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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
9/18/23 10:19 a.m.

STPR 2023 But Now We're Spectators

We spent our Saturday spectating and crewing for our friends- it was fun and a good way to take my mind off of the fact that I wasn't driving any more.

We put some gopros on a corner and made a thing:


Everyone mostly had an uneventful day, although Tim's Beetle snapped a control arm and had to retire, and the Mayers broke their transmission as well and were out.  How'd everyone else do?  Quite well:
-Dylan and Ben won the rally overall
-The Downeys won 2wd by a huge margin and placed 2nd overall
-Andrew and Julia won the novice award
-Dan and Nate won the most cheers from the spectators

Food was had, beers were acquired, a kitchen stayed open late just for us. and once back at the house, we celebrated the Downeys one year anniversary.  Good times:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
9/18/23 10:21 a.m.

And here's our best stage of the rally:


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
9/25/23 8:18 a.m.

We spent the weekend at Boone Forest Rally- Sara codriving for Adam Brock, and me crewing for Hooper:

Good times were had by... some.  The roads were extremely rough, so a lot of cars DNF'd and/or broke wheels and suspension pieces.  Sara and Adam did great though, with Adam's new suspension carrying them to the podium!

RustBucketLegacy GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/26/23 2:17 a.m.

Thank you both for indispensable advice/tips/rally wisdom and as always, was great fun to hang out with you both and the rally dogs at STPR!
Great to see Brock and Sara made it on the podium for what sounds like a brutal rally

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
9/28/23 7:55 a.m.

In reply to RustBucketLegacy :

No problem!  Boone was truly gnarly, the Lexuses are tanks and I was still very busy as crew.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
9/28/23 8:02 a.m.

Ok, back to work.  LSPR is coming up fast.

I finally bought a transmission jack, it's WAY easier to remove a transmission solo this way:

Rocks really do find their way everywhere, this little guy was hiding between the transmission and the mount:

I didn't take pictures of the gear oil, but it was full of so much stuff that it was blue.  Weird.

Clutch was at about 50% life by my guesstimate, it's a great spare or possibly even worth putting in another car:

On the new (used) transmission, I decided I should try to track how hot it's getting so I added a thermolabel- a little gorilla tape makes for added insurance to hopefully keep it attached to the case:

I actually bought a pair of used transmissions so I have a spare- getting very transmission shop-y around here:

I also installed a discounted lightweight flywheel (it had minor dings on the outside edge, cleaned up with a file in about 30sec) in the hopes that decreasing the rotating mass will help the transmission live longer by way of less inertia to deal with on each shift.  No idea if it'll help at all but it looks the business:

I got the transmission in the car last night, which was a little difficult since I don't really have a feel for getting things lined up with the transmission jack yet, and reconnected most stuff.  More work ahead but I should be able to drive it soon, and then move on to the regular reprep and minor suspension stuff it needs.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
9/28/23 10:04 p.m.

125 miles in.  Clutch feels great and the transmission is a transmission again.

Recon1342 SuperDork
9/29/23 9:49 a.m.

In reply to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

Would you say your new transmission is... transmitting?



I'll show myself out now.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
9/29/23 5:13 p.m.

New tierods because the boots were torn and these were an original part with too many stage miles for my liking:

Helper springs so the front springs stop clanking around:

Did the usual oil change, air filter, and underbody touch up.  I also changed the cabin air filter since I anticipate needing defrost/defog at max efficiency... I should change this more often:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/2/23 9:20 a.m.

More driving, clutch feels fully broken in now and the car feels back to its' old self.

95maxrider Reader
10/3/23 7:40 a.m.

Nice job on the new 50mm inserts!  What diameter springs are you using with those?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/3/23 7:45 a.m.

In reply to 95maxrider :

2.5" ID

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/6/23 12:37 p.m.

Hey, my transmission temperature tracking works! Neat:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/8/23 9:17 a.m.

Bolted a piece of aluminum to the backup transmission so it doesn't roll around in the truck:

Torque checked and paint striped all the stuff I touched:

And added a thermolabel to the diff too since I have a bunch of them:

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
10/10/23 10:50 a.m.

