From The Right Seat : LSPR 2002

robert_a_dupree at robert_a_dupree at
Mon Oct 21 13:17:17 EDT 2002

Race: SCCA Lake Superior Pro Rally 2002
Location: Houghton, MI
Dates: Oct 17, 18 & 19
Car: 1995 Audi S2 (formerly ex-werks Grp A) Open class #559
Driver: John Rek
Co-Drv: Rob Dupree
Starting Position: Seed 5, 48th in start order

Finish: 26th overall, time of 196.42 minutes.

     You know, it's been a long time since I've been able to write a
post-race report as experienced in the right seat of the S2.  God, what a
machine!  As I seem to recall it hasn't run since the Cherokee Trails rally
in early 2001, well over a year ago.  However thanks to valiant efforts
from the staff at Euro Auto Plex, the owner of Schultz Machining John Rek
and myself we were able to get the S2 finally ready for action.  As a brief
history we were sidelined in 2001 with an entirely shot suspension.  Our
first attempt to replace it with Moriss Dampers custom work was fraught
with problems.  Evan Moen had great intentions and probably could have made
it work in the end but all things considered it was too little, too late.
Next up was some custom units sourced from the Nelson clan in Nevada.
Unfortunately John found that all of their custom work was too far out of
spec to make it fit without re-inventing the wheel.  Finally John settled
on DMS suspension.  For some reason he decided to work directly with DMS of
Austrailia rather than through Dave Clark here in the states.  That ended
up costing us at least 6 months.  When we finally forced the issue the
dampers were sent to us, but all of the mounting fabrication had to be done
by us.  I think that there are probably 500 man hours in getting the
dampers fitted to the modified uprights.  But it was worth it.  The DMS
suspension delivered exactly as promised in terms of performance and
adjustability.  They are tough, well built and overall very impressive.  My
thanks go to Dave Clark who provided some last minute adjustment

     So it was somewhere around 4:00AM Thursday morning where I was
mentally smacking myself for thinking we were ready to go well in advance
of our 6:00AM departure.  Last minute additions, changes and tasks sucked
up so much time I was astounded.  Unfortunately two of our regular service
crew (Scott J. and David H.) were unavailable for the work evenings two
weeks in front of this race so I had to pick up the slack organize some
volunteers to fill the work load.  So it was without any sleep (for me) and
very little for the rest of the team that we dead-headed to Houghton, MI
departing at 6:35AM CT.  We were slightly delayed by a faulty valve stem in
the left front tire of the tow vehicle.  We had decided to change our
arrival time so that we could run the practice stage and get John some
wheel time, while I got some new stage note time.  That was the best
decision we ever made!  Unfortunately it meant that Scott J would not be up
until late on Thursday night and would have to deal with any maintenance
issues in the morning before Parc Expose'.

     We arrived in plenty of time, went through registration, got 30gals of
fuel from Sunoco (104 GT+) and took all three vehicles to tech inspection
(primary service, 2nd service and rally car).  Looking back on it we won't
do that again.  I knew better but unfortunately our late service crew
alterations had some newbies wanting to see what happens in tech.  It was
fairly stressfull having well-intentioned but nonetheless annoying hovering
extra bodies as the tech inspectors overwent the S2.  NOTE TO SELF: never
take more than one newbie to tech...  Well regardless of prodding people
and noses we got through with little fanfair and proceeded to the hotel to
unload the trailer and head out to the practice area.  The practice area
was run by the local EMS squad and all proceeds went to them.  So I (not
John) shelled out $40 for 5 runs down the course.  First time I used
regular route book.  Times 2-5 I used the stage notes and got John and
myself introduced to how they work.  All in all it was a very good warm up.
We should have been there sooner so that John could have given rides to
folks, but the team came first.  We finished up Thursday eating some good
food at 'The Library' a famous Houghton haunt.  I was dead tired and fading
fast.  Somewhere around mid-night Scott J. came into the hotel room and
tried to have a conversation with me.  All I can remember is feeling like I
was drowing under the pressign weight of sleep...

