2011 started with our WINTER Driving
in Enterprise, Oregon. Jan 21-23rd saw 15 students learn the
nuances of driving on FROZEN and semi-frozen surfaces. Not only
did they get a 5 hour ground school Friday night at Terminal
Gravity Brewing learning
about tires, winter prep, setup, driving techniques, and the infamous Alcan
5000 Winter Rally, but a full day of instruction with a seasoned
driving instructor, 2 special stages acting as both driver and navigator
including routebook, transits, service stop and stage rally
timecard. Graduation runs under the clock completed Saturday's
activities (OK, we did party a little afterward). On Sunday, there
was an SCCA RallyCross event at the site using a large (1.1 mile) loop of
the entire track. Each competitor received 4 runs (over 2 minutes
each) on the icy track. RESULTS to follow, but we had about 27
competitors and Richard Lockwood coming from Portland area took TTOD with
combined time of 8:15 driving a green Subaru Legacy sedan.
Team Primitive ended up on the overall podium for the second season in a row at the 2009 version of the Idaho Rally! After last years 2nd place finish with the snow-tire shod 2008 STi, Paul piloted the venerable bright yellow 2004 WRX STi machine to a 2nd place in Open Class/3rd place Overall finish!
The 2009 Idaho event had a total of 39 entrants thanks to a large contingent of two-wheel drive MaxAttack! entrants [a national, 3 event series that has created a no-holds bar, any two-wheel drive vehicle competition]. The event also featured a unique no-points garnered sanction exemption allowing anyone to bring out their unrestricted turbo powered all-wheel drive beasts – that was Primitive’s initial entry plan. Alas, with the restrictor pulled and anticipating an instant 110 hp/75 ft-lb torque increase on the base Subaru boxer engine, we were the only entrant…must have scared away the comers! Desiring to keep things close, we opted to reinstall the restrictor prior to tech and changed the entry to Open class. It was worth it, with close battles on the stages all weekend.
Trying to put a pair of back-to-back DNF’s behind us, the team started with a reserved approach on the opening test on Friday feeling out the organizer prepared notes and rebuilding confidence throughout the remaining 4 stages of the day. Dodging no less than 3 deer – one was a nice 3 point buck in velvet that was called something like “…R4+ into L3- 80 **DEER ON RIGHT** R5+….” – on the long first day stages [up to 17 miles on a single stage!] and working around some heat issues - the uphill track, higher altitudes and high temperatures found our turbo melting any sensor or wire within 18” – our day was not without action. Our man Nate with help from Kevin of Wild Irish Motorsport braved the glowing turbo housing and installed new electronics and some field secured heat shielding [thanks to Hobart Mann – the Outback Angler - for the heavy duty tin foil….], we suffered no additional damage on the final two 13 mile tests outside of the town of Featherville. The day ended with the Primitive Subaru in Position 4 which would keep us out of a gravel sweeping position. We were 14 seconds from P2; 4 seconds from P3 [a screaming VW GTi driven by Josh and Jeremy Wimpey of Virginia]; 25 seconds ahead of P5 [Byron Garth, an Oregon local, in his newly prepped 2007 Subaru WRX]. We also benefited from several cars succumbing to the tricky, marbly gravel tracks as a couple of class competitors left the roads of Leg 1 – thus, our desire to not sweep the road on Day 2.
Leg 2 was a total change in road character – the tighter, twisty, ups and down of the forest roads around Featherville were replaced by a wide open, high speed track just out of the host town of Mountain Home. Included in the 10.3 mile test was a nice 1.8 mile section of canyon running to change up the rhythm of the flat sage country portions. Oh and to impress the spectators, the rally master threw in a table top style jump that they constructed at the lone spectator area – another challenge that most drivers have little experience in. Most all teams had agreed that although the straightaway leading to the jump would allow for some triple digit speeds, their speed would be scrubbed at the last instant and take-offs would be in the 40-50 mph range. We opted for a target 60 mph – some opted for more. One competitor, Bill Holmes, Baja-prepared trophy truck class F150 with 800 hp V-8 opted for flat out….but only on his first pass [the transition was short and that kick threw his rear nearly up and over – after skidding on his front bumper for quite a ways he finally came back to all fours and was able to continue but not until he had crushed the front bumpers, lights, hood and cracked the front frame rail]. Regardless, the high horse-power, unrestricted two-wheel drives were going to be tough on this day.