Thermolabel is cool!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/18/23 7:21 a.m.

Lake Superior Performance Rally 2023


We headed out on Monday- truck, trailer, rally car, me, Sara, dogs, the usual, but we had also picked up a ridealong crew member for this one as Stirling had inexplicably decided he'd like to ride 1000 miles each way to the UP and back with us.  The tow was uneventful, although we split it into two days and visited Shanti's place on the way out:

The rally car visited Lake Superior for the first time:

Checked in, got our airbnb set up for the 4 team crew, cars unloaded, etc.  This picture is out of order but demonstrates the driveway situation:

This rally is pretty spread out, sort of like NEFR, so recce was split into two days, covering Saturday's stages on Wednesday and Friday's stages on Thursday.  The general trend seemed to be that Friday's stages were really fast, relatively narrow given the speed, and had lots of weird camber changes and some soft stuff, while Saturday's stages would be tighter, more technical, and just generally more varied in terms of speed and surface.  The Tundra handled it all like a champ, including a poorly chosen "shortcut" down what was effectively a jeep trail:

We had great notes, the car was ready including two spare tires in the trunk, and the Stirling was prepared to handle the weird mid-event tows required for this rally- my plan was to drive conservatively and make it through the whole thing, pushing only where it was safe to do so, since so many people had warned me that LSPR is the nastiest event there is, a car breaker, and a near guarantee of a DNF the first time you attempt it; but I didn't discuss this with Sara, which was a major oversight and should've been something we talked about before even starting recce.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/18/23 7:48 a.m.

LSPR 2023

Day 1

After a quick trip to the only nearby gas station with 93 octane, we were off to what might be the largest parc expose I've ever been part of- LSPR sure knows how to put a bunch of rally cars on display:

Once parc was over, we rolled right back onto the trailer and towed out to the service park in Sidnaw, with the real start for the day being from there.

Pretty soon we were off- I was glad I'd set the tire pressures on the drive to parc in the morning, because the first transit was barely a mile and not nearly enough to get them up to temperature.  We had elected to run our usual hard compound Hoosiers for Friday since it wasn't particularly wet and the surface seemed relatively hardpacked on recce except for some sand and mud in short sections.

SS1, Markey Lake, made it almost immediately apparent that I had misjudged the severity of the soft parts of the road, as much of the first half turned out to be rapidly eroding and relatively deep sand.  It wasn't too chewed up on the first pass, though, and overall we did a respectable time given the strange surface:

SS2 Bob Lake was different, primarily in that we knew it was muddy from recce and that that assessment turned out to be correct.  I don't love driving in mud, but our slippy calls in the notes were accurate and with keeping the car on the road as goal #1 it went decently- not nearly as competitive a time as SS1, though.

SS3 and 4 were Far Point and Passmore North, and they sort of lump together for me because they shared a key feature- I had NO idea what the surface was doing.  These stages were some sort of sand/clay/mud/dirt combo that looked almost completely uniform to my eyes but had wildly varying amounts of grip.  Between our tire choice and my "crashing absolutely not an option" approach to this event, the only way to reasonably navigate it was with caution and early braking- had I been in a different frame of mind, the way to handle it would've been to throw the car sideways early in order to try and get ahead of the mid corner grip variations, but that would've been risking an off at an event that I really wanted to make it through every stage of.

Back to service, where the car had no real issues other than a stripped skidplate bolt and Stirling made quick work of checking it all over:

Then back out for the same loop yet again- the second passes of Markey Lake and Bob Lake for SS5 and 6 were significantly more chewed up, and we spent a lot of time managing the ruts formed by the faster cars and just trying to keep the skidplates off the ground.  We smacked the front skid pretty hard a few times, eventually losing that stripped bolt, but it was a rear corner of the plate so I wasn't particularly concerned.  The car still sort of felt like it was fighting me a bit on these surfaces but we were running at a comfortable pace and not taking any chances.

By the second time through Far Point and Passmore North for SS7 and 8, it was dark out, and things started to get a little weirder.  That difficult and variable surface from earlier was now completely unjudgable with the LEDs illuminating it, and between that, the massively off camber but fast corners, and being spooked by a number of really dangerous photographer and spectator positions, I was backing WAY off for anything that I was unsure of- at this point our failure to discuss a general approach for the event turned into confusion, as Sara consistently tried to push me back towards our Bristol/NEFR/STPR pace and I continued to dial it back to guarantee we make it to the finish.  Lesson learned, be on the same page as your codriver, not just in the notes but in the grand scheme of what you're doing at the event in the first place.  We eventually figured it out, but the whole thing was totally avoidable, and in retrospect I do wish I had pushed harder instead of running such a conservative pace.

We arrived back at service unscathed, loaded the car up, and headed back to the house- this night of the LSPR schedule is very short, so we arrived at the airbnb around midnight, reviewed the next day's stages via video, and went to sleep some time after midnight with alarms set for 5am.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/18/23 8:36 a.m.

LSPR 2023

Day 2

We towed out to L'Anse parc expose in the rain, and made a quick decision to swap tires- if there was ever a time to try out those MRFs I had cut up it was probably here.  We changed them quickly the moment the car rolled off the trailer:

At parc expose, Al's car was on display, sporting signatures and messages from last year, where he tragically passed away the night before the event.  I'm not sure I can adequately describe the combination of emotions this generated, and I'm sure everyone there was feeling different blends- this was the first time I'd encountered the car since Al's passing so it was certainly a powerful moment for me standing here on the shore in his hometown:

Eventually we were off again, to the fittingly named Al's Playground stage for SS9, a twisty gravel road with plenty of corner variety and crests to keep you on your toes.  The car felt pretty good in the wet with the cut soft compound tires up front.  We ran a decent time, fell back into a good rhythm very quickly, and although the pace was still leaving enough margin that I felt certain we'd make it through the day, it was clear that we'd reset from the funk of the night before and things were working again.

Next up was SS10 Menge Creek, arguably the best stage of the rally by traditional definitions, with a solid surface and seemingly endless linked corners- we did ok here but I wasn't throwing the car around enough to make some of the sequences work, with many of the tighter corners seemingly stuck between bouncing off the limiter in second gear and bogging in third, a problem which would've been solved with greater commitment to the notes and a little bit of "if we end up in the weeds it'll probably be ok," but it was still fun:

Back to Al's Playground again for SS11, where we had what was probably our best stage of the rally.  I remembered sections of it from the first pass, pushed the car more, and committed to more of the blind crests and bumpy straights.  We managed to put a small hole in the sidewall of one of our front tires, but still ran faster than the first time through:

On the next transit, that holed tire slowly leaked the rest of its' air out and made itself known, so it was impact gun time and we made short work of the tire change:

Up next was SS12, Villikissa, the real car destroyer of the rally- dodging the large embedded rocks and being alert for the more mobile non-embedded ones was the name of the game here, and apart from hanging the back of the car slightly off the road in one loose corner we were doing pretty well until I dodged around a large embedded rock to find a hidden one about the size of a cinderblock had been pushed onto the road behind it- I hit it with the right front wheel while gripping the steering wheel at an odd angle since we were already crossed up going around the bigger rock, and it popped my left shoulder out of its' socket for a moment.  I have extremely loose joints so this isn't the first time my shoulder has been popped out, but it was certainly the first time on a rally stage and it still hurt and surprised me- I actually don't think we backed off all that much for the rest of the stage but I was careful for sure.

At the end of the stage, the road just outside the finish control was filled with cars hammering wheels straight, baling wiring pieces back on, applying zipties, etc.  I checked the wheel which had hit the rock quickly and hopped back in the car- it had a little bend in the rim but was holding air and looked straight enough.

Next was Trouble for SS13, aptly named given that it's a muddy, rutted logging road where the runoff is mostly filled with log piles and felled trees.  Shoulder throbbing, I tried to be as smooth as possible through the ruts and slop, and it generally worked although we found ourself tapping the outside berm in a corner which would later claim Adam Brock's Volvo, and we also passed the Downeys stuck on the side of the stage with a snapped control arm.

