Rally America Title Fight – LSPR 2013
Last weekend I went up to Houghton, MI for the finale of the Rally America championship. I had never been to the Lake Superior Performance Rally before, or any rally for that matter, but I was invited by my friend Dylan Helferich who drives for the Relentless Rally Team. To be honest, I’m fairly clueless about most things rally related. I had thought that watching a rally race meant standing in a forest, in nearly freezing rain, and occasionally seeing a car go by while getting sprayed with dirt and gravel. Which is exactly what happened, but it was a hell of a lot more fun than it sounds.
The Rally America season came to a close at LSPR, and there were a few titles up for grabs. David Higgins has managed to keep Ken Block at bay as the Overall Champion for the last few years, but Block was leading in points coming into the finale. Andrew Comrie-Picard and Brenden Reeves were battling for the 2-Wheel Drive title, while David Sterckx was trying to hold Mason Moyle at bay in Super Production. LSPR has earned a reputation as the “oldest, meanest, and toughest rally on the circuit”, what better venue to host these end of season showdowns!
Later we went into town to get registered, grabbed dinner at The Library, and went to The Continental Fire Co. for the pre-race party and screening of Easier Said Than Done, a new rally documentary. This film is shot spectacularly and features rally’s top competitors from across the globe, I definitely recommend buying it. Check out the link at the end of the article for more about Easier Said Than Done.
The next morning predicted that temperatures would be in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s throughout the weekend with rain and chances of snow, my wool socks came in quite handy. The weather would create some very soggy and slippery stages, leading to some intense competition for the national titles that were up for grabs. Due to the recent government shutdown the rally organizers were forced to exclude any stages on federal land, and instead re-used the stages that were not affected by the shutdown.
The Relentless Rally team is the definition of grassroots. Dylan Helferich is a college student who became hooked on rallying a few years ago and decided to make the jump to driving at last year's LSPR, he is kept on track by his co-driver Elliot Sherwood. They compete regionally in the open light class with a 2000 Impreza 2.5RS. The car is as basic of a rally car as can be, and is entirely stock aside from the necessary safety features. They have an awesome crew of volunteers that is headed up by Dylan’s dad, Mike.
As we were preparing to head out for the day it was pointed out to me that my lowered Legacy GT with low profile summer tires might not be the best choice of vehicle to take down the dirt/gravel roads to and from each stage. Apparently its not uncommon for vehicles to get stuck in mud or for oil pans to get bashed by rocks, so I was given control of the Rug Muncher. I won’t lie, after seeing all the warning lights on the dashboard I was a bit doubtful about the Muncher.. Surely a Forester that has traveled a quarter million miles with not much besides a simple lift kit would be at it’s limit on these roads. WRONG! The Muncher is an unstoppable machine that handled everything that was put before it with finesse, and is the reason for my latest hunts on Craigslist.