How Not to Take Part in a Rally


The beater transverses ruts at speed.Jimmy Keeney represents Honda yo!

The morning of the rally, a motley crew of me, photographer Casey Heerman and Dave’s girlfriend Sarah jumped into a late model 2006 Xterra on loan to us from Nissan to run chase, help Dave if needed and hopefully get some cool rally pictures to share with you readers.


And Sarkis Mazmanian is down with Acura.

The DSM of Paul Williamson proved to be very competitive.  DSM’s are basically EVO IV’s with a coupe body.

Pro Rally probably has the highest concentration of women drivers of any motorsports events that we have attended.  Lisa Klassan drove this TE71 Corrolla.


The Neon SRT is the car of choice in the stock FWD class. Kristopher Marciniak drives here.

Well, if you register with the rally officials as media, you get a neat press kit with a schedule, stage instructions and maps.  Theoretically, this should allow you to follow the rally and be in a good position to lend support, run chase and even spectate.  This is true if you are a pretty good driver with a capable vehicle.  We quickly found that the needed driving skill to keep up with a rally is probably equivalent to a top rally driver and your car must be about as capable as an open class rally car.


The Rim of the World rally is notoriously tough on equipment.

Gravel Girl Bristol did some serious damage to the undercarriage of her car on a water bar.

Our first disaster involved check-in.  We had pre-registered several weeks prior for media credentials.  Of course they were missing at check in and we spent several minutes convincing grumpy officials that we were indeed legitimate media people.  Finally with the correct paperwork in hand, we managed on the way through the parking lot to Dave’s pits, to piss off several sets of officials from the grumpy guy who yelled at us for driving through the wrong unmarked gate, to the guy who yelled at us for driving 16.3 mph through the pits, to the guy on the golf cart who yelled at us for not stopping for the second guy to let him yell at us for “speeding” though the pits.  Pissing off this many officials in such a short time takes talent.

I think Leon Styles in his EVO V won.

After placating officials which meant letting each set of them yell at us for several minutes, Sarah, Casey and I jump into the Xterra and barely get to the starting line in time to see Dave and his navigator Amar Sehmi off with a wave; this is the last time we are to see them in several hours. Our first stop is a spectator area out on stage one.  With a very detailed map and Sarah navigating we promptly get lost.  As we pull over, we realize that none of us can decipher the map.

Dave’s navigator Amar Sehmi makes sure he doesn’t forget his route notes during the service before the super stage.My ghetto fabulous repair job to keep the MAF from falling off again.  Hey I was hungry and thirsty.

Rally Lesson number 1- Get the route map that the drivers use, throw away the one in the media kit, make your own rally notes and plan your route ahead of time.  A GPS system would also be nice.

Looking at the clock we realize that we are going to miss the first stage so we give up and Sarah successfully guides us to a spectator area in the second stage on time which was achieved by me driving at near hypersonic velocities, no small trick in an SUV on twisty roads.  We arrive to find the road to the checkpoint blocked by a grumpy official.  Why are nearly all motorsports officials grumpy?  The official will not let us on the transition road to the stage.  As I pretend to be a lost deer hunter and Sarah tries to distract the official with feminine charm and cleavage, Casey sneaks past and runs down the road out of sight lugging about 40 lbs of camera gear.  About 20 minutes later, rally cars drive down the transit road at low speed, I snap some pics and they look like legitimate action shots. 

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