Ah yes, December 5th, 1998, an important day in American rallysport. Was it the Laughlin Rally?, the LoL Chili Cook-Off? Nope.... 'Twas


by James Bialas
Michigan Technical University
Houghton, Michigan

This tale of adventure and woe brought you in part by the Stafford Student Loan Association - Your tax dollars on loan to broke college students who'd rather drive around in the woods like idiots than buy text books like they should.

Saturday morning... Still haven't heard from Matthew yet, I'm starting to get concerned. We should be leaving soon. Phone rings. It's Matthew, he overslept. What is with drivers and over sleeping (see the Procrastination Rally)? Ahh well, at least I managed another half hour of Saturday morning cartoon viewing. So we hit the road without major issue. Four hours until Duluth.

Before we even leave the UP, it becomes readily apparent that the we forgot to take the "Smite Me!" sign off the truck, as the rally gods seem to have it in for us. We hook up the odo in Bruce Crossing so we can practice fiddling with it. Three miles later, the external pickup spontaneously disassembles itself. Not cool. We toss the parts in the back and start making plans to run with the stock odo. Thankfully that was the only issue we had until the rally starts.

So a few hours later, we finish up our lunch at Rally HQ, The Dry Dock near Duluth. We register, obtain our route instructions, and start entering all the data in the Applix spreadsheet. We kind of get carried away with this until about 4 minutes before our out time for the odo check when I realize the odo pickup is still sitting in the back of the truck. Matt runs out and takes care of that while I keep pounding away on the laptop. After a bunch of running around Chinese fire drill style, we get all out toys in the truck hooked up properly. We leave on the odo check just a couple minutes behind schedule... big mistake.

Seems the odo check was pretty tight for time, so we got a late start on the first leg. Hassles with our navigation system caused a few more headaches, and wallah, one of the worst legs on the rally for us. With my nose in the laptop, I can't even remember what this leg looked like. The next leg I remember was *very* cool. Some very twisty, hilly, paved roads in some very eerie fog. 'Twas very brillig in the slithy toves. Soon enough we were off the pavement onto some real roads. Real muddy that is. When Tim Winker said these roads were difficult, he wasn't kidding. Very slippery, twisty, and trees brushing the truck on both sides sometimes. I'd take Beacon Hill on the LSPR any day over this. The slippery mud was giving the RWD Ranger a few problems, traction was hard to come by, and somehow we managed to lose the odometer pickup three times in about 10 miles. Add to that getting the truck stuck twice when we pulled over to reattach the odo, and we were getting a bit frustrated. We even got in so deep we needed the help of Bill and Mike Yarroch to help push us out once. Hopefully somebody managed to get a few pictures of me splattered with mud when I decided to push just behind the wheel with no traction. Gotta love those open diffs.

Well, the roads did clear up, but the rally gods certainly weren't smiling on us, despite the promise of sacrificial beers at the end of the rally. Seems the odo pickup only likes being dropped in the mud so many times. This time it just quit working. Still firmly attached, but the numbers just didn't change. The rally gods were down to a glass of coke at this point.

Thankfully, we had no major equipment issues after that and managed to finish the rally with only 15 penalty points for three time allowances for a total score of 44 (a team best!). However, the entertainment wasn't quite yet over as we participated in one of the most interesting post-rally conversations I've ever had. Conversation seemed to drift towards the rather odd topics of hamsters, llamas, and the proper control of aggressive roosters. Quite a turn from the usual tires, odos and engines.

Despite our troubles, I had a great time. Our odo pickup may have been problematic, but the Thinkpad running Linux and Applix worked like a charm, even when we were running on the stock odo. And besides, I could play Quake while navigating. Too bad for all of you who missed out, all the mud, fog, and rain made for a truly unique event. Make sure you don't miss the Minnesota Winter Rally. And yes, we even saw a bit of snow on the Sno*Fall. Even if others claimed that I was just seeing birch trees.

Sno*Fall Winter Rally
Official Results

December 5, 1998
Rallymaster - Randy Jokela

Overall Class Driver Navigator Car Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Leg 5 Leg 6 Leg 7 Leg 8 Total
1 A Steve Irwin Phil Schmidt Subaru Impreza 3 3 0 0 0 0 4 0 10
2 A Gary Starr Annette Burrows Honda Civic 10 3 0 3 0 0 4 0 20
3 B Matthew Jachimstal James Bialas Ford Ranger 19 0 0 10 0 7 5 3 44
4 C Bill Taylor Mike McConnell VW Fox Wagon 60 18 6 0 32 3 4 6 129
5 C Tim Winker A. Curta Saab 900 SPG 3 7 5 18 60 31 7 3 134
6 C William Yarroch Mike Yarroch Jeep Grand Cherokee 60 48 60 60 60 60 11 24 383
7 C Dennis Lane Linda Lane Ford F150 60 60 60 60 25 60 8 60 393

RETURN to ASCC home.

NEXT: '99 Minnesota Winter Rally

Wink Timber Media
Updated: 12/7/98