Well, at least the spectators got a show. We definitely annihilated some tires at the PIR stage. Unfortunately, the Fire Breathing Volvo stopped breathing fire there, as well.
It was set to be a volvo battle of the ages. Arguably the fastest collection of Volvo rally cars for quite some time were assembled and ready to party. Jardevall was there with his fancy '93 940. Derek Knight with his pretty reliable 242. Newcomer Patrick Pieper (from Santa Cruz!) with a new 244 build. Cody Crane and I in the fire breather. Alas, only half of those entered would finish and we were the first to drop out.
We ran the shakedown stage (a first for me!) and had no issues. Cody took a family member on a second run and still no drama. Even the first stage was great. Cody was really putting on a show for the kids and was a crowd favorite. He absolutely slayed the used rally tires we started with, turning most of them into carbon-based gases and still finishing 2nd in regional for the first stage behind a Porsche that probably cost 3-4 times as much to build. Stage 2 was just too much for the car, though. We limped it through most of the stage as it ran like garbage on fewer than the required number of cylinders and got back to service pretty dejected.
The car and crew went to the shop nearby and we proceeded to try everything possible to diagnose and repair. We thought we got it sorted and headed out to the Eastern stages with some doubt, but the Press On Regardless spirit. At Parc Expose, however, the gremlins returned and we chatted with the best rally mechanics I know to get some assistance, but we lacked the spares for the ancient ECU to try the most promising suggestions. Everything else possible didn't solve the problem, so we turned in our time card and went to the service guy's local house to work all day on the issue without success.
I ended up driving home early after a pretty disappointing outing for the ol' beast. Cody was also quite bummed and it took him some time before he was ready to put some more effort into getting it ready to rally again. However, he has started the process of diagnosing and upgrading, so it shouldn't be too long before it is out on the stages again!
Photo by Kellen (Cody's son)