Late Friday I decided to go to my first Rally event so bright and early saturday morning I drove 200km to Bancroft, Ontario to watch the drivers and co-drivers negotiate the tricky winter conditions.
I parked in a snowy field, put on my extra layers of clothing, essential on such a brisk morning (-16°C, 3F), and headed out to the Iron Bridge spectator area. The first 3 spectator stages could be viewed from here (A2, A4 and A6), running past us from right to left the first two times and back down the hill through an icy left hander for the third.
Check out some clips I took in the above video. I tried to get as many as I could but I have a feeling the cold had something to do with the camera on my phone not wanting to cooperate at all times. The quality is nothing amazing but it didn't turn out too bad for something thrown together in about an hour in iMovie (plus another hour for the computer to render the 7 minute video). One thing I thought I should do but haven't yet is add some music behind the clips (just background, not overpowering the cars). Let me know if I should.
After the day stages I drove around the town a little bit, ate some lunch and went to a Tim Hortons. I asked Dusty Ventures via Twitter if he and his driver would like some coffee while I was there, he declined but suggested that Timbits would be welcome. I was happy to oblige.
Timbits, for those who are unfamiliar. You can think of them as the holes from the centre of a doughnut, if you like. Image source: Tim Hortons.
I got to the Rally HQ, service area before most of the cars were there so I wandered the pits checking out the few cars that had arrived and those that had retired from the rally (3 at that point). One team was frantically changing a gearbox in the 30 minutes allowed to service the cars, an impressive feat to watch.
Picture taken after the race but this is the car whose gearbox had to be changed. They ended up having to retire the car courtesy of the destroyed wheel in the middle.
Noticing the black #43 Fiesta of Danny Grant and Dusty Ventures had pulled in I headed over to introduce myself. I talked to Dusty, his driver and crew for a little bit while they were servicing the car (they weren't as busy as several of the other teams who had broken parts, etc). Timbits were consumed, they were delicious.
Picture taken the finish of the race as I didn't take any earlier.
It's cool how open and friendly the pits are at such an event; of-course you have to stay out of the way of mechanics trying to get work done but in general you're quite free to go where you please, people are more than willing to talk to you and answer questions.
After service the teams headed out for several night night stages and I went back into town for some dinner and then proceeded to the Golton spectator area where I would be able to watch the final pair of stages on a compact Special Stage. While waiting for those stages to start I shared the remaining Timbits with other spectators.
It seems the night stages were tough on the competitors as several were forced to retire before and during the final two stages. Crazy Leo, who had been in the lead for the whole day, carried an 8 minute lead into the second last stage as the second place Richard family car retired. A win wasn't to be though as Leo's orange Subaru (seen twice in the video during the day stages and in the second and final night clip) suffered an apparent broken camshaft during or after the second last stage. That sucks.
Following the final Stage many people left but I headed back to Rally HQ to see the results and podium celebrations. Iirc, 14 out of the 33 cars that had started the rally finished, a testament to the tough road conditions faced by the teams.
Here is the podium for the Regional 2WD class:
That's Dusty and his driver (who was only doing his second rally on snow/ice, iirc) in second place. The 240sx on the top step also won the national 2WD class and was 5th or 6th overall (he ended up on the regional overall podium as well so they had 3 celebrations and associated bottles of champagne).
All in all, it was a very enjoyable day and I'll definitely be going to other rallies in the future. I'd love the chance to crew, drive or do-drive one day too. I bet it's a blast.
If you get a chance, go check out a rally and support the sport. Good times.