Seed 9 Rally

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Surrounded by the flashing lights and omnipresent din of casino games in Las Vegas, it’s easy to forget that the city is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. In a week filled with the spectacle of SEMA along with NHRA Toyota Nationals, SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS, and Red Bull Global Rallycross season finals, it’s easy to not seek life – or motorsports – outside of The Strip. About 35 miles out into the nowhere around Las Vegas is a essentially a crossroads called Jean, Nevada, with a casino, a gas station, women’s prison, and a small town whose entrance is choked by a rather formidable biker bar. Everything else is desert, dirt roads, and rattle snake holes. Lots and lots of rattle snake holes.

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It is out on these Joshua tree and rock-lined gravel roads of Wilson Pass where the Seed 9 Rally took place on Saturday, November 9, 2014, the weekend after SEMA and its associated events. The regional stage rally and the last race of 2014 in the Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series drew 22 teams from Arizona, Colorado, California, Ecuador, and even China with a wide range of experience. The rally cars ran the gamut as well, ranging from a 1971 Datsun 240Z, a 1994 Ford Ranger, to a 2013 Toyota GT86. Not the most inviting terrain for spectators, the course wound uphill to a turnaround, dotted with the occasional race official, volunteer, and photographer. Total mileage for is 35 with all stages completed. The first stage began around 2:30 in the afternoon.

Once the two safety cars drove past, the first team of David Sterckx and John Reed barreled by in a 2011 Subaru WRX STI. Billows of dust undulated behind each car as the teams came through one by one, snaking along the course, adding layers of dust between the road and the setting sun. Early on in the course was a deep gully – some teams slowed down to navigate, but a couple teams were caught by surprise and hit it too fast; all cars made it past, but a few cars were worse for wear. As in all stage rallies, time is of the essence – teams were looking to beat course bests as well as other driver’s personal bests.

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The sun finished setting as the racers looped back down the course for the service break. The Gold Strike Casino lot was lit up with work lights under tarps as team mechanics worked feverishly on the cars, adjusting here, welding there. The informal atmosphere of the parking lot paddock, drivers and supporters alike friendly and chatty, is one of the many positive aspects of regional and grassroots racing. Pro Tip – the best grilled chicken ever tasted can be found in the paddocks at Seed 9. While a few people lamented the challenges of competing with heavily funded teams, it was agreed that all in all it was fun.

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At this point, my friend Lecia and I had to leave. Exhausted from SEMA, needing another layer of fleece, still rattled from narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with an either tweaked out, suicidal, psychopathic (or all of the above) Harley rider driving the wrong way in our lane, and not really able to shoot much at night amongst rattle snakes anyway, we hit the highway back to Las Vegas. The rally continued on in the dark desert, and David Sterckx scored the best time of 29:08, George Plsek second with 33:17, and Doug Chernis in third with a time of 35:37.

Next year’s date has been announced – November 25, 2015. One more Pro Tip: If you drive a Prius, rent a Jeep for the day.

This 13 year old is a better driver than you will ever be!

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Many have wondered over the year just why Finland has created so many of the world’s greatest rally (and F1 for that matter) drivers. Given the rural nature of much of the country, many young kids start driving on the family farm well before they get a driver’s license. Then of course there are those who have rally car drivers as parents.

Take 13 year old Kalle Rovanperä as a prime example. The son of WRC veteran Harri Rovanperä, Kalle has been driving rally cars since he was 8 years old and has chronicled his adventures on YouTube. The latest addition to his channel shows Kalle taking his Mom for a leisurely drive through the forest. She is very relaxed. Or not.

Going further back to when he was just 8, check out they boy’s skills at the wheel of a rear wheel drive Toyota Starlet.

Canadian Rally Championship 2014 Teaser

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As a Canadian rally fan, journalist and past competitor, I obviously have an affinity for the sport here in this country. For many years, rally in Canada has been a very small niche sport, largely because many events are held in very rural settings. With the advent of modern media though, perhaps driven by the success of series like the X-Games and Global RallyCross, the scene has become much more vibrant in recent years as potential fans can see just how exciting the sport is from home.
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Coolest Granny ever tries RallyX in a Subaru

At 91 years old, most of us are are being force fed energy shakes and munching on crushed ice from a foam cup, if we are still kicking at all. Youtube user YoungunnR’s Granny isn’t like most of us. This hard core old girl recently strapped in behind the wheel of a Subaru and headed out to do it in the dirt. Go Granny Go!

Check it out after the jump.
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Gumball 3000 Rally Begins in New York City

As I type, 150 brightly colored, wrapped and logo’ed cars, SUVs and anything in between are arriving in Toronto on the first day of the Gumball 3000 cross-country rally. The festive exotic-heavy field of participants lined up Thursday night in New York City’s Times Square in spite of fog, rain and and huge crowds. Tightly packed, the cars filled up two New York City blocks. [Read more...]

Think motorsport is expensive? Try making a movie about it!

Ok, so maybe making a movie isn’t quite as expensive as campaigning a top flight race or rally car, but the costs can easily eclipse those incurred by grass roots racers who’ve been known to fund their team by returning empties. Just ask Matt Johnston, who is making what might just be the first ever feature length movie about the U.S. National Rally Championship.

So far, Johnston has sunk ten grand of his own money into the project and anticipates that he will need close to $50,000 to complete the film. If these numbers aren’t high enough, remember that Johnston has done almost everything by himself and already owns much of the super expensive gear needed to shoot wickedly high quality video.
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Massive rally crash caused by missing roof vent!

We’ve all seen the funky scoops that rally teams use to draw in fresh air to keep the humans cool, but who knew the scoops perform another, more safety related function. These scoops allow air to enter the car, while maintaining positive air pressure that prevents dust clouds from entering the car.

During the recent WRC round in Mexico, Ford driver Evgeny Novikov lost his roof scoop when he clipped a fence or some such obstacle. The resultant dust storm inside the car caused a rather massive crash and a Fiesta RS in kit form.

Check it out after the jump…
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Ride to 2nd at 100 Acre Wood with Mark Higgins

Block may have taken his sixth win at the woods that Christopher Robin played in, but reigning Rally America Champion Mark Higgins wasn’t going to let him win easily. Being second on the road however, Higgins had to content with the dust that was left hanging in the air as the Ford driver attacked the stages. Even with the addition of a “dust minute”, the Subaru America team still had a tough time seeing the road through the haze.

Check out Higgins in action after the break.
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Tall Pines 2010 video mashup

Today will be a massive editing day here in The Garage, so I thought we’d share the fruits of someone else’s labour. Matt Johnston has just posted this quick mashup of HD clips from the 2010 Rally of the Tall Pines, which includes in car, road side and even helicopter footage. The soundtrack is all natural, meaning there are no tunes and lots of pops and bangs from the exhaust!

After the break, select HD, crank the volume and hold on!
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Look out NASCAR, your world is about to go upside down!

Over the years I haven’t commented on anything NASCAR too much as it hasn’t really been on my radar. Now that I spend so much time chasing the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series teams with a camera, I have more of a feel for the roundy round scene. Today’s news in the world of NASCAR is rather large, so I’m going to have a go at some commentary.

Rally fans found out yesterday that Travis Pastrana had cut his ties with Subaru. For you good old boys who don’t follow anything outside of the circle, Pastrana is a top competitor in motocross, freestyle riding and rallying. He has won multiple championships in all of them and for the past 5 years has been competing in the Rally America championship at the wheel of a Subaru.
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