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eastpark HalfDork
3/20/23 8:37 a.m.

Wonderful dog, thanks for posting that. My condolences. 

SaltyDog Dork
3/24/23 2:40 p.m.

So sorry for your loss.

She lived a wonderful life.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
3/27/23 7:57 a.m.

Nothing big this weekend- just some cleanup and little things like that.  New tires mean new contingency logos, I don't love the green and white but I guess it matches the windshield banner, and the Tire Streets contingency looks pretty solid so hopefully we get a few sets out of this:

Truck has also been getting minor work, I was tired of the poorly cut clearance around the third brake light and the reflection off the front of the flatbed blinding me at night, so I made this little tail panel with some LED truck lights and an extra reverse light- visibility out of the back of this thing is poor so I'll take all the help I can get:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
3/27/23 3:02 p.m.

We've got a pretty crazy series of events on the horizon:

-Sara heads out to codrive for Doug Heredos in an M3 at Olympus in Washington

-The following weekend, we head to McCreary Gravel Rally in Kentucky

-We stay in Nashville for a few days for a work conference Sara has there (what are the chances?) and I'll "work from home"

-A third consecutive rally weekend for Sara and second for me at Bristol Forests Rally in Tennessee

-Home for one weekend

-We both fly out to Oregon Trail Rally, Sara codriving for Doug again


4 rallies, 5 weeks- I like that math.  Codriving out west is an exciting opportunity for Sara, and I'm hoping that the back to back events we've dubbed "The McBristol" give me a really good opportunity to learn and improve more than two events with greater separation would.  This may present some car reprep challenges in between but that will be a good test of the car and the stuff we bring on the road.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
4/2/23 8:50 a.m.

Front of the Tundra got a light upgrade too:

This turned out to be pretty involved and meant some cutting and welding of the leading edge of the hood.  Hopefully it works well enough, I blacked out all the remaining plastic in that slot so it shouldn't have any weird reflections. The factory highbeams aren't terrible but some extra light should be helpful for those long night tows.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/3/23 9:54 a.m.

Stealthy! I like it. What bar is that?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
4/3/23 10:11 a.m.

In reply to AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) :

This curved 32" thing.  I really lucked out on the curve matching the Tundra grille- drove to work this morning, and with a little tweaking it's aimed down the road nicely.  It doesn't throw as far as something like a Diode Dynamics but it reaches far enough not to be outdriving it at legal speeds.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/3/23 11:09 a.m.


java230 PowerDork
4/3/23 12:33 p.m.

Very nice. I did the same thing on mine. I have found it vibrates enough to rotate up over time. Really annoying since access sucks. Just keep an eye out for that.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/4/23 8:18 p.m.

Remind me when traveling near you guys to stay behind you lol....


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
4/10/23 6:46 a.m.

Did some tire testing this weekend, primarily to get a baseline brake bias for tarmac but also to try the MRFs back to back with the Hoosiers.  The MRF mediums seem to be a harder compound than Hoosier hards, and have less grip accordingly- mostly in a straight line, cornering is closer to comparable.

A few quick tire swaps and some driving determined that the difference between gravel and tarmac is about 2 and 7/8 turns of the bias adjuster- I'm sure I'll end up tweaking it on the fly but that at least gives me a starting point other than "oh boy this is way off."

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
4/17/23 10:10 a.m.

These RE71s I got from Patrick via the EvanB express hopefully still have 14 miles in them- they still seem to get a little stickier as they get hot but this will definitely be their last event:

My plan for a quick graphics change for McCreary arrived- NASA and ARA don't want to see eachother's logos so I'll need to cover up with some magnetic sheeting and gaffer tape:

And I've been doing much spares inventory to make sure I have things for repairs in between.  I'm also slowly piecing together an extra box which will get things like drills and rivets that I don't normally bring but may need for a quick patchup:

And Sara is all packed to head off to Olympus this week:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
4/24/23 9:14 a.m.

Sara had an eventful but pretty excellent Olympus!  It was super muddy/rainy/foggy/all things Pacific Northwest out there, but they put in respectable times all weekend and made it through a very high attrition rally, even towing a fellow competitor to the finish line on the very last transit.

Back at home, I did some tool organizing to top up my lost or overly worn sockets:

Decided to give some rock guard vinyl stuff a try in the highest wear area of the quarter panels:

And got the truck mostly packed for the McCreary/Bristol McBristol McDouble we've got coming up.

engiekev HalfDork
4/24/23 12:52 p.m.

