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¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/4/21 9:03 a.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

Also, how are you only shown as competing in 8 rallies (bikes excluded on ewrc), while I'm at 12? Are they missing some of yours or something? I feel like you've done more than I have. 

Nope, if you exclude bikes and course cars that seems correct.  The bike and RX7 had a much faster pace, the Merkur dropped me to like 1-2 events per year.  I'll try to catch up.

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/4/21 9:06 a.m.

White car update!  I added a cat and resonator to the exhaust and it sounds way better, pulled the stickers off, tweaked the alignment to get the steering wheel straight, and stuck the stock wheels on it:

The crunchy quarter is fixed and repainted, the body guy said "see you next time!" so I guess he's not mad that I brought him another one:

I am still waiting on the salvage paperwork so that I can get my reconstructed title and start driving it around.

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/5/21 5:02 p.m.

Uh, big truck, what are you doing in here?

Naturally this afternoon was a perfect time for the 8.1 to spit out one of its' fancy remflex collector gaskets:

I stuck a replacement vibrant gasket in there, snugged up all of the other exhaust bolts, and hopefully that's the last issue the truck has until after SOFR.  Onward!

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
6/6/21 11:13 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

White car update!  I added a cat and resonator to the exhaust and it sounds way better, pulled the stickers off, tweaked the alignment to get the steering wheel straight, and stuck the stock wheels on it:

The crunchy quarter is fixed and repainted, the body guy said "see you next time!" so I guess he's not mad that I brought him another one:

I am still waiting on the salvage paperwork so that I can get my reconstructed title and start driving it around.

Me too.  ;^)

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/6/21 11:58 a.m.

Stuck the CamelBaks in the car- they face the doors rather than the back for easier access:

Packing:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/8/21 5:49 p.m.

Loaded up and ready to leave tomorrow morning!

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/8/21 5:51 p.m.

That looks beefy!

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 6:53 a.m.

Southern Ohio Forest Rally 2021

Wednesday

We loaded up and towed out to southern Ohio, and for once the tow went smoothly- we even had air conditioning!  Dropped the trailer at the airbnb we were sharing with car 299 Adam Kimmett and Krista Skucas and crew, and drove over to registration.  Once registered we recce'd SS1, which was an all-paved 1 mile super special around Yoctangee Park, and once we figured out what the actual turns were that went well.  Grabbed dinner with Josh (irish44j) and Jim and then headed back to the airbnb.  Not a bad view there:

Krista had gotten some of her KS decals made up with a rainbow pattern for pride month so naturally we edited our name decals a bit:

Thursday, Recce Day:

We got up bright and early and headed out in the truck to recce the southern stages first.  Sara had created a recce plan that included a vehicle handoff in the middle so that Brian (paranoid_android) could take the truck, pick up the trailer, and bring the car over to tech- our morning recce went well, we got two passes of all of our planned stages, and despite a little transit confusion we managed to arrive at our rendezvous point with Brian on the exact minute we intended to be there.  A big truck was exchanged for an Impreza, we ate a quick lunch, and made good our escape as the owner of the property we had parked in front of came out and asserted dominance via shirtless weedwhacking.

The handoff:

Then we recce'd the southern stages in the other direction (they flipped at noon to avoid two way traffic) only getting a single pass of 11 and 12 to stay on schedule, and headed north to cover the two northern stages.  We really need to figure out how to get a car there for all of recce in the future, stage roads tend to be tight and it's much easier to think about notes when you're not worried about a gigantic truck falling off a cliff.

Every stage at SOFR is on the side of a cliff, pretty much, but the northern stages this year had the added bonus of being muddy and sort of inconsistent so even at recce speed they were a little scary.  We finished recce, headed over to tech, and yet again arrived on the exact minute we had planned- Sara really, really nailed the recce schedule at this one.

Tech went smoothly- I had anticipated a lot of scrutiny since this was the car's first event, but we breezed through in large part thanks to 9HIO's excellent reputation for cage work:

Then we headed back to the house for dinner and note editing.  Thursday was also Sara's birthday, and unbeknownst to her Brian had smuggled a homemade cake made by his wife Amy all the way down from Michigan, hidden it during our vehicle handoff, and we covertly decorated it while a bunch of delicious barbecue from The Smoke Factory was heating up.  I lit the thing inside the fridge and snuck it out while Brian was redirecting Sara's attention elsewhere and a bespoke secret homemade birthday recce day cake appeared seemingly from nowhere:

Cake and barbeque was enjoyed by all:

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 7:25 a.m.

