We put the Hurt on Dirt


Big White Winter Rally – 2nd Gp2

The Big White Winter Rally was a Big Adventure.

The Crane Rally Crew returned to the Great White North fully prepared to finish the Big White Winter Rally. Last year deep snow and improper preparation led to a disappointing end for us, halfway through the event. This year, with help from Sean, Kris and Robert, everything was ready with minutes to spare. Speaking of spares, our good Portland OR friends managed to bring  up ten rally snow tires! Thanks Garth, Pat, and Blake.

The Big White Resort hosts the Rally, and Jennifer and the rest of the organizers made sure everything was set up for us.  Great roads, nice venues, killer parties. We even got help finding hotel rooms. An extra nice treat this year was a 2wd prize fund, sponsored by Rallysport.ca. The Spirit of the Rally award of $400 dollars, sponsored by Valley Mitsubishi came home with Dustin in the Purple Panda, along with a great story he’ll post here later. Despite a few delays, the event wrapped up right on time, and everyone had a hot meal in the Happy Valley Lodge, while awards were handed out to the volunteers.

We went for the challenge, and stayed for the Competition. Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila make up a 2wd team from Calgary AB, with an impressive string of class wins, they started 3rd on the road. Dustin and Jeff, in the Purple Panda, promised to win the novice class. Roads were a mix of nice compact snow on a hard base for the shorter stages, to complete compact Ice at the end of the long stage. Unfortunately, setting the fastest 2wd time on the first stage made me competitive, which is why we were challenged by a snowy ditch on the second stage. Halfway through Black Forrest, I dropped the co-drivers side tire a little to far into a soft snowy groove. We were caught and spun 270 degrees, ending up with the back end in the ditch. We lost ~9min while I used a shovel, wits, and floormats to rock the car back onto the stage.  While our fast stage times continued, so did our ditch time, with another off on Gem Lake South. A late call from Britta, along with a competitors fallen warning triangle managed to snow bank us for another 10 minutes (there is footage of the recovery on youtube). We were now 20 minutes from the rest of the 2wd field and decided that one more trip to the bank would finish us. While cruising to the end of the stage we saw Dustin on the side of the road with the OK sign but no car in sight.

Thanks to Britta’s co-driving, we got through the last dark and slick stages without incident, only to find we’d snuck our way onto the 2wd Podium in 3rd. The 2wd Mitsubishi got stuck too along with 4 other cars on the same stage. The champagne spray was a first for the team, and I can’t wait to see the photos. We ended up taking 2nd in Gp2, and a $100 dollar check in spite of our troubles.

We finished the season with 7 rallies, and only one DNF. Look for a full season review with some fun stats in the next few weeks.

rally results are here: Big White Results

Videos are Here: Youtube & Contour

Pictures by our Media Manager Noah are here: Big White Album

#742 – Crane Rally Crew wins the Norton Championship!!

After an epic season of rallying, the Crane Rally Crew got enough points to win the inaugural Joshua A. Norton Rally Championship. The championship consisted of  “five rallies in four states, in six months” and as the only team to run all 5 events, we had a certain advantage. That’s not to say we were dragging our feet out there, aside from a mechanical DNF from 2nd place at the Oregon Trail rally, we finished the rest of the events on the Gp2 podium. While we were at it, we claimed fastest 2wd stage times at Reno, Mendocino, and the Mt. Hood rallies.

We’d like to thank:

Jim Robinson for organizing the Championship.

SafeDrives for the 30% off coupon.

and of course the other competitors, the volunteers and the organizers, who allow us to race.

Our next, and last event of the year is the Big White Winter Rally on Dec 2nd in Kelowna BC. See you there!

Pre-Big White Winter Rally

The early entry deadline for the Big White Winter Rally is November 21st, so I put in our entry Today!

My problem last year was a lack of preparation. This year I’m trying to get everything together ahead of time. How am I doing so far?

I’d like to thank Sean Medcroft for some wiring insparation, and Robert Gobright for some Van help.

The Purple Panda is already wining – they put their entry in last week.

For Sale!

Here is a list of stuff that I’m trying to get rid of. And here is the gallery of stuff.