That rock guard stuff looks neat, easily replaceable. Do you have a link to where you got it?  It looks suspiciously like gaff tape...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
4/24/23 12:56 p.m.

In reply to engiekev :

It's this stuff from Amazon, give me two weeks to test it!

engiekev HalfDork
4/25/23 11:24 a.m.

If a product name has "Indestructible" in it, what better place to test than a rally stage!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/8/23 7:03 a.m.

In reply to engiekev :

Short answer- not rally indestructible.  Great chip guard for street stuff I bet but it shredded in a couple stages.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/8/23 7:17 a.m.

McCreary Gravel Rally

Tow and Recce and Stuff

Our McBristol adventure kicked off with McCreary Gravel Rally, a relatively new event in Kentucky.  With two events planned just a week apart, we brought a whole lot of stuff:

The tow was uneventful although things got very rainy as we entered Kentucky.  We got the trailer wedged into the airbnb and I set about a quick coverup job to take the car from ARA graphics to NASA:

Colin's team (608 Rallysport) was sharing the airbnb with us for this one, arriving late with work still to do on the car.  The next morning, while we went out for recce, they were hard at work finishing things up in the carport to get through tech before it closed:

They eventually did, and recce went well for both teams.  What we found out on the stages (3 of them, run in different directions) was that the next day would start out very fast, move to some rough stuff, and end on a wonderfully twisty smooth road with some big elevation changes.  A sample of the road conditions:

And the big nasty Redden's Run crossing we would have to do battle with twice midday- this is a section of heavy rocks into a creek where you basically have to just keep the car above water.  Our note was "rock crawl through crossing right" I think:

Later that day we had a parc expose near The Whistle Stop and got to check in with the 608 guys, freshly through tech with a little work remaining but the car was looking good:

Back to the house for some note cleanup, finishing touches on the cars, and sleep.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/8/23 8:11 a.m.

McCreary Gravel Rally

Race Day

Up early and off to the stages!  There was a little delay for SS1 as the ambulance made its' way out to the stage start, but otherwise it was looking like good weather and generally ideal conditions as the rain had subsided and the roads were drying out.  The first 4 stages of the day were Wild River and Wild River Reverse, basically a fast road made primarily of 5s and 6s along the side of this lovely river:

I set pressures on the MRFs and waited- this was our first rally on them and I didn't totally know what to expect.  When we eventually got going, I have to admit I really started out WAY off the pace- the MRFs don't really have the same steering response I'm used to, and the Wild River stage had really loose gravel that doubled up on the feeling of "WTF is the front end doing" which I reacted to by braking way early and generally not pushing very hard.  I was frustrated, Sara was frustrated, Kevin Schmidt's car was off and broken after the finish, and Colin's recently rebuilt Subaru blew its' engine.  Bad start.

For SS2 we got another crack at Wild River in the same direction and went a bit faster, but my driving was still crap.  Frustrating.

At the turnaround, we checked in with Colin (out of the rally) and Kevin (just needed a bolt to get back to service) and waited- eventually it was decided we would only get one pass in this direction to get the rally back on schedule.  SS3 or 4 or both, depending on how you slice it, then, was Wild River Reverse and I yet again basically wussed and out drove slow.  Back to service, let's just ignore all that and reset for the next stages.  Sara's notes were perfect, I just needed to remember how to drive; I consulted with my driving coach on my performance so far:

The car was fine and the next two stages were Redden's Run, tight and some really rough spots- a new environment to hopefully get things together and go faster while still leaving enough margin not to break the car.  So we gave that a shot.

SS5, right off the line things almost immediately felt better- the stage was tight but I could trust the notes and the surface felt more like road and less like marbles than the last stage.  We managed to slow it down enough in the right places, and commit in on the blind crests in the smoother bits, all without drowning the car in the huge creek crossing- we finally ran a respectable time and generally felt better.  Time for another pass.

SS6 we chopped off another 15 seconds without much increased risk of damage, aced the creek crossing, and other 2wd Light cars had issues- apart from Dexter Clark's Sentra, we managed to put time on everyone in our class here, bumping up into 2nd place as various misfortunes took out a whole pile of cars or slowed them way down.