SOFR 21

Friday, More Recce and Rally Day (Night) 1

We got a slightly later start on Friday and headed down to the southern stages for a second pass of 11 and 12- if I'm remembering correctly, we got through 11 before a little bit of a side adventure appeared.  There was a small dog running around in the middle of the road, no tags, no collar, clearly pretty lost but friendly, so we scooped her up and tried to find her owners.  After knocking on a bunch of doors, it became pretty clear that nobody in the immediate area knew where this dog belonged, so we had an extra passenger onboard for the next stage:

Afterwards we dropped her off at Sierra's Haven shelter- if anyone is in the area and wants to adopt, please contact them!  We then transited through a torrential downpour back up to Chillicothe where the rally would start a bit later, missing out on another recce pass of the northern stages due to time constraints.

Yet again Brian had gotten the truck, car, and trailer exactly where they needed to be and we did some final checks, hung out with rally friends, and met up with Evan (EvanB) who had also driven out to crew for us.  Sara finished up some notes while we waited:

Then it was over to Yoctangee Park for parc expose- the first public, spectators allowed parc expose since the pandemic.  It was a neat feeling:

The 12oz Sports guys who interviewed us about the Merkur last year were the first to greet us when we pulled in, and seemed as happy as we were about the new car:

More catching up with all of our favorite rally people during parc expose, and even some unexpected spectators like frequent WMWR competitior Alan and the Merkur's new owner Perry came by.  I was getting really, really nervous but still managed to enjoy the atmosphere a bit:

Adam Brock, there crewing for Savage Rallysport, gave me some really good advice that helped me chill out at least a little- "Don't lose sight of how awesome this thing we get to do is.  If you were just driving a regular car on a closed gravel road, you'd be having the time of your life, not thinking about how fast you are or aren't or worrying about the little stuff!  This doesn't have to be any different."

And then, the cars started moving, the crowd thinned out, the sky got dark, and we had thunder, lightning, and rain for the last 10 minutes before our start time.  Thanks, weather, like I wasn't nervous enough going into my very first rally with this newly built shiny car!

Then we rolled up to the start line, helmets and intercom on, and a minute later we were off onto SS1, the Yoctangee Park Super Special, the first stage of this car's rally career.  I drove a lot slower than the car could go, even on wet pavement with gravel tires, we didn't hit the jump fast enough, but we put in an acceptable time 2 seconds off the pace for L2WD and continued on.  First stage down!

SS2 was Sunriser Vista and it was scary, basically a downhill muddy rollercoaster ride with sharp dropoffs and little room for error.  We had noted on this one "if it has rained in the last 24hrs do not berkeley around" and it was dark and had just rained so we kept it as tidy as possible and just stayed on the road- some others were not so lucky:

SS3, Brutus West, was more of the same but at least a little wider and a little more friendly for the most part.  This actually ended up being scarier than SS2 because I pushed the car a bit more and discovered that the one thing it really doesn't like is big cuts- it can brake and corner extremely well but hanging a wheel off into a ditch is a big no-no.  As part of the learning process I dug the front bumper into the ground and used the skidplates a good amount, and the car also threw a check engine light for a misfire when I bounced off the limiter for too long with my attention elsewhere trying to keep it on the road.  It didn't seem to hurt anything, and Sara was perfect on the notes- I was just wiped out and not concentrating as hard as I should have been.  This stage also had high attrition, and at one point we had to thread the needle between a crashed R5 car and Tennis' BRZ which had fallen off the road and down like 8ft.

The feeling of relief after transiting back and loading the car up was immense- we had made it through day 1 of the car's first rally, in the dark and rain and fog, and not (really) hurt anything!  We ruined a car wash bay and retired to the airbnb for some much needed rest:

slantsix
slantsix Reader
6/14/21 7:48 a.m.

Looks Like a blast.

 

How long time / mileage wise were the stages there?

 

 

Greg

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 8:26 a.m.

SOFR 21

Saturday, Rally Day 2

Up and out:

We got our service area set up right near all the E30 guys, and the rally started on schedule:

We transited out to SS4 Diagon Alley and... waited.  And then were told to transit through the stage- apparently radio problems forced a cancellation of competition for that stage.  So we put our gear on anyway and treated it as another recce pass.

Then on SS5 Disco Inferno, the same thing again- no competition, 30mph speed limit, just transit.  Radio issues again.

