thedonproject
rally / idaho rally 2014

My Cascadia Cup with Al took a pause as he got his car back together, so I gleefully accepted a ride with fellow VW rallyist Bryan Watson. He has a custom turbo Rabbit that I have drooled over many times and I was stoked to have a chance to ride in it. Idaho is also an awesome event and less of a car-breaker than Oregon or Olympus, so I was looking forward to an easy finish and some good luck for Bryan, finally.

What I got was quite an experience. On the very first stage, the throttle linkage broke and we were stranded on stage. Bryan worked feverishly and used umpteen zip ties to get the car functional again. We managed to limp along for maybe a mile until the temporary fix gave up. Then, I got to check a box on the rally expert list: drive the car using a strap for the throttle. How it works is the driver operates the brake and steering (clutch/shifting if necessary) the normal way and the co-driver pulls on a strap connected to the throttle body in order to make the car go. Most nerve-wracking thing I've done in the car, probably. BUT IT WAS AWESOME. We made it back to service, but left service late due to the nature of the repairs. We got to the start of stage 2 and were ready to go. We started and the car died about a mile and a half into the stage with electrical failure. Some relay blew up and we were stuck again. Sweep came to rescue us, but some interesting decisions from the organizers left Bryan on the side of the stage with the car for the repeated run and we missed two stages we probably didn't need to. Finally, the car made it back to service and we finished stage 6 under our own power. However, it seemed the clutch/transmission had experienced some existential crisis over the course of the day. It was not sounding great. Without the motivation to stay up all night and dig into the transmission, we decided to continue until it blew up...

... which it did on the way to stage 1 of day 2. A fellow competitor in a BMW towed us to parc expose. I stayed with the car this time, while Bryan rode with one of the ATV's to service (or maybe he rode with sweep, I don't know). I ate breakfast with some interesting locals and talked a lot about rally in my firesuit to dudes with denim overalls on. It was kind of great, other than the fact that our rally was over. The crew came back to pick up me and the car and we went and spectated. It was disheartening to DNF both days for me, as I'd hoped I could help Bryan to some good luck, but it was quite an adventure.

Photo by Seana Rutherford