Standing at spectator points during a rally, you'll find conversations centered on two things -- cars and weather. Spectator Point D for Stage 13 of the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in Missouri February 22-23 was typical. While waiting for the first car to come by, I heard and participated in discussions about:
- An unsolvable problem with a luxury SUV's V-8 engine
- The year the snow fell so hard in a flash storm that stages were canceled due to limited visibility
- The duct-tape car -- an older Subaru that was decorated with duct tape of many colors: not talking so much about the car, but about the concept of entering the rally with it; where do you suppose they thought up that idea?!
- The Ken Block stone, which pelted the storyteller in a previous Rally in the 100 Acre Wood event -- the storyteller wanted to take it home and put it in a shadow box marked "Hoonigan" along with a cellphone that played a continuous-loop video of the car going through the corner and spewing stones. However, he couldn't determine which of the rocks at his feet had hit him. (You run into insightful ideas such as this all the time at a rally. And this one did not allow alcohol.)
- The word hoonigan started a conversation about hoonigan duct tape (see above), duct-tape wallets, yellow caution tape emblazoned with hoonigan in a stylized font, and so on
- How the stage will start soon (it was behind schedule) -- there must have been a problem in an earlier stage
- Who was left in the rally, and who had dropped out due to accidents or mechanical failure
- The hole at the midpoint of the corner where we were -- triangular, and deep and wide enough to swallow any of the vehicles in the rally; speculation ranged on what to do about the hole:
-- Fill it in with a small car
-- Use a large car as a bridge
-- Jump it
- Pictures taken at stages earlier in the rally -- "Did you see this car?" -- which led to even more animated conversation about the mid-1960s Saab with its two-cycle engine that had entered the rally
- The person next to me having a Saab of the same vintage; what are the odds?
- Being patient ("The cars will be by soon ...")
- How Ken Block's dominance at this event had been broken
- Dinner -- "Do we have enough time to go to Potosi for some Mexican food and come back for the next spectator point?"
It was the Saab that kept most of the spectators at Spectator Point D until all other entries (including leader Subaru Rally Team USA David Higgins/Craig Drew) had passed. The crowd stayed and cheered not because of the brand or the driver, but with respect and curiosity because of the car's history, age, and unique properties. It was enlightening to see how much state-of-the-art rally cars have changed over 50 years.
Read more about the overall win by Subaru Rally Team USA here in a report that includes an excellent video about the rally.
Find even more at subaru.com/rally.
View a gallery of more than 20 other Subaru rally cars from the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood here.
-- Ric Hawthorne