Sunday, July 14, 2013

More Auto Than Rally Cross...

So only about a week after returning from Rallye Saguenay my weekend schedule opened up and I was able to take my son to his first SCCA Rallycross event.  Rallycross is one of the first places I picked up the competitive motorsports bug.  Its a low risk, low reward style of an event for people to learn basic car control and other skills.

I've always viewed Rallycross as a stepping stone to learning whether or not one might be interested in moving into stage rally.  Now I'll admit, my view may not be the right one and may not be the most popular one...but viewing Rallycross as an event in and unto itself and one to stay "in" long term seems a frustrating and pointless exercise.  Driving around cones at 20 mph might be a good way to get your jollies for a weekend or two but as a recipe for much more than that its not too good.  The SCCA neutered version of Rally is not my cup of tea.

That being said, I have enjoyed participating in RallyX events in the past, both in my old Nissan Xterra and my current Nissan Frontier.  Neither vehicle is well suited to this style of racing but I always enjoy running something odd and unwanted--heck when I first started I had to contact the local group and ask permission to run the SUV and I was very frequently the only SUV in the events.  But I almost always had fun.

The Okemo RallyCross event in Rutland, VT was perhaps the least enjoyable RallyCross event I have attended.  I can see that others may have enjoyed it greatly but it just wasn't for me.  The course was the tightest I've ever seen in the 20 or so events I've run.  My truck is 91 inches wide at its largest and I would estimate that the cones were averaging some 115 or 120 inches apart.  A foot of space on each side isn't much, particularly when you place corner after corner after corner in such rapid succession that you never leave first gear.  I'm sorry, I just don't enjoy rolling around a course at minimal speeds sawing away at the wheel like a madman.  The NER SCCA Rallycross group is going through a bit of a changeover and I wonder if this has bled its way into it course design.  The course doesn't HAVE to look like the Motorweek slalom course...but that's what it ended up as.

SCCA Rallycross is always intended to keep speeds down to safe levels but when I run RallyX courses at Summit Point in WV and see what the RallyCross groups in Quebec do for their events, it appears the antiseptic, overly anal, squids of local New England Autocross have taken over and pulled all the real fun and driving out of these events--at least in this one instance.

Those who have regularly read this blog will note that this is the first time I have EVER had a bad thing to say about an event I have participated in.  I don't bitch when I wreck my vehicle or put it in a pond, I don't bitch when I finish but come in near last (or actually last) amongst those who do finish.  I don't complain about cost or difficulty, conditions or delays.  This is the first time I've ever complained because it was the first time I felt like the "fun" of the event was removed for me.  Maybe its just me, maybe the Okemo rallycross course was like all the others I've run over the years and my vehicle is just now SO unsuited for these events as to make them near worthless...Maybe...

But I've run snow/ice events on 35 inch mud tires in a 170 hp SUV with a 5" lift, bodyrolling from one slow, sliding corner to another, froze my butt off and come in near last and STILL had maybe its just me...but maybe not.

Okemo Rallycross Results...

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