DAY 1  Special Stages (1-10)
     I had never had a problem getting sick in the S2 when I was sensible
(eating crappy Denny's before Cherokee doesn't count as sensible).  However
while running with Gary Cavett out west I was consistantly a puker.  Not
knowing why I was very nervous about what might happen with notes much more
detailed and intense than I've ever run before.  So I took Dramamine.  I
took 1 pill as we left for Parc Expose' and planned to take 2 more (per
instructions) on the long 1st transit to SS1; these pill taking times were
roughly 3hrs apart.  Oh, by the way, I've never taken Dramamine before so I
bought the 'less drowsy formula'.  I didn't puke, not once.  I even got to
eat some of the snacky-type food that the service crew procured for us.  I
felt great on stage.  SS1 had me an John both tense with nerves.  I was
really worried about keeping up with him, and he was really worried about
smashing or breaking the car (though he won't admit it).  As the starter
counted down our lauch time I shuffled my books, got my mind focused to the
task at hand and 'oh shit!' I forgot to turn on the camera!!!  Somewhere in
between 30 seconds and 15seconds I found the remote and fired up the on
board video, stuffed the remote down the front of my suit and it was
Since John and I had practiced I had a slight idea of when to feed him the
pace note information.  I was planning on him going much faster; but by
about the 6th corner note we got in synch pretty good.  The stage flowed
well, and the car was running tip-top.  Suspension felt great.  Funny thing
about these new stage notes.  In the old route book SS1 was 2 pages of
instructions with 6 instructions per page.  The new course notes (aka. pace
notes) was 8 pages long and much more dense per page.  I no longer had time
to watch and critique his driving style, that's what the video tape is
     I love these new notes.  They are amazing.  They increase the level of
safety 100fold from my point of view.  The only time I am dependant upon my
rally odometer is when I get lost in the notes (happens around 1/stage).
Otherwise it's face in the book reading a near constant stream of
intormation.  You look up when you have 50 yards or more to next
instruction to get the timing right and that's it.  These are awesome.
NOTE TO SCCA:  please please please bring these to ClubRally.  Now I
mentioned this stuff about Dramamine for a reason.  Turns out that I over
dosed, and that in combination with the preceeding sleep deprivation found
myself becoming increasingly tired as the night went on.  In course note
reading class we were warned about SS8, and that it had lots of slight
turns and crest with big gaps 100-500 yards in between.  Very easy to lose
your place in the notes.  Not only did I lose my place, but I was falling
asleep in between crests/jumps!  This was not good.  John and I were
snapping at each other.  He was frustrated, I couldn't concentrate and
things were only worse on transits.  Unforunately I think I incurred a
1minute late penalty into SS7 or SS9 because John and I were arguing
(pointlessly) and I got my numbers mixed up.  Had I not been so fatigued we
might have finished a couple spots higher.
     The weather was a mixture of snow, sleet, rain and lots of cold.  It
was miserable.  We brought so many tires and none of them seems to offer a
competative advantage.  So we ended the day moving up from 48th to 39th
position and 99% of that gain was because people who started before us
seemed to be crashing off the road.  Lots of carnage on SS1, 3 and 4,
unfortunately due to un-cooperative spectators SS2 was transited. Too bad,
because it looked like a great stage!  Somwhere around SS7 John and I were
moving faster than before and had Bob Neilson's VW Gold coming up our
behinds (I guess they were pushing hard) and ended up with a major off
track excursion.  It is in this type of scenario that you really appreciate
the locked front, center and rear differentials.  The turn was  labled a
3R+ (which is around  90 degrees) and John came in finding no grip.  Having
not set the car up in a drift he was suddenly out of control.  There was a
large burm on the outside edge which turned out to be slanted enough to
take the S2 high up into it.  We were a good 8-10feet off the road surface.
John  was in 2nd gear, with the engine screaming as we drove through ther
outback.  We made it through with little more than wounded pride and wild
flora rammed into the front of the car.  Later Neilson came up and told us
it looked really neat from behind...  We ended the first day of competition
in not a great spot, but not out of the race yet.  John and I retired to
our rooms hoping to have a better day 2, it was somewhere around 2:00AM.