Our jumps were not spectacular but we stayed in the hunt on the first two passes of the day trading some close stage times with the Wimpey crew but giving too much time to the Jackson/Estep Subaru in 2nd. After the 3rd stage of the day, the screaming yellow Primitive WRX/STi was 3 seconds back from 3rd place after fighting to a 4 second win on SS7 and a 5 second win on SS8. On SS9, the final chance for a podium position, we put in a good run, cleaned up some lines, late braked into the jump; drove hard over the blind crests and went flat out across the finish completing the stage 10 seconds faster than the Virginia crew and good enough for third!! The position was ours!!
Overall, Lauchlin O’Sullivan/Karen Wagner led the board in their unrestricted Dodge SRT-4 as they had all weekend. Keith Jackson/Marra Estep won second in their restricted Subaru after moving up from starting in 6th. On day 2, all of us were shown to be slower than the Ford Mustang powered by a bored/stroked 383 cid unrestricted beast of a motor driven by Mark Utecht/Rob Bohn – had it not been for a minor off on the first day costing the pair close to 6 minutes they would have been a podium finisher. It was a good event and fun times for everyone!
Imagine, if you will, sitting in the seat of Subaru’s fastest production model sportscar – the WRX STi. Your hands are on the steering wheel and your feet are dancing across the pedals as you snick the shifter through the six speed gearbox. Now, push the go pedal a bit deeper. Feel the sweat on the palms of your hands as you push for a bit more speed. Include gravel roads. Add some heat. Don’t forget the trees. Throw in a companion to occupy the right seat and have him bark instructions at you through the series of fast 5 and 6 graded corners. You are feeling the speed; the car is complying with your every wish; the intercom continues in your ear – “…and L5+(nc) 30….R5/Cr 100….st/(sm)Cr 50….(sm)Cr 70…..”
Feels great, no? That is, it felt great. Right up to that point where you realize there is a tight R3- mere meters beyond that last small crest. But by the time you hear the dreadfully late call from that right seat companion you are already at the top of the crest and have lost all hope for braking as you see the road disappear 90 degrees to the right. You stare at the wall of trees….
I have no idea what Paul was thinking [though the four letter diatribe emanating from what seemed to be the bowels of hell within him should have clued me in….]. From my perspective: I had lost all hope and was already folding myself into that little protective codriver ball [okay – not really but when I glanced up and realized how late the call was – GULP!].
So anyway - the previous night, the 2009 version of the Oregon Trail Rally got kicking with the increasingly popular PIR spectator stages. Team Primitive had gathered in the infield pro-pits area with about 45 other competitors to start the event amidst the increasing fanfare. The crowds were good and seemed to exceed last years – many thousands were in attendance and the line was reported to be about a 45 minute wait at the gate. Had some friends stop by to chat – all was fun. The car felt good – new turbo in place and engine not seemingly suffering from the ingested impellor bits [Remember Olympus last month?]. We made it through the evening with mostly good runs [save those small trees that we may or may not have sacrificed with the left rear bumper skin on one overly exuberant corner…nothing some duct tape and zip ties wouldn’t fix though (the bumper that is)]. We ended the evening 5th out of 10 in our national class. Mere seconds separated all the SP competitors after the four short spectator stages.
Saturday was the day to start the true gravel stages that were found in Hood and Wasco Counties on the east side of the Cascades this year. Governmental entities are making it harder and harder for people to enjoy the very forest lands we all own and the organizers had to scramble for the new venue – thus losing the traditional forest stages around Vernonia, Oregon. Vernonia was a great host city and we all loved being there but the state has elected to change that.
The gravel stages had us making up time and we found ourselves working up the leader board through the first two tests of the day. Part way through the ss7-Fir Mountain track we were surprised by a loss of turbo boost. Were we back at Olympus? Where does this luck come from!?! During the transit to ss 8 we stopped and tried to assess the loss of power. Though spending many minutes searching all pressurized lines in and out of the turbo, we found no cause and had to continue in order to make the time control for the next stage. We ran ss8-Gilhouley with an inconsistent 7 pounds of boost and felt we had lost a good amount of time on the uphill portions of the stage. Disappointed at the luck, we called ahead to service to let them know of the issues. Barely had we pulled in when the guys noticed immediately the disconnected wastegate hose and had us back under power. Nate, James, Greg, and Ian – I swear we checked those lines!! Twice!
With newly regained confidence from our intrepid crew, and seeing we had gained a top 10 position overall – apparently having not lost all that much time on the previous tests - we headed back to the forest. The next stage set was a rerun of the previous ones so we knew everyone would have to be faster the second time through. Again we felt fast on the first stage of the group - setting a top 5 stage time - and thought we were in a good position to maintain our pace and finish strongly for the day – maybe even the weekend. Then came ss10, the "(sm)Cr 70" and that wall of trees….
