ASCC Revenge of MAAT's Revenge
February 12, 2005
OA Cls Car# Driver / Navigator L1 D2 L3 D4 L5 D6 L7 D8 L9 D10 Total 1 1-A 7 Joe Lipinski 90 Audi Quattro 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Brian Naughton 2 1-C 1 William Yarroch 05 Suba. Legacy 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 3 0 0 7 Michael Yarroch 3 1-D Chris Spargo 83 BMW 320i 60 8 23 11 60 8 9 8 7 3 197 Eric Schneider 4 1-B 4 Tim Winker 85 Saab 900 5 12 19 60 26 42 6 60 13 0 243 Randy Jokela 5 2-D 2 Doug Wilson 88 VW Jetta 60 9 33 9 60 8 60 40 60 5 344 Chris DeRaad 6 3-D Paul Koll 00 Ford Focus 60 58 60 46 60 24 37 20 33 60 458 Matt Wappler 7 4-D Harry Beck 99 Dodge Neon 60 60 60 60 49 50 60 60 60 60 579 Megan Beck Legs 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 were Do-It-Yourself Controls (DIYC)
Episode III: The Revenge of MAAT's Revenge
Normally, one does not buck the odds with Mother Nature. She is a fickle old bat who tends to keep a strict routine. Thus, when the calendar notes that the timeframe is February, it is safe to assume that the State of Minnesota will be in between its normal series of Alberta clippers, alternating subzero temperatures with 3-inch snowfalls. Were one to plan an event for the month of February in Minnesota, one presumes that it will involve heavy boots, furry hats, and a pair of chopper mittens.
For the second straight year, MAAT's Revenge has taken place in 50-degree temperatures in the second week of February. Now, I am generally not fond of winter, and I am all in favor of global warming to turn the frozen tundra into a tropical paradise. However, I have certain expectations about my weather, and by god, it's just not right to feel so comfortable clocking times in a long-sleeve t-shirt leaning up against the car.
But I have to admit - it felt SOOOO good.
The problem with the current round of fickle weather is that writing a good rally becomes really hard to do unless you write 3 of them. You need one for normal Minnesota winter, one for a heavy snow, and one for the uncharacteristic thaws that completely screws up the consistency of the road.
Those who ran "Episode III: Revenge of MAAT's Revenge" may remember seeing Lisk Road, a nifty little affair with close spruce trees and some fun twists. However, it would have been a fleeting glimpse, as the rally turned in the opposite direction and instead scooted down a different road altogether. "How could that fool have passed up such a wonderful automotive experience?" the team's must have ranted. Fact is, it was going to be used three times.
Paul Rosholt (the Boyhood Companion) and I had great fun scouting the roads. The first running of the Wisconsin segments saw all kinds of use of those narrow twisty things. Then Mother Nature dropped a foot of snow on the area. All the roads near North River Road were plowed - except for Lisk, which evidently was to remain a snowmobile trail only. A five-foot ridge of snow that a stick of dynamite couldn't clear blocked the Boyhood Companion's Saturn from making our milage run. Thus began rewrite number 1, with a dejected removal of Lisk Road. Neither Nostradamus nor Miss Cleo would have taken a chance on predicting the upcoming series of 50 degree days.
No less than 4 other roads were removed from consideration in a similar manner - the finest of those stages. One of them looked plowed; Paul hesitated, but I demonstrated the worthiness of the road by jumping up and down on the surface. Half a mile later, we noticed that either the world was rising or the car was sinking. Either was bad, for it indicated that the seemingly-plowed road was now merely a groomed snowmobile trail with a 2-inch crust of ice. "I don't want you to die of exposure," he said kindly, "So if we get stuck here I promise to kill you quickly." The Boyhood Companion then launched the Saturn backwards in a brilliant display of mirror work as the world continued to rise around us. Eventually, the Saturn clawed its way back onto real dirt, and we had a good laugh as Paul relieved the built-up tension by chasing me around the car and trying to beat me with a tire iron.
I was apprehensive about this rally on Saturday morning, hoping that it would not be pathetically easy (2003 Revenge combined top 4 scores was 7 points) and that it wasn't outrageously difficult to navigate (2004 lost 50% of the competitors and 100% of the Geriatric Checkpoint team by the midpoint break.) I am pleased to report that there was a full range of scores and only one high-center incident where the team recovered and rejoined the group.
The absolute best thing about this year is the large number of Novice entries. In fact 4 of the 7 entries in the Revenge were novice teams. What makes this a wonderful thing is that I have been a member of ASCC for 18 years and I am still considered a junior member. For years, we have talked about how to address the graying of ASCC and now it appears that we are on to something. It looks like all of the novice teams had smiles at the end of the event and I hope that they all come back for more. Better yet, I hope they bring some more friends. Nothing would make me happier than to have to make 25 copies of the route instructions.
The course was fast and had a huge variation of road surfaces ranging from dry pavement to mud to clear ice to foot-deep water - sometimes there were 4 surface changes in a few seconds to challenge the driver's skills.
Stage 1 had an unexpected water hole that was, by all reports, considerably entertaining. The Esteemed Sire, acting as the advance scout for the event, indicated that he wasn't certain if he was driving on road or if he was merely driving across the roof of the last poor fool to try to go through the impromptu lake. Team Yarroch, running about 30 seconds behind him, said that it looked even better from behind.
The Winker / Jokela team, surprisingly, hasn't spent a lot of time working with each other recently, and their stages were made more interesting by the fact that they felt like they were sitting on the wrong sides of the car. People like me (and Randy Jokela), who spend more rally time driving than navigating, learn great lessons in humility when the roles are reversed. I think next year Paul and I may do the same thing.
The Lipinsky/ Naughton team did their normal thing. Brilliant driving and flawless navigation = Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. When hitting window zeroes is the lowlight of the rally, what can one do to make it tougher for these guys? One way or another… I'll find a way. I am not above hiding in the woods and shooting out a tire.
The novice teams, however, were my personal highlight of this event. The team of Wilson and DeRaad in the red 88 Jetta show promise as a team. Their best scores came on the DIYC's, proving that Mr. DeRaad knows his way around a calculator and Mr. Wilson knows how to avoid wheel slippage.
Harry and Megan Beck in their 99 Dodge Neon indicated through casual conversation that they expected to max every stage, and that they were more or less on a touring rally. They actually did quite a bit better than they thought. Not only did they not max every stage, but first-timer Megan Beck managed to keep on course using route instructions that were designed to confuse the experienced teams. Time calculations require practice, but keeping a driver on track is instinctual. This bodes very well for her future in the sport.
The team of Spargo and Schneider worry me. The scores they turned in were nothing short of phenomenal. One can only assume that one of them has a bionic GPS implant, because they performed this rally without a functioning odometer. I guess it was excellent distance estimation on DIYCs and a steady foot on the throttle everywhere else. The Boyhood Companion and I get scores like theirs all the time, in spite of the equipment we pack in the car. Maybe Paul and I aren't that good… but these two are prodigies who showed some incredible sportsmanship by deliberately scratching a stage in order to help another team extract from a snowbank.
Ah, yes… the snowbank. In spite of several 50-degree days, snowbanks still existed in places, and the team of Koll and Wappler found one. A big one. Big enough to high-center their 2000 Ford Focus and force them to search for appropriate measures to extract themselves. The measures they used were sticks and the aid of the Spargo / Schneider team. A couple of scratchy cell phone calls identified their location, and I shot to the rescue, but they self-extracted before I could get there and do my hero thing. The entire rally continued with only about a 20 minute delay. Their glee was highly visible, though… stuffing it and coming out alive and un-bent adds character. Trust me. Nobody stuffs one better than me, and character I got.
Overall, there was 170 miles of road with 7 teams, no casualties, 1 snowbank stuff, and no car damage. I love it when a plan comes together. Hope to see everyone next year.