Podium Finish in Tennessee for the Widget Rally Team
Rally Tennessee A Success for the Team
Linden, TN. Brian Scott (driver, Phoenix, AZ) and John Dillon (navigator, Thousand Oaks, CA) made the long trip to Linden a worthwhile journey, finishing on the podium at Rally Tennessee over Labor Day Weekend (2-3 Sep 2006). It was their second time racing on the country roads of Perry County but their first in the Techsport Racing Subaru WRX STi. In addition to finishing third in the national championship race (part of the U.S. Rally Championship series), they finished second in both regional rallies, behind the Techsport Racing team car of Danny O'Brien and Dominic Jozwiak.
"Our primary goal was to finish this rally," reported Scott. "We had to miss the last event [Olympus Rally, Olympia, WA] and didn't finish at Rim [Rim of the World Rally, Lancaster, CA], so it was crucial for us to complete this one in order to keep us in the hunt for the national championship."
He added, "These are the most intense roads I've ever been on. It's a total test of reaction times and a total test of the codriver's ability to stay on course. If you miss a call, your rally is done. There are plenty of trees and gotchas over the crests to catch you out if you make a mistake. You've got to have total concentration at those speeds."
For Rally Tennessee, The racing surface is paved, highly unusual for American rallies. Perfect "chamber of commerce" weather welcomed the competitors and volunteers to this little community west of Nashville.
Brian praised the event, saying "These are some of the best roads we've ever seen. There are a limited number of tarmac rallies in the US, but these sure seemed awesome to us." The team finished fifth earlier in the season on the paved roads of Sullivan County at Rally New York. Their only other tarmac rally was Rally Tennessee 2005 when they raced a Ford Focus in the Modified 2WD class. They were leading the class when their transmission siezed up late in the race. (Six weeks ago they won the Treeline Rally overall in California in the same Focus.)
"Despite our tranny failure, we really enjoyed ourselves here last year," Dillon said. "The people here are so friendly and welcoming. It was exciting to have an event in a small town like Linden in Perry County. Even the policemen and state troopers waved to us on the transit stages, and for us to see so many people at the spectator points was wonderful."
Their success was helped by their crew chief, Andy Brown of Techsport Racing, who has plenty of track racing experience. Brian continued: "Andy, Doug [Chernis] and Nick [Mahalak] did a phenomenal job this weekend. Our tire wear was perfect, showing they'd nailed the setup on the head. It was all great. Because Andy made the right call about setup, it allowed us to be quick right out of the box. Our stage times were competitive from the very beginning. We even recorded one 'fastest stage time' on the second running of the Tree Farm stage, tied with team mates Danny and Dominic. It's the first time I've logged a fastest stage time in a national rally."
"Yeah, these stages were pretty quick!" agreed his codriver. "We averaged almost 70 miles an hour on several stages, and topped out at 107 MPH more than once. It's pretty amazing when you consider that these are twisty little two-lane roads. It really says something about the grip of the tires, the balance of the car, Andy's setup skills, and Brian's driving ability."
Brian closed with "Prescott is our next USRC rally and we're looking forward to it. This is my home event so I think we can close up the gap in the championship hunt."