At SS6 Top Gun North Short, we had to wait for a long time but could hear the very front of the pack starting at race pace so at least it wouldn't be canceled.  At least we like hanging out with rally people! 

Eventually, far behind schedule, we got to race on SS6- I was feeling the car out and realizing that I could brake way, WAY, WAAAAAAAY later than I was used to, everything felt great, and apart from an inconsistent surface (how does it only stay wet for like 50ft, then dry, then wet again??) we had a good run of this stage before heading back to service.  Our time wasn't incredibly impressive but the notes were good and we were finally getting to start really feeling out the car.

At service the car went up on the stands and got a complete check over- no issues, all good!  The truck, however, hadn't been so lucky- while idling with the AC on it had cracked one of the plastic endtanks on the radiator pretty badly- I told Brian to stay on the car stuff and Evan to handle the truck radiator; I thought it would be a simple swap, but it turns out that Duramax and 8.1 radiators basically don't exist and the only radiator we could source was for a 6.0.  Every dimension was wrong and 7 of the 8 fittings were also different, so this began a hellish afternoon of adapting the wrong radiator to the truck.  I am so sorry Evan, thank you for persevering to fix our garbage tow rig, and huge thanks to Josh and Eric as well for running the AC on your trucks so that Kila the rally dog wouldn't overheat herself.

Then we went to transit to SS7 and... were told to go back to our service spot.  The radio net had completely failed and competition had to be halted until it could be fixed.

I have to admit I was feeling pretty low at this point- we finally had a car that wasn't perpetually broken and everything else failed instead.  Our truck was broken, the rally itself was broken, and neither had good signs of being an easy fix.  But as always, the rally community pulls through, and after several hours and many hands on deck even including Ben Chuong getting under the truck still in his coolshirt and fire gear, the truck radiator swap was moving in the right direction and eventually the event organizers got a backup radio relay working and we were told we'd be starting again.

The new plan excluded a number of stages and basically repeated SS4/5/6 two more times, but we were back to rallying!  We had sporadic rain on Diagon Alley and that kept me slow with an inconsistent surface- for some reason I had trouble spotting mud vs. dry spots on the road, I'm not sure if that's just Ohio's dirt composition or the car being lower or what but it was odd.  Then on Disco Inferno, everything really started clicking- the notes were good, the car felt good, the surface was consistent.  Our pace wasn't that fast but for a solid chunk of the middle of the stage we pushed a bit more and everything felt great, I was even braking late enough in places that Sara was reminding me "this is a right two minus... RIGHT TWO MINUS!" and I STILL was braking too early.  We both need to adjust to this thing, but it feels so freaking cool to have a car that we need to get fast enough for instead of a car that we need to limp through.

The surface on Top Gun North Short was still inconsistent, somehow, so we weren't super fast there but things still felt good and the car seemed happy.  I tried to ham it up at a spectator R1 that turned out to be way slicker than expected and made a complete ass of myself spinning the car.  Back to service!

Same deal as last time at service, the car was fine and not a single paint stripe was out of place.  Evan was moving along with the truck and things were looking up!  We put somewhere around 7 gallons of fuel in the car and went back out to repeat the same three stages again. 

For this last leg, Ozgur's white E30 had dropped out (or at least back) putting Josh and Jim right behind us on the road.  Tracking said they were a few seconds ahead of us in the standings, so we had somebody to race with- on the final running of Diagon Alley, they got us by a bit and I decided to push it some more on the next stage, Disco Inferno.  Push it we did, taking back 20something seconds!  By this point it was dark and Sara and I were both tired, but we wanted to finish strong so for the last stage, one more pass of Top Gun North Short, we tried to keep a decent pace.  It was at this point that the car decided to have its' only real issue of the entire rally, and for the full 11 miles the big LED lights were flicking on and off at random leaving us to navigate the road at speed with just the regular high beams.  We still went pretty fast, all things considered, just squeaking out enough of a margin to stay ahead of Josh.  The car threw another check engine light for a misfire too, probably because I was yet again paying more attention to all the stuff I couldn't see and not the limiter.

