Gaunt596 Reader
7/10/21 10:00 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

We're packed up and hopefully ready for the Rausch Creek Rallysprint tomorrow.

thats an interesting arrangement for retaining the ramps, i like that a lot better than the bar/pin that mine has. how well does that hold up to outside storage?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/11/21 4:36 a.m.

In reply to Gaunt596 :

So far it's ok, although the original threaded chain link things rusted quickly and had to be replaced with the carabiners visible in the picture.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/12/21 7:02 a.m.

Rausch Creek Rallysprint

After many delays (this was supposed to be our first non-rallyX event some time in the spring, before SOFR) the Rausch Creek Rallysprint course was finally the right combination of finished, dry, and staffed with volunteers for Susquehanna region SCCA to put on their first event at this new venue.  We arrived, and after a bit of trailer offroading in the recently cleared paddock area unloaded the car and got ready:


A couple of morning recce passes in the truck revealed that the course was tight, pretty rough, and had a lot of elevation changes, but overall it looked to be a fun 2-3 minute stage with a simple loop past service to get back to the start line.  We had good competition, too, with WMWR regular Alan Edwards, cage extraordinaire Adam Brock, and perpetual rallysprint nemesis (remember the tie for 2wd overall a couple years ago?) Josh Hickey all in our class.  We all lined up and got right to it:

The BRZ felt amazing, predictable, and smooth but on this much-rougher-than-SOFR course there was an obvious issue- we need more rear bumpstop!  The back end of the car feels amazingly consistent, but it's easy to overdo it in a rough section and slap the diff down onto a rock or rut or whatever.  We got a lot of use out of our diff skidplate at this event as a result, and longer bumpstops are on the way already.  Other than having to slow down to keep the butt off the ground, though, no issues surfaced other than the occasional rock hit elsewhere- the car is low, that's fine, it makes up for not having monster truck ground clearance by being able to brake/handle well.

We battled it out with Josh basically all day, I'm not sure there was a single run where we were more than 3 seconds apart.  Sara also ran back and forth a bit and double codrove for Adam Brock in his Volvo as well:

Unfortunately, while running solo, Adam did a little unintentional forestry work with the front of the Volvo:

That came in handy later, since on one run we actually drove right through that recently cleared section of the shoulder avoiding a rock after the Volvo had been recovered.

Thanks to him hogging all the flat ground in the service park, we also shared service space:

As we went through the last session of runs in the afternoon, Josh had a bit of a suspension issue that cost him some time, solidifying our lead to put him just behind us in the standings.  First and second place 2wd as well as third and fourth overall- not too bad!

Adam Kimmett also, predictably, stomped everyone for the overall event win about two full minutes ahead of us.

Apart from the diff skidplate damage, a small section of the exhaust being crumpled, and what I assume are now mostly powdered bumpstops, the car seems to be no worse for wear.  It performed well all day, we got to push it a bit more in a repeatable environment, hone in on a happier hot tire pressure for the Hoosiers (28psi), and even check the live data to ensure all of the temperatures and pressures and stuff were happy.  No misfire code yet after the tune either.

Now just a couple more weeks before NEFR!

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy SuperDork
7/12/21 10:54 a.m.

Glad to see the car is holding up and performing well!  Sounds fun!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/12/21 7:02 p.m.

In reply to Lof8 - Andy :

It was fun!  Your SxS would have been FAST here, perfect terrain for it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/12/21 7:08 p.m.

Damage report!  Front skidplate did its'job and protected the control arm mount:

Diff skid clearly saw some action:

These bolts at the back were never supposed to do more than keep it from rattling and not destroy the cover if they get hit, no surprise they had a bad time but the diff isn't hurt.  I'll bend the tabs straight and put new bolts in, the super beefy front mounts didn't budge.

Exhaust will need some reinforcement as well:

Considering the number of large rocks we hit, I'm very happy with this.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/12/21 8:44 p.m.