Paul did an amazing job rotating the car – seemingly in mid air. He did not fixate on the trees and though braking hard to scrub speed kept a good enough balance with some throttle that the car made the directional change. With the car rotated, we at least were pointed the correct direction when the car did not fully make the corner and found the rock littered berm. We hit….hard. The car lurched but then skipped backed into the roadway. We picked up the notes and coursed into the following L3 corner. Had we escaped? Momentarily it seemed like we had! But no. We did not. However, we also did not end up like the other two cars that similarly experienced the same corner – they never regained the road.
We soldiered on – the car crabbing horribly down the road - trying the salvage the stage, the day and what turned out to be the inherited no. 2 class position. The car was dragging what was left of the left rear wheel and suspension assembly at a less than ideal angle. In hindsight, we should not have pushed as hard as we did to finish out the 5 miles of that stage – about 2.5 miles later the rear control arm sheared into pieces and the suspension collapsed catastrophically. We got out the triangles and I ran back to elicit assistance from some spectators – one of whom had a ratchet strap that we used to stabilize the rear hub assembly [we don’t know who exactly they were and they did not come back to town for the ratchet strap – but it did survive if you want it back. And THANKS!!]. Alas the roadside repair did not take.
We crawled a bit further up the stage eventually having to pull back over and give up the day. Making matters worse, as the crew came to get us a few hours later – yes, in the dark of course – we found we had been in second position in the national SP class. I guess I got that one all sorts of wrong – actually, no ‘guessing’ about it.
The crew rallied around us and worked deep into the night to repair our busted ride. Through some borrowed parts [Pat Moro – SP competitor; DNF ss6] and the spares we carry, the rear was rebuilt and we reentered the regional event on Sunday. Unfortunately, the spare rear shock we had was not up to the task [this was the unit that we loaned Rooney/Hotson at Olympus that saw them to a finish] and we turned in the time card before the first stage of the day. We felt especially bad for the guys; they had worked so hard to get us back on the stages. Ultimately less than 50% of our class finished the event, making up a good portion of the 35% for overall non-finishers.
Hood and Wasco Counties were splendid hosts and the Hood River Fairgrounds in Odell was a perfect service park. The views were spectacular throughout the area and the many traveling teams were in awe at what Oregon can offer.
To the Organizers, volunteers, e-crew, extraction/sweep experts and our service crew – THANK YOU!
Subaru Western Region – delectable oysters and salmon for lunches! Make us feel like rockstars!
Photos and Press:
Spectator Corner – ss 7
Rally Drivers and PIR don’t mix – or maybe they do and we just like to make it more exciting
J e f f P r i c e
Olympus Rally - April 17-19th, 2009 Washington
In rally – like many things - all is good until it all goes horribly bad……"horribly" is not really the correct description here but when a team puts together such a good string of successful events as Primitive Racing has – ‘horrible’ takes on a broader definition.
This past weekend at the third round of the Rally America Championship Series – the Olympus Rally, the Primitive Crew found ourselves enjoying the newly found power and increased performance of the 2008 Subaru STi upgraded to the new “SP” class [an intermediate level competition class that is one step between production and open classes – the intent is a modified class with limited upgrades allowed]. The SURGELINE tuned AWD hatchback of the rally-bred Subaru Impreza line was definitely “imprezzing” us – that is until it all ended in a trail of engine smoke on Stage 11 – Palix. But we are jumping ahead and first must step back.
The car ran great and performed beyond our level of commitment. The stage times were sometimes slower than the national competitors vying for the championship but Paul was pleased that we were not that far out and we were having a clean event. The reconfigured Doo Wop stages were not overly technical on day one – in fact many of the traditional stages were rerouted and included many uncharacteristic long straight sections where the organizers utilized more barrel chicanes to control top speeds. The open class cars of Travis Pastrana and Tanner Foust were far exceeding anything we would ever hope to attain! We were hanging in there and having a good time on good stages with good weather. The end of Leg 1 saw us sitting 11 overall and 5th of 10 SP class cars – a 2 position improvement - and although we had hoped for better, we realized again that the national rally competition has increased over the last several years and includes some talented and dedicated teams. One of which – Timothy Rooney/Dennis Hotson – we loaned our spare rear strut to; it was not the high-end Ohlin’s unit they were used to running, but it also wasn’t broken! [They finished the event on our strut].