Back to service again, and the 608 dudes made quick work of checking the car over- still fine other than one corner of the skidplate having a cool new angle to it.  Kevin Schmidt was back in the action for the last loop, as was Adam Vandamme (taken out by a broken axle on SS5).  This meant we got to transit with both of them, which was fun and hopefully I'll dig up a photo of all of our cars rolling through the twisty Kentucky backroads together.  These last stages were definitely the favorites from recce and we were all ready and excited to give them a shot.

SS7 Bear Scat was just as good as it had looked on recce- just piles of linked corners, plenty of runoff on some and cliffsides on others, and a surface that was mostly grippy other than a mile or two of marbles.  We put in a halfway respectable time, although we still had no hope of catching Dexter Clark, and Nick Lyle was flying too despite his off earlier in the day- we let him pass us in the time control for the next stage so he wouldn't have to deal with our dust if he was catching up from behind.

Despite feeling a bit better in the car, I was still pretty annoyed with my own driving at this point- it's really a difficult internal battle sometimes, knowing I can brake much later and throw the car into corners harder, trusting the notes, trusting the car, and yet still the muscle memory takes over and I go too safe instead.  On SS8, Chicken Bristle Hollow, I did my best to overcome that; early in the stage I failed, but as we got into the more open sections near the end I was throwing the car more, braking later, and taking some safe cuts here and there- this was marginally faster at least, and hopefully got things clicking a bit more.  To be honest I think I was overdoing it and wasting time by being overly sideways everywhere instead.  The notes were perfect as always and the car was great.

I like this picture a lot- Dexter's Sentra in front, then the Larsens' Civic and Kevin's RX7 (both attempting the same McBristol double as us) followed by Nick Lyle's Civic and us at the back:

SS9 and we were going back up Bear Scat again- a good bit faster this time, shaving off about 15 seconds and doing a bit better.  Still not where we should be but I was happier with it.

Time for the traditional last stage selfie like Al Dantes Jr would do- the great thing about a turnaround stage is you get everyone in the same place at once:

On SS10 we passed Nick Bragg's car on the side of the road- they had been running 3rd overall but ran out of fuel, of all things, on this very last stage.  Then we got passed by the SxS behind us, and generally just couldn't stay in the groove for long.  On the upside, it was good to run with friends all day, our car didn't seem hurt, and as added bonuses Gusmano's Golf finished (you may remember his semi-disastrous Sandblast adventure) and the only rally prepped Jaguar X-Type in the world finished too!

So how'd we do?  Well, primary by outlasting much of the competition, we nabbed 2nd in 2wd Light and 6th overall.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/8/23 8:25 a.m.

Intermission (Nashville)

So, a big part of what made this whole double rally schedule possible for us was Sara's work conference in Nashville.  We stopped an visited friends on the way for a puppy hike:

Got to work reprepping at the airbnb:

How do you re-straighten a skidplate in a random dirt driveway?  Some sticks, a jack, and a truck work just fine:

Once the car was back together, a quick test drive around Nashville:

A visit to this awesome drum shop (good thing the truck was full already):

Sara got to meet and chat rally cars, A-10s, and vet medicine with Martha McSally, the first female fighter pilot ever to fly in combat:

And the pups got a little tour of downtown Nashville too:

And then, to cap it all off, on our way over to Bristol we had an awesome stay in a tiny house on the side of a mountain:

And I mean tiny, puppy for scale:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/8/23 9:02 a.m.

Bristol Forest Rally

Recce and Day (Night) 1

We were sharing a house with Josh (irish44j)'s team and Andrew and Julia (RustBucketLegacy) for this one- we got out and recce'd some stages before getting to the house, and things were looking fast on the initial tarmac stages, and rough everywhere else.  Big rocks and tight turns are pretty much this rally's whole deal, and we were excited for the changeup of 14 miles of tarmac at the beginning.  Josh and Jim seemed to have a similar impression of the stages they recce'd, and Andrew and Julia were running behind and still towing out but committed to getting to their first rally, recce or no recce.

The next morning, I was off to tech first thing and passed just fine.  I was a little nervous about the tarmac tires, as they're a really cooked set of RE71Rs and were very skatey on the way to tech without heat in them, but we resolved to run them either way as they were probably still better than gravel tires.  Car parked back at service with lots of friends all in a row (this event was almost entirely 2wd cars, with a few NA4wds sprinkled in).

