Winter challenger rally 07

Pulling up an old blog from myspace. 

It all started on January 20th when myself and the Russian went to winter awd driving school. We learned that when you enter a turn on snow you car should be sideways. And that is fun. While we were there at an all Subaru event there were two guys who stood out. One with an evo, and one with a Corrado. Obviously the Russian kids would show up with non Subaru's to a Subaru event. They told us of a magical event of a clandestine nature. Vermont winter challenge TSD. It has been running for like 20 years now.

The premise for the rally is a bunch of caffiened up over tired rally enthusiasts drive through the woods at unsafe speeds with no sleep for 10 hours. To add to the complication it doesn't start till 8pm. Sounds to simple eh? Lets now add in that there is no map, it is a sheet of paper with some writing comprised of miles, times, landmarks, and some more nonsensical writing which means nothing to my novice team. To make it a touch harder it is a "mildly trapped"(see note 1). Yea, didn't sound like fun yet. So they also give a "constant average speed" (see note 2). Now we are talking. to summarize what I thought I was doing before I signed up.

-driving fast at night in Vermont back road on ice and snow.
-the rest I do not know, but am looking forward to the first bulleted item.

So vlad and I sent in our paperwork. Nothing left to do now but let the realization of how unprepared we were for this experience. We figured since this is an Overnight Vermont winter challenge TSD, we should look at what we have going for us. We have both completed winter driving school. Overnight, hmm we both go to bed at 11 so this may not be in our favor. Barre, Vermont I live in Nashua(150 miles away) and vlad in Dover(even further), that doesn't seam to be good either. Winter, vlad thinks he should live in Florida and I don't like the cold. This also may not be to our advantage. TSD, having 20 days of knowledge of what a tsd was or even there existence, we were certifiable experts at this point.

Well, at this point I think I could have given a list of equipment which would be nice to have. So we figured since there was nothing else we knew that is what we should do. here is the list we came up with.

-Pi graphic, I think this shows best of what we will be doing. 2piR = us driving around in circles.
-full size spare- would be nice when out in the woods to not be a tripod with a donut. It wasn't a snow, but re92's are better then donuts.
-aluminum race jack, I hate oem jacks, and wrenches.
-breaker bar and socket, boo oem lug wrenches.
-Tow straps. I had one, and wouldn't realize why we should have two till the rally.
-spotlight, we used it a few times, but for 10 dollars at auto zone, it was worth it.
-shovel, maybe we should bring two next time.
-mittens and hat my gf made me, figured she would be happy knowing I wore her items she made for me.
-sugar free red bull, my family has a history of diabetes.
-trail mix, it makes me feel like I am on a pbs special.
-basic tool kit, so when something does break it will for sure need an obscure replacement and or tool which I did not plan for and will be stuck in the middle of nowhere.
-gas can with extra gas in case someone runs out, or we do away from town.
-jumper cables, for when the tow strap breaks and I need a last ditch effort. Make sure to get 4 gauge or higher for this reason. They also make nice exhaust hangers.
-glass cleaner and rainex, so I could see what I was doing while driving.
-new wipers, bird sap got onto the originals and tore them up.
-snow tires, re92's in the snow are about the same as trying to grip a rounded nut with an adjustable wrench.
-triangles, all the "off" equipment is there to ensure we prepared for nothing. Had we forgotten any equipment we would still be on the side of a hill, or in a cranberry bog.
-Ali G sound track. self explanatory. good way to start the night, ended with Nina Simone in the third section.
-Tire chains, again if we didn't take them, we would have needed them.

Now with an assortment of items bungee corded into the back of the wrx, we are off to the races. Well, in a week. Ruslan gave us advise of drive as fast as you can, and you will likely still be to slow.

Vlad handled the graphics from conception to installation.

We wanted more input and experience then that, so we started to seek alternate sources. when we got to Synaptic 3 http://www.synaptic3.com/ on Thursday for free pizza and to check out the shop, we met a guy named Rick who gave us lots of good advise on rally experience. He gave Vlad and I a much better mental position going into the race. I also poked around, looked at Aarons RX7, talked with him and the rest of the boys, and looked at djruslans almost done wrx. My machine shop teacher used to tell me, "look at a machinist hands. If they are intact, he is a good machinist." The guys have all of their fingers and it is where I bring any project I don't think I can handle. They all gave me some good info on driving, and how to approach it mentally. At 1:30 I headed home. I got home, and got stuck on a conference call till 5am with nz so I was thrilled to the max. This would have been a great schedule to move to for the weekend had I been able to skip work Friday and didn't have to help load a robot arena on Saturday at 10am. so Friday I get up do some bs for work, go and grab another 3a 55w driving light bulb (don't do a continuity test on these bulbs with 19. volts) installed, changed oil, and did a traction dance to Mickey Thompson, god of traction. well, at this point, I have nothing to do but hope. I stay in Cambridge on Friday wake up, go help Brian load some arena, and then take off. I have at this point driven 314 miles since Friday morning. I get to Nashua, go over my check list, and start grabbing things I am kind of remembering. some things that come up that I should have done but ran out of time

-Skid plate
-more lights
-mud flaps, I keep selling sets so I never get them put on my car.
-PA system for hailing enemy ships that seam hostile.
-directions to the starting point.
-done any research on what we were actually doing.

eh, screw it, it is now or never, we leave for the rally.

