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2011 Debut Set for Olympus Rally and MaxAttack!!!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

For 2011 the Demon Rally Team looked forward to competing at the Doo Wop Rally to shakedown the newest evolution of their Fine Tuning Sponsored Volkswagen Golf. Unfortunately, the early season cancellation of the Doo Wop Rally disappointed the team, but the rally’s reincarnation as the Olympus Rally motivated the team to compete in an event they haven’t run in over two years. Needless to say the team is amped to compete at the 2011 Olympus Rally on April 30-May 1st.

Olympus Rally Group B Lancia

This once famed WRC event has had it all including Group B monsters of the day. The event started back in 1973 and has been going strong ever since. In 2011 the event is based in Ocean Shores, Washington, overlooking the coast of the Pacific Ocean just south of the state’s capital city of Olympia. This event is round three of the Rally-America National Championship and all of the big dogs should be on hand to compete including most of the Pacific Northwest’s top 2wd teams.

The 2011 MaxAttack!™ Rally Series Presented by Danza del Sol Winery runs in conjunction with the Rally-America Championship and holds three annual events. This series is setup specifically for two wheel drive cars and Danza del Sol helps the series $15,000 in cash for placing well in the series. This is the 5th year of the series, and will be the fourth Max Attack event that the Demon Rally Team has run. While we’ve had mixed results at Max Attack events and encountered some equipment issues, the team placed fourth in MaxAttack and 1st in Group 2 when they traveled to Michigan to compete against the best 2wd drivers in the nation in 2007. The MaxAttack series is our number one reason for choosing to compete at the Olympus Rally this year.

blue bunny

Amongst other reasons why we are competing at the Olympus Rally is because the event shares one of the Demon Rally Team’s favorite stages, the infamous Brooklyn Tavern Stage. The Brooklyn Tavern stage is an open rural county gravel road, closed only once a year for this event, its twisty and banked nature have created one of the greatest and most renowned stages in the nation. In 2008 the Demon Rally Team set a Group 2 record on the stage blasting through the 7-mile stage in 7:02 averaging a hair under 60mph through the stage. The Group 5 record is fully 13 seconds faster than their current record; while the team isn’t looking to eclipse that mark, they are looking to bring it at the familiar Doo Wop stages the Olympus Rally currently runs on.

Ray Damitio

2011 brought with it the passing of a great Pacific Northwest rally enthusiast and Doo Wop rally legend. Ray Damitio was dedicated to the sport as well as his community, friends and family. The team first met Ray in 2006 when they ran their first event at the Doo Wop Rally. His booming voice commanded attention and you could tell that this man was well respected among everyone. Ray appreciated the efforts of the little guys in racing and brought with him a quality in rally that will certainly be missed. The Demon Rally Team appreciates his efforts and salutes him and his friends in his passing.

We hope we can put a good show on for Ray at the Olympus Rally this year. Thanks for reading and as always, we’ll see you out there, sideways.

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More Development at Mt. Hood 2010

Monday, January 31st, 2011

While we hadn’t had the chance to shake down the car yet, the car got some significant summer time upgrades including a new turbo fastening system, an improved and revised cooling system, as well as a new ported cylinder head. Touting the new and improved version of the G5 Golf, the Demon Rally Team made the trek to Hood River, Oregon.

This Mt. Hood Rally was held on October 23, 2010, and while it wasn’t a new rally, it was a new rally for the team to compete at. Being a local rally took a lot of the big event pressures off the team; local rallies are our rallies, we are the top guys and we are in charge here. Unfortunately the rally didn’t come without our typical and untimely pre-event glitches.

In the weeks and days leading up to the event we decided to take the car out and ensure the tuning was up to date as well as the performance of the cooling system and all of the other crucial systems the car employs during a rally. While I didn’t have the opportunity to assist in testing the car, two members of the crew were able to put the car through its paces on the east side of the state. Unfortunately I got the call no team owner wants to hear just a few days before the event. Third gear was gone in our new transmission. I went on a late night rescue mission to get the car back to the shop. The transmission was pulled and we were able to source a stock transmission prior to the event in order to make it. There would be next to no time available for testing prior to the event.