A little more recce (more rough and tight stages, surprise) and our notes were really very solid for this one- we had every variation of a 1 and 2, some hairpins, lots of notes on where to keep it tidy or what to avoid, etc.  Sara is really a phenomenal codriver and our system works really well for us at this point, especially on roads like these.

There was no parc expose for this event so at around dinner time we lined up and headed out to SS1, Appalachian Tarmac.  After a slight delay from a random hunter managing to drive onto the stage, things went hot and we got lined up- the tires took a bit to heat up but once they did things felt GREAT- I haven't raced on pavement in a bit but the car was balanced, the notes were perfect, and apart from a little scare as the brakes faded a bit with the increased grip we ran a clean run with room to improve for next time.  We nearly tied with both Eric Pat and Matt McGee, all on the same second in L2wd after the first pass.  Everyone loved the tarmac, and the general feeling at the turnaround is well captured in this picture of Tim (rallybug driver):

As the stage got turned around, things got pretty dark- photo of the 0 car for reference:

Lights on and we were flying on SS2- now that I knew I could trust the tires, we were really moving and (hopefully) pulling a bit of a gap on the rest of L2wd when we suddenly came up on Chris Cyr's Fiesta off the road in a cloud of smoke.  He looked to have just emerged from the car holding the SOS sign, and as we slowed to him he yelled "FIRE" and we pulled over, hit the appropriate button on the RallySafe, and hopped out- it turned out he had gotten stuck in the ditch and basically did a burnout until the exhaust lit the leaves on fire trying to escape.  His codriver was having issues getting their extinguishers out, so I climbed in and figured out the release as the smoldering leaves cooked themselves off under the car- in the end, no extinguishers were needed  but that was the end of the stage for us and everyone behind.  Not my favorite end to the night but oh well, we handled it well I think.

It later turned out that, since we were the first car that stopped and triggered the fire SOS, the rumor at the start line was that WE had been the ones on fire- lots of people checked in with us throughout the rest of the evening, which was nice.  We drove back to service and swapped to gravel tires, ready to start the next day in basically a tie for the lead in L2wd with McGee and Pat.

Our friends were all still in it, many having gone REALLY fast on the tarmac (Dylan and Ben in 3rd overall!) or as fast as their car can go (Adam and Bryce in a Volvo with 90 screaming swedish horsepower, Andrew and Julia in literally their first competition stages ever on a couple hours of sleep).

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/8/23 9:50 a.m.

Bristol Forest Rally

Day 2

This day would be all gravel, and we were in a familiar position starting just behind Matt McGee, who we had a spectacular battle with at this same rally last year.  Fresh off the tarmac speed of the night before, fresh off a gravel rally a week ago, we were ready to try and go fast.  We were also running our last set of leftover Hoosiers, with the MRFs ready to go on the car later after the rocky surface inevitably took its' toll, and the Dirtbug was carrying an extra spare for us since we both use wheels of identical spec.

SS3 was Jacob's Creek, a twisty rocky thing like the rest but with relatively minimal elevation change- we went fast right out of the gate and I was feeling good, this is how every morning of rally should start as far as I'm concerned.  A little dust but nothing too bad, and we were beaten by Donnelly's Fiesta by a few seconds but it was good enough to move us into the lead of L2wd.

SS4, McQueen Gap, is a similar surface but has a massive climb for miles, which put us at a bit of a power disadvantage but we made the best of it anyway, only being beaten by McGee by one second and holding the L2wd lead.  Honestly these morning stages all blend together a bit for me, but things felt fantastic and we were linking corners, grabbing handbrake, dodging rocks, skimming over bumps, and just generally doing the thing right.

At the turnaround, Andrew asked if we had any oil, and luckily I had just the thing!  Our little fluid caddy lives way down in the back seat area so I assumed the position and retrieved some oil:

Adam Brock had also finally installed a hydraulic handbrake for this event, and seemed to be having a great time with it- I'm telling anyone reading this, if you do any tight rallies just add one, it's so much fun on hairpins!