We stop somewhere in Vermont for some drinks and they had no public bathrooms. luckily the tree behind the building had no lines so I utilized that. With a Vermont atlas, little Debbie products and a power bar, we were on our way. as we reached the town of bair, we turned the wrong way off of the highway. this is a great start to an event which relies heavily on navigation skills. so as we went through the center of town, we saw an Audi with some extra lights so as I would normally do in a situation like this, I pulled in front of them and asked "where are we going" they were to say the least confused. I then explained how we were up for a rally and they offered to let us follow them back to the paddock. As we watched the gas fill his car like a gentle stream of urine, we gave up and took verbal directions. We then made it to the walker Mazda, and saw the rest of the rally guys. every single car and driving team looked more prepared then I did. We went and checked in, got our packet and looked at it like a dear in headlights.

Time for tech inspection. I have inspected 100's of robots designed to destroy things so I figured I could pass a car inspection without any trouble.

from there, we had to make an edit, rally safety guys said 86 the spare gas, so I went to the gas station to fill up my tank for stage I and while there, gave the tank to someone. His wife came out of the gas station and he had to smooth things over for some reason. Anyways vlad and I have bladders like thimbles so we used the fine gas stations water closet. On the way out, I spotted this poster by the car parts section. http://www.streetdrugs.org/eShop/products/retailposter.gif
I have on occasion before talked about meth, and it's prominence in northern NH. This stereotype, I also hold for northern Maine, and northern Vermont. well, northern New England and the Midwest as a whole. The counter lady then went onto a dissertation about meth in the south, and how the trailer they rent has meth burn stains on the walls that "don't get cleaned out some with soap" She then explained how I could make meth with items in the store and how to properly distribute it. Would you say this disproves or supports my theorem on meth use in northern New England?

We roll into subway and I ask the guy for a surprise and he was confused at first then got all excited he got to have a creative outlet for all his bottled up artistic ability which he never allows to shine while confined behind a subway apron. I tell you this Italian sub was a work of art.

Some coffee, and time to go back for the drivers meeting. When there, vlad pointed out Travis Pastrana, and I heard his story of his rental outback. Nice guy, wasn't a star, but a competitor. He rembered vlad, but didn't say his name because like everyone else, Russian names are hard to say due to the addition of extra constanants, and some things I wouldn't consider letters at all. We all received our route packet, and start time of 8:24. as we opened our packet we realized the extent of our lack of preparation for this rally so we laid out a few goals that seamed reasonable for our first event. in this order

1. Don't die
2. Don't total car
3. Don't damage car
4. Pull someone out of a snow bank so purchase of tow rope will be justified.
5. Finish a stage.

we go out and sat down to look at stage notes. It has three columns, one with mileage sometimes, one with some obscure directions, and one with times and "CAS". None of these meant a damn at this point to vlad or I. We started asking for info on what stuff meant. Adams wife helped us a bit, and rallyk did as well. Thanks both for your help. as we went through the book we read every line to see if it made sense, and made corrections that were called for. If we were to be rookies again, I would have read this information first, which I recommend to all of you.

So now we are completely screwed, at is almost start time, and we have no idea what is going on. Lets race. 8:23:39 seconds reset trip odometer, and say goodbye to the last time this precision would actually mean anything. we head off through the calibration stage, and are about 1 percent off. so on an 80 mile rally, that is .8 miles wrong by the end. Not to worry on stage one would never make it to the 8 mile mark. as we drive through the stage on the first turn we see a mini in the snow, we couldn't push him out so I hooked up to tow him. Having a firm understanding of my inability to place, let alone win, I didn't mind loosing time. We had him out a few minutes and we were both on our way. we started to get lost driving down the wrong roads a half dozen times or so, it was now after 10pm, and no freaking idea where we were.

luckily we were joined by the corrado of doom and another oil burning jetta. as we tried to get to no where as fast as we could, ruslan somehow took his corrado from on all four wheels going in the intended direction to pointing opposite the direction of travel and on his side. as Aaron and ruslan climbed out through the sunroof, we all pushed the car over and then assessed if it would be ok to move. We needed to tow it so jetta guy was going to hook on and pull him down hill. after some evaluation of the physics involved we decided to pull him up hill in order to no allow slack to form on the tow rope, or for it to break loose and slide into my car.

after we pull him out, synaptic 3 race support fastened his oil cooler back in, and away we go. we scrubbed the stage, and got back to 14. at that point we traveled up to cialis or something, and cut across some nice logging road at what may have been a high speed. as we get to the McDonalds they give us like 6 minutes before section 2, we get some food, and take off again. we did good up until check point two, then vlad started to get sick. the map and directions made him unable to navigate so I was trying to help out, and we see a datsun fly by us at fast mph. so we and the black rs followed at a brisk pace. Luckily it got us through this stage. P and H time for a peanut butter cup, and we are ready for stage 3.

We take off, and everything just starts making sense. vlad is spot on with all of his commands, his calculations are right on, and we are off like a dress on prom night. I am unsure of what our speed or times on this section was, but we had a blast and loved every minute of it.

I think I have convinced Dawn and Heidi to do the next rally day after my birthday. Maybe we can make her cammary the e car.
here is info on that.

Things I would bring for next time
-mores/better stop watches
-bigger button calculator
-more pencils, highlighters
-red headlight for vlad to read directions.
-in car camera
-finish skid plate, mud flaps, in car camera mount.

let me know anything else you have to say.
see you guys next time.