We put the Hurt on Dirt

Posts tagged “rally

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.


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’

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

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