1999 Maine Forest

Maine Forest ProRally

We flew to Newburg-Stewart Field in New York the next morning. Greg Healey picked us up and gave us a ride to his house where he had stored the truck for us after STPR (How's that for service after the sale? Thanks Greg!). We then drove to Waterville, Maine where Anders' parents live (a little over an hour east of Rumford). We were able to do a great deal of prep on the truck during the next couple of days. The guys at Tire Warehouse in Waterville were very helpful and gave us a good deal on 14 dismounts and 14 re-mounts of tires on wheels. Anders' brother, Henrick, came up from Freeport to crew for us. We got to Rumford about 10:15 Thursday night (of course we were still working on the truck up until past the time we planned on leaving Waterville), but registration was still open and very busy.

The next morning, we changed from travel tires to rally tires (we don't have a trailer...yet), and I started on the task of applying all those stickers. It actually turned out to not be as difficult as the horror stories told me it would be. And, while standing on the hood applying the window sticker, I got to give my first autograph to a couple of kids--Chris and Shawn were their names. Next stop was Parc Expose. We were to be last on the road for the national, so we started making the rounds. Of course, we met Stig (Anders is Swedish, too, you know). I just had to ask Frank Sprongl if the shorts, t-shirt, and driving shoes he was wearing were his FIA driving suit; he said it was (sorry, Jens). We saw plenty of existing rally buddies (Garen Shrader, Greg Healey, Lesley Suddard and Marc Goldfarb, and many others) and well as meeting some rally-l guys we hadn't met before (Jens Larsen and Ramana Langemann, for example). We also saw Andrew Havas who actually lives only 20 minutes away from us down here; he was entered but couldn't quite get the car finished in time.

Finally, we were off on the first transit and, soon thereafter, the first stage. Almost immediately, I noticed a problem with the mileage readings--way too high. I told Anders. Things went downhill from there. I desperately tried to adjust the factor, thinking that somehow something had been changed inadvertently. After a few minutes, we decided that I would estimate the distances visually. Unfortunately, fifteen seconds later, there were no more distances to estimate because we carried too much speed into the corner before the bridge at 4.33 and slide off the road just before the bridge. The bridge itself caught our front right and put us on our side in the creek beside the bridge. We attribute this off to poor communication and poor emergency management. For example, instead of simply informing Anders that there was a problem with the readings, I should have explicitly told him to slow down.

Fortunately, we got an opportunity to learn from these mistakes the next day because we were able to pull the truck out and get it back on the road the next day for the ClubRally (Ram Tough, baby!). Thanks to Dan and the other guys at Dan's auto shop (behind the Citgo where tech inspection was on Friday) for towing us out and helping with the bodywork. We got through tech the next morning without any problems and were ready to start on yet another rally adventure.

We were running so well on Saturday, that it almost made it worth the trouble we had on Friday. Our communication and support of one another was great. I kept Anders focused and looking ahead and he was doing a great job of using the road and carrying speed. We felt like we were running a very good pace--fast, but not faster than we could handle. For example, even though we triple checked calibration that morning because of the trouble we had the day before, when we got going on stage, the mileage started reading high again (it was perfect on the transit beforehand). This time, I made sure to tell him to keep it slow until I could fix it. Despite holding back, however, this stage was fast. This allow me to hack the navigation. We were averaging just below 60 mph, so I started navigating off the timer instead of the odometer. Since we were averaging below 60, the timer would be running a little long, thereby erring on the side of safety by calling tulips early. We concluded after this stage that something must be causing the sensor to pickup more counts per wheel revolution than the two magnets--maybe the wheel studs were magnetizing at speed? We adjusted the factor under this assumption and started the next stage cautiously to check the new arrangement (this was the long--24 mile--stage). Our computer has the ability to bump measured mileage such that the factor is internally recalculated to match the new mileage. We used this feature through the first few instructions to get our calibration dead-on and then we started to really click.

We felt like we were running pretty clean and relatively fast. Stage times were 12.63, 29.16, and 17.90 for stages 7, 8, and 9, respectively. This was 40th, 41st, and 40th overall and 6th, 5th, and 6th in class on these legs which seems about right for our low horsepower and lower experience level. Therefore, we feel we weren't going faster than we could handle overall. Unfortunately, on stage 10 (the last gravel stage), we were faster in one turn than we could handle; and that's all it takes. About four miles in, we were in a stretch of two miles between instructions when we encountered a nearly square right. From the in-car video, one can see a deceiving opening in the tree line straight ahead (because of the lake) and the curve wasn't really banked in either. Once out of the worn tracks and in the loose stuff, we were all but sucked off the road by the "marbles" as everyone was calling them. As near as we can tell, the rear of the truck came over the front, we landed on the roof and slid down to rest on the driver's side about 15 feet below the road surface. When I climbed out, all I could see was dust and trees. By the time Anders got out, we were able to enjoy our view of the lake which was about 50 feet away through the trees. We regret not finishing the rally, but we had a very good day up until that point and we learned a lot in the approximately 50 miles of special stage seat time that we did get. As a small consolation, we did manage to get back to Rumford in time to set the running of the in-town stage. The major task in front of us now is getting the truck out. They locked the gates behind sweep, so we have to coordinate with the tow truck guys and Mead to get in there and get it out--all from NC.

We were able to get a ride to the airport from our good friends the Allens (their boys had a spectacular wreck on stage 8 that everyone has probably heard about). We want to thank them and everyone else for all their help, support, and concern. See you all soon--we have to do a damage assessment to determine how soon.