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Cheap Thrills - Rallycross

This weekend was the first rallycross in the southwest.  This is a 
new format from SCCA, which is a cross between Solo and Rally.  We
had a fairgrounds parking lot in Ridgecrest California for the site.
Ridgecrest is the company town for China Lakes Naval Weapons lab.
It is out in the Mohave, about 2.5 hours from LA.

The rallycross was the culmination of a weekend of rally activities,
including a national pro rally licensing school, a symposium on
going ralling, a navigators workshop (in car), a driver's roundtable
discussion, and finnaly, chance to show off your stuff in the dirt,
with a bigger crowd of spectators than most rally courses ever get
in the US.

The attendance for the weekend was great, with double the expected 
number of cars showing up for the rallycross (~40).  Ray Hocker
did a great job of putting on this event, and handling the slug
of cars.  Other notable helper included Mike and Paula Gebeault,
who led the symposia, Ron Wood and Kelly Walsh who did tech, 
roundtable discussion,timing, etc, and Lon and Nancy Peterson
who also both filled in in many roles.

After tech the course was layed out, and the field split up into
three run groups.  First group was street stock, and street stock AWD.
The second run group was California Rally Series (CRS) stock and
performance stock (PS).  Finnaly, run group three included CRS 2wd Open
and CRS AWD Open.  This includes cars that would run under U2, G5,
SCCA Production GT, and Open 4WD classes.  It was the smallest and
fastest class.  We knew more about the rally car mix than the street 
stock car mix ahead of time.

	The street stock class saw a wide range of vehicles, from a 
64 Doge Dart, to an s-10 pickup, and a 200 Quattro wagon (Avant).
As you can guess from this wide mix, it was very fun to watch.

	We ran several runs in a clockwise direction, followed by a
course change to the oposite direction, and a liberal application of
water from a large tank truck.  Things changed dramatically every run.
the results for the event were based on the cummulative time for all runs.
We did not know ahead of time how many runs we could fit in, and every
run counted toward the overall, and clean runs were required for a class
win.  Clipping a cone, described as leaving it laying down, cost you 2 cones
(pushing or twirling it was OK).

	My experience went something like this.  I was sharing my Mazda 323
GTX ("A quattro at half the price") with Steve Winter who flew in from
Korea.  Being in the middle of a Interccoler transplant, I had some unrolled
hose seals.  One popped of while warming up on the street.  We quickly 
slid it back on and got in line for Steves first run.  He ran clean and set
one of the faster times.  Then we had to quick swap seats and get back in line.
My run was running marvelously until I went for second gear on the one short
straight (you could run the whole course in first aginst the rev limiter)
and popped the hose agiain.  I must have lost ten seconds on that run.
however, now I was freed from the burden of any overall time chase. Running
conservatively, in like a lamb, tight entry to avoid the marbles, I put
over two seconds on the next fastest car.  That time stuck for the clock
wise direction.  Behind me in time were Lon Peterson in a Gallant and
Dennis Chizma in a 3000 GT, and Ron Wood in a Quattro.  I was shocked.

	I don't have all the results right in front of me, but a Eclipse
was ruling street stock and Ralph Kosmides in the Celica, and Dennis
Chisma, who was driving three cars ( and none his own!) was leading
most of the groups.

	While the idea sunk in that I had a good combination going, but
not chance of winning overall, I decided to let it hang out a bit next
seeing more speed needed to be  carried through the corners as the course 
was getting faster.  So...
I realy let it hang out this time, running a scorcher, only to set up
for a big grandstand finnish powerslide, and taking out the two last 
cones.  This run was clearly a fastest time save the +4 for the cones.  
I didn't care, I was laughing so hard, and had so much fun it didnt matter.

It was now well into mid afternoon, and people were really getting dialed
in.  With lots of people driving others cars, there was some seat time 
required.  For example, Linclon Woodward had four  different people driving 
his gallant.  One time they went out with four people in the car!  This along 
with the antict of youngster in jalopies, and RWD rally drivers showing off 
made qute a spectical.  Of special interest, was the fastest wagon (sic, avant)
of the day (FWOTD).  Frank Bauer proved that with center diff locked, he could 
waltz his big audi station around the track with great finnese, to the delight 
of all.  The whole scene was much better than watching some downtown GP where 
you can see only one corner.

	 Now I wanted to try to run consistently fast on my final runs,
and was frustrated to have several great drivers ahead of me for fasted
time of day in the counter dirrection. "Hey, does anybody have an extra, 
extra large helmet, my old one doesnt fit any more!" I was a full second 
short and couldn't make it up.  Then after the last run I saw my diff lock 
was off, and I asked if I could do one more fun run right after everyone
else.  I had to know!  So I went out and got my unofficial FTOD for
the second half, and put the car away satisfied.  Now everyone was getting
into the act going back out, with the timers still notes times for us.
Thanks Kelly!  It was a blast with lots a car switching going around.
I drove Franks Avant, and was amazed at how it well it hooked up, but
those extra 3 ft of tail DO have some momentum to deal with!  I crashed
some big fluffy berms with comical aplombt.

The event was so successful, that we had money left over, and cash 
prized were handed out.  $60 for lowest cummulative in each class and twenty
for FTOD in each dirrection.  Dennis Chizma managed to run other peoples
cars to first place in ALL THREE run groups, and set one FTOD taking home
$200 in the pocket of his leather motercycle pants.  Some guys got it wired!

It was a fatastic start to a new motorsport genre for the southwest.
It was reported later that we would have had a much larger turn out if we 
did not have a conflict with a Solo II event.  Future events may have to 
learn to deal with 100 cars.  I think that's a challenge that we are up for!

I am considering putting on an event at a facility in Riverside
County with a steel finnished concrete surface and built in sprinklers.
This surface is just like having 80,000 square feet of ice to play with!
Except you can't break through, or catch any fish.  If you have some
comments about such an event, give me an email.

paul timmerman