Back out for those same two stages again and immediately we were back on pace- on SS5 we extended our lead with the fastest L2wd, and on SS6 both McGee and Donnelly got us by a few seconds but we still had a bit of a buffer for overall time.  Unfortunately, many of our friends weren't so lucky, with 3 e30s retiring on this stage- Downey had a pretty nasty fuel leak and a mangled tierod from running over somebody's exhaust, Hickey holed the radiator, and Brolin broke a control arm.  Unfortunately we couldn't do much for any of that so it was off onto the local twisties that serve as the transit routes for this rally:

Back to service and the sharp rocks had clearly taken their toll on the rear tires- cords showing in multiple places:

So we swapped those for MRFs and went back out to run SS7, Sinkhole Long.  We were yet again right back up to speed, even with the slight adjustment of our tire change, but with many rocks and ruts to dodge on this one things got really dicey as the dust picked up.  How much dust?  This much:

Somehow we managed a white knuckled second-fastest time in L2wd on that one, as others dealt with similar dust issues.  Towards the end of the stage I could smell rubber burning, but at the finish it became clear that it wasn't us- McGee had been running on a flat for nearly the entire stage, which explains the heavy dust too.

Big turnaround stage means long time to hang with rally friends, which is always fun- although we noted the absence of the Beetle, as Tim and Steve had gone full Dukes of Hazzard and launched the thing to the moon over an intersection, breaking just about the entire front end.  Andrew and Julia were still in it though, not having recce'd a single gravel stage of their first rally and just driving the jemba notes.

At this point, the only other car on track for completing all stages of both McCreary and Bristol was the Larsens' Civic and they had split a brake line- but hey, I have fluid, just let me get in there again while Ben and Dylan make fun of me:

Soon enough it was time to run back out the other way on SS8 Countersink Long, and we backed off the pace just a bit not wanting to damage the car- at this point the attrition rate was pretty wild so keeping it clean seemed more important.  Nick Bukky on the other hand, in his Honda Fit, was absolutely doing the opposite to try and catch us and beat our time on this one by 14 seconds and started reeling us in a bit, but we still had that buffer from earlier in the day to lean on.

After the finish, we found McGee in the shoulder of the road with about 7 miles to service- he had smashed the radiator on the last stage and couldn't keep water in the thing.  So naturally this happened:

We got him back to service in time, but unfortunately the damage to his car was too extensive to fix in 30 minutes and they had to hand their timecard in- just one stage short of the finish, a huge bummer.

Our car was deemed good enough and we were ready:

We transited back out for the final stage, SS9, Countersink (basically the last 2/3rds of the stage we had just run).  Last stage selfie!

We yet again ran a more conservative pace for this one, and yet again Nick Bukky smashed our time- lucky there weren't more stages because he had clearly found the nitrous button in that Fit or something, extremely impressive times.  Another unfortunate issue on this one for another L2wd car too, as Eric Pat and Phil Barnes went off in the tarmac section in the middle.

So with all that drama, how'd the L2wd podium end up?  Well...

Let me break down this podium a bit because this is cool in a lot of ways- Adam on the right there, has DNF'd this rally twice and this is his first podium finish at any rally.  He also caged all three of the cars on this podium- his Volvo, Bukky's Fit, and our BRZ.  Bryce, his codriver, is last year's SuperChampio #1 codriver.  Nick Bukky was last year's SuperChampio second place driver, and Bristol was his very first rally last year.  And Sara on the top step is at her third rally in 3 weekends.

And Dylan and Ben put that GC on the OVERALL PODIUM too!

And Andrew and Julia finished their first rally despite an over 50% attrition rate!

And the Larsens finished McBristol along with us, with a solid finish in O2wd to boot:

I wish we could keep doing this every weekend forever- huge thanks to everyone who helped, organized, competed, photographed, or just came along for the ride digitally!

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/8/23 10:11 a.m.

Fantastic adventure!  Congrats on the win!!

fidelity101 UberDork
5/8/23 3:17 p.m.

great result to a hell of a McBristol, its going to be hard NOT doing these back 2 back. Well worth the prep. As far as tires goes it seemed even the hoosier hards were extra torn up too. I found the MRFs to hold up well but we also DNF'd pretty early on stage 3 and then missed 4-6. Great seeing you guys as always and even with the attrition there was great 2WD battles taking place all weekend. 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/9/23 2:44 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

Despite feeling a bit better in the car, I was still pretty annoyed with my own driving at this point- it's really a difficult internal battle sometimes, knowing I can brake much later and throw the car into corners harder, trusting the notes, trusting the car, and yet still the muscle memory takes over and I go too safe instead. 

The closest I've gotten to rallying is a couple of DirtFish schools, but I know exactly how this feels because I get that almost every weekend I go road racing.  Still haven't figured out a way to reliably beat it, alas.

I love reading your thread BTW!  Congrats on the win!

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