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TurnerX19 UberDork
5/9/23 10:03 p.m.

Great to see my local team on the podium. Congrats!!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/11/23 2:55 p.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Thanks!  We should catch up and talk about race car things some time after the current flurry of events is over.

So, what'd we learn?

-This thing held up great, although the underbody stuff definitely needs some help after these events.  I'm honestly surprised that I didn't need to do more during Bristol to keep it driving happily.
-The MRFs are just OK.  I'm going to experiment with other compounds and grooving to see if I can get them to feel a little better, especially in the steering department.
-I should consider a better helmet- we're getting to the point where the notes are detailed enough and I'm "in the zone" enough that if I can't hear something over the gravel, it throws things off.  My current helmet has aftermarket comms rather than proper integrated earcups like a Stilo and is probably not letting me hear Sara as clearly as it should.
-It was great on tarmac too!  Those free RE71Rs are finally fully cooked, but this has convinced me that it's worth getting decent tires next time I have the opportunity to race it on pavement for any real distance.
-Towing McGee's car back to service was probably hard on the clutch, I should launch it a few times once it's back together to see if I feel even the slightest slippage.

-The start of McCreary, I was really off my game.  We successfully reset and got back on pace once we were on a different stage, but I still need to snap out of it faster when I'm slow for no good reason.
-Bristol was the exact opposite- fast out of the gate and it felt like I was already warmed up.  I would really like to find a way to start in this frame of mind as often as possible.
-This car really, really rewards getting the brake bias right and I should be less afraid to mess with it midstage if things are feeling a little off.
-By the end of Bristol, I was using WAY more of the road than I usually do.  We should start noting places where it's safe to cut a bit into the shoulder.

-The Tundra continues to be awesome, and seems to be doing just fine other than some minor bumps and bruises after two pretty intense recces and a ton of towing and little twisty roads.  I should give it a good once-over.
-We switched from "direction-severity" to "severity-direction" for our notes on these two (so "five left" instead of "left five", etc).  This worked just fine, and only really took serious adjustment on recce- Sara's delivery at race pace is so good that I didn't really notice the change once we were underway.  In general, we can put even more info in the notes if needed and I need to trust them 100% and just drive.

RustBucketLegacy GRM+ Memberand New Reader
5/12/23 8:14 p.m.

Quality recaps as usual. We were stoked to see you two on the 9HIO podium, and it was fun hanging out as always.

RustBucketLegacy GRM+ Memberand New Reader
5/12/23 8:14 p.m.

Specific thank you to Sara for all the help and advice she gave Julia

rallyxPOS13 GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/13/23 12:16 p.m.

Great Write up, Congrats on the win!


Car looked smooth and fast out there in the woods, I got a few (terrible) pictures of you going through the hairpin at the spectator point on Stage 3:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/15/23 7:01 a.m.

In reply to rallyxPOS13 :

Thanks for the photos- that last one is especially interesting to me, wonder if it's lifting that inside rear wheel because it's out of droop, or if the rebound valving just didn't let it droop fast enough.

Up on the lift for damage assessment and, whoops, looks like the oil pan finally took a good hit:

Scope to the rescue:

OK yeah, I'm gonna say that oil pickup is a little too close to the bottom of the pan now.  Hopefully it wasn't like this for too long and we didn't hurt anything, I ordered a new pan and a baffle for while I'm in there.

The skidplate, predictably, took a good amount of hammering and jack work to get back to a reasonable shape- it's going to be time for a new one pretty soon:

Looks like time for rear brake pads again as well, these are pretty consistently lasting 3 events/set at this point:

And the rockers had their paint removed by gravel as usual:

I decided to also preemptively replace the rear axles with good used ones since they saw a ton of bouncing and shock loading at this event and were slightly clunky.  For anyone who somehow ends up here looking for how much stuff needs to come off to do an axle on this car, just the two lower links at the knuckle:

Turns out all of the clunk is the inner joints, the outers still feel great.  I'll keep the better of the two in the spares box:

I also cut out some new wheel scraper plastics but failed to photograph them.  The car will need new underbody plastics as well.

Overall, nothing too terrible as long as the mashed pan didn't hurt the engine.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/15/23 7:18 a.m.

Got a whole pile of pictures from Mack Press, including some really cool non-action shots.

ralleah GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/15/23 8:48 a.m.

Wow, those are fantastic.

Ethnic Food-Wrap Aficionado
Ethnic Food-Wrap Aficionado Dork
5/19/23 9:56 p.m.

Just popping in to say I can't make it to PIR tonight, or Goldendale tomorrow, but with any luck I'll get to meet the pair of you Sunday morning in Dufur.  Best of luck to Doug and Sara!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/24/23 6:54 a.m.

In reply to Ethnic Food-Wrap Aficionado :

Seems like we missed you, but I hope you still got out to spectate and had fun!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/24/23 7:24 a.m.