That's some punishment. I don't see any evidence of any hard hits under my car anywhere (though, maybe I'll just find them later). Granted, my diff is more protected by my rear subframe. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/12/21 8:56 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

If dragging the diff occasionally is the worst thing this car does I'll be very happy!  But yeah, low ground clearance back there for sure.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/16/21 6:48 p.m.

Hammered the diff skidplate back into shape and added some exhaust armor- it's a bunch of overlapping chunks with what I estimate to be just enough welding, since it's all sacrificial anyway:

When I took the rear coilovers apart to replace the bumpstops, I also committed a tuning sin and changed more than one thing at a time.  Remember the 275lb/in springs that were too stiff in the 57% front weight distribution rallycross days?  We're a lot closer to 50/50 now so I put those back on:

Initial impression is that it's not terrible with the stiffer rear springs, hopefully these and the new bumpstops are enough to keep the back end up off the rocks at NEFR.

jh36 HalfDork
7/17/21 6:08 a.m.

Just dropping a note to let you know how much I enjoy this thread. Your brand of motorsports is one I've dabbled in and enjoy. One of these days....

carry on. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/17/21 6:44 a.m.

In reply to jh36 :

Thank you and likewise!  I'm yet to post in it, but I always click on your stock car Camaro thread when there's an update.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/17/21 8:02 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

Hammered the diff skidplate back into shape and added some exhaust armor- it's a bunch of overlapping chunks with what I estimate to be just enough welding, since it's all sacrificial anyway:

When I took the rear coilovers apart to replace the bumpstops, I also committed a tuning sin and changed more than one thing at a time.  Remember the 275lb/in springs that were too stiff in the 57% front weight distribution rallycross days?  We're a lot closer to 50/50 now so I put those back on:

Initial impression is that it's not terrible with the stiffer rear springs, hopefully these and the new bumpstops are enough to keep the back end up off the rocks at NEFR.

Wow that's a lot of rate. I think my effective rate in the rear is something like 210! 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/17/21 8:25 a.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Wheel rate is around 200 due to motion ratio.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/17/21 8:41 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Wheel rate is around 200 due to motion ratio.

Brain fart, I knew that. Forgot for a second where on the trailing arm they're mounted.

So to correct my prior post.... "yes, that's similar to my rear effective rate, which is about 210" lol....

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
7/18/21 2:16 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

Quoted for rad.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/19/21 7:03 a.m.

I alternated driving and tweaking the rear suspension a few times and ended up lowering the rear slightly.  I think what I'm running into here is the low speed compression damping of the rear shocks- these AFCOs are quite good for most things but they probably weren't designed to handle jumps, so the rear likes to kick a bit more than I'd like going over big bumps.  The softer rear springs compensated for this a bit, at the cost of bottoming out the rear suspension more easily, and now with the stiffer rear springs this seems to be the most annoying handling "feature" the car has- I think at this point I should stop messing with it and just drive accordingly, but long term I will look at revalving or replacing the rears with some other coilover.  To be honest, I'm getting pretty picky here anyway, the rest of the car feels great.  10 days.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/24/21 6:31 p.m.

It's hopefully ready- the rear springs still feel a little stiff (or not enough rebound damping, or maybe too much compression damping) but going fast at NEFR is about commitment and that's easier when the rear isn't slapping the ground all the time.

I found, and tightened, two loose bolts checking it over- right rear upper control arm.  I remember smacking something pretty hard at the rallysprint so that was probably what caused it.

The truck is sort of behaving, and the trailer had a flat so I'm seeing how slow that leak is or isn't and will patch the tire if it's something obvious.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
7/25/21 6:30 a.m.

NEFR 2021 Setup:

Front Suspension:
Damping: 300/70 Bilstein
Spring Rate: 225 lbs/in
Ride Height (pinch weld): 7.75" (up 1.25" since SOFR)
Bumpstop:  3" soft foam
Toe: 0"
Tires: Hoosier 185/65R15 Hard Compound, new 

Rear Suspension:
Damping: 4-6 AFCO (adjusted gas pressure from 60 to 30psi per AFCO recommendation)
Spring Rate: 275 lbs/in (up 75lbs/in from SOFR)
Ride Height (pinch weld): 7.5" (up 1" from SOFR)
Bumpstop:  2.75" soft foam (replaced)
Toe: 1/16" in
Tires: Hoosier 185/65R15 Hard Compound, previously used as fronts 

Rear damping definitely needs more tweaking but will hopefully be good enough for now.
Brake bias needs to be adjusted forward for the fresh front tires/higher ride height/stiffer rear springs.
Bringing 200lb/in rear springs and even bigger bumpstops in case handling is unacceptable on day 1 and we want to switch back overnight.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/2/21 7:18 a.m.