That last transit feeling is like no other, cool air blowing into the car, helmets off for the last time, just a line of rally cars that have made it through the tough stuff on a cruise back to the service park.  We were exhausted but the car felt like it could do it all again without issue, other than the lights.  On our way into parc ferme we got a rolling high five from Santiago (L2WD winner) and Adam Brock was waiting right there to congratulate us.  We did it, first rally down, this car made almost entirely out of best guesses and "I can do it cheaper" solutions had made it and had made it clear that it could go so much faster.  It was a good feeling:

Podium stuff happened, some rich guys went fast but more importantly Dan Downey and Sammie Gouin won regional O2WD and Jon Kramer and Jason Smith won regional NA4WD, and Kimmett and Skucas got and impressive 11th overall.  Sara also talked to some pro level Subaru people- John Hall told a story about having to slap an electrical box to get the car running and Brandon Semenuk thinks BRZs are cool apparently:

I was nearby talking to the Brock brothers while Adam was double fisting a champagne bottle and a beer with a picture of a rally car on it.  Sara can be the famous one, that's fine by me!  cheeky  John Leonard came by with a plate of post-rally brats, and we all hung out for a bit while the impound timer clicked down.

Eventually we loaded back up, and took our truck with a freshly installed too-small radiator back to the airbnb.  Evan headed home to shower the sweat and dexcool off himself.  The rest of us turned in somewhere around 2am.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 8:34 a.m.

Sunday, the tow home

The short version of this is that we got on the road after a decent amount of sleep, and everything was fine if running a little hot for an hour- oh, and the recently repaired HVAC in the truck was acting up again.  Once it got hotter out and the highway got hilly, we had a problem.  The smaller radiator also had the wrong cooler fittings, so we had no oil cooler and only the small secondary trans cooler, and as a result the transmission got HOT.  Like, pull the berkeley over you're going to cook it hot.

At the gas station cooling down, a friendly dude in an older Dodge came over and asked what was up with the truck.  He directed us to his friend's shop 10 miles away, we limped the truck there, and I ran across the street to Advance Auto and bought the biggest trans cooler they had on the shelf.  Not the cleanest install but I'll be damned if it's not getting cold air to it:

Everyone involved in this operation refused money and demanded to be paid in stickers instead, so we gave them a bunch and went on our way.  The truck still ran hot with the small radiator, but engine temperature is easier to regulate than trans temperature so we just drove a little slower.  The fuel savings from cruising at 55 probably went a decent amount of the way towards covering the radiator cost, honestly.

We made it home at around 930pm when we had been aiming for 630, but we made it.  Mission accomplished.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 8:38 a.m.
slantsix said:

Looks Like a blast.

How long time / mileage wise were the stages there?

Our overall time was 1:49:40.7 with a 42.5 mph average, which was good enough for 4th in regional L2WD and 45th overall.  I think a little under 80 stage miles, which was less than planned but decent considering the radio disaster that halted the event for several hours.

hobiercr
hobiercr GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/14/21 8:46 a.m.

Sounds like it was an amazing weekend on so many fronts. Glad the new radiator and custom transmission cooler got you home! So exciting to see this car that you built getting dirty!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 8:55 a.m.

Yeah Yeah But What About the Car?

It's awesome- this was a humbling experience, I need to work on my driving to actually use this car to its' potential.  Sara is a great codriver too so at this point it's really clear that I'm the limiting factor.

I'll try to break the car down into categories.

Engine: Seems fine but the misfire code is cause for concern and I need to see what we can do there.  The cooling system is good and the temp didn't budge at all on stage.  Stiffer motor mounts are probably going to be needed in the future, you can feel it moving around on the bumpy stuff.

Transmission: Great, shifts nicely, feels good, no complaints.

Diff: The clutch pack was super consistent and the gearing felt great.  Pitching the car into tighter corners with a little handbrake and powering out was extremely rewarding.

Suspension:  I'm not changing a thing other than maybe raising it a tiny little bit, it feels so good.  The only weird thing is the tendency to pull a lot more than the Merkur did when a wheel goes into the ditch- once I get faster this is probably going to be usable as a feature for speed rather than pants E36 M3ting.

Tires:  Hoosier good.  I like these a lot.

Brakes: This was the most surprising, impressive, mind altering thing about driving the car and I legitimately did not expect it- yes, of course the brakes are better than the Merkur, of course the pedal feel is good, but that's not really what I mean.  Something about the Hoosiers, the feel, the sizing, and the suspension combines such that this thing can haul down from speed on gravel in a way that the Merkur couldn't even dream of, braking so much later that it feels really alarming.  I think it's a combination of modern suspension geometry and enough travel that all of the tires stay in full contact and don't get bounced by bottoming, but I'm not certain- all I know is that this is where a huge amount of speed is hiding and I need to learn to use it.  It's a complete shift in the way I have to drive.

