2016 is going to be an exciting year for my rally career. With my brother slacking on getting back at it, I took an offer of a year-long (hopefully) campaign for the Cascadia Cup with Steven Redd and the Nameless Rally Team. The right seat in their monster custom Subaru BRZ tempted me to set aside my disdain for Subarus in exchange for RWD and the most powerful car I've had the pleasure of riding in.
Oregon Trail served as the first rally in a testing and tuning campaign designed to improve and strengthen the car as a showcase for the quality of Nameless products and a promotion for Dick Hannah Subaru. The team is a solid group of professionals and talented fabricators and mechanics. The car is beautiful and simple, and is vastly popular with fans. It drew large crowds at PIR on Friday night and I spent a lot of time promoting the team's work and sponsors.
On stage, the monster lived up to it's reputation and was a beast. Our goal for the weekend was to learn the car and get all those horses under control. Friday, we spun twice and stalled once, but never in a truly dangerous spot. Saturay morning, it seemed like things were going to go the same, with a spin on the first gravel stage of the weekend. We got stuck on the lip of a ditch. A photographer ran down from his spot and helped me push the beast out of the ditch. We continued on our way, a bit chagrined. I will say, I picked up the notes immediately after that, because I am awesome.
Lesson learned, we sped on our way through the rest of the new Oregon Trail stages in southern Washington (thanks for some new roads!). Steven learned a bit about what to do when things literally go sideways and we learned more and more about how to tame the beast. I started letting him go a bit, first on 5's, then on 4's and we were setting better (top 20 overall) times. We finished the day 16th in the regional and 2nd in Gp5 (but 9th in 2WD), with a lot more confidence in the car and ourselves. However, that last stage at night was probably one of the top five most frightening stages I've been on. Massive drop-offs and no concept of where they are kept me tense through the whole stage, that's for sure.
Day 3, we moved to the straighter stages out by Dufur, which the powerful BRZ had a distinct advantage on. Stage 16 was our first top 10 time (tied with 1st in 2WD national!) and a little spin on the last stage was the only thing that kept us from a regional podium. We won our class over the very talented Hintz brothers and even bested Tim O'Neil, which is quite an accomplishment. Most important, however, was the first finish for the car in a few years after being driven by some top talents from around the world. We successfully completed all the stages and achieved our goal of testing the car, with a bonus of some trophies to take home. Next rally for the team is Olympus and we're hoping to repeat that goal at our home rally.
Photo by Randy Montgomery