NEFR 2021

Towing/Trip Up:

The truck still has cooling problems, which can be fixed later but of course didn't make themselves known until it was loaded with tools and a car on a trailer.  We just went for it anyway and got to experience some tense moments stuck in traffic with 235F coolant temps as a result, but it made it to our first stop at Uncle Stephen's place on the Cape, about halfway to the rally.  We had a few lovely meals, toured around a bit, and visited a park/auto museum with some inspirational cars and art:

We left the next morning after breakfast, in order to hopefully avoid further truck-cooking traffic problems, and made it to Sunday River (the ski resort that hosts New England Forest Rally HQ) with enough time to pick up our recce rig- an orange XTerra to match our car, lent to us by Slow is Fast racing (running sweep rather than competing this year, but look out at Mt. Washington in two weeks!) and get a quick two-pass of Concord Pond in.  Everything at NEFR is pretty far apart, so covering a stage the night before recce day saves a lot of time and effort.

Recce Day

The next morning we were up and out very early, in the ReXTerra, and off to the stages.  We had done a good amount of pre-recce using old notes and videos from 2019, so we only had to do a single pass of some of the stages- don't let the happy rock fool you, things were rough out there:

Specifically, Aziscohos and Beaver Pond were rough- like, big BIG rocks and some nasty embedded stuff that could take a whole subframe out from under you rough.  NEFR is known to be a car breaker, and apparently it was unusually smooth last time we were here with the Merkur in 2019.  At least it was nice and cool, though, with weather in the 70s for the majority of the event.

By the end of recce, we had done a single pass of all the day 2 stages and dual passes of everything for day 1- that wasn't entirely intentional, it just worked out that way.

While we were out there, the car went through tech thanks to our large shared service crew- Josh S (bluej), Josh H (irish44j), Amanda P, Dan and Alina S would have to cover our car as well as the Downey and Brolin E30s for this event.  It was AWESOME having a crew this big, and everybody had that exact balance of being fun when it was time to be fun and serious when it was time to get stuff done.

We did a few little last minute checks and returned to the airbnb for some rest after snapping this photo of two orange rally coupes, separated by 40yrs and not much else:

solfly Dork
8/2/21 7:34 a.m.

excited for your report!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/2/21 7:55 a.m.

NEFR 2021

Day 1

At Parc Expose this time, it was all about focus for me.  During SOFR I was off my game and drove slow, did a lot of thinking about the new car and the prep and blah blah- none of that here, it's time to try and go fast and see what happens.  So we did the usual catchup with rally friends, talked to the occasional spectator who wanted to know about the orange car, and at one point myself and Josh S were mistakenly identified as the owners of a quarter million dollar R5 car so that was fun.  It felt like it could be the 10th rally for us with this car instead of the 2nd, which was exactly what I needed.  Ready to go!

Off to the first stage- Concord Pond!  It's an insane stage to start a rally with, and always makes you feel like a coward, just super fast and full of blind crests.  The notes were good, the car felt good, and most of my concerns about the stiffer rear springs quickly disappeared- yeah, the back end kicks a little over bumps, but overall it feels just fine at race pace and can almost certainly be solved with a minor valving change in the future.  We put in a halfway respectable time and went off to the first regroup.

I'm not certain why there's a regroup between the first and second running of Concord Pond, but it gives a chance for everyone to talk and go "that stage is FAST" over and over again.  Sean of Monolith Rally noted that he got really, really close to the guard rail in a certain spectator corner and... I may have suggested that it would be cool to drag the bumper on it.  Fast forward to the second running of Concord Pond and he MAY have taken that idea a bit too far- the guard rail in question is part of the shrapnel in the right side of the frame here:

We came by a couple minutes later- the Monolith guys were OK but their rally obviously ended there.  I think we ran an OK time on that second pass but honestly seeing their car off is what sticks in my mind.  At least they got one of the coolest crash photos in history out of it!

We transited back to service and had the crew check everything over, but all seemed well- a little clunking from the rear shock bearings was the worst of it, so soon we were back out and off to SS3, South Arm.  It rained on the way there, although it was hard to tell how much of the stage would be wet as a result since it was super patchy.  South Arm is fast, relatively smooth except for the huge embedded rocks that occasionally appear, and usually has chicanes in it to keep the cars slowed down a little- but now that we have RallySafe, a digital monitoring/positioning/timekeeping system, the organizers decided to try and use the "virtual chicane" feature in that system instead.  This would be our first encounter with it.

SS3 went pretty well and we were really finding our groove despite the occasional muddy corner forcing a slower approach, but the virtual chicanes were a disaster- you're supposed to slow to 20mph in a given zone and accelerate again, but there's a lag and I had several false starts before actually getting it to register that we had slowed enough to take off again.  By the third one we had it down, I think, but it still wasn't fun and cost time.  Car felt great, though!

Then another long transit to SS4, Beaver Pond, an old stage that was being brought out of retirement for this year.  It was pretty rocky, with the car even getting hung up on some giant river gravel near the beginning, but once we found our groove things went well.  There was a lot of reading on this one and I think it threw Sara off a bit, this car can corner so much faster than our previous stuff that the notes can get very, very busy with no time to look up.  I was just happy not to break anything on this one and not go too slow.

We transited back the way we had come out, to SS5, Icicle Brook.  This stage is notorious for big crashes, including Ken Block's giant fire a few years ago and Kimmett's flying exit into the woods- that second one, we actually had written as "double caution Kimmett" in the notes to keep us from doing the same.  And yet, it was on this stage that things really, really began to click.  At one point, in a section of almost entirely 6s, crests, and straights, we even found the top of 5th gear which is somewhere in the realm of 112mph!

There was a new, even worse virtual chicane problem on this one- one of the chicanes wouldn't register and caused us to slow to like 5mph twice for an extended period before we gave up on it- this made me pretty angry, and probably sped up our pace through the section after it a bit so it's not all bad.  The organizers later deleted the entire chicane section of the stage from the times, effectively removing something like a mile of road and splicing the times back together using tracking data, so it probably didn't hurt us much in the end.

Back to service, another check of everything, and off to get some rest:

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/2/21 8:15 a.m.

"Virtual chicanes"  .... frown ...that just sounds like a bad idea...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/2/21 8:44 a.m.

NEFR 2021

Day 2

We were back up and at Parc Expose again around 7am.  Same deal, more spectators this time (we ran out of ANY% stickers!) and soon it was off to the stages for what would be a longer and rougher day than the last.

SS6, Sturtevant Short, was a fun stage that excluded the rocky garbage of Sturtevant Long, although the transit in has some exciting rock crawling.  We did well on this one, putting in a decent time and feeling great through the spectator-heavy section of 3s and 4s toward the end.  This car feels so incredibly good once you get up to speed and actually start driving it, and I know I'm still leaving a good amount more on the table at the best of times. 

SS7, Wilson Mills, was fast and smooth but has a couple of the dreaded virtual chicanes in it- luckily it seems like we left our issues with them behind on day 1, and while annoying they didn't screw us up much.  No complaints, we got to really push here and it felt great.

SS8 was the first running of Aziscohos, the OTHER big nasty car breaker of this rally after Icicle Brook.  Say hello to the friendly rock!

This one was just as nasty as we thought it would be.  Rough, huge rocks, and cars off everywhere- Block, Downey, some rolled Subaru of some sort, and at least 3 other cars were off on our way through although luckily everyone was fine.  We had a really scary moment where I asked Sara to add a note for the next pass, which she did, but it threw off our timing and had us off the notes at like 90mph over bigass rocks into a downhill R4 with an upside down car on the outside.  But hey, we didn't crash and nothing important broke so that's a win!