Bright and early prior to sunrise, the Demon Rally Team left Seattle, Washington, and arrived in Hood River, Oregon for recce and relaxation….Or so we thought. We passed the car through tech after hard-wiring a switch for reverse and got registered for the event. While the crew stood by at service, we headed out to pre-run the stages and make notes in reconnaissance or recce as the rally world calls it. Recce went well and we packed up for the evening.

We woke in the morning and decided to drive the car up to town for fuel and to get a couple more miles on it before the event. we made it to the local gas station, only to find that the car wouldn’t re-start. A quick jump start and we were back on our way to service. Unfortunately enroute to service the car began sputtering and dying. It was a sound I was familiar with, just a few months earlier I had driven the car to a local car show and encountered the same thing, the battery was dying. Luckily when we rolled into service, we were able to locate a loose wire for charging and get the car re-fired and made sure the battery was charging. Finally we were ready to race.

Stage 1, 17 South, started with typical butterflies and apprehension about the car’s longevity. Not having driven the car in anger for nearly a 6 month period, waiting in the control zone gives you time to reflect on how much you wish you had been able to beat on the car at least once in its new configuration, and hoping that loose wire was the only thing that would be a problem at this event. Off into the stage I realized how dearly I missed the transmission that should’ve been in the car, the gearing was well off and the open diff was sucking the car into loose gravel relatively consistently. The stage was a smooth fast flowing stage that reminded me of my favorite stage I’ve ever competed on, the Brooklyn Tavern stage. Recce proved to be working well, despite the fact that our numbers were just a hair off for the corners, luckily we weren’t pushing very hard and I got used to the notes about 3/4 of the way through the stage.Nonetheless we set a decent time of 6:15 over the 6.2 mile long stage, averaging close to 60mph. Our time was 5th overall, 29 seconds off of the leader, and just behind Brian Svedin’s Open class 4wd Subaru Impreza. We were 1st in 2wd by just 5 seconds in front of Dave Henderson in his Group 2 2wd Mazda 3.

On Gilhouley North, stage 2, we were excited to run on the tight, twisty and technical road. Writing notes for recce on this stage was a challenge because of the number of tight and varying degree of corners on the stage. When we started into the stage, Don was kicking butt on the notes and rattling off instructions like a true stage rally veteran. I was happy with our effort through the stage and we set a time of 6:43 over the 5.15 mile long stage, averaging over 46 MPH. We tied for 5th overall with Victor Bartosek and his fire breathing open class 4wd Audi Quattro at just 33 seconds off of the fastest time. Interestingly we were second in 2wd a full 21 seconds behind Dave Henderson. Hendo was definitely putting his Mazda 3 through the paces and pushing some limits. I’m excited to exchange stage times with him in the future.

For Stage 3, Fir Mountain South, we knew we would have our hands full. Pre-running the stage in Recce let us know that this stage was the toughest of the event and would definitely be the roughest on the car. Little did we know how rough it would be. The first four miles of the stage were nearly flawless, The car was performing fairly well, despite having to tighten up the new fasteners for the turbo between stages; a big thanks to car #203 for that 10mm wrench! Part of the way into the stage a photographer caught us running a hair too fast into a corner, while it wasn’t the fastest way through it made for some good pictures.



Unfortunately another two miles into the stage something let go and we coasted to our final resting place for the rest of the event. While we didn’t hear or see anything from inside the car, someone caught us on video from above shooting a five foot flame out of the back of the car!

Five Foot Flame Video!

While it turned out to be another testing event for us, we our hoping for a solid debut with a few more upgrades in early 2011. We’ll see you out there, sideways.

