1st Rallycross Event @ Glen Helen

On Saturday, April 7th, Robert and I entered into The Big Windy II Rallycross event @ Glen Helen with Robert's 2002 Corolla LE. It is a bone stock car, with plenty of Rally potential. Robert doesn't have much race experience, but he's definitely got the drive and the aggressiveness for it. I've studied all kinds of motorsport and disciplines of racing for years, including racing logic and physics, and tend to have a conservative, smooth racing style, which suits high-speed touring car type racing. Robert's style suits gravel Rally stages, karting, etc. (which led him to beat me in karting by less than one second!). Plus it's Robert's car, so he was the driver, and i was the navigator, responsible for making pace notes.

We didn't arrive early enough to have extra time to walk the course on foot and make my pace notes, which was a bummer, but i managed. We got one slow run through of the course, which is when i made my pace notes. They definitely weren't perfect, and i wasn't satisfied with them totally, but they were good enough. On the first couple of runs, we posted some pretty good times, about 5th fastest average. BUT! On the 3rd run, we have an off, and it took us a long moment to get back on the course. Instead of getting the actual time of the stage, we received the slowest time in our class +10 seconds, which destroyed our overall time. On our last run though, we set the 2nd fastest time for that run number, which was really awesome! Sadly, we finished 11th, but what was crazy was that if we didn't have an off, and received an average time for all of our runs, we would've placed 4th. That would've been just amazing, since this is our first Rally event, let alone our first time on dirt. We're very excited because we now know that we're competitive, and that we can set the times. If we did this well on our first time on dirt, we can definitely improve and someday start winning these events.

Next event we're planning to enter is the Johnson Valley Rallycross #2. This time, i might be driving, but we're definitely going to fight even harder this time!

As for my goal to make it to the World Rally Championship someday, this is a great start!

Blog Written By Chadsen Kat 

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Rally X @ Johnson Valley 

 
 What a crazy weekend...

Friday night, Robert, Germaine, and I took off for Johnson Valley from Chino Hills at around 9:30pm. Robert hadn't gotten off work till 7:45pm, and only to come home to discover that nearly all his camping supplies were "borrowed." Joy. But putting the situation aside, we journeyed onward!

We got to Bessemer Mine Rd. around 11:30pm, which was the road that would take us to Soggy Dry Lake, the location of the Rally X event the next morning. The road started out nice enough, but soon, a section of huge and dangerous-looking rocks covered the road. It felt like we were in the Acropolis Rally and would pick up a puncture any moment! But we were lucky, it just made for an uncomfortable ride. We saw some camp lights to our left, and very soon a Subaru Impreza wagon comes upon us. It just happens to be Lloyd Evetts in the passenger seat, owner of the awesome Celica that we had seen last event at Glen Helen! We followed them into Soggy Dry Lake, but when they blazed off at a ridiculous speed on the rocky surface in the middle of the night with NO visibility, we happily slowed our pace.

We parked to set up camp around midnight, but as soon as we got out of the car, we got back in; the wind was blowing like a madman. Weather reports said that it should've been around 5mph, but it was more like 25-30mph. Finally, we sucked it in and proceeded to set up our tent. Oh goodness, it was hilarious; the tent was being blown up and down and so were we. As soon as we hammered in the stakes, everything was good, and the 8-person tent proved sturdy enough. With just 2 flashlights, including a dying one, seeing what we were doing was just not too possible. Kris Marciniak with his Rally America Neon also showed up and camped next to us, so we had good company. We went to sleep soon after that, or rather, we laid down and tried to sleep; the dry lake bed ground was like concrete. I don't even know how long Robert and I tossed and turned on each side of the tent until we fell asleep, but Germaine fell asleep quickly; he was the only one with an inflatable mat. Joy.

We awoke about 4 hours later in the dawn of the morning. We finally could see what the landscape looked like, and it really was pretty. We cooked hot dogs and Bratwurst on a tiny propane thing Robert brought, which took forever, and ate them with our knives (the man style!). Boy was i tired, but we had a Rally X ahead of us!

As soon as we drove the 1 min. trip to the Rally X course, i proceeded on my personal recce/course walkthrough. It was a bit confusing at first, and i guess a bunch of people had confusion as well. Robert found out the correct course though, and after a couple of walkthroughs of the course (both arrangements), i had my pacenotes down. Ready to rock! I actually liked this course more than the tight Glen Helen 2 track. I felt good about the notes, but i still don't like doing it on foot. For some reason, taking pace notes on foot without the car is slightly detrimental on figuring out the scope of some of the turns for me, but they were good enough.