On the transit immediately after, we noticed extra dust coming in- some inspection revealed that we had ripped up the little rubber thing that covers the front of the DS rear wheel well, and it was coming from there- we just lived with it and noted that it was time for some duct tape at service.

SS9, Morton Cutoff, was short and smooth for the most part.  We went fast here and it felt great!

On the way back to service, Sara got cell signal again for the first time and checked the results... and we were LEADING L2WD!  By a minute and a half!!!  Apparently Gruszka, previously leading the class in a Fiesta, had had an electrical problem that set him back a bit.  I feel a little bad but... how many times did our Merkur slow us down?  We celebrated briefly before deciding to stop freaking ourselves out about it.

At service, duct tape ws applied to the wheel well holes, bolts were checked, and the car was found to be ever so slightly low on oil so that got topped up.  Mostly we just stood around and ate though, because the car is solid and our crew is awesome:

Then back out for the nastier, long version of Sturtevant as SS10.  It was choppy, rough, and I wanted to keep my lead but also really didn't want to hurt the car.  We lost time here for sure, I don't think I was too cautious in the rough section but I didn't get back up to speed fast enough after it- still learning how to adjust pace in this thing.  This was another one with busy reading and Sara was on top of it the whole time.

SS11 was Wilson Mills again, and apart from taking it easy on the jump/kick things we really boogied on this one, it may have been the most fun stage of the rally for me and I think we may have been the fastest L2WD through here.

SS12, cue the scary music because it's Aziscohos again and now we have a lead to potentially lose.  We pushed a little more than we probably should have, and at one point took a rock the approximate size of a shoebox to the DS rear trailing arm but it mostly stayed straight and the car drove fine so we didn't slow down a bit.  It was fun, in an "I hope this keeps working" sort of way:

Then SS13, Morton Cutoff again, where we were warned that we'd find Pastrana's car on its' roof about 2.5 miles in- it turned out that they really, really oversold how far into the road it was and we wasted way too much time slowing down for it.  Still felt good, still went fast.

Back to service and our lead had been reduced to somewhere around 45sec with our more conservative approach and Gruszka's faster driving overall, but there was only one stage to go!  Everything got checked, we left the now smooshed trailing arm since it drove fine, and the car was ready to go again:

SS14, the last one, North Road.  It's a fitting finale to NEFR, full of rocks, covered in spectator areas, and always near sunset- we ran a conservative pace though, because who wants to bin it on the last stage of the rally?  One of the spectator areas even contained family members of ours for the first time, with my brother and sister-in-law finally solving the admittedly complex puzzle of spectating a rally- they snapped this picture:

We were greeted by organizers, volunteers, and friends galore at the finish- we had made it!

The transit after North Road is always special- all of the service park and spectator traffic is also on their way back to Sunday River, so it's just a sea of rally cars, service rigs, and other wild vehicles all on their way to the finish line.  50ft before the final time control, irish44j took this picture:

Then, time card handed in, car parked, time to catch up with everybody- crew, family, friends, I'm so grateful to have these lunatics along making everything happen so that we can go drive stupid cars too fast in the woods:

And then... a series of firsts for us: a giant novelty check that I need to get a photo of for second place in the Banchwerks 2wd challenge, our first class win at a big rally, and of course the first podium and first champagne spray!

We've never gotten to do the champagne thing before so we were slow on the draw and got completely blasted by those next to us, it was awesome and our driving suits smell absolutely horrific now:

So the full breakdown- 1st in L2WD, 7th of all 2WD cars, 27th out of 81 overall.  Couldn't ask for more on the car's second rally, and despite the truck's questionable condition we practically floated home on a cloud of "can't believe we did that!"

slowbird UltraDork
8/2/21 10:37 a.m.

WOOOO! Congrats on the win. laugh

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/2/21 10:49 a.m.

Awesome! Congrats on the win! 

Our Preferred Partners