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Thanks Jake…

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

I met Jake first at Oregon Trail when we entered the inaugural MaxAttack! event. It was coincidence more than anything, we had planned on running Oregon Trail and the chance at an $2000 grand prize was a hell of a calling for a grass roots effort. I told Jake my intentions at the rally, he knew that we would fight hard …unfortunately we had trouble on the first two days of the event that put us out of contention. I spoke to Jake on the last day, I said we will be pushing harder than we ever have, we may not win anything, but look at the stage times.

Sure enough, we pushed hard, in fact I don’t know if we have ever driven that hard before. If not for a ten minute road penalty we would’ve been third overall in the regional. It left an indelible impression on Jake, he noticed a couple of images that were taken of the car at MaxAttack! speeds and he commented on our tear at the end of Oregon Trail non stop for months afterwards. We exchanged some e-mails and spoke a number of times.

Jake shot me an e-mail in mid-August telling me to give him a call. I called him up and he let me know that he thought we should be at LSPR. I told Jake, yeah that’s great, but in the mean time we would be missing some great local rallies. Jake went on and on about the roads and the amount of people that would be competing at LSPR. Then he pulled out the kicker, hey guys I just made a bunch of new max-attack shirts up….I may have done something wrong though. I said, “yeah? what did you do?” Jake said, “…I might have put your car on the shirt without asking you, you know that shot of you guys pushing REAL HARD at Oregon trail? Thats the shot I used.” I immediately placed an order for five of the shirts.

Over the next couple of days we began talking on the phone about how we could make it to the rally without breaking the bank. I wained a little thinking about how hard the extra work would be, how difficult it is to find sponsors that are willing to put money into a 30 year old car. I started thinking about how easy the local rallies would be on the car and the budget…and while still in the back of my mind LSPR began to be more of a dream than a possibility.

The crew and I began working on assembling the car and making the big repairs needed after our off at Olympus on the second day. There was alot of body work to be done and we were working on cleaning up a lot of the possible issues with vehicle wiring and fuel injection. That’s when we got the news.

Jake’s death took me by surprise. I had been talking with him not less than two weeks prior. I asked him how he was doing, he said that he had his good days and his bad days, but quickly switched back to telling me that he could shack us up with someone locally to save hotel costs, and that we HAD to make it out to LSPR.

I wasn’t expecting Jake to pass, when it happened he made the decision for me, we abandoned any attempt to make the next couple of local rallies and we began focusing on LSPR. I contacted Fine Tuning, my main sponsor and let him know that we were going to Michigan to compete in a national event in Jake’s memory, I stopped by another sponsor’s place and let Bow-Wow import auto parts our intentions as well. I contacted a good friend of mine with an enclosed trailer and asked permission to borrow it. I was contacted by a local clothing company called Product Apparel, they supplied the Demon Rally Team with a nearly new F-350 pickup and supplied everyone in the crew with custom silk-screened gear for the event.

It seemed like everywhere we turned people wanted to help us get to LSPR. The car was completed early and we began tuning the motor when the worst happened, the motor blew up a week before the event. When the car stopped on the side of the road I knew that the rally was over. I called up my crew chief and let him know what was up, Gus said ok, well lets put my motor in.

By the end of the next night we had the new motor in and running we got a brief tuning session in. By the end of the week we had everything loaded for the long haul out. When we got out to LSPR we were happy to see trees again. Knowing very little about the rally other than the weather was very unpredictable and there were tarmac stages.

On the first stage of the event we snagged a rather large rock which lead to a very loose ball joint. We discovered it at service but with only five minutes left we had no choice but to drive the 90 miles to and through stage two hoping that it would make it back to service. We had no choice but to lift and lost A LOT of time on the stage…although we still managed to get some good air on the large jump mid-stage.

At service the ball joint was changed, but the rest of the first day we were dealing with very poor tulips, but were still managing to beat a ton of Subaru’s and even some top national group 5 guys. Passmore would’ve been a fun stage with notes, with tulips it was probably the most unsafe driving I’ve ever done. On the first run through we came up on our group 2 rival Christopher Duplessis, both were out of the car waving us on, I saw a cracked windshield….and heard later that he had gone off slightly and rolled about three times…tough luck we were looking forward to a battle with him.

On the second day the first stage was more like mud bogging in some areas, Cizmas (our only competition left) was out with engine failure. The second stage was an embedded rocky mess, we attacked lightly avoiding damaging the car. The third stage, Delaware, was a fast smooth flowing stage….wish we would have had more power for it.

