Rally Racing in the 100 Acre Wood
This weekend I traveled to Salem, Mo to be steward for Rally America and the rally in the 100 Acre Wood. This car rally is a stop on the national tour of the rally America Championship as well as the Regional Rally Championship. There are two regional road rally races – Trespassers Wil on Friday and 100AW on Saturday. The national rally is both days combined.
Coming into the Holiday Inn Express looked like walking into the land of Pooh. The rally committee had decorated the lobby with lots of stuffed animals including Piglet, Pooh and Eeoyre. The hotel workers all sported 100Acre Wood Rally T shirts. It was great to see such community support for the event.
Registration and Technical inspection was held at the Dent County fire house. I was enjoying the 70 degree weather. I met up with several old friends and fielded the question about when Cherokee Trails will run again.
Just as we posting the seeded start order, the fire department advised us that we were under a tornado watch and hail was expected. They wanted to get their fire equipment back inside before the hail hit. We gathered up our stuff quickly and headed back to the hotel. It was raining buckets soon but I never saw any hail or tornados. It did however get very cold very fast.
The start of the rally on Friday was in Potosi, Mo at the Lions club park. Subaru and Mitsubishi had big displays of their racing equipment. NOS and red Bull were passing out free samples.
41 cars started the rally. By the end of the day, most were still running. Front runner and crown favorite Travis Pastrana was not one of them however. He crashed his car on the last stage of the day. Many of the fans at the final MTC were very disappointed not to get to see him come in.
Saturday, during the Parc Expose on the downtown streets of Salem, snow began to fall. By the time we headed out to the stages, the main highways were covered in snow. While the rally cars had little trouble with he snow and winter driving conditions, the workers and officials had a bit more trouble.
The talk of the day was which rally tires to use. Some teams chose snow tires while others gambled with running gravel tires. The early stages had little snow after the course opening vehicles had gone through so gravel rally tires were mostly the right choice.
I am sure Richard Miller can give some winter driving tips for Ford Mustangs after running his 5.0 Mustang on BFG all terrain tires. While these make good gravel tires, they are not so good on ice and snow. I have these same tires on my four wheel drive Jeep so I know he had fun.
Surprisingly the northern stages had less snow than the southern ones. Since it kept snowing mostly of the day as the rally moved south, there was more and more snow on each stage. Those afraid of winter driving need not apply for a race like this one.
The transit to the final two stages was so bad that the course opening cars had trouble making it there. One of the medical staff ran off the road and had to be helped along by one of the sweep vehicles.
Most of the racers had little trouble with the snow covered stage however the leader in SP slowed a minute to drop him to second place. Winter driving skills were put to the test both on the transits and on the racing stages.
The last stage of the day ended up being cancelled due to ice on the low water crossing. Several of the workers were not able to transit the stage to their worker positions. They became stuck along the route and the decision was made to end the rally while they were recovered.
The fans in Salem, braved the cold and snow to come out to the courthouse square for the Mountain Dew Spray of the winners. Salem does not allow open containers of alcohol making a Champaign spray illegal. The victory party was continued at the Eagles Nest west of town.
Car #43 Block / Gelsomino again won the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. This is the fourth time that Block has won this rally. Following Block were Car #20 Comrie-Picard / Durant finished 43.1 seconds back and Car #34 Foust / Beavis finished 58.6 seconds further back.