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2010 Oregon Trail Rally Development Success

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

After turning the Golf into a fire breathing turbocharged monster over the past few months, hopes were high for the car’s debut at the 2010 Oregon Trail Rally. Developing a normally aspirated car into a turbocharged beast brings about its own challenges to overcome. Many of these challenges were handled in the weeks leading up to Oregon Trail Rally, a few new unexpected and unanticipated challenges would show there face just miles into the event.

We had penned Oregon Trail in as our debut of the car’s new power plant, luckily the Max Attack Series also chose the event to kick off their 2wd championship series for the nation’s fastest 2wd drivers at the event as well. Max Attack is a dedicated series designed to increase participation in events by 2wd competitors by offering cash prizes (over $15,000 for 2010) for top finishers. The Demon Rally Team finished fourth in the 2007 LSPR Max Attack event and 1st in the Group 2 National after three days of hard rallying in Michigan. Needless to say the team was amped about the prospect of winning some money and bragging rights.

The team traveled from Seattle, Washington to Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon on Friday morning after a long week of final touch up work to ensure our success. After passing through tech and getting registered it was time to watch the Rally America circus windup as several of the nations top funded teams including stars like Subaru Rally Team of America’s Dave Mirra and Ford Racing’s Ken Block all arrived to take their chances at the top overall spot in Oregon’s Premier Rally Racing event.

The first day is a spectator’s paradise. Housed at Portland international raceway, fans and crew members got to see a lot of action by the 63 starting competitors. A mix of gravel, grass, dirt, concrete and pavement meant driver’s would be focusing on keeping the cars gathered up on mixed surfaces and traction changes were constant. Little did we know that the 2010 Oregon Trail rally would be an event of significant attrition and that the Demon Rally Team would be one of the first to be injured.

We started stage one with high hopes. We had little gravel testing due to the rush to get the car ready for the event, but we had one prior event in the car, so we hoped that all of our hard work had gone in the right direction. Right off the bat, our Spitfire EFI launch control system was working well, power was excellent and predictable from our RP Turbos Turbocharger. we traveled from pavement to gravel and back onto the road course to finish the first stage at the top of the Max Attack leaderboard, almost a half a second in front of Dillon Van Way in his turbocharged Focus. Unfortunately, coolant temperatures were WAY up and the car was puking a small amount of coolant from the overflow. Knowing that we had a huge issue to take care of at service I was determined to get the car back to service without doing any major damage. I turned the fan bypass on high speed, and turned the heater on in already 80 degree heat, Don and I were both sweating, I was hoping that we would get the car back to service and find our problem.

On stage two we lost almost 3 seconds to Van Way after backing off to save the car. At service we found that there wasn’t much that we could do to cure the overheating issue. We arranged for an aftermarket fan to be installed after the first day, but we still had 3 more stages before we could get it installed. On stage three disaster struck, we started just fine and approaching a sliding pavement transition we reached the limits of factory Volkswagen engineering. The car was sliding and we were picking up grip as pavement transitioned to concrete and back to pavement again, this slip and grip along with powering the car through the corner sheared the passenger outer axle splines, not even our Kaaz differential could pull us through the stage on one axle and we became spectators as we watched the rest of the field pass by our location less than a mile after the start line. We were out of the race for the Max Attack money and failed to finish the first day of the event.

The team hustled through the night after making the long trek from Portland out to the Dalles, OR where the rest of the event was based. By morning time they had replaced the passenger side hub/bearing carrier, installed an aftermarket fan, installed a new passenger side axle and had the car ready for the long day of rallying again. on the first stage of the day we began to start pushing the car hard, our tires were just a little too big for the car and we were having some rubbing issues that were distracting, but we continued to push hard through the stage until the car began cutting out and stalled halfway through the stage. We stopped on stage to check the issue and after stopping for about eight minutes, were were able to get the car fired back up again after what seemed to be a small wiring issue was holding us back.

