Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Our Epic Weekend of RallyCross (Day 1)

Our weekend began at 7am on Saturday Feb 28, when Danil arrived at my house in our wagon, which was so full it took quite a bit of creativity to fit the only two things I had with me - a backpack and a camera case. We had enough parts and tools to do pretty much any small repair imaginable (timing belt change included). We may have been over-prepared, but we didn't want to risk it when driving over 1000 kms and doing two rallycross events in one weekend. The car was so loaded by the time we arrived in Weedsport, our rear tires wore a hole in our shiny new Sparco mud flaps.

We arrived around 2pm, about an hour before the scheduled start time only to find that we were the only ones there and the track was nonexistent. All we saw was the field at Walczyks's farm covered in several feet of unplowed snow. We immediately had a bit of a deja-vu moment since we've already driven down to this venue once only to find the event was cancelled. Fortunately the organizer, James, arrived shortly after and assured us that everything is scheduled to run and a track will be carved out of the snow shortly.

We decided to run on the smaller field just off Ryan road as it would mean less snow clearing to do, and at sometime after 5pm we had a nice course laid out. And what a fun course! It was cleared almost down to the ground which meant that it was slippery enough to play with the car, grippy enough to get some speed, and strong enough not to become too rutted too quickly. It was also much wider than the courses at MLRC events we're used to, which meant plenty of cornering options rather than getting stuck in a rut and driving the same line as everyone before you.

One corner was particularly challenging. Taking it downhill in the runs before dinner it was outright scary as the landscape naturally pulled you into the outside snowbank. Going uphill when the course was reversed there was so much ice and so little weight over the front wheels the understeer was extremely difficult to manage. The one time I got though it perfectly pitching the car around the apex I got to the end of the run and realized that I forgot to take the e-brake off at the start! Surprisingly it didn't hurt my time at all. I confirmed that the e-brake helped with that corner on the next run, but then my mechanical sympathy took over and I stopped torturing the poor AWD system.

During one of his last runs, in an effort to catch up to me Danil over-corrected on one of the corners and plowed straight into a snowbank. The car stopped, windshield completely covered in a thick layer of snow. A second passed and we heard loud thuds on the roof - it was the snow that was launched into the air from the crash. Nevertheless, we got out under our own power and the only damage was a broken headlight.

After the run-in with the snowbank, Danil was confident his day was lost so it was up to me to claim any spots on the podium. Meanwhile the course was getting so beat up, I feared breaking a control arm, or worse. One of the cars actually de-beaded a tire on a particularly rough section by the finish. So I took it easy, trying not to make any costly mistakes and to save the car.

We finished our 8th run around 11:30pm and gathered for the final driver's meeting where the results were read, from last to first. We had no expectations at all, but when the 3rd place was read out and our numbers weren't yet called, we looked at each other and knew we had it! I claimed 1st and Danil claimed 2nd overall.

As we packed up we heard a lot of praise about our driving (thanks guys!) and a comment that really stuck with us: "You drove that thing like you didn't need to get back to Canada!". We did need to get back, as we had the MLRC rallycross at 9am the next morning, which was a 4.5 hour drive away. By the time we packed our things and said goodbye it was midnight.

Typically after an adrenaline rush like that, I'm exhausted. This time, after our 1-2 finish and the awesome time we had, I was couldn't be more full of energy if I drank a case of red bull! I got behind the wheel, drove the 3 hours to Belleville like it was nothing, and checked into a hotel for a 4 hour power-nap.


  1. Love this blog and awesome write-ups! After meeting you in person, I'm wondering why not give a try. Perhaps, go watch a few runs before making any commitment. So if you would like to share your rallycross schedule with me, I would like to come along and maybe learn some of your impeccable driving technique :)


    1. Thanks for the kind words William! Honestly, I'd be a bit scared to drive a car as clean as yours at a rallycross. But the next time we go I could definitely send you an email and you can see what it's like for yourself.