presented here may not be entirely accurate, it
was a long weekend, and I seem to remember some
details, and others blend together like the endless
twists and bends we drove on as the rally progressed.
Next time, I will try taking notes.
morning in Cache Creek B.C., clear skies and very
We were lucky to have gone through the safety
inspection late Friday. David strapped in
the cooler and secured the gear. It was
going to be a hurry up and wait affair.
We needed some northern climate wiper fluid and
a quick petrol stop before the ten a.m. novice
driver's meeting. Soon after the debriefing,
we left the parking lot of Kal Tire on our first
transit, or "traveling section", a bit confused
why all the cars were leaving before the scheduled
time. We missed getting a glimpse
of the Mayor who was supposed to wave us
on. Time and speed on transits, we learned,
is fairly irrelevant, as long as you get to your
first timed section before your "out time".
A sign on the road read "Slippery When Frosty."
The first regularity, or timed
section, of the brisk 30th B.C. Thunderbird
Rally. Lot's more snow...exactly what we
were hoping for. The hills around the area
appeared dry much like eastern Oregon or Washington,
but deep in the countryside there was plenty of
unplowed snow. We quickly understood the
importance of the odometer correction factor.
I also discovered that I was unable to compute
remedial algebra, even with a calculator, given
the slightest distraction. The surface changed
from gravel to snow to ice. The studded
Nokian tires ate up the miles like a starving
navigator with a fresh bag of jerky. David
took the corners relatively fast and accelerated
smoothly, keeping us on time.
We took several cattle
guards at maximum speed (44.7 mph, a bit faster
with the correction) and bottomed out the rear
shocks on occasion. The miles,
cattle guards and "may be considered unnecessary"
land marks ticked by, and the car ran perfectly.
David had strapped "camel baks" behind both driver
and passenger seat for quick drinks of water.
I had Bonine, Swiss army knife, scotch tape, highlighter
pens, calculator, clipboard, Nicorette,
and a stop watch at my disposal. We used
Tyvek tape to affix David's wristwatch to the
dash board, set to perfect rally time.
There were some minor mishaps
early on. One car happened upon a civilian
truck, and both must have swerved to avoid each
other. The rally team got stuck, the pick-up
unfortunately hit a tree. Nobody appeared
injured. This added fifteen seconds to our
time as we slowed for the caution triangle.
in the day a Range Rover had stuffed itself into
the snow, but the smiling team waved us by, the
cargo rack off and ten feet away.
As darkness approached,
a slight grade and quick right turn grabbed a
Mazda 323 and a Subaru Impreza from the ice and
they were both stuck and forced to wait for the
ubiquitous yank from the sweep vehicle.
The Impreza had some digging out to do!
We stopped for the Mazda team because they were
close to the side of the road and ready with tow
rope in hand. David hit the accelerator
hard on our second and last tug, spun all four
wheels, but to no avail. (Nothing
like a neck snapping jerk when you are setting
stop watch, trying to calculate seconds to hundredths
of a minute hey, where did my pen go!?)
Our rescue attempt may have cost us a minute twenty
seconds and possibly a t-shirt, cap and some smoked
salmon, but it was a good gesture.
The red lens for the navigator
light was very easy to read by and less distracting
for the driver and as darkness settled in, we
were both thankful for it. The first day
of of the rally exceeded our expectations.
The last transit brought us into Williams Lake
B.C. We inspected the Land Rover for
damage and realized it had been nicely rolled.
(Perhaps only Sasquatch, navigator and driver
know exactly how they ended up pointing the wrong
direction and back on all four wheels.)
We checked our score, had a beer, skipped dinner
and went to bed.
Day two, 6:45 am wake up
call. We enjoyed an excellent buffet breakfast,
fresh squeezed orange juice and good coffee.
-3 degrees Celsius and light flurries. Went
to the Fraser Inn for morning driver's meeting
to obtain the route instructions. Some route
revisions extended our departure time.
We were ready to get going despite pounding headaches
from all the driving. Left for the first
regularity late morning. Fresh snow offered
a bit of traction, but did a good job concealing
the icy spots. Roads were narrow with a
rather abrupt edge on the passenger side.
You could see all the way down to the bottom of
Never yell "Did you
see that bald eagle?" in the drivers ear
when a precipice looms ahead and the road is a
steep sheet of ice. Cautious driving was
the rule through this section.
The snow covered switchbacks
brought us down to a suspension bridge over
the Fraser River. It was very cold
out. The river was jammed with large slabs
of ice. The last section after lunch proved
quite challenging. I took in the scenery and called
out the mileage, speed changes and cattle guards,
but did little in the way of precision navigating.
The road surface was thick snow of varying consistency.
The driving appeared difficult, and we had to
average 41 mph through snaking forest roads.
We were pretty worn out by the end.
2:30 p.m. Clear sunny skies!
The last transit and anticipation of the
"Ice Racing" track heightened our mood.
On to the frozen lake ten miles outside of Ashcroft,
B.C. where all the rally cars gathered for one
final taste of fun driving.
We lined up in car number
order for a turn on the track; an extremely
polished one mile loop. Our chance arrived
and we sped off down a long straight away at about
50 mph, did a nice twenty yard sideways slide
the center of the turn, pulled it out and around
again once more we went. What a rush!
A bit later the Range Rover got really sideways
in the far turn and stuck again in the snow bank--the
absolute hero of the weekend in terms of
spirit and perseverance! Another crowd
favorite was a huge F350 Ford pickup equipped
with additional testosterone. I admired
the skill of the historic team powering a rear
wheel drive 1970 Datsun 240Z around in ultra slick
conditions. Somebody should make a drink
called Zephyr on ice, it has a nice ring to it.
I was uneasy out on the
ice and then I felt it crack right under my
feet. No I wasn't imagining anything.
Is this normal? I haven't spent much time
loitering about on frozen lakes. It was
a sunny day with fifty heated up automobile
engines all in a row. Somebody call William
Shatner. A moment of panic for me, and David
agreeably moved closer to shore and we were accompanied
by one of the Tabor Rally Team cars.
Soon after, everyone pitched
in to remove the course markers from the ice,
a hundred or more used tires. Back
to Cache Creek and the Wander Inn for awards,
banquet, raffle, and some laughter. We arrived
home in Portland at 2:30 a.m. Monday morning.
I think we are done reliving
this until next time. Visit Subie
Gal's website for some quality images.
- Judd and David