So, we both spent the weekend at Oregon Trail Rally- Sara codriving for Doug in the M3, and me crewing/spectating.  Doug threw me the keys to his Husqvarna for the weekend, and his friend Ryan played moto tour guide for tons of spectating; I was at every service and 7 separate spectating spots, or 9 if you count the PIR superspecial (but I walked to those).  Sara and Doug did great and the car had basically zero issues, including some crowd favorite moments like donuts in the spectator chicane and endless beeping of the horn.  Random photos below:

Recce pics from Sara:

Getting ready to start at PIR:

Me checking out Sam Albert's Ferrari F136 powered Subaru, most likely saying some variation of "this is the greatest thing I have ever seen":

Vintage paddock:

Glorious 3rd person onboard of the PIR stage from Sam and Krista in the Ferrari powered Subaru:


Parc for day 2:

Cars just ahead of Sara and Doug included Garth's awesome Starlet:

Service day 2 (Dave Clark!):

The glorious refuel rig:

and my borrowed spectating transportation:

Day 3 parc:

Last stage selfie:

and a couple action shots courtesy vladtyemedia:

In the end, Sara and Doug landed 4th in O2wd after pushing all weekend, including an 80ft jump, many trips north of 100mph including 106 on a flat tire, and the team losing their hotel room on the first night and having to scramble to find housing.  People and vehicles alike were unfazed and pressed on regardless.

It was super cool getting to see Sara compete, since I've never actually gotten to spectate while she's racing, and I had a wonderful time in my role as random guy on the other side of the country with a borrowed dirtbike- it felt really good to take a step back and just enjoy rally, in beautiful scenery, with cool people, and remember why we do this thing instead of being stressed about my car/truck/trailer/etc.  Thanks Doug, Dave, Ryan, Todd, and everyone else who makes OTR possible, it was fantastic.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/30/23 6:46 a.m.

Removed the mushed oil pan- all looks well in here:

Moroso baffle and a new OEM pan go together like this:

Note- if you have the Killer B oil pickup and want to install this stuff on the car, you actually need to install the baffle to the engine first and then slip the pan over it.  No pictures of this part since there was RTV on stuff and I wanted to get it together quickly.


Drove the car and all seems to be well again- no new noises or scary lights or codes, so unless this engine decides to eat itself at the next rally I'm going to say we got away with the oil pan damage and didn't hurt the internals.

Hammered the skidplate straight again and made new underbody plastics:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/5/23 7:00 a.m.

Long time no post- but not much has changed!  I got a new helmet, which should let me hear Sara's calls more consistently with gravel pinging off the bottom of the car, and we got in on a group tire purchase with a bunch of the New England guys:

So for the moment, we're back on the Hoosiers:

Ultimately, I would've been willing to give the MRFs another chance if I could get my choice of compounds/sizes, but the lack of availability pushed me back to these Hoosiers because I know and trust them and they hold up well enough to make a significant portion of the price difference worth it.

4th of July saw a few other rally cars at the shop, mostly to hang out and eat food and mount tires but a little actual work got done too.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/5/23 11:49 p.m.

Good luck at NEFR all of you....wish I could make it.

engiekev Dork
7/6/23 11:59 a.m.

Excellent photos of all the work!

How do you attach the plastic underbody protection - zip ties, weld nuts or riv nuts, etc?

And maybe I missed it, but how has the "protection" vinyl held up on the rear part of side skirts?

Are you planning on driving at LSPR this year?


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/6/23 12:20 p.m.

In reply to engiekev :

Underbody stuff is primarily held on with Subaru body fasteners, I collect them from junkyards- they have a nice 10mm head, a big washer, and a shoulder to keep it from just crushing the plastic:

Amazon.com: Genuine OEM 2005-2019 Juego de 4 tornillos de montaje de  lámpara de cabeza 57737GA290 MPN: 57737GA290 : Automotriz

"Indestructible" vinyl shredded in a couple stages, seemed pretty destructible to me.

Hoping to make LSPR but that's a long time and potentially a bunch of money away, so we'll see!


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/9/23 8:28 p.m.

New England here we come!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/17/23 7:11 a.m.

I don't really have words for this- we lost Erin Kelly on Friday, we were the last car at the scene before the stage was closed.  Erin was everyone's biggest fan, a great competitor, and a fantastic friend to those lucky enough to know her.




OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/17/23 7:55 a.m.

I read the news story over the weekend and feared this was your group. Sorry for the loss of a friend. 

golfduke Dork
7/17/23 8:40 a.m.

Yeah, a buddy was volunteering and told us the news... Heartbreaking.  I'm so sorry for everyones loss :(

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/26/23 7:27 a.m.

New England Forest Rally 2023


We did a full two pass of all the stages, which takes two days.  It was long but we've really gotten a lot of practice at efficiently getting through recce so it went pretty smoothly, just exhausting- Sara and I both agree that our notes are now good enough for this rally to potentially reuse in future years rather than putting 600 recce miles in.

