2002 PBX

Pine Barrens Express 2002

By Codriver Amy Feistel

It was Friday, November 22nd and Amy Feistel, co-driver for LinaRacing had just packed the last box of tools. The tools, the cooler and camera were ready for departure to the Pine Barrens Express (PBX) in Whiting, New Jersey. Now� if Anders Green and his big white van, Vantro, would show up, they'd be on their way.

Since October, Feistel and Green had been working to prepare the rally car for its debut-stripping the interior, removing mastic with dry ice, finding and retrieving 15" wheels, mounting the Rallyac and navigation light, installing an odometer sensor, installing stainless steel brake lines, building and installing a light bar, and dismantling the ABS. Of course, none of this would been possible without the wiring, soldering, welding and hammering of crew-chief, Jeff Denton, and co-driver, Eric Adams.

Bbrrrringggg! The phone rang. "What? We're not leaving on time? Good news!? The skid-plate is here?! Great!" After two long weeks of waiting, the skid-plate for the 1995 Subaru Impreza turned new rally car had arrived.

At 5p.m. the skid-plate work began in earnest. By 7p.m. it looked promising and by 7:30p.m. it was installed and ready to rally! Feistel and Green hurried to fetch Vantro only to discover the tow-hitch had gone missing. Drat! A quick trip to the hardware store solved that slight mishap and by 9p.m. LinaRacing was on its way to New Jersey.

Fortunately for all involved, the tow through Virginia was much less exciting than the last. There was no in-Vantro mechanic work or on-the-side-of-the-road fuel-pump changing!

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear. A brisk wind bode well for the anticipated dust on the rally trail. LinaRacing arrived at the Whiting, NJ firehouse a bit early. Green met up with a few old friends, Jim Mirrielees, Diane Houseal and Ed Brennan. The parking lot was filled with an amazing number of Subaru's, a couple Honda's, a Saab, an Audi and a truck or two. A total of forty-seven cars were entering this renowned rally! Pine Barrens Express is a brisk TSD (time-speed-distance) Road Rally organized annually for the past twenty years. Most of the roads are sand trails through the pine barrens and cranberry bogs. Another added pleasure, for many, is that PBX runs tulip route instructions. It was scheduled to be 150 miles of pure off-road fun!

Feistel queued up in headquarters to register and sign-in, discovering on the way that LinaRacing had a sweet starting at number two on the road! The tulips looked intimidating and this was Feistel's first tulip event. She felt a bit nervous until Jim M. and Green gave a few tips for reading the route instructions. Then, suddenly, it was key time. Green and Feistel belted in and prepared to run the odometer leg. It went off without a hitch. Green and Feistel headed out at key time, ready for a great rally. Of course, in fine LinaRacing style, Feistel called the first turn incorrectly. "Square right. I mean, square left!" Then, flustered, she called the next turn incorrectly. Augh! Then� Well, you see the point. After a short off-course excursion, Feistel managed to get her stress levels lowered and Green managed to get the Subaru back on course!

The dinner break flew by and soon Green and Feistel, still early on the course, were starting the second section of the rally. Key time and they're off! "Square left" and it was� so Green took the corner beautifully. Soon they were bobbing up and down on "yumps" of pine and sand. "Whew! Thank goodness that's over. BRAKE!" Dead straight ahead was a water hole appearing to be 3 foot deep. "Okay� there's a detour around it." Then came another and another and� well, more water holes than either Green or Feistel could count! A 4.62 tulip later, it was an easy left past a few side paths and straight past the "Y." Then, after 3.82 tulip, the highway. "WAIT!! Where is the highway?!" Green and Feistel double back, reevaluate the tulips, take a new path, double back again, reevaluate the tulips and conclude they are lost. Green says grimly, "I just want to get back to civilization," and secretly Feistel is praying they're not lost forever in the pine trees.

Green's great driving skill put them past the water holes and yumps quickly but not quick enough to make up the fifty minutes of late time. They returned to start of the stage, zeroed the odometer and set off again. This time they discovered a square left seven-hundredths of a mile before the wrong turn they took last time. WHEW! A big sigh of relief was breathed to be back on the road. Unknown to either one, this was not going to be the last of getting lost that night!

Indeed, it seemed that every other turn put the Subaru off course. But Green and Feistel weren't the only ones. They kept meeting a white Honda and a Chevy Blazer at odd intersections. The windows would roll down, the navies and drivers would confer and everyone would take a different route only to meet up five minutes later! It was unbelievable. Green was apparently used to this kind of shenanigans in TSDs but Feistel emphatically announced, "I've never loved and hated rally so much at the same time. It's great but it's� ugh� it's driving me crazy!" Finally the last checkpoint was seen and the tired, dirty Subaru made its way back to the firehouse. What a welcome sight to see other tired but happy faces, snacks and sodas. Everyone sat around recapping his or her evening's escapades and horror stories. Soon, it was 11:30p.m. Final scores still weren't posted! So, Green and Feistel left in search of a hotel before they turned into pumpkins. Half a beer later, both were hitting the hay, looking forward to a good night's sleep.

The next day was a long haul home. Feistel noted that her first off-road, gravel event definitely had hangover effects. She felt like coming off the first day of kickboxing class! Green agreed that bouncing around in the car put some aches on him, too. After a much needed uneventful drive, LinaRacing reached North Carolina.

It was a great rally. PBX was a fabulous learning experience for new co-driver, Amy Feistel. Anders Green showed excellent driving skills. It was a good time with some old friends. But the best part about rally is when rally is over. Aaahhh� home sweet home!