16.5″ wheels from the old box van

exhaust off of an AE86 GTS Corolla

wheels for a Corolla

interior from a Corolla

Suspension parts for a Corolla

wheels for a volvo

file cabinets

Scrap Metal

2011 Mt Hood Rally – 3rd Gp2

The Crane Rally Crew gets passed in the dark for third after leading
the 2wd cars at the Mt Hood Rally in Oregon.

Every rally is special, but the Mt Hood Rally carried extra
significance for the Crane Rally Crew this year. We were excited
because of the unveiling of the new rally transporter, tentatively
named Van VanLandingvan, and the debut of the PurplePanda’s new heart,
a 20 valve motor for car 206. There was also a certain trepidation,
due to the team’s recent performances at Oregon events. We needed to
eliminate the curse of DNFs from the Oregon Trail Rally this spring,
and have a solid finish for our championship hopes. The Norton
Championship had me in the lead but a tough competitor from
California, George Doganis would be racing here. The Pacific Northwest
Rally Championship was also going to be interesting, because Dave
Henderson (Hendo), the solid leader was no longer racing in our class.
There was a small chance of catching him with a good finish here, and
at the Big White rally in December.

The 2 wheel drive competition was amazing. Charles Buren from
Safe Drives organized a prize fund to encourage some extra effort
from the 2wd teams. Over $1000 of cash and prizes were on the line
(details here). 13 teams were working for cash, and after the second
stage, 4 of them were separated by only 6 seconds. Dave Clark was
driving Henderson’s old car, on loan from AllWheelsDriven, and
going very quick for his first time in a FWD car. The old red SAAB 96
of Garth Ankeny was also in the fight on the tighter stages. Before
the final stage, after 40 minutes, and ~30mi of racing, that spread
was just 15 seconds, with yours truly leading.

The Mt Hood Rally ran on just 3 roads, to make 7 stages, so every mile
counted. Gilhouley proved to be the decider on this event, it was run
3 times. 17 road, the second and 5th stage would prove to be my
highpoint, setting the fastest time on both runs. Unfortunately, Fir
Mountain, the longest stage of the event was canceled on the first
running because of motorcycles loose on course. On the second running,
the course was blocked by the Subaru Legacy of Chris Caylor, who had a
big roll, meaning every competitor behind the wreck (all the 2wd
teams) got the same time.

With the pressure on, and the light fading, we sped through Gilhouley
for the last time. Believe me when I say we went as fast as we could.
Or you could believe the ContourGPS camera, which caught us making an
exciting save halfway through the stage. We crossed the line with a
time 16 seconds behind both Honda teams, Brian Gottlieb, and George
Doganis, who tied for fastest 2wd time.  George took the win, his 3rd
against me, and Brian, jumped from 4th to 2nd, beating me by only 1

We were thrilled to lead such a strong field, with so much on the
line. Thanks to the organizers, and volunteers who put on such a great
event. Another thanks to the strong Group 2 field for such a tight
race. And thanks to our teammate Dustin in the PurplePanda, for a
mechanical DNF halfway through the first stage – the Oregon curse has
passed on. His engine was strong, and pace was quickly catching up to
the new power.

The Last event of 2011 is coming up! – and I still need a WIN!
See you all at the Big White Winter Rally on Dec. 3 in Kelowna B.C.

Results: Maintained by RallyData.com

Event page: www.MtHoodRally.com

Contour Videos:  Contour.com/users/acrane 

Youtubes from the Contour GPS camera: http://www.youtube.com/user/a0adcran


Rumbles the box van died on the way back from California. {see post below}
It took two full months of shopping with some suprises and
disappointments, but we now have a replacement.

Here are a couple of names I’ve come up with, we’ll let you know when
something sticks;

Adri-Van Newey
the Iron Giant
Tommi Makki-Van
Sebast-Van Loeb
Calamity Van
Van VanLandingvan
Count Van Vanstien
Van Damage
Vani-kahna II
Eskaflowne` Kong
The transporter
Turbo Two

The new van should be the last I’ll need, so I’m aiming to perfect the form with this one.
Expect to see Aero and handling mods,
Along with specifics for rally service.
And eventually, some sweet graphics too.

