Hey Guys, Saw all this talk about rally and maybe even a little talk about a GTX, Raphael?, and thought I'd throw this out really quick.
After a long period of wanting to get some rally time on the stars finally aligned with the right crew, right shop, funds, location etc… to finally get some stage time in. I found this little red GTX online and almost ready to go. With a limited amount of time, a very limited budget, and not a whole lot else we made SnoDrift and had a lot of fun doing it!
I've been crazy fortunate when it comes to some driving experiences whether it was driving some of the coolest cars the industry has ever seen with the Classic Car Club Manhattan where I worked for a few years to driving rare concours beauties and vintage racers at MFD Classic Motors here in Michigan, I've lucked out.
However, I can honestly say that the 3 days at SnoDrift a month ago were probably the most exciting and just straight up the best times i've had in the car world and this is with a car that, with a turbo, in 1988, made 132hp. The same goes for spectating too. Bonfires, booze, hot dogs, bonfires, booze, tow warmers, hot dogs, rallycars. What's better than that?
It's all about the camaraderie even between teams. There's a "we're all in the -35, shit nasty weather, glazed maze of roads" that you just don't really see at a track.
When we had one lug left on our rear left wheel I thought we were completely toast. All it took was a quick jog through service yelling "Studs! Studs!" and we were practically given a set from some neighbors and waved off back onto stage! We were pulled out and we pulled others out. Rally karma is a force to behold!
And given our lack to prep time we admittedly needed as much Rally Karma as we could get.
- Only time in car before stage was doing doughnuts in a parking lot before driving into trailer.
- No RallyComputer… no time.
- Co-Driver didn't know where we were going most the time. It is really hard.
- Driver (me) planted the car firmly in about 3-4 ft of snow a half mile from the finish of a stage… Bending the aluminum sheet of a skid plate under the car…
- The suspension was originally set up to climb up Pikes Peak, had sat for 2 years, frozen up, and became unfrozen at some point during the rally… kind of.
- We never really had the time to remap and tune the engine having gone from turbo to NA for Rally America Novice requirements.
- The doors didn't match the car.
- Every wire in the car had to be checked and possibly redone.
- There was no handbrake. Was it frozen? Was it broken? Who cares! It's A: not going to warm up anytime soon and B: if it's broken we sure as shit aren't going to find another one! Because GTX.
- Something plastic lit on fire on transit. It went out at some point about 4 miles later. Eh?
- Rear left wheel started coming off and rubbed off thread on studs. Had to make it back to service (3 stages) to figure it out.
- Steering wheel almost came unscrewed, twice from different spots. Screwed the remaining 2 screws back in with a drill bit about 2 minutes before going hot on the last few night stages.
- We lost heat on second day. It was cold.
Thank the RallyGods, we finished.
We DID get a local monster bombing superhero nasty fabricator to update our cage though! Not to mention an awesome rockstar monster bomb pair of crewmen who saved the day multiple times!! The chief of which is currently down at 100 acre wood with Kaltek racing so wishing them the best! Definitely a requirement. It's one thing to run out of time and money fixing wiring or buying a seat that's big enough for your ass but a cage that doesn't stay a cage just isn't a very good idea.
The GTX I've gotta say is a forgotten beauty of the vastly under-appreciated Group A period. There was a great article recently on just that.
The small wheelbase allows it to swing back and forth with very little effort if the weight-transfer-rhythm is getting on. It's also light, very light compared to the bigger Subaru's. This is without the turbo as well so once we plug that in it should push it into the stupid region of fun with trees region. The car WAS worked on a hell of a lot back in the day so it isn't exactly stock under the hood... but maybe later.
It's such a fun little car on stage I'm sure driving a good stock one would be a blast if you could find one that hadn't been ravaged by a pimply teen from 1990. Anyone have any experience with one?
Of course there are draw backs to the car. These mainly consist of the fact that the cars don't really exist anymore. Parts are hard to come by. The guys at my local shop who are usually pretty good literally laughed in my face when I asked about stock struts and springs.
Transmissions are often described best as "glass" along with most of the other drive train bits and these are not easy or cheap to replace. Nor is the suspension.
So when I was told NOT to build my own rallycar by many more experienced than I, I heeded it. When I was told to buy something readily available for parts. Eh, not so much. Because GTX?
I've always thought of Rally as the greatest form of motorsport. The camaraderie between the spectators, drivers, and teams is just unparalleled. Sure the rally may be in absolute bumble &$#@ but who cares?! That's the best part.
Some local hero gave us his heated garage and all we knew about him was that he was drunk! He called us every morning to say he had turned up the heat before he left to work and every night he came out and drank with the crew. True story. He also likes PJ's. It's the people, really.
Everyone with any kind of itch for motorsport should look up the nearest RallyAmerica National or Regional, or NASA RallySport event and go. It's far more fun than YouTube or ANY track event short of the Indy 500 (Jim Nabors) and there isn't even a price for entry, just beer and hot dogs. The teams could use your support and what's cooler than watching completely grassroots teams run the same race as Higgins, L'Estage, and Block?
So all 'n all the little redhead we lovingly dubbed LL… for personal reasons, made it to the end and on Friday set some decent stage times. We've got a WHOLE lot to learn. This shit's expensive. Holy hell. Pace notes are hard, both to read and to hold in your head. Who knew? But we're planning on hitting up a few more regionals this year so hopefully we'll have smoothed out some rough spots. So any wave or shout out to the little red GTX you'll always get at least a honk. Hopefully in the future a solid handbrake turn? Maybe? Because GTX.
Moral of the story? Go spectate, go drive, go co drive, go VOLUNTEER!!!!! It's always gonna be an adventure no matter what.
1: "Find the biggest tree and stand behind it" - a man much wiser than I while marshaling/attending my first Rally New York.
2: "Press on Regardless which translates to F#@* it and go". - my cousin who used to co-drive in the old Michigander rally.
3: "There are two kinds of rally cars/drivers, those who have rolled and those that will."
4: and something cool that Vatanen said about driving fast through the countryside with pretty women. Or something close. i think.
Thanks Erik Olsen!
Oh, and the alternator went on the way home. Just for fun. Rally on.