Rutherfords Road Shingle Sprint – Ashburton

As some of you will already know, we have a “projects” section of the website.  A little while ago James from Christchurch sent in a very amusing write up on his Subaru Legacy Project, where he was trying to get up and running on gravel on a small budget.  The car is now complete and below is another amusing write up from James about his first event.

I had to wait a few days before trying to put my first sprint into words… otherwise all that would have ended up on the page is YEEEEESSSSSS!!!!.

Those of you that have had the pleasure of competing before will know what I mean… for everyone else, It’s the most exhilarating, satisfying, scariest thing you will ever do.

Now,.. I have been driving on gravel roads since I first learnt to drive and still drive on them nearly every working day of my life… so as you can imagine, i know how gravel feels, i know how hard i can turn before the car slides etc… however, that (it turns out) only applies to mortals speed. And has no relation to rallying whatsoever the only similarities are the view, (which i didn’t see any of during the sprint).

Back to the story… i had paid the entry and the car was 100% ready to go… so I decided to pull it apart and take off the water to air intercooler in favour of a lighter air to air version… which of course didn’t fit… with only a couple of days to spare of course. It only required a quick swap down the wreckers. (yup, most of my car is ex wreckers yard) and i was back in business.

We loaded the car and trailer up and headed off down to the sprint, myself, my wife and 2 kids, Karen had made up some matching t shirts for herself and the kids, which was a wonderful encouragement.

The scrutineer picked up a couple of small issues i hadn’t noticed, but hey were not sufficient to stop me competing, just a couple of wee jobs to sort on return home.

My first run, i was the 4th car on the road, which had been graded the previous day, quite a blessing as it gave me a chance to throw the car around and get a feel for the road at what i thought was a good clip…. WRONG. As more and more cars ran over the road, the times were dropping like lead balloons. I was starting to think the timing gear had packed up!

James throwing some gravel – Photographer unknown at present

My second run was over 9 seconds quicker, the swept road really coming up quite firm, with a lot more grip than i had anticipated, however this was nowhere near enough reduction of time to be even close to competitive, with a lot of the 2wds running seconds quicker.

By now i had realised that rally was a LOT quicker when holding the wheel then it is in the passenger seat.

If you have not been in a rally car simply take your video camera for a drive down a nice scenic country road and record the whole thing while shaking the camera wildly and fling the camera from one side window to the other, now go home and play the tape at +1.5 speed with the volume turned up to max. Oh and take $200 out of the bank and set it on fire…

It is fast, not just dad giving the kids a scare fast, proper “I wonder if the car even turns at this speed” fast… just blistering, as fast as you can imagine fast, i kept expecting blue flames to shoot out of my tyre tracks and to end up back in 1985.

Thankfully the small field at the event meant we all got 6 runs over the course, so by the last run i had calmed enough to be able to think straight, well straight enough to start driving the car as opposed to just sitting there holding the wheel and screaming…Fair to say, I had a great time, finished in front of all the 2wds (except the purpose built  escort/mazda) and didn’t scratch the car or break anything mechanical.

I did come home with a list of things to change, but overall uttery stoked with the day and the car!

Thank you James for sending us another great write up and your continued support for the website.

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One comment

  1. Love it James. But wrong about burning $200……way too low an estimate. :p

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