August 30, 2017, (Minneapolis, MN)

"Woody’s Rally Round Up - Rally Wyoming"

by Steve Gingras

August 25th and 26th saw the inaugural running of Rally Wyoming. The Headquarters was the high plains town of Lusk, WY which is full of friendly people that were excited by the event and welcomed the rally circus with open arms. The August days were hot which tested the teams and cars but the nights were cool and the easy schedule allowed plenty of time for the teams to kick back relax and trade rally stories.
The stages were located a short 30 minute drive through cattle ranches to Lance Creek. They were very twisty and technical roads with lots of elevation changes. The main spectator point was high up on a ridge looking out over the stages. One spectator commented that “I could see 9 or 10 cars all racing at the same time.” They could also see Pronghorn Antelope, Mule Deer and Golden Eagles. It was very spectacular.
Overall – We are the Champions
The technical stages kept the racing close and challenging with 4 different teams wining stages, and the overall lead was swapped 3 different times. Gruszka/Wronski had the early lead but Van Way/Roberts stormed back and to take the lead at the first service. They would hold the lead to the end of the first night. However, like a Snow Man in Summer, their lead was not to last. The first stage on Saturday was a long 16 mile test and that put Van Way/Roberts on the DNF list with a damaged suspension. Both Moro/Holter and Rooney/Gelsomino had late charges but were unable to overtake Gruszka/Wronski. Art Gruszka and Lukasz Wronski took the win to capture the RA National Championship in their Mitsubishi Mirage RS. Congratulation! 

NLO – To Finish First, First you must Finish
Van Way/Roberts jumped to the NLO lead and continued to extend their lead for the rest of the day.
Short/Norkus had been running 6th OA and 2nd in NLO but lost about 15 minutes on stage 6 before being towed to the end by Lumsden/Rolsma. By the time teams headed back to Lusk for the night, Van Way/Roberts had built a lead of 5 minutes on Mathews/McCarty and 18 minutes over Short/Norkus.
Short/Norkus got their bad luck out of the way early, the other NLO teams still had it coming. Van Way/Roberts dropped out on Stage 7 with a broken suspension. Matthews/McCarty drove by the stricken Van Way and began having clutch problems that didn’t allow them to shift gears. Then they miss judged a corner and ended up high centered well off the road, and they too joined Van Way/Roberts on the DNF list.
In true “To Finish First, First you must Finish” fashion, Short/Norkus overcame many issues to take the NLO victory.

OL/SP – The Break Up
The acceleration and power of the turbo SP Cars was just too much for the non-turbo OL cars as either Moro/Holter or Rooney/Gelsomino won every stage in their powerful SP cars. At the end of the first night Moro/Holter had built a 54 second lead over Rooney/Gelsomino with Rally Colorado winners Brown/Brown about 3.5 minutes back in their OL car.
On day 2 the hard charging Rooney/Gelsomino would wrestle the lead away from Moro/Holter at the midway service break. Stage 10 was the long 16 miler and Moro/Holter would retake lead and never look back. They would hold the lead to the end of the rally to take the victory. What can Brown & Brown do for you delivered their car to the podium with a fine 3rd place and upheld the honor of OL teams everywhere.
As fun as it was watching the OL/SP battle all year it really isn’t a fair fight. With OL entrants up this year and the class being very successful it was announced at the awards banquet that OL would have its own national class for 2018. The rallying cry of “We Don’t Need No Sticking Turbo’s” was heard immediately.

2WD – Old Age and Treachery always beats Youth and Exuberance
Steely/Osborn jumped out to an early lead but it wouldn’t last. By the first service they had dropped to 4th because of a blown turbo hose. McNelly/MacPherson had charged from 3rd to 1st with Robinson/Sharps in 2nd and Bruno-Frederiksen/Savone in 3rd. All 3 cars were within a minute of each other with Steely/Osborn another 40 seconds back.
At the end of the first day McNelly/MacPherson had extended their lead to over a minute. Steely/Osborn had worked their way back to 2nd and were 30 seconds ahead of Robinson/Sharps. Bruno-Frederiksen/Savone were sitting in 4th only 7 seconds back. Day 2 was looking to be exciting with 4 cars within a minute and half of each other.
Half way through the 2nd day with only 3 stages remaining Steely/Osborn had cut the McNelly/MacPhersons lead down to 26 seconds. Robinson/Sharps were 98 seconds back with Bruno-Frederiksen/Savone trailing them by another 51 seconds.
Steely/Osborn’s charge for the lead came to an abrupt end on stage 10 when the fuel pump sputtered, coughed and died? At the final MTC McNelly/MacPherson would McWin the MacRace. Robinson/Sharps would bring the Honda home 2nd and Bruno-Frederiksen/Savone would round out the podium with a well-earned 3rd. 

B-Spec – Running on Empty
The B-Spec race started off very close, with McCarron/Jacobs working hard to build a 14 second lead over Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen on the first 2 stages. On Stage 3 they would park their car on the side of the road with a broken motor mount. At the end of the first day Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen were in 5th for the 2wd class and leading B-Spec with Gardiner/Hall in 2nd. Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen would drive carefully on the 2nd day and take their first B-Spec win of the year. Gardiner/Hall would bring their Toyota home in 2nd place.

Gardiner Race – Ladies First
One of the many unwritten rules of rallying is that married couples should never compete in the same car. Alan and Tracy Gardiner have solved this dilemma by competing against each other. The chairman of Rally Colorado, Alan Gardiner, barrowed his son’s OL Subaru. Tracy Gardiner was competing in her B-Spec Toyota Yaris. Who would win the bragging rights for the racing couple and what would the prairie dogs say?
Alan Gardiner with Kubo Kordish were leading Tracy Gardiner and Rebecca Hall by 4 minutes at the end of the first day. All the fun happened on the final stage of the event within sight of the start control. Alan going fast in the dust misjudged a corner and ended up high centered on a berm. Tracy originally drove past her stricken husband, but then thinking better of it she backed up and tried to tug him off the berm. The little Yaris was no match for the heavy Subaru so with a wink and smile she left Alan to the wrath of the sweep trucks. A quick yank and spank put the Subaru back on the road and Alan and Kubo were able to finish but not before Tracy and Rebecca were able to win the bragging rights. Was Alan just being a gentleman and allowed the lady to go first?

Notable Notes:
Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen’s event was not without its drama. They were so low on fuel at the end of race that they were drafting Semi-Trucks in an effort to make it back to the final MTC. We are happy to report that they made it with a few drops to spare.

The Press on Regardless award goes to 2 teams. Hunter/Sherowski were having overheating issues from the start of the race. They continued to battle the heat by adding water to the radiator throughout race. They eventually made it to the finish line after skipping the long stage 10 at the suggestion of the Stewards. Raymond/Raymond were also a DNF from day 1. But they were having a good rally on day 2 and started the final stage looking forward to the end of the race. Shortly into the stage the car started having fuel starvation issues that prevented it from going faster than a crawl. Raymond/Raymond eventually finished the stage with a train of sweep trucks behind and made it back to the final MTC. Great job to both of you.

When asked if the competitors liked the roads the most common answer was they are fun and tight. Plans are already underway to expand the available stage mileage with some faster flowing stage roads.
Can’t wait for LSPR.