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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
5/17/21 12:33 p.m.

Well, we didn't do a bad enough job as Combo at Sandblast so they invited us to do it at Bristol too- this was the first running of this event, and the roads are very tight so we took our Impreza Outback Sport instead of the truck we used at Sandblast.  It has a skidplate, stiffer stock height springs, and the rear swaybar from an FRS but is otherwise stock.

For those unaware, the Combo car in NASA RallySport events is there to sweep the course after the RallyMoto field goes through, and clear it to open ahead of the first rally car.  So you basically have a HAM radio and run the course at 80% speed to keep the rally on schedule.

We arrived Friday, swapped wheels, installed stickers, and were ready for the next day:

We caught up with our fellow rally people and more importantly Mudflap the rally dog:

some very cool cars got stickers:

we helped with volunteer check in for the evening, and then retired to our (very nice) condo across from Bristol Motor Speedway for the night.

Saturday, race day:

Up bright and early and off to the service park for the start.  Not as early as Brian and Neil who we were sharing the condo with- they had to run as car 0 which put them like 20 minutes ahead of us on the road.

The Moto field left the service park and soon we did too- off to SS1, a stage called Sinkhole.  There was a little confusion at the start control and the bikes got off the line a bit late, but the organizers reeled things in right after and the event stayed on schedule.  We followed he bikes through:

The bikes made it without issue and we were off to SS2, Jacob's Creek, the rough high incline car breaker of the event.  The transit was fun though, leading us along 421 aka "The Snake" which was full of sportbikes and Porsches all day- hard on rally tires, though!

Part way through SS2 we got a pretty horrendous noise from the throwout bearing and the clutch didn't feel quite right.  On the brief transit from SS2 to SS3, we followed a couple bikes that missed a turn, and when we all turned around the throwout bearing seized and started really making noise.

SS3, McQueen Gap, was thankfully pretty easy to run in second gear.  We had to check on one bike who ran out of fuel and forgot to flip to reserve on the transit (he made it), and by the time we got back to the service park the organizers had already located a replacement Combo Car for us- what do you do when your Impreza course car breaks?  Use the bigger, angrier Impreza that Higher Ground rally team graciously offers you!

This one's name is Winslow, he's very tall and very loud.  Winslow didn't have a radio so we had to run back to the condo Net Control was based out of and get a mobile setup in there, but got it all knocked out by the end of service and were off again after the bikes.

The second section of the rally was a repeat of the first, and Winslow was ready to chase bikes with a freshly installed radio:

Three stages down yet again and things were going smoothly, the bikes were all staying on pace, and for the most part our hastily thrown together radio setup was working well.  On the transit back to service this time after McQueen gap, we came across an accident out on 421- a motorcyclist not involved in the rally had been clipped by a car and had a broken leg.  Another motorcyclist was on the phone with emergency services already when we arrived but didn't know where they were, so we used the rally roadbook to give them their location relative to the nearest road so they could get an ambulance in and then we were on our way again.

The third section of the rally repeated Sinkhole and Jacob's Creek again, but then turned around and reran Sinkhole backwards as a stage called Countersink.  This was all largely uneventful, although we did meet a very important volunteer at one of the arrival controls:

On SS9 Countersink, one of the bikes had a small incident and broke his clutch lever on the second to last corner but otherwise all riders made it through the rally without issue, and everybody made it to the finish just fine.  Winslow did an excellent job as well:

Between the organizers, volunteers, and competitors this event ran remarkably smoothly, especially considering that it was a brand new rally on the side of a mountain where a lot could go wrong.  We topped Winslow up with gas and returned him, event stickers and all, to Higher Ground.

Then we hung with the competitors and other volunteers for a bit (between the 0 car, Combo car, fast sweep, and several volunteer positions DC RallyX was well represented) and then got to bed at 1030 so we could try and drive our Impreza the 8hrs home without using the clutch.

Sunday

Up at 1am and on the road, we had a slightly unpleasant but luckily traffic-free trip back that barely required use of the clutch.  The car can still be put in gear at a stop but makes horrendous noises and needs the engine revved to avoid stalling from all the drag the throwout bearing is producing.  I'll fix it soon.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
5/17/21 12:41 p.m.

Actual rally pictures!  Photo credits to Kevin Allen, Remy Viator, Christian LaPrad.

May be an image of road

May be an image of motorcycle and road

May be an image of 1 person, motorcycle, nature and road

May be an image of road

May be an image of road

May be an image of car and road

May be an image of road

May be an image of car and road

May be an image of car and road

May be an image of motorcycle, dirt bike and outdoors

May be an image of 1 person and road

May be an image of car and road

May be an image of one or more people, motorcycle and outdoors

May be an image of motorcycle, dirt bike and outdoors

May be an image of car and outdoors

May be an image of road

May be an image of road

May be an image of car and outdoors

May be an image of car and outdoors

Somebeach (Forum Supporter)
Somebeach (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
5/18/21 3:00 p.m.

Thanks for posting this up. Always enjoy reading and looking at the pictures. 

EvanB
EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/18/21 4:01 p.m.

Definitely hard on rally tires. 

Those were from the front of a mk2 Golf after 6 stages. They were nearly full tread at the start. 

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
5/18/21 7:01 p.m.

In reply to EvanB :

You mean the 90 screaming HP that thing puts out doesn't always do that?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
5/19/21 4:08 p.m.

So how close to the absolute end of its' life did we push the clutch?

If you look closely in that picture the pressure plate is missing a piece.  Another piece came off when I poked it gently.

It'll get a new clutch and throwout bearing as well as the fork and pivot pieces it moves on.  Glad it got us home!

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