Interior/comms/etc:  The car is a comfortable place to spend a weekend, and for the most part all of this is great.  Sara had a little back pain that can probably be erased with some seat adjustments, and the fancy roof scoop works great as long as it's not pouring but we need to keep taping over it when it rains hard.

Skidplates:  These did their job really well and we dragged them HARD before figuring out that the car doesn't like ditches.  No changes unless I find something scary taking them off.

Other:  Need to figure out what happened to the lights, although I'm pretty sure I know.  Either something needs more solder or something needs a locking fastener.

Overall I pretty much couldn't be happier with the car- every place that I tried to save a few thousand with a slightly unorthodox solution appears to have worked and it feels great.  Onward!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 9:18 a.m.

Finally a competition picture!

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/14/21 10:57 a.m.

Congratulations!  Great work designing and building a rally car from scratch!

golfduke
golfduke Dork
6/14/21 11:03 a.m.

awesome readup and glad the maiden rally was, by all accounts, a pretty great success!  

 

Aslo, I heard Downey's car was a rocketship all weekend with the new engine...  I really cant wait to see it in person at MFR.  Are you thinking about going to that one as well?

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 11:09 a.m.

In reply to golfduke :

New England?  We'll be there!

golfduke
golfduke Dork
6/14/21 11:23 a.m.

nice!  I usually volunteer with organizing/timing/other behind-the-scenes duties, would love to meet faces to usernames! 

 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/14/21 1:53 p.m.
golfduke said:

awesome readup and glad the maiden rally was, by all accounts, a pretty great success!  

 

Aslo, I heard Downey's car was a rocketship all weekend with the new engine...  I really cant wait to see it in person at MFR.  Are you thinking about going to that one as well?

 

Madman Dan is just simply fast. He has the new engine but the entire drivetrain almost fell out because his transmission cross brace came unbolted, and other than the engine and suspension his car is hack-jobbed, I have no idea how it keeps finishing. I'm sure the engine helped but I'm not convinced that anybody in the regional two-wheel drive field can actually drive as fast as Dan at this point without heavily superior equipment - he even beat Ryan's beautifully built M3 by a good margin, and that car is really really well put together and very fast. That's why we have taken to calling him Mad Man lol. 

rodknock
rodknock Reader
6/14/21 4:51 p.m.

Hey it was cool seeing you out on course! I talked to you for a bit but it looked like you were busy modifying the tow truck's rad. This was the only decent shot I was able to get. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 5:01 p.m.

In reply to rodknock :

Sweet picture, thanks!  Sorry we didn't chat more, I was a little preoccupied as you guessed.

paranoid_android (Forum Forumer)
paranoid_android (Forum Forumer) UberDork
6/14/21 8:28 p.m.

Despite the truck and the rally breaking, it was a great event- and Chris you did a *great* job building the car.  Thankfully both those problems ended up being temporary.

I'll be curious to hear if you come across anything we missed on it during the rally.

It was great to see old friends and meet new ones- Kimmet, Krista, John, Cole, et al.  Rally makes my soul happy laugh

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
6/14/21 8:50 p.m.

Driving Notes

Since Sara is reviewing video right now I'm feeling very, very slow and calling myself a coward.  This is a post about where I think the low hanging fruit for doing better is, and trying to feel a little better.  It's basically just me talking to myself.

Excuse to get out of the way:  This is a scary rally to go into with a new car, and it's all cliffs and blind turns and E36 M3.  There was supposed to be a rallysprint before it.  Blah blah.

Braking: As noted above, do it later.  A lot later, and stop adding "braking" calls to the notes that you would have needed in the Merkur, you can change them to cautions but you no longer need to brake two corners early.

Shifting: The Merkur effectively only had three useful gears and a lot of turbo lag so floating the car near redline instead of shifting again as you get close to a corner sort of made sense.  We now have close ratio gearing and quick throttle response, shift again and keep accelerating.

Coasting: See shifting.  Stop doing this, even when you brake way too early get back on the gas for a second instead of just cruising in.

Throttle: Stay in it longer, late braking means more time to accelerate, quit being a wuss.

Turn-in: It's good, trust it and throw the damn car when you need to.  The handbrake also works great if needed for those 1s and hairpins.

Mid corner and exit: I think I actually do halfway decent here.

Bumps: It's good at them, judge the ground clearance but otherwise keep it pinned.

 

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