Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lake Superior Performance Rally 2010

LSPR was unceremoniously chopped from Rally America's 2010 National calender the day after last year's running.  LSPR (and it's forefather, the POR) is the grand daddy of US rallying.  To add insult to injury, LSPR was removed to make way for Rally America's new X Games / Euro Rallycross format - this basically amounts to Mickey Thompson Stadium Truck racing from the 80's but using rally cars.  The thinking is that it is much more lucrative to be able to package rallying into a stadium setting and be able to charge spectators a fee.  And the side-by-side racing will appeal to a wider audience.  All true, I suppose.   This is analogous to Formula1 chopping Spa from the calender and replacing it with an event where the F1 cars run the oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. So LSPR 2010 was a 1-day Regional Rally America event for the first time.  Despite all this, there was an excellent field of cars entered and the crowds were just as large as last year.

I was very fortunate to be a last minute substitute co-driver in the Safety/Medical Sweep vehicle with Tim Maskus.   Safety/Medical Sweep is the car that runs behind the last car in the field through the entire rally, offering medical assistance to competitors who have gone off course.   We use the same Route Book and follow the same instructions as the competitors, just at a slightly lower speed.   So this was my first taste of navigating in a stage rally and it was an absolute blast.  I only made a couple of mistakes – both on transit stages.   There really was no down time – 10 Stages, transits and 5 service stops, all totaling about 13 hours of driving and arrival back in Houghton at 1:30AM!

We did attend to one very serious accident on a night stage involving the Rockrohr Subaru Team from Idaho.  As the driver described it to me he hit about 110MPH on the long straight on this gravel forest road, slowed to about 90MPH for an uphill righthand sweeper (an R5-) but just had too much speed and put 2 wheels off.  He tried to save it but impacted a large tree a few feet off the road’s edge, head-on.   The car was demolished.  The driver had a broken foot and his co-driver appeared to have a concussion and neck injuries.  Their survival is a testament to modern roll cage design and construction and use of the Hans Device.   We provided first aid, followed by a Fire-Rescue crew and then an ambulance crew for transport to the hospital.  The Rockrohrs recently won the Rally America class at Pikes Peak Hillclimb. 

The new 1-day format also gave us all day Friday to do our own driving tour through the Keweenaw.  We drove Brockway Mountain and had lunch in Copper Harbor.  

Lake Superior North of Eagle Harbor

Fresh Bear Tracks!
A Couple of Shelby Mustangs From Marquette Joined in on Our Drive

There was also a RallyCross on Sunday morning.  Tim ran his car even though the course was sort of a Mickey Mouse affair, being far too tight to have any real fun.  A couple of vids: