
Cody Crane
Lou and Randee
Tom and Don
Sean and Jeanne
Kris Schofield
Dirty Drifters

Most lusted after new car
Scion FR-S

Most discussed topics- ME!?

Hardest working Crew-

IOU hall of fame
Sean Medcroft
Robert Gobright
Alan Petersen
Garth Ankeny

Best rally
North Nevada, loved the roads and length.

Most exhausting rally
Idaho, a long solo drive out meant I was never rested.

Biggest ‘flub’
Big White
Cameras destroyed – Sorry Contour, I don’t even have the footage.
Gb of footage collected – 43Gb
Scrap Metal Sold- ~$800
Event Summary -2011 -CraneRallyCrew

Twin Peaks Rally Cross
DNF – Crashed in the 3rd Qualifier while leading -Video
footage of the crash made it into the ESPN3 Broadcast
5th Max-Attack (2wd) – $500 (our largest Prize to-date)
11th         OA         Day1
2nd          Gp2        Day1
14th         OA         Day2
3rd         Gp2         Day2
Oregon Trail
13th         OA         Day1
4th         Gp2         Day1
DNF         Day2         DNS Day3
8th         OA
2nd         Gp2
North Nevada
6th         OA         Day1
2nd         Gp2         Day1
4th         OA         Day2
2nd         Gp2         Day2
4 fastest 2wd times
3rd OA
2nd Gp2
3 fastest 2wd times
Mt Hood
8th         OA
3rd         Gp2
2 fastest 2wd times
Big White
13th         OA
2nd         Gp2
4 fastest 2wd times

Premier of the Purple Panda

Hello everyone!  If you don’t know me I’m Dustin, and I am the driver of the Crane Rally Crew #2 car, otherwise known as the Purple Panda.  I’m gonna try and do a quick run through of my entire first rally season and then we can get into the spectacular ending of Big White Winter Rally.

Olympus was my first rally.  We scrambled to get our car completed and rally worthy, and thanks to help from a group of my friends (Ken, Noah, Tristan, and my brother KC), and Adam’s old suspension and engine, Jeff and I were ready to give our go at tearing up some dirt.  We picked up some tires from Garth Ankeny the day before the rally, and fought our way with a few minor changes through Tech.  Day one started out pretty bad, it was Jeff’s first time co-driving, and my first time driving at speed, and after a missed call on turn five we found ourselves smashed into a berm.  Luckily the Panda took it in stride, and aside from a new smirk from the bumper she was ready to keep going.  We made it through most of the rest of the day when Bones(the motor) started overheating.  This issue was remedied, when I realized that in haste I had wired the fan backwards.  Soon afterwards the troubles came back again in the form of my gear box.  It started whining like a combine on a wheat field, and 2nd gear did not like being used.  We came into pit and filled the gear box with oil, 2nd was still being resistant, but the whine went away, and I came to the conclusion that I had ran the box dry.  I guess I didn’t have the time to check that, my bad, but I’m gonna blame it on my crew chief Ken.  So way to go Ken, but thanks for hunting down some gear oil.  Bolted on the HID driving lights and prepared to go.  Sadly as most of you know, tragedy struck the race in the form of a fatality.  Another competitor, Matthew Marker was killed in an accident while competing and the rest of the day of competition was cancelled.  I didn’t know Matthew, but from all accounts he was an amazing man.  He will be missed.  The next day we got up early and headed out to the stages.  There wasn’t a lot of stand out moments, other than the end of Taholah, which managed to take out several cars going all out on a fast stage trying to make up some time.  Sadly this list of cars included a good friend of ours Sean Medcroft and his Merkur took a bad slide into a tree.  Though the car did not survive, it was good to see that he and his wife were ok.  First Rally Finished!
Oregon Trail has an amazing has an amazing spectator stage and it was super fun to show off for everyone.  Thanks to the Tabor’s for organizing an amazing rally.  Sadly it appears that the overheating issue from Olympus reared it’s head in the form of a warped head gasket.  Bones was shoving coolant out the overflow faster then I could manage to replace it.  We had the car running ok despite the coolant issue, and thought we were going to make it, however some rain got inside the car and shorted out our Main Relay shutting the car down completely near the end.  Adam’s car blew up the rear end and we scavenged his main relay in time to start the third day, sadly mid day we got stuck in the mud, and though we were able to get pulled out, trying to rock the car back and forth emptied our coolant and did the head gasket in.  We started out for a stage and the car was jumping and pulsing around like a pissed off Bull, and Jeff and decided to call it a day instead of risking blowing bones sky high.
Idaho Rally was amazing.  Ken and I threw a motor together just in time to make it there, however the piston rings weren’t great and so we ended up with limited power.  The roads basically felt like floating, every turn was an amazing drift, and I felt like I could safely push the car to the limit in every curve.  Sadly day one was all uphill, and as fast as I could go, my power limited us putting in any really fast times.  Day two was supposed to be in reverse, but the organizers decided to run the stages the same way, disappointing to me, but the Subaru drivers seemed excited.  Note to Organizers, MORE DOWNHILL!!!  Dave Henderson ended up winning again, with Adam in Second, and myself in fourth.  Other than that it was an amazing rally, and I can’t wait to come back next year with the 20V.
Thanks to Vedran at Spitfire EFI, and our good friend Jireh Ward for getting our 20V race motor running, the engine was amazing, and I was ready to kick some ass.  If you ever need standalone Megasquirt work I strongly recommend Vedran at SpitfireEFI.com in Bellingham for everything.  He does amazing work.  We got through Tech faster than we ever had with no problems and we were ready to roll the next day.  Sadly we didn’t make it past stage one.  The engine felt amazing and the car was handling perfect.  I felt slow at first, but the more comfortable I got with the car the faster it let me go, so the faster I went.  The engine was begging for me to let it go, 8,000 RPMs and she just wanted more.  Then the passenger tension rod popped out.  Easy fix, but I couldn’t fix it on the road and the day was done for us.  Really really disappointing.  To make matters worse, the hydraulic e-brake let go while the car was sitting and the Purple Panda rolled further and tried to do a swan dive off of the cliff.  Luckily it didn’t do any damage.  Thanks to Hendo for the amazing party after the race in Hood River, please please do that again next year.
OK, let me start this one off this way.  I love the snow, I love driving in the snow, if there is one thing I hate about Seattle, it’s that it doesn’t snow enough.  This was my event, and I was super excited.  Even though the Panda was leaking every fluid besides fuel, she was ready to make some rooster tails.  Not many people know this, but when Adam and I first found the panda she was sitting in a field and we pulled it out for an ice race in Canada.  With a few belt changes and some new tires I managed to tear up that frozen lake, so she is as much used to the cold as anything else.  Anyways, after the first stage we found ourselves in second place behind only Adam in the 2wd class.  After we passed Adam on the second stage in a snowbank, and compared our times we found ourselves the fastest of the 2wd class.  Victory is intoxicating, after we found ourselves stuck in the snow on a ridiculously horrible snowcross course, and almost disqualified for a minor no seatbelt penalty, we were a solid minute behind a golf driven by Eric Grochowski.  We headed out to the full stages and I was hellbent on getting that minute back.  The next stage was Gem Lake.  The first half of Gem Lake is a very tight section with snow banks all around.  I felt slow, and looking back at the video I certainly could have gone faster.  The second half of Gem Lake opens up into wide sweeping curves, and I figured I could power my way into a better time.  Sadly the road had a different idea, it was slippery as all get out.  After Pinballing between two snow banks and almost getting stuck, I just kept going.  I really should have taken that as a clue to the conditions.  I entered a right 4 way too fast for the conditions and found myself going nowhere but sideways.  I put the pedal down hoping the 20V would keep me on the road, but once I crested across the center of the road I was done.  Myself, Jeff, and the Purple Panda flew off the embankment, found a small tree and then rolled once down the hill.  We’re fine, the trees gone, and while extremely damaged I think we will have her back on the road in time for next years season.  Be afraid, be 20 valves of fury afraid.
Thanks Garth for getting us some great snow tires last minute, and thanks Pat Darrow, Hendo and crew for bringing them to Canada for us.  And a huge thanks to Dave Clark Motorsports for building us an amazing cage.  Thanks Jeff for being an amazing co-driver.  Thanks Ken for dealing with my shit and working on the car, and also Whitney for letting me borrow him.  Thanks Jireh for being an amazing Mechanic and getting the 20V to run.  Thanks Vedran at SpitfireEFI for wiring the hell out of that 20 year old bucket.  Thank you everyone for helping me make it through a whole year.  And most importantly thank you Adam and Britta for sucking me into all of this.  I never ever ever ever would have made it to a single race if Adam didn’t have a car for me to copy, donate countless hours of free work and fabricating to get the Panda running, and give me someone to try and keep up with.  You’re mine next year.   See you all next year!
-Duh Duh