With the intercom in place, onboard camera ready, helmets on, pace notes nice and tidy, we were ready to rip it up. Our first run of the course felt OK; we set a decent time, but Robert was still getting used to driving on the surface, since we didn't practice on the surface and just generally our inexperience on dirt. There was a bit of a tricky section of the track where i simply lost track of the pace notes though, and it was very irritating for me. I got back on track pretty quickly each time, but it really bothered me. I guess on foot, you notice tiny turns that would normally be ignored in terms of being noted in the car. Everything else seemed fine though, well except for the blazing heat!! We ate a cone on the finishing slalom on one run, but were penalty free for the rest of the event. Robert had some mix-ups where we'd be out of shape out of a turn and end up trying to avoid a cone instead of trying to get back on the racing line. These little errors are mostly what cost us time, but we did very very well out there considering our inexperience on the dirt! It was tons of fun! Our little Corolla gets made fun of by friends and family, but it really performs out there with its lightweight body. Its 100 hp engine isn't something to brag about, but we love keeping up with the stronger cars on dirt. Don't underestimate the bone stock Corolla!!

We finally returned to the pits to find Germaine half roasted. He had sat on a chair the whole event in the sun with no shade. 101°F. With our intercom system, we could actually talk to him using another walkie talkie, so we kept in contact. He refused to go under the event tent for some reason, and made a little friend while sitting there: a husky-looking dog brought by another competitor who sat by Germaine for a while.

Sure, we were tired, but we had to work for the SS4 & SM4 class runs on the course. We basically have to stand around in the safe areas of the course and report in any cones knocked over by the cars. The 4-wheel drives were fun to watch, but they were so heavy and slow in the tight spots. With a 1/4 filled water bottle, i soon ran out of water in the baking heat. In addition, i had no idea where Robert was, since he was supposed to be out here working. I stayed for about 40-50 minutes until the thirst overcame me. I walked back to the event tent to get some water, and look who's joking around with the others and sitting in a comfy chair under a shaded tent: none other than ROBERT!! I was like, "Why the crap are you here??? You're supposed to be working!!" He replied, "I'm the food tender!" which was total moot considering the food and drinks were free for anyone to come and take whenever he or she wants. Lamer!!

We stayed for the results reading/awards at lunch time. When they read off 8th, 7th, and 6th, we were wondering, "We didn't do THAT bad, did we?" since we thought that it was being read from 8th and on, not knowing that there were only 8 competitors. Our 5th finish was a great result for us! We finished in front of much more capable cars and more experienced competitors that i thought were gonna whip our butts. 5th position it was, and we set off for home.

First, we stopped by our tent with our stuff that had baked for hours. Everything, and i mean EVERYTHING in the tent was ridiculously hot, regardless of whether it conducted heat or not. Metal, plastic, even a insulated cooler bad which contained our leftover hot dogs were cooked and hot beyond touchable. After we packed everything in the car and half-packed the tent, we just threw in the tent and drove off. We just wanted to get out of the beefin' desert!!

We decided to take a side trail that paralleled the Bessemer Mine Rd. to avoid the Acropolis Rally we faced last night. It worked out great!! It was much much smoother and fun to drive quickly on. The night before, we couldn't see a thing in the darkness, and wished we saw this road. We also passed Lloyd's Celica driving on the main road who was being driven by Ashley at the time (who drove great at the event by the way along w/Lloyd). However, when we took a 15 ft. trail to get back on the road, we got stuck in some very loose sand. "So.... who wants to push the car?" asked Robert, and Germaine and me it was. We got out of the car and started to push as hard as we could, and at the same time, Ashley in the Celica comes by to find out what was happening and watch us hard at work. We finally got it out, and we made it back on the road. Whew!! We wanted to go home so bad!!

Overall, it was an amazing experience. After the whole event, i was so tired, but it was definitely worth it. The racing was awesome, and everybody out there was nice and friendly. The heat was nasty, but it's in the middle of the desert. Alas, we won't be doing another Rally X for a while since Robert and I are leaving for 2 years on our missions in possibly less than 2 months. We will miss rally, but when we get back, we're making a real rally car to compete in. Until then, watch out for Rayberg RT! Goodnight everybody..

  Blog Written By Chadsen Kat