Brockway was canceled due to a large wreck, we were disappointed to say the least, we were looking forward to setting some amazing times on this stage. We ran through the first three stages again in reverse.

We lost a tire on the bumpy stage after pushing a little too hard, we drove it to the end of the stage and swapped it at the end of the stage. The tire was a reminder to keep our speeds down unless we wanted to ruin our guaranteed group 2 win.

We slowed for the next couple of stages nailed the delta in the Delaware stage. We came upon a rolled Subaru 3/4 of the way through the last stage and the red cross was thrown on the last stage.

Overall we finished the rally 1st place in group 2 nationally, and 16th overall out of 37 national entrants and 64 total entrants. As well as finishing Fourth place in the Max Attack due to some help from a hard charging Eric Burmeister stopping to pull out Kyle Sarasin with a broken axle and handing his fourth place to us on the last stage of the rally.

During the event I had the pleasure of meeting local group 2 competitors Dave Cizmas and Matt Himes. Dave is a great driver, I would love to run against him again, both Dave and Matt kept us entertained the entire rally…I laugh every time I think of the way you guys say sauna. Matt, you definitely have a part of you brother in you, I saw so much of Jake when we spoke at the event it was amazing and refreshing yet again.

I found that this rally gave me focus again. Previously, I began to start looking beyond my group’s stage times and start pushing the limits of the car and driver. You reach your limit and stretch beyond it you break stuff and gauge your abilities, you think about if rallying is really worth it.

I have some of the best sponsors out there, but before a rally I will spend almost every spare minute I have trying to get everything arranged and ready prior to the event, sometimes for up to two months before. With a grassroots effort and a relatively small bankroll there are those days where you have to take a had look at what you are doing and see if your efforts really are worth that two or three days of insanity.

Jake and this rally made me realize they are; because in this community you are respected for your efforts, you are known for your talents and you are defined by these events. A commonality with all rally drivers is their passion to succeed at the highest levels and when you do they money spent is insignificant; the glory lasts long beyond the event itself, it transcends time. These events are truly mystical.

Jake, it might have broken the bank a little, but it was well worth it. You taught me more about rally in the brief time that I knew you than you could ever imagine, Thank you.

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quick update…

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

While at LSPR, we were without the luxury of an internet connection. I’m back now and Tom will be back on Wednesday, so here’s a quick update while we work on recovering from the trip.

LSPR went well for us. We finished 16th overall, 4th in 2WD and 1st in Group 2. This is our best national-level finish to date.

In the end, I think we made a great impression on the large spectator crowds. As video and pictures come in, we’ll be sure to share them with you.

Thanks to everyone who supported us, including Fine Tuning, Bow-Wow Import Parts, Meister Gauge Faces, Product Apparel and our other fine sponsors. We’ll be posting more details soon.

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Day One on the Road

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Our first day on the road proved to be highly uneventful….I’m writing this from the not so fabulous but very cost effective Motel 6 in lovely Missoula, Montana. No internet service here so this one will be posted up a day late a crappy cable feed no coffee until seven so I will be tired… again…

We had an issue with the trailer lights early on from Seattle, but it must have worked itself out. Our borrowed F350 super duty is a little weak in the braking and power department for the FULL load of equipment we have, but we are making due. An ABS light early on in the trip had us a wee bit worried but it has seemingly worked itself out as well. My rough estimates on fuel costs were a little under estimated as the truck is getting around 9 mpg into Missoula. Somewhere between Spokane and Butte we lost one of our sweet Meister Gauge Faces magnetic number backers from the truck, so those are going to stay in the truck from now on….someone got an awesome souvenir.

The weather has been fantastic so far, we seem to be following clear sky and only saw a bit of rain as we started over the Cascades early in the day. Temperatures ranging from as low as 39 at the top of Snoqualmie Pass to 59 in the flatlands of Montana. The snow at the top of the passes is a bit unnerving, but we’ll deal with that if we have to.

I’ve never seen so many deer hit areas in one road trip before….Montana is a dangerous place for animals crossing the road, and a great place for yocals to pick up dinner. Mullet Central. Found a couple of names, numbers and addresses of some gentlemen Charlie is interested in meeting from the local Rest Areas here in Montana, apparently the men-folk are friendly out here.

At one point today while coming up on Spokane I noted that we must be getting close to civilization again as a Jet was taking off at a pretty high rate of climb. Phil said, “Yeah there must be an airport around here.” I said, “Thank you Captain Obvious.”

I’ll be posting some images I took on the fly

820 miles down…on to day two.

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