A quick visit back to service, then we were off to Trouble again- unsurprisingly, it was even sloppier, with the added features of a dead deer hit by another competitor, and a new fun burning smell as we caught the Crouch/Scott WRX which was running on a number of bent components and some very flat tires thanks to a little off course excursion.  We were still carrying two spares, so after the finish it was impact gun to the rescue again as we bolted one of our spare wheels to their car to get them moving again:

There was a long transit to Mt. Marquette, which we were a bit concerned about making in time since we had not only stopped for another car but also to patch up some of our own minor underbody damage a bit- we made it with time to spare though.  Although we technically had two stages to go, there were several attempts to recreate Al's traditional last stage selfie since there's no real gap between the last two stages here:

Oh yeah, Dylan and Ben there were down to only two remaining gears in their transmission at this point and had transited the whole way there in third.  Kevin and Kyle were still in the rally because of a loaner spare wheel from the Olonas.  Sean and Breandan were missing a crucial control arm bolt but still moving.  Other Kevin and Jim were preparing to do shots of maple syrup as they crossed the finish.  That guy in the orange hat is the one who hit the deer on Trouble.  Somewhere nearby is Colin's car, which rolled the night before but was still in the rally; you get the idea, these people all rule.

The two stages at Mt. Marquette are a very steep service road thing, and then the actual freaking ski hill- we did the first one cleanly:

and then really let it fly, for the only time this event, on the second.  I snapped off a skidplate bolt, and bashed the mirror on one of the piece of rebar marking the narrow ski hill course, but we made it!

We were greeted by friends at the finish, snagged some food, and waited for results.  So how'd we do?  Technically, not so bad- 2nd in regional L2wd, although first was WAY ahead of us as well as at least one national L2wd car.  It's also worth mentioning that at this point we were a couple hours from 10/15, our anniversary- champagne is a good way to celebrate:

It turned out ok, but despite the decent result at finish we had learned something crucial- while we're great at driving a rally in "survival mode" it feels a little empty at this point, now that we've pushed faster at a few previous events.  I'm really glad we finished this one, especially on the podium, but in the future I have to accept that we're going to need to roll the dice a bit more.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/18/23 8:46 a.m.

So, what does this mean in terms of overall season results? Some of them are still up in the air pending a few rallies, but we've locked in 1st place for Sara in the eastern L2wd codriver championship and 2nd for me in the equivalent driver championship.  We are both leading the central L2wd championship currently, but expect that to change after their final regional event of the season.

Damage to the car seems to be relatively minor- two broken skidplate bolts, steering mysteriously a bit off center, a mirror, and some wheels and tires and underbody stuff- not bad for what is notoriously the biggest meanest rally.  There sure is a lot of cleaning to do, though.

Those temp indicator stickers hung in there the whole time too, both showing in the vicinity of 260F- this is too hot, and means I'll probably move the catalyst away from the transmission to try and drop the temp a little.  The differential may have to just live with it and get more frequent fluid changes, and may have been getting hotter due to slip- I'll change the clutch plates this winter, they're original and have 1500 stage miles and probably 4000 transit on them at this point:

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/18/23 11:30 p.m.

We're Not Worthy - Newschoolers.com

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/19/23 7:37 a.m.

In reply to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

So just like rallycross, the co-driver places higher? laugh

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/19/23 8:28 a.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Sorta- Sara consistently competes in L2wd, while some of the other cars have a revolving door of codrivers, so she consistently gets points while some of the others are elsewhere.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/19/23 9:49 a.m.

Congrats on another very successful rally!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
10/19/23 9:54 a.m.

In reply to Lof8 - Andy :

Thanks!  I do have to force myself to take a little bit of a step back and consider how far we've come, that we got 2nd at a rally I've never been to before (Sara having been last year) and all we can talk about is how much speed we left on the table.  A few years ago this scenario would've been completely unimaginable.

paul_s0 Reader
10/19/23 10:11 a.m.

Congrats guys, keep up the good work, and the reports.  I enjoy following along from afar both on the build and the event reports, even though it makes me pine for days gone by when I used to compete smiley

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