2012 Winter Challenge Rally Summary

Last weekend I took part in the 2012 Winter Challenge Rally that is based in Barre, Vermont.  For this rally I was the navigator for Hal Denham in his VW Passat wagon.  We were very late in getting an entry in due to some miscommunications with other potential entrants, so at the last minute we decided to run this event together in the Stock Class, which meant no additional navigational equipment other than the standard odometer that came with the car and a basic four-function electronic calculator.

Hal’s VW Passat is a Stealth Rally Car

The Winter Challenge is the last event in the WINTR Series and is a well known brisk winter rally.  The rallymaster for this event was John Buffum, the legendary, multi-time United States of America rally champion.

Dave Guertin Has Entered His BMW in Three WINTR Series Events

Hal doesn’t live too far from me, but I had never been to his house before.  What should have been a very easy trip was made slightly more difficult because of a 10-year old GPS spelling error that on Hal’s street name meant that if GPS users don’t make the same spelling mistake, then the street name will not be recognized!

We got Hal’s VW Passat set up for the rally as Hal had built a mounting platform for my Stevens Rally Reader.  The VW Passat has several additional “cigarette lighter” outlets in the trunk area, so I had fabricated extension cords to allow both the Stevens Rally Reader and my Alfa Club 2000 rally clock to powered from those additional outlets.  As an aside, I noticed at the rally that a few teams use a rally reader device, almost all of which were home-built units.  My rally reader is an original Stevens Rally Reader, which was probably manufactured about 40 years ago, by the long-defunct Stevens Engineering Company.  I have two other Stevens Engineering rally products – the Stevens Rally Wheel, a circular slide rule for doing time-speed-distance calculations and a Stevens electro-mechanical odometer that I am in the process of restoring.

Chris Reagan Drove His BMW for This Rally Rather Than Sit in a Navigator’s seat.

After we got the car set-up, we drove up to Barre, Vermont.  The weather was excellent and we made good time.  Once we got there we met with other rally competitors and went through the remaining rally registration procedures.

Because we were the last team entered in the Stock Class, we were the last car starting on the road.  This can be a problem in an all night rally, as curious local residents can frequently demand to know what is going on when a number of cars pass by their house on their road.  The teams entered back in the field are the teams that will experience those questioners.  This in fact came to happen, but I’ll leave the details to a discussion over a beer sometime.

A Subaru WRX “Country Squire” Ready for the Winter Challenge Rally

The rally got underway at 6:30PM after darkness fell.  Due to a rather mild winter, the roads were not snow covered for this year’s event.  The roads however were difficult to drive as there were a deal of frozen mud ruts that threw the car around.  This made steering very difficult for Hal.

The rally was divided into three portions:

  1. Trapped section
  2. Map reading section
  3. Brisk tulip section

Hal and I got off to a rather good start in Section 1.  We were the highest placed Stock Class car after the Section 1.  This is not an easy rally and it is not meant to be.  The other times that I have competed in this rally, I had competed in the Equipped Class where full-on rally computers are allowed.  Running this rally in the Stock Class, is much more difficult than running other rallies in the Stock Class.

The second portion of the rally involves map reading and reasonably brisk speeds.  This section proved our undoing.  The maps with the route shown are handed out shortly before the rally begins.  Because of the late entry in the rally and with my first time at this event in the Stock Class, I had not developed a proper map reading/timing strategy for this section.  I will be better prepared the next time.  Our score in the Second Section moved us well back in the Stock Class.

Adam Broduer’s “Saabaru” That I Competed in the Rallye Des Neige as the Navigator Also Was in the Winter Challenge Rally

 Section 3 began at the P&H Truck Stop at about 3:00AM.  This section has rather straight-forward tulip instructions, but has brisk speeds.  We recovered somewhat in this section as we were third in the Stock Class and the highest placing 2WD car behind the power of the Subaru WRX rally cars.

In the end, Hal and I finished fourth in overall the Stock Class  standings and 10th Overall in the rally considering all of the rally cars.  We were the highest placed 2WD car, so we did not completely embarrass ourselves.  I as noted before, this is a difficult rally.  Section 2 was our undoing.

A Few of the Rally Cars at Dawn

 At the end of the rally there were lots of war stories.  And Hal & I had a great time exchanging stories about the rally.  Again, I leave these stories for sometime over a couple of beers.

After we initially handed in our score sheet, Hal & I decided to go to that world famous “Scottish” restaurant for breakfast.  We then returned to rally headquarters for the final rally results.

This Really Was a “Dirty Impreza”

The rally was won by the great Equipped Class rally team of Ron Johnstonbaugh and Jack von Kaenel.  Second overall and in the Equipped Class was the team of Michael Beliveau/Matt Henry in the “Dirty Impreza”.

The Stock Class was won by the team of Krouse/Carlson, while the team of Yetman/Lamoreaux came in second in class.  Both of these teams had very good scores.

The complete standings for the 2012 Winter Challenge Rally are presented below:

Results of the 2012 Winter Challenge Rally

Overall

In Class

Driver/Navigator

Class

Total

1

1A

Johnstonbaugh/von Kaenel

A

418

2

2A

M. Beliveau/Henry

A

422

3

3A

Regan/S. Beliveau

A

551

4

4A

Brodeur/Brenner

A

600

5

1S

Krouse/Carlson

S

698

6

5A

Murphy/Beckman

A

838

7

2S

Yetman/Lamoreaux

S

839

8

6A

Mazoway/Beyer

A

990

9

3S

Guertin/Guertin

S

1050

10

4S

Denham/McKelvie

S

1309.7

11

5S

Strait/Clark

S

1320

12

6S

Burden/Killam

S

1462.2

13

7S

Praetorius/Roddy

S

1624

14

8S

Anctil/Suprenant

S

1639

15

9S

White/Kulp

S

1640

16

10S

Liddle/Sibya

S

1753

17

11S

Lockwood/Pomerleau

S

1798

18

12S

Neckorcuk/LaQuerre

S

1920

19

13S

Sureau/Dubois

S

2033

20

14S

Hermance/Padelford

S

2067

21

15S

Symancek/Carroll

S

2070

22

16S

Pratt/Coble

S

2143

23

17S

Corey/Jones

S

2150

In summary, the Winter Challenge Rally is great rally that is well named.  It is not easy and it is no place for a “zero hero”.  I would recommend this rally to everyone if you are looking for a real winter challenge.  I hope to take part in this rally next year.  I am proud that I won this rally in 2010 and I want to do it again!

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