We pushed on the next stage despite the rubbing issues and the car starting to get hot again from the extra heat the turbo was creating in the cooling system. Luckily we were able to finish well on the stage, less than a second behind local 2wd all start Cody Crane. On the next stage, the second second stage of the day there was drama again. While it appeared that we had a full tank of gas upon refueling, it was apparent that half way through the stage that we did not have enough fuel to complete the stage and upon approach to the spectator area up a large hill, we ran out of fuel. luckily a spectator had a gallon of gas that got us back into town where we were able to fill up the car without issue.

Unfortunately this pushed us way back in the order and we began running into the dust of competitors that were much slower than us, without being able to see the road in front of us and without other competitors able to see us, the rest of the day should’ve turned into a testing event for us. Unfortunately driver ego got in the way and we started to push trying to run down vehicles in front of us. In what should have been a warning to the team, we were running in the dust of another competitor with about 50 yards of visibility when we approached a series of chicanes designed to slow the car on a long straight stretch, miraculously Tom was able to navigate the chicane at 70 mph sliding through after braking without hitting the large hay bails in the roadway.

While Don and Tom were both excited about getting through the chicane unscathed, it should’ve been a warning to slow down. Driver ego took over and we set about the next set of chicanes at an even higher rate of speed, unfortunately at 80 miles per hour the chicanes were barely visible and were unnavigable at that speed. As we approached the chicanes a large hay bale appeared from the dusty mist left by the vehicle that was in front of us. Tom broke hard in an attempt to set the car up and slide past the bale, it was just too much speed, we hit the first bale with the left front wheel and front valance of the car with a great bang. A course worker observing the chicane saw us go up on two wheels and said that the first hay bale disappeared after we hit it. Hitting the first bale pitched us sideways directly into the path of the next hay bale which we hit at a much lower speed. When we landed back on the dusty gravel road Tom hit the gas to straighten the car out. Tom knew there was something wrong with the car right off the bat as the car began to start rubbing the tire on the fender of the car and we began slowing with the handbrake to avoid damaging the car any further…we made it to the end of the stage 10 but on the road section we retired after stopping and realizing that we had sheared off the driver’s side rear a-arm bolt, continuing on would have damaged the car significantly more and we knew it was time to make repairs and focus on salvaging our effort to push on day three.

We started day three after more sacrifice on our crew’s part, they stayed up all night after repairing the damage from the night before and gave us a solid running car again. Charlie, Brendan and Jake worked their buts off this weekend and we owe them everything for our result on the final day. On the way out to the first stage of day three I noticed that the car seemed a bit down on power and that we had an exhaust leak starting up. I popped the hood before the first stage started and couldn’t see anything obvious that was causing the problem. We started and ran relatively cautiously, the car began cutting out on occasion on stage and I was not confident in driving the car the fastest it could be driven. We pulled a strong stage time out of the first stage finishing less than a second behind the fastest 2wd time set by phenom Cody Crane. On the second stage of the event I noticed that the car was still cutting out and we had no boost, so power was down by a lot, we continued on and set a top stage time for 2wd, two seconds faster than 2wd all star Christopher Duplesis in his new G2 Scion. For the rest of the day we took it very easy, knowing that we had no boost, an engine that was cutting out and a bunch of things that we needed to work on before we brought the car back out for competition. Luckily we were able to finish first in G5 on the third day, finishing at least one day of the event after struggling to create a reliable car.

While it might not seem like the most successful event we had competed in, trust me, it wasn’t. Out of 63 starters, only 43 finished the final stage of the event, we were one of them. The team really came together in competition, we were able to diagnose and fix nearly every problem we came across and determined the faults and weaknesses that we needed to work on as a group to bring out an awesome team for the next event. Winning group 5 in the regional was a big deal for the team and I give all of that credit to our crew, they worked insanely hard to give the team that result and they deserve all of the credit associated with it. When we make it back out, the car will be ready to fight for an overall win.

I want to give a huge thank you to Fine Tuning for supporting the team again this year, and to RP Turbos and CTS Turbo for supplying the team with a great turbocharger for the event. Without our sponsors we wouldn’t be the team that we are, thank you both, and thanks to our many other sponsors and fans, we appreciate your support!

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