Frozen Beer and Rally Cars: Sno*Drift 2014
by Connor Harrison
Swarms of rally fans and competitors converged on northern Michigan last weekend for the first and most exciting event in the 2014 Rally America National Championship. This was the 48th running of the Sno*Drift rally which takes place around Atlanta, MI and features over 130 miles of snow and ice covered roads broken up into 20 stages over two days.
Friday morning saw 58 teams assemble at Parc Expose in Lewiston, MI. It was bitterly cold with blowing snow, but the unpleasant weather conditions certainly didn’t do much to deter fans from swarming all over the cars and snowbanks!
This event is very unique, as it’s the only stop in the national championship on snow and ice. The incredibly slippery surface can cause entrants to slide off and get stuck in a snowbank with relative ease, not to mention that past the snowbanks are walls of trees. Getting stuck once can add minutes to your time, which is the difference between a podium finish and not finishing at all. This causes a love/hate relationship with the event for many of the competitors.
I’m a bit partial to Porsches, so I was pretty excited when I saw this Braid Wheels 911 rally car, but was pretty bummed when I realized it wasn’t competing. I was so rushed getting to and from most of the stages that I missed it going by as the final sweep before the first competitor would run. I would love to see this thing sideways with a spray of snow behind it!
Not surprisingly, there was a continuous crowd of people surrounding the #75 Subaru STi of David Higgins and Craig Drew. The duo has won the Rally America championship for the past three years straight, and are hoping to make this year the fourth.
I spent my downtime with the Relentless Rally team, made up of Dylan Helferich (driver), Drew Rosek (co-driver), and a Subaru Impreza 2.5RS. This was Dylan’s second time competing at Sno*Drift and Drew’s first time as co-driver.
Unfortunately the Dirtfish/Budweiser STi of Brenton Kelly was taken out on the first stage when they got sucked into a snowbank resulting in the car striking a tree. Both Brenton and co-driver Billy Irvin were unharmed and have already begun repairing the car. Thanks again for the beers on Saturday night guys! They weren’t the only car to have an accident on the first stage, driver Piotr Fetela and his 1998 Subaru Impreza STi also struck a tree and was unable to continue.