Tbird Stories - Car 14
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2001 Thunderbird Rally
-- 30th Annual Edition
Cache Creek, British Columbia
Performance TSD February
17 & 18 2001
The Subaru RX Rally Team
took the Sport Wagon to Canada to play in the
snow at the West Coast Rally Association's 30th
annual premier winter rally, the 2001 Thunderbird
Rally. Driver Ron marked the 30th coincidentally,
as his first Thunderbird was in 1971. The
Thunderbird has existed for more than the 30 years
but this is the "modern era" and has run continuously
for the last 30, under the same leadership.
|Navigator Josh arrived at
Sea-Tac from San Francisco Thursday evening.
We departed from Renton on Friday morning having
brushed 7" of new snow off the car in our driveway,
and a little apprehensive as to the trip north to
the "snow rally". As nature would have it,
the snow diminished the further north we drove until
entering Canada was under blue skies and on dry
|Registration and Tech Inspection
listed 57 starters although only 54 pulled away
from the Start under the Mayor's waving flag.
Classes were Unlimited, Calculator, Paper, Historic,
and Novice, for the TSD rally traditionally held
on snow covered backroads at brisk speeds.
This is Round One of the BC TSD Rally Championship,
and Round One of the Pacific Coast Challenge (BC-WA-OR).
Competitors from Alaska, Alberta, Arizona, and Maine
joined the BC, Washington and Oregon crews anticipating
the fun. Historic entrants included two BMW
2002's (one road-racer, one concours), a Volvo 123GT,
a Ford Zephyr Zodiac, a VW Beetle, a VW Karmann-Ghia,
a Dodge Colt, a Saab 96, and three Saab Sonetts
as well as a Lada Niva which was listed as a starter
but elected not to run. Subaru was well represented
with an SVX, two RX, several RS, several Legacy,
an Outback Sport, and us in the Sport Wagon.
began at 1100 AM under blue skies (but cold!) at
Cache Creek in central BC and ran on dry gravel
for much of the first Regularity called "Deadman"
(great start), then to snow-covered roads "Bonaparte",
"Bridge Lake", "Canim Lake", and "Forest Grove"
toward 100 Mile House for the end of Leg One.
Then "Lac La Hache", and "Spokin Lake" via the Luge
Run which is just as it sounds, very steep, icy
and narrow. On to "Mountain House", "Soda
Creek North", "Meldrum Creek", and "Soda Creek South",
where Leg Two's roads vary from broad dry gravel
to narrow twisting between-the-trees snow tracks
which are now being enhanced by darkness. Excursions
along the route include a 323GTX and a 2.5RS sufficiently
off to require tow strap assistance by sweep, a
Sonett in similar straits assisted by another competitor
and a British SUV (which shall remain nameless)
that tested the roof rack by slowly putting the
entire weight of the vehicle on it then returning
to its wheels with only minor metal damage.
After ten hours of challenging roads in great conditions
the first car reaches Williams Lake at 900 PM.
|We run just pencil and paper,
no rally speed tables, no calculators, just Seat-of-Pants
by the driver and any calculations of Time-Speed-Distance
being performed in long division, long multiplication,
and lots of addition by navigator Josh. (There
is as much black ball-point ink on the back of every
page as there is printer's ink on the front!).
We are tied with 59 points with friends in calculator
class, and everyone above us is running unlimited
with computers for navigation.
|Day Two drivers meeting
brings news of a couple of withdrawals in the Historic
Class. The Dodge Colt lost their alternator
and decided lights were probably a good idea so
they withdrew; the Karmann-Ghia lost all but the
E-brake but did arrive at the overnight; the
Range Rover stowed all the bits and pieces and was
ready to rally; the rest of the field was ready
to go. While seated at breakfast in the Headquarters
Hotel some drivers commented on the lack of snow.
They spoke too soon. At 730 the snow began,
the cars were covered, the streets were covered
and the start delayed, one section deleted (not
weather related), and crews wondering what lay ahead.
Needn't wonder, it was snowing! Fifty crews
sat along side the snowy track at the end of the
morning odo check and watched those ahead disappear
into the powder and later near white-out conditions
through "Springhouse", "Dog Creek", and the Gang
Ranch Suspension Bridge over the frozen river, with
notes of Hairpin, Hairpin, Hairpin. Caution!
Exposure! Hairpin R, Caution!!! Exposures
and hairpins next 3km. Beware of brake fade!
We definitely were to be careful through here.
After a pause at the bridge, we start out for "Meadow
Lake" at 50km/h. 31.1 mph doesn't look fast
on paper although we see several near "offs" leading
to the deep snow on the outside of some corners
and we're late at the first control. The hillclimb
hairpins and control were video taped and everyone
had the opportunity to critique style points later.
Meadow Lake was the last regularity with seven checkpoints
and some very deep snow at pretty brisk speeds.
Several times the speed was 40.4 or 44.7 when only
35 was attainable until some long straight enabled
55 for long enough to catch up. It has been
a custom to end Thunderbird with a few laps on Barnes
Lake, this year the lake was not scored so it became
just a two lap "fun-run", then stand around and
holler and wave to your fellow competitors, then
off to the Finish Banquet at Cache Creek.
Another day, another 7 hours of rallying.
|We held on to our lead for
1st paper and finished the two-day, 17 hour, 553
mile event with 142 points (2min22sec) total error.
The win is a great start to our defense of the Pacific
Coast Challenge Championship overall win for 2000,
and the BC TSD Rally Championship class win for
2000. The RX should be back on the road soon
and we may move up to the Calculator class where
scores tend to be closer to zero all the time.
Drivers need to concentrate just as intensely, co-drivers
get an opportunity to see some scenery instead of
just mathematics on the clipboard.
|Congratulations to Gary
Webb/John Kisela 1st unlim 7; Satch Carlson/Russ
Kraushaar 1st hist 30; Roy Lima/John Rapson 1st
calc 54; Ron & Josh Sorem 1st paper; and
Dan & Stuart Fealk 1st novice 377.
|The West Coast Rally
Association presents some excellent events
throughout the year, Thunderbird being the first
and longest running TSD. This year's Thunderbird
saw the highest entry, and tied for the highest
starters since its inception. Comments from
the competitors after the event indicate most will
be back for more, and most will encourage others
to come along for the fun. The organizers
are to be congratulated for another premier Canadian
event. Visit on-line at www.rallybc.com
|# # #
|For more information on
the Subaru RX Rally Team contact:
Sorem Motorsports 10835 SE 170th STREET,
RENTON, WA 98055 ronsorem@hotmail