Colin at Rally.Build also lent us a fancy GPS Monit rally odometer for this one, which we used on recce to give it a try:

Ultimately we decided that for our purposes, the Monit is a little excessive and we can get away with the tripmeter app on a phone instead, but it was cool to get to use the real deal to see what we're missing.

We did some video review of the notes and declared ourselves ready.

Day 1

Parc Expose was a fun time at Sunday River as usual.  Orange dogs, orange cars:

Pretty soon it was off to Concord Pond for SS1.

A brief aside about mindset here: for this rally specifically, I had decided that I'd rather crash the car than come back disappointed in my driving for being too conservative again.  Sara and I have been working to find more speed, and I've been working to try and train what I'm going to call "driver brain" where I don't overthink, I just take in notes, drive the car, and stay in the zone.  It worked.

Concord Pond is an incredibly difficult stage to go fast on to start a rally but we did- pulling off a 5:04.5, better than our personal best on it and 3rd in class to Horrocks (very familiar with that stage) and Brolin (has gotten his car sorted out and is getting much faster).  My new helmet was letting me hear the notes better, the Hoosiers felt amazing compared to the MRFs I had been on for the last couple events, and the goal was clear- break the 5 minute mark on the next pass.  To me, 5 minutes is the "oh they know what they're doing" time on this silly fast rollercoaster of a stage.

Second pass of Concord, 4:57.4:


I was actually mad at the end- coming out of "driver brain" is hard and I knew there were like 15 more seconds of later braking and more commitment out there, but I was still glad to get under 5 minutes, a goal that has been years in the making.

Back to service, a quick once-over of the car, and we were off to SS3 South Arm, another crazy fast stage but with less big crests and more rocks.  We pushed even harder here and it worked great, taking the fastest L2wd time and regularly upwards of 100mph on the faster sections.

Then SS4, Beaver Pond, where we yet again pushed but gave up a little time to the smaller and more agile cars in the class.  I honestly think we could have found more speed here with more ground clearance or better suspension, there were lots of rocks and chattery bits to upset the car but we got quite a lot out of it considering the massive difference in pacing between this stage and the three prior.


At this point we were leading L2wd but Brolin was right behind us- Horrocks had had some mechanical issues so unfortunately was dropping back a bit.  Icicle Brook was next, and we pushed even harder yet again, just absolutely flying through the fast yet narrow and rough top section when I clonked a rock with the right front wheel and bent something.  The steering wheel wasn't straight any more, and the car didn't want to turn left very well, but we continued to push and still got deep into 5th gear on the compromised suspension.

Near the end of the stage, we encountered the SOS that would turn out to be TJ and Erin's crash- I don't really want to go into detail on that, other than to say that many of our fellow competitors are heroes and I'm proud to call them friends.  We were rerouted onto a long transit back to Sunday River, and everyone was treated to this view which otherwise would have been well off the planned route:

The remainder of the event was cancelled the next morning.  The food which had been planned for the awards was moved earlier in the day, and everyone gathered for this big picture in honor of Erin:

And because that wasn't enough, a bunch of us drove up Mt. Washington in her memory as well- some in rally cars (photos by Brutus Thorn):

The timing even worked out that we were at the top when Dan, Neil, and Sterling arrived- they had hiked the mountain starting that morning.  We all got together and took a photo yelling at the camera at the summit:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/26/23 7:33 a.m.

So what bent?

When this happens, I've realized you can actually feel distinct stages of it- first the steering gets weird because you have like 15 degrees of camber, but the big problem really comes when the insert cracks and spills oil everywhere, because that's when you start to lose the brakes on that corner:

We have quite a collection of these at this point:

And the housing is bent too, again:

So I repainted the inside of the tower and ordered stuff to build 50mm Bilstein struts instead- more expensive but I think it's time we make a reliability upgrade here.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/26/23 7:41 a.m.

One more note about mindset- the bounce from finally managing to push hard out of the gate and make time wherever I could, to seeing the scene of the crash and ultimately the aftermath of the tragedy of Erin losing her life, was extreme.  I have been thinking a lot about it, and for a while was very unsure whether I could get back in the car and compete- and I'm not getting back in until I'm ready, but I'm also working to make myself ready.  The tools at my disposal for this are basically a mountain bike and a homemade driving simulator but I think that'll be enough, I just have to work at it and make sure I can keep that focus.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/26/23 7:43 a.m.

I am looking at the geometry and wondering if the housing bending isn't what is causing the strut to fail, and not the strut failing causing the housing to bend.  It looks like it's bent right where the ears attach, and then the strut can't compress that far anymore so it folds?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
7/26/23 7:44 a.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

I have three bent inserts that came out of two straight housings, although who knows what the more catastrophically damaged ones looked like prior to the bigger oopsie that broke them.  I think I have destroyed five total inserts now.

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