As the 2014 season is ramping up, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the past season and to ponder the year ahead. 2013 was a year of success, not just for me but also for many of the 3-4-Three Challenge partners. While I didn’t participate in the USRRC, Solo Nationals, or Rallycross Nationals, I did crisscross the Midwest to compete in a variety of events. In March I partnered with Chuck Hanson to take a class victory at the Badger Burrow Regional RoadRally in Madison, Wisconsin. In April I took my first ever Rallycross class victory at Badlands Offroad Park in Attica, Indiana. In June my wife Angela and I took first-in-class at the Daniel Boone National Tour RoadRally in St Louis, Missouri. In July I partnered with Jay Nemeth-Johannes for two class victories at the Hoosier Hills and Hoosier Hollers National Tour RoadRallies in Bloomington, Indiana. In August I took first in class at the SCCA Subaru Challenge autocross at Lafayette, Indiana. In November, with the help of Chuck, Angela, and others, I put on “Rallye Monticello” which turned out to be the best attended Road Rally in Champaign County since 2009.
While we’re still waiting for the final National SCCA RoadRally season results, I’m pretty sure that Jay Nemeth-Johannes will have secured the SCCA Tour Series National Championship in the Sportsman Category, with the points he collected with me in Bloomington having been instrumental. I expect Chuck Hanson to have finished high in both the SCCA Tour Series National Championship and Course Series National Championship, Masters Category. Emanuel Martin, who co-drove with me at the 2012 SCCA Solo National Championship in the RTA class, went back with a more competitive car for the same class in 2013 and came home with a 3rd place trophy.
At the end of the summer I was in the driver’s seat to secure another SCCA Tour Series National Championship. All I needed were a couple regional victories and the worker points one can earn for playing a key role in organizing a rally. Chasing the points, however, started to feel too much like “work.” I abandoned the chase in late August, running the Subaru Challenge autocross instead of a regional RoadRally. I also moved the date of the Rallye Monticello to after the end of the SCCA RoadRally season , allowing myself more time to refine the event. I’d be lying a bit if I didn’t admit to having some regret at having abandoning the pursuit. The Subaru Challenge was probably the most fun even I did all year, however, so the regret is only minor. I’m still waiting for the final results to be published so I can know how far I fell in the standings. Who knows, maybe I still finished in the trophies.
My plans for 2014 are still fluid, but some ideas are starting to gel. The year presents an interesting opportunity in RoadRally as the SCCA National Series season has been extended. In the past, the RoadRally season would finish at the United States Road Rally Challenge in mid October, and the next season would start the following weekend. 2014 is the year that SCCA wants to realign the competition year to be coterminous with the calendar year. That means the 2014 season is fourteen and a half months long. My role as Rallymaster of the recent Rallye Monticello gives me 10 points towards the championship already. With the extended season, and the promise of many nearby National Tour events, I think I can make an honest, enjoyable pursuit of the championship all the way to the finish. The carrot is out there, and I think I’m inclined to respond by at least competing in enough events to score the maximum cumulative points should I win them all. I have also been asked to serve as the Rally Chairman of the Champaign County Sports Car Club for 2014. Besides reinvigorating interest in the local program, I hope to encourage more cooperation between the local club and the SCCA and perhaps have an opportunity or two to score National points in a local rally.
My autocross and rallycross plans are completely up in the air at this time. One thing that is certain is that 2014 will bring changes to the vehicle stable. While the 2006 WRX I have been driving is reasonably capable on both dirt and pavement, the set up is a compromise between the two; I’m at a disadvantage at both rallycross and autocross events where the competition typically have cars optimized for the particular discipline. After two years of driving one do-it-all car, I’m ready to diversify and have one car specifically for tarmac and another for dirt. The old WRX is up for sale, a brand new daily driver/autocross car is on order, and deal is brewing that will bring a dedicate rallycross car into the fold. Expect the pace of posting on this blog to accelerate as the stable is refreshed and the 2014 competition comes into full swing. Check back soon for an announcement on the new car…or maybe cars!