Mendocino Rally 2011

Who wants to hear about Mendocino Rally?
It was a brand new event with some fun road*s.
*there was only one road

It was also the only event I’ve ever driven that gave me a blister.

That’s right, the road has so many tight turns that the thumb and heel of my left hand had real live blisters by the time we collected our trophies.

It was so twisty that my puny radiator fan (at only 9.5volts – thanks Sean) couldn’t get enough air to cool the motor.  We overflowed the system on almost every stage.  Average speeds were slow.  There was some fun technical driving going on.  We set the fastest 2wd time on the first stage, and the last stage, but everywhere between I was keeping an eye on the temp gauge.

Back to the trophies, we finished 2nd in class.  Again, we were behind George, and again the Mosers were very quick but broke down.  This time we were also 3rd over all.

Lucas Oil sent us home with $75 and a case their best gear oil.

Since I made this swing down south, we’re looking good for the Emperor Norton rally Championship – we’re in 1st! Had we not broken down in Oregon, I’d feel a bit better.  Henderson is fast on his home roads, at the final championship event, Mt. Hood Rally.

Now for the bad news, followed by some “rally thanks”

The Bad News is that Rumbles the box van is dead (long live rumbles).  Climbing out of lake Shasta on I-5 on our way to Seattle, he overheated, and died.
The Funeral procession (tow truck-van, and rally car) went directly to the wrecking yard.  A final resting place with a view of Mt. Shasta. – I’m looking for a new van now.

The other bad-ish news, when I hit record for the incar video, I had my Contour GPS set to photo mode.  The results are on YouTube.  On the last stage, there is a nifty warp speed effect, that turned out pretty neat.

Rally Thanks goes to Sean M. my co-driver, the organizers, volunteers, and Portland Friends.


Things are looking good for the end of the year, there are still some events to do: Wild West Rally, Pacific Forrest Rally, Mt. Hood Rally, and Big White Rally.


It’s been a month since Crane Rally Crew completed the North Nevada
Rally, which means it’s time for another rally.

Nevada had some great challenging roads, and good 2wd competition.  At
the awards presentation Jim Robbinson, the organizer for the Mednocino
Red Tail Rally [http://mendocinorally.com] invited competitors to race
on BETTER roads, with MORE cars!  We worked it out, and due to some
fun logistics, our name was on the entry list within the week.

Once again Reigning Co-Driver, Britta, will be sitting (not really,
she’s got important stuff planned) out the event.  I’m looking forward
to having Sean Medcroft as co-driver.  He’s a seasoned driver,(he’s
already written off a rugged, RWD, Merkur Xr4ti Gp5 car, at a
MaxAttack! event), a brilliant mechanic, and a complete unknown in the
Right Seat.  He’s coming with the blessings and motion sickness
patches of his co-driver Jenne.

The car is ready for the new twisty California roads, despite being
locked in a van for the past month in Reno.  The reliability of
Patches couldn’t even be dented by driving like this:
http://goo.gl/kRwE7 at NNR.  Our plan is to unload it, dust it off,
and hit the stages. After Califonia, it’ll finally get back to it’s
home in Seattle, where I can lavish all kinds of attention on it
before Wild West.

Here is a list of the states we’ve raced in this season,

After this weekend, Crane Rally Crew can add California to the list.
All we need is a Canadian event to round out the Pacific Perfecto.

North Nevada Rally – 2nd Gp2

The Crane Rally Crew is having a busy year.  We’ve done the Olympus Rally, Oregon Trail Rally, Idaho Rally, and now the North Nevada Rally.  It’s a lot of fun checking out new stages, and racing new people.  The stages were great, and the rally well run.

We’d like to thank our friend in Reno for his hospitality,

Team Rally – for their help moving around Leviathan, our service rig during the event,

the Volunteers and Organizers, for letting us race.

here is a quick breakdown of the stages, and a link to the videos:

Stage 1 – Ragged Top – our first run on Nevada Roads, a 4.9 mile stage that runs uphill to a peak then back down.  The car was getting warm, and I wasn’t sure of its temp limits, so I  took it easy on the uphill.  Some deciptive crests lead to a close call on the downhill.

Stage 2 – Copper Queen.  Another up and down stage, 5.1mi long, this one is less technical and more wide open than the first.  Very few crests or  drop-offs.