 DAY 2 Special Stages (11-18)
     Sometimes your team can suprise you.  They all knew I was dead tired
and had well exceeded my limits.  I'm sure I was crabby and pissy as even
some well wishers commented on in Friday night.  So it was with a smile on
my face that I noticed my team had let me sleep until 8:30AM.  Usually John
and Scott are up at 6:00 or earlier and John wants everyone up when he is.
I guess between the two of them they figured out I needed some more Z's and
so but the time I was showered and ready to go I walked out to a prep'd and
ready car.  Some quick checks and we were off to Parc Expose'.  We were
early to PE, so we got a good parking spot.  The S2 was gleaming in it's
clean early morning glory.  It may be 7yrs old, but in a field made up of
mostly Subaru and Mitsubishi it REALLY stands out.  We were parked next to
the only Porsche 911 rally car running lately so these two machines got a
LOT of attention.
     Special Stage 11 was bar none the roughest, worst condition stage I
have ever been down in my life.  Maybe for the front runners it was in
decent condition, but by the time 30+ cars had chewed it up; it most
closely resembled Kenya after a heavy rain.  Two-track furrows dug by
tires, deep with water and mud.  Massive sharp rocks strewn about as if by
explosion.  There wasn't a good way through it.  Being the John is a driver
who doesn't like to break his car (can't blame him) we drove VERY slow.  It
was actually too slow to make the pace notes flow with an pattern.  It was
a bad stage and we both though that this day was going to be awefull.  My
window ceased to function normally and I was now having to had time cards
and work with officials through the opened door.  This was a total PITA
(yes I'm whining).  Every stage after SS11 got better and better.
     SS12 was good.  SS13 'Delaware' as a little better, we weren't very
fast through the famous spectator point, but was drove it OK.  SS14 was
better still.  As we arrived in Copper Harbor (tip of the Keewenaw
Pennisula) it was time to tackle SS15 known as Brockway.  For those of you
who've never heard about it, Mnt Brockway is one of the only Tarmac stages
in SCCA ProRally.  It's a 3.2 mile (or so) uphill race that culminates in a
jump over the top.  Very twisty, probably the most spectated point in SCCA
Rally.  I have neer run this stage before so it was time to bust my
'Brockway Cherry'.  In fact one of the well-wishers hanging about the team
service site wanted to know if I was going to need new pampers after the
stage!  If only John did drive that fast...  Our crew bolted up the track
slicks (Yokohama A032R's) and over inflated them to help with getting the
tires warm.  There was some added excitement due to Phil & Dallas Smith in
the MGB GT leaving massive puddles of oil on road surface, which was later
diagnosed as a blown out front main seal.  Head down in my notes the count
down came:
John had rev'd to 4000rpm and dropped the clutch.  We were hoping to spin
the tires in order to force a rapid tire warm-up but no luck.  The S2
lurched forward with little tire spin.  As we cam into turn 1 which I
believe was labled a "3L->" (read as three left minus tightens) I got a
quick second to look up and see a blur of people as John threw maximum
steering to get the S2 turned.  From there on out I only got minimal
glimpses of the road to make sure I had my information timed correctly to
where we were.  There was a lot of me shouting at John to go faster,
because I feel in my butt that we had loads more grip and plenty of power.
Looking back, it only proves to me more that John needs tarmac track time
to augment his driving skills.  We flew up Brockway.  Little jumps, lots of
turns; and frankly nothing to worry about.  I gave John the big jump
warning 50yrds out and he got out of the gas and onto the brakes.  I was
broken hearted.  Not only did it cost us time, but we barely left the
ground in the best spot to get photographer attention.  Oh well, I'm not
the driver so I kept my head in the book and we finished the stage.  At
service the Tarmace tires came off and the gravels went back on.
     SS16 was a re-run of  SS14 only we did it backwards (started at the
finish).  The S2 really punishes a driver who's tendancy is to drive the
racing line, so we weren't very exciting to the specatators.  We turned a
good time and I could tell that John's confidence in the 6 and 5 labled
corners (remember 1 is tightest, 6 is almost straight) was growing as
hestarted to let the car drift more.  SS16 was good.  Onto SS17.
     Delaware II.  Same as in SS16, SS17 was SS13 run in reverse.  That
meant that a little under 2 miles into the stage was the massive spectator
area.  Preceeding that was a lot of wide, slightly twisty fast section.
Watching the video last night was the most telling example of why the S2
needs to be driven in a brutal style.  Coming over the right hand turn that
showed us the impending spectator left we had a massive head of steam.  I
think John was well into 5th (6 possible) gear and once his mind registered
what I had said his eyes saw it too.  Too late.  Instead of pitching the S2
hard into the turn and laying on the gas, which probably would have saved
us.  His naturaly instincts took over and he locked up the brakes.
Skidding towards the spectators we finally stopped before the barrier tape
but points almost 180 degress away from our desired direction.  The crowd
was going wild.  They like it when people do these corners good, they LOVE
it when they screw up.  John decided to give them a show.  He slammed the
gearshift into 1st with the engine wound to 6000rpm.  Dropping the clutch
and grabbing full right steering the car exploded into motion.  The rear
end of the car came around and showered the earger spectators with dirt and
gravel (they really do like that... really) As John grabbed 2nd and gave
opposite lock we were headed in the right directions but now were seriously
inducing oversteer.  The next turn is a 2R which is almost a 180.  John
just kept in the throttle once he cleared the barrier tape and people and
then proceeded to wag the rear end, getting us severely sideways until 200
yards down the following straight.  What was I doing?  Shouting the Homer
Simpson 'Woohoo!" , pumping my arms in a show of imense satisfaction and
beeping the horn.  Hell, if you're not going to be fast; then put on a
show!  It was two or three turns later than John and I stopped laughing and
got back to serious racing...
     Wer closed the racing action with SS18 a rather un eventfull but
probably our fastest stage.  The cobwebs of time blown cleanly away by the
brute force of real time racing.  The car survived none the worse for wear.
I got some great in car film and once we checked in at the MTC at the
Quincy Mine area we were officially one of the few that completed this
race.  Out of the field of 90+ cars that started only 34 finished.  This
was a tough rally but very rewarding.  Eventually the film will be posted
to (although please allow for some time to
compile before bitching that it isn't up yet...).  If anyone has any film
showing the S2 from the outside at LSPR2002 please inform me.  Still photos
are desired as well.  Team Rally Plex will continue to run the S2 until the
new car arrives which is anticipated in early 2003.  SnoDrift is the next
event on the schedule for us.
Thanks for your interest!

Rob Dupree
     Co-Driver SCCA ProRally
     Car #559, 1995 Audi S2 Open Class
     Team Rally Plex / Euro Auto Plex

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