Day 2 started with more spectacular weather and even better stages on the schedule – including the historic Brooklyn stage. We never made it that far though as less than a mile into SS 2 there was a nearly immediate loss of power as we were flying up the hill that defines the first half of the 5.72 miles stage. At the 2.17 mile point of SS11 – Palix we pulled off course. That power loss had been followed by a huge cloud of blue smoke chasing us up the mountain – we were done. Game over. Complete and utter turbo failure. The spectators got a good show though and probably appreciated the mosquito fog we laid down….. Ends up about 6 competitors, including Ken Block who was leading the rally suffered turbo failure due to the extreme pressure the long straights and up-hill sections put on the motors.
Disappointed indeed but with Oregon Trail Rally [volunteers needed] just around the corner – May 15-17 – we have too much work to do to ruminate on the how the season has started or to lick wounds. Funds available – we will Press on Regardless as they say in the rally community! A new turbo will be attained from Subaru [IHI will rebuild the old one as a spare] and the 2.5 litre boxer engine will be carefully scrutinized for bearing damage. This was only the 6th DNF for Primitive since 2002...about 80 race days in all [at 47 events].
In a final word – we received notice upon our return to Portland that a long-time Primitive supporter, crew member, rally fiend, friend and fellow fisherman – Mark “Mark Mark” Mattson died recently after battling cancer for a number of years. We will always think of Mark Mark as the guy who had all the gadgets – many of our rally service stories revolve around Mark and the number of things he would carry in his rig that we would always somehow need in a pinch – and nobody but Mark Mark would have them. He would come and go at events but would be there when you needed him – even through his treatments - and was willing to lend a hand or more. We hope he enjoyed his rally times! He certainly seemed to. Rally on Mark Mark!
Thanks to our crew for Oly – Nate, James and Dave! They were spot on and great communicators. Also Big Ben T at Primitive Enterprises for hanging in there and helping us with anything/everything. Always more thanks to Richard B. at Streben Racing for his fabrication, cage and exhaust efforts.
Thanks also to:
Subaru Western Region and Hobart Mann/Outback Angler for support and yummy sustenance.
SURGELINE Tuning and Tim Bailey as always for expertly working the ECU tuning magic. (sorry we blew it up)
EXEDY Clutches because they have not left us stranded yet – no matter how hard rally abuses them.
All the folks at PRG and the many volunteers/sweep/EMT crews who work tirelessly in the woods for these events
Matthew Poppoff Gallery http://mattpoppoff.blogspot.com/2009/04/olympus-rally-2009.html ß ROLLOVER pix on "Wreck Creek" stage....
Matt Young Event Gallery http://s135.photobucket.com/albums/q151/masimatt/Olympus%202009/Saturday/?start=all
Doo Wops Rally - March 7-8th, 2009 Washington
4th Place Open, 4th Place Overall
Electing to save the newer 2008 STi for the RA National events like Olympus and Oregon Trail, Paul and Primitive Racing brought the 2004 bright yellow, open class Impreza STi sedan out of its slumber and we hit the roads around Aberdeen and South Bend, Washington in early March. The first stage out was Blue Slough a TARMAC stage – for which Team Primitive held the record pass (just over 3 minutes); all seemed great and we were only a few seconds out of the record time as we re-learned the car. It went downhill from there though – for reasons unknown to us – during the running of the stage or shortly thereafter, we experienced some loss of power and not typical audible variations in the exhaust note. So noticeable were the unfamiliar sounds that spectators who new the car came to us at various times during the event and asked us “What’s wrong with ol’ Yeller? Why does it sound like that?”
We were never able to diagnose exactly where the loss of power emanated from and chased the gremlins all weekend long – trying one thing after another. Ultimately, we were losing time on most stages to those we typically fought neck-and-neck with…and we were trying to play catch-up throughout the event using sly tire choices and just never slowing down on the slick parts. On top of the mechanical issue, the intermittent snow and ice storms [snow closed several highways we were transiting on] kept us busy on slippery stages – it also cost us some time with a number of spins and a time penalty for knocking down a barricade in a chicane [actually, we never hit it – we just scared it so bad it ended up falling over as we pirouetted around it…at least that’s OUR version].
Back at Primitive Headquarters, we began to dissect the issues by starting with a cylinder compression check. As we pulled the coil pack from the no. 1 cylinder the electrical connector fell completely out…we were devastated. Such a simple item as a loose connection to cause us such issues!! The connector was all but in place and probably worked intermittently all weekend but when we needed consistent power we only really had three cylinders! The plug came out and was a oily mess having not fired in quite some time…in hindsight, we are now SUPERBLY pleased with the Subaru performance based on being pounded by rally stages on only three firing cylinders – in truth, it never ceases to amaze us how much abuse these things will take! Even so we ended up 4th overall / 4th in open class. Not bad on 3 cylinders....
Click to see: ALCAN 2008 RALLY NEWS We WON Class 3!