Monday, February 6, 2012
7th Overall and 4th in 2WD at Sandblast Rally 2012!!
Truly unlike anything I've driven in before. Deceptively grippy at points and yet still slick as ice at others. It is definately an experience I will never forget.
The event started with a drive up to Yorks, ME where I was to put the NISMO Stuff Frontier onto a two car trailer with Mike Reilly's Ford Escort Cosworth. I was to sleep on the floor of his AWESOME shop which doubles as the home of his software company. Nothing better than opening your office door and looking out onto the floor of an enormous garage holding four fully ready rally cars.
After getting about three hours sleep due to needing to try and stay up late to try and add little "shelves" to the side of the trailer to accommodate the 90+ inch width of the front track, I and Allen, Mike's right hand man, jumped into the tow vehicle (a 20+ foot E550 box truck) and headed out. Mid afternoon and we're in Virginia and stopped for a break when we discover that the truck had blown a seal and dumped all its oil all over the highway and its current resting place. The E550's event was over.
Pressing on we managed to contact at local Uhaul store at 4:58 just prior to its closing at 5PM and were able to rent a big Uhaul box truck to finish the rest of the haul. We managed to transfer an entire box truck full of equipment from one to another and a large wrecking vehicle showed up to haul the broken tow vehicle away to a shop that could do the needed repair. To make it easy on the new tow vehicle I drove the NISMO Stuff Frontier the remaining five or so hours to Cheraw, SC where I checked into my hotel where my codriver had arrived earlier in the day.
Check-in and registration the next day was easy and we ran the shakedown stage late in the day on Friday a number of times to get the feel of the deep sand the course takes place on.
Getting my first sleep of more than 4 hours in the previous two days left me refreshed come Saturday morning. David Dennis my codriver was also ready to go having gotten into the rhythm of calling out stage notes very quickly the night before.
The race itself was incredible. I think I enjoyed this one the most out of the three I've done simply because of the terrain. Wide, fast roads that were very driveable and forgiving because of the deep sand. No I couldn't really put what power I have to the ground because the sand just keeps the tires spinning but being on the rev-limiter with the engine screaming literally all day long is a ton of fun. I also had fund in some head to head runs with other vehicles as well. Sliding sideways through a turn nose to tail with a BMW 3 series with dirt spraying every which way and neither one of you having 100% control of your vehicle is truly wild. We also got to pass a number of other competitors on stage at this event, some broke, some stuck--the deep sand had many lower clearance vehicles up to their frames or sills in sand unable to move an inch. The NISMO Stuff Frontier, despite being 2WD, was able to float on top of the sand and not push it around, allowing free sailing to the finish.
And finish we did. For the third time in its first three races the NISMO Stuff Frontier finished the event. This time it was 70 stage miles of racing without a hiccup. Nothing broke, no punctures, no issues whatsoever. Service was non-existent besides fuel and the truck is ready to run at a moments notice still.
Good thing too since the original tow vehicle won't be fixed until tomorrow and I had to drive the race truck all the way back (15 hours) from South Carolina yesterday! Yes, so for the third time in three events I also drove the race vehicle to and from the race. Can't say I know anyone else in that predicament (by choice or not) at the moment!
Bottom line results?? Pretty damn good if you ask me....I'm going to have to start a Wikipedia page to chronicle the team's efforts going forward. The NISMO Stuff Frontier placed 3rd in its class, was the 4th overall 2WD vehicle in the event and placed 7th overall for Sandblast Rally 2012 out of the 24 car entries (there were 32 motorcycle entries for the race as well).
Next up?? Not quite sure...but I can't wait to get back out again. More photos and video hopefully to come. These are the first photos to be found and are all non-professional.