Colorado Rally Mountain High
Colorado Rally Mountain High
By Steve Gingras
Rally Colorado kicked off the 2nd half of the Rally America season in style with a ceremonial start and park expo. They were held at the Rangely Auto Museum and culminated with a parade down Main street that included a Police Escort, Fire Trucks, High revving engines, lots of smiles, and cheering.
This event came together very quickly and was really organized in only 3 months. The race had been planned for the foothills of Pikes Peak, but then the road permits were pulled due to fire danger. When that happened the city of Rangley contacted the organizers and asked if they could host the race. The fact the race happened at all is testament to the determination of the city and the experience of the organizers.
All the competitors reported that the roads were very challenging and lots of fun. They were a little rough in some spots and amazingly fast and smooth in others, a true driver’s race. The competition was also very good; 6 different teams won stages with 4 different leaders. At one point near the end of the race the lead was only 0.1 seconds. One competitor commented “These are easily the most challenging roads in the US. We can’t wait for next year.”
Overall – What can Brown do for you?
Albert/Miller jumped to the lead by winning stage 1. Stage 3 was won by a hard charging Bis/McCarty with Regester/Blevins taking over the lead. Stage 4 would be the last stage for the Championship leading Gruszka/Wronski as their engine lost oil pressure and the car was put on the trailer and sent home. At the end of the first day Regester/Blevins were leading Albert/Miller by a mere 8.9 seconds with Bis/McCarty just over 1 minute back.
Regester/Blevins would be the first casualty of Day 2 when they retired while leading after stage 9. They came into service with a broken axle and an engine problem and never left.
With 3 stages left Bis/McCarty held a lead of only 0.1 seconds over Brown/Brown with Albert/Miller only 18 seconds beyond. Steely/Osborn were right there only 4 seconds back. Surdyke/Conte and Short/Norkus were only 19 and 24 seconds further back respectively. That is 4 cars within a minute and 6 cars with in a minute and a half of the lead. This was building up to be a very close race.
On stage 10 the Bis/McCarty lead would grow to 5.6 seconds over Brown/Brown with Albert/Miller sitting in 3rd 9.7 seconds back. Stage 11 saw Brown/Brown drive into the lead by 9.7 seconds ahead of Bis/McCarty with Albert/Miller slowing and falling back another 20 seconds.
On the final stage it would all change again. Albert/Miller were slowed by engine and suspension problems. This also slowed Bis/McCarty as they were running in Albert’s dust. The end result is Dave Brown and Michael Brown winning their first event in only their 2nd attempt.
Chuck Surdyke and Matthew Conte ran clean, won a stage overall and came home in 2nd only 12 seconds off the lead. 3rd place goes to a very lucky Steve Bis and Scott McCarty in one of the hardest fought Press On Regardless type races in a long time.
The class motto should be “Turbos - we don’t need no stinking turbos.” Since the OL class is a fairly new class this maybe the first time in history that an OL car has claimed the Number 1 spot at a National Rally. Congratulations to David and Michael Brown on making history in only their 2nd rally.
The NLO battle between the Championship Leading team of LaRoza/LaRoza and Short/Norkus never really materialized as the LaRoza’s had fuel delivery problems early and ended up on the DNF list. Short/Norkus ran a fast clean race and even won Stage 11 overall.
Steely/Osborn started off with a 2nd overall on stage one and opened up a lead of almost 4 minutes over Morris/Scott. Erickson/Good were sitting in 3rd another 2 minutes adrift. That would all change on stage 10 when Steely/Osborn slid wide through a muddy corner and ended up high centered on a berm and losing 6 minutes.
Morris/Scott were there to pounce like a mountain lion and take over the lead. They would successfully hold off Steely/Osborn and take the win by almost 2 minutes. Robinson/Penza brought their new Civic Type R home in 3rd.
McCarron/Blake jumped out to an early lead by winning Stage 1. They would swap stage wins with Erickson-Chang/Grahn but at the end of Day 1, McCarron/Blake would hold the lead by over 3 minutes with Gardiner/Hall sitting in 3rd.
Erickson-Chang/Grahn started Day 2 off by winning the first 3 stages and closing the gap. On stage 10 it would all go wrong. The engine started misfiring and losing power and they were added to the DNF list. Gardiner/Hall brought their trusty Yaris home 2nd with McCarron/Blake taking top honors with 1st in class.
Bis/McCarty were the luckiest team in the race. They badly damaged their rear suspension on stage 5 and had to slowly transit to stage 6 with the car crab walking the whole time. Stage 6 was then cancelled due to severe weather and all the competitors were turned around and told to immediately return to service without checking into the control. That allowed Bis/McCarty to go directly to the final MTC for the day with no penalties.
The biggest off award goes to Bradford Ames and Ryan Kochevar they slid off a tight sweep left with exposure. The car rolled and ended up on its wheels about 30 feet below the level of the road. Ryan Kochevar took the ambulance ride to the hospital where he was checked out and released. It took a full wrecker and some fancy maneuvering the get the car up and back on the road. Bradford then started it up and drove it back to the hotel.
The Special Award for Most Enthusiastic Rally Fan goes to Sterling Chase and his cow bell - We Need More Cow Bell.
No Dinosaurs were injured in the making of this event.
That’s enough for now I hope see everyone at Rally Wyoming.