Stage 3 – Ragged top II, a repeat of Stage 1, with the same tricky crests.  I was more comfortable with the temp guage, so we kept it floored on the uphill.

Stage 4 is a repeat of stage 2.  This video is fun because of the shadows being thrown by the low sun through the car onto the dashboard.  Also look for one of our main competitors, Tom Moser in the VW Golf parked on a hill.  His car overheated,  and started leaking through the heatercore, leading to a very steamy cabin, with no visibility, then a quick stop.  We set the 6th fastest time.

North Nevada Rally – Night stages 5, 6, 7,8.  These are reverse runnings of stages 1-4, which were run in the afternoon.  Since we had over an hour to service the cars, the sun had set, taking with it some of the breaze that was keeping the dust away.  In my RWD car I found it very hard to set up for the corners when the entry is covered by dust, and my times reflect that.

Stage 9 – Wild Ass I.  This was the first stage Saturday.  Starting in a sandy open area  along a foothill, then racing up and over a ridge.  There was less elevation change than the other Saturday stage,  Purgatory, but run this direction, it was mostly uphill.  This one had some great dips and crests, with only two hairpin corners to interupt the flow.  At 9.5 miles it’s the 3rd longest stage of the rally.  By keeping it clean, and not worrying about overheating the car, I think we supprised the 2wd leader G. Doganis, by besting setting the fastest 2wd time.  Look for the jump after the cattle guard in the middle of the stage.  Also look for George’s fender liner, and tire tracks at a tricky left 3, before the final straights.

Purgatory, Stage 10.  this 10.5 mile stage was the longest and most fun of the event. It has it all, fast straights, fun crests, cows, hairpins, rocks, uphill and downhills.  You’ll have to watch it all.  Starting on the flat pastures, with a series of straights with dips into hard corners, then past the cows, along the bottom of a ravine, through some gates, then up some loose tight steep hairpins and down the other side, just as steep.  we did hesitate because of the engine temps on the uphill, but then so did everyone else.  once again I was faster than George, raising my hopes of a 2wd win.  Dust in the car and on the camera lens makes this video a little fuzzy, so check out stage 12 for a clearer view and faster time.

Stage 11 was a repeat of 9, George had caught on to my quick times, and beat me by 4 seconds.  We improved by 5 seconds over our first pass.  The video is more clear, which is nice because we took the jump a little quicker this time.

Purgatory II, I was on fire.  Or it felt like it, it was hot out.   We raced across the desert, flying over crests, and through gates. George put 12 seconds on us though, and I considered our pass faultless.

Stage 13, Purgatory East I, or hell backwards.  The whole character of the stage changes when you flip it around.  The initial climb is endless, my car was overheating even on the start line.  It was a matter of putting to the top, and letting the momentum do the rest.  The last third of the stage was a blast.  Which is why I didn’t start the camera until we were on the downhill.

Stage 14 of the North Nevada Rally, Ass Wild I.  We were excited to run some stages “down hill” and things were going great right until I heard my co-driver Britta whisper “exposure outside”.  At that point we headed off the road to what we expected to be a nice roll, our first.  Instead, after flinching pretty hard, we noticed that we had more racing to do, and headed down the wash on a 4wheeler track, untill finding a spot where we could regain the course.  After waving at the Radio Marshal, we spead off into the last half of the stage laughing all the way – even more so after the huge jump!

Stage 15 a repeat of 13, we did better, the off on 14 seemed to loosen us up a bit. We beat George again,  which felt nice.  The setting sun, and shade on the last half also felt nice.  Not nice was seeing Will and Ben on the side of the road after the first mile, their ecu couldn’t take the combo of heat, and uphill.

Stage 16, a repeat of 14, we were happy to still be in the rally. We took the jump easier, though we were spooked by Team Rally, the #530 Subaru, who rolled on the stage.  The dust was still clearing as we came past them.  I forgot to start the camera, so we have the last bit and not the first.  If you think the sun is bright in our eyes, you’re not the only one.

RESULTS PAGE –  http://www.rallydata.com/Results/NorthNevada_2011_ClubScoreBoard.htm

EVENT PAGE –  http://www.northnevadarally.com/


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