Podium Finish for Widget in Colorado
Team Raises nearly $3000 for Katrina Relief
Steamboat Springs, CO. The Widget Rally Team, working with Cascade Autosport, took home a podium finish at the Colorado Cog Rally Sept 16-18, 2005, while racing to raise money for the American Red Cross relief fund for the victims of hurricane Katrina. The team--Lauchlin O'Sullivan, driver (San Francisco, CA), John Dillon, codriver (Thousand Oaks, CA) and Denise McMahon (Lakewood, CA), manager--challenged their fellow competitors to pledge dollars for stages. As a result, nearly $3000 will be sent to the American Red Cross to assist in relief efforts. The team finished third overall, racing a Mitsubishi Evolution VII classified in Group N.
"It's satisfying to see the rally community pitch in and help in times like these," noted McMahon, who organized the fund raiser. "We're passionate about our sport, but we must never forget those people whose lives are disrupted by tragedy."
"Cog" was the first time Widget and Cascade had the opportunity to work together. "Peter [van Bogart, owner of Cascade Autosport] gave us an outstanding car this weekend," praised O'Sullivan. "It proved to be strong and reliable right out of the box. We found excellent attention to detail everywhere we looked."
"I enjoyed working with our crew chief, Mike, and the rest of Peter's team," said Dillon. "They tackled every service item with enthusiasm and professionalism, smiling the whole way. They're a great bunch of guys to have working on the car."
The team attacked the first couple of stages cautiously, getting a feel for the car and the rhythm of the roads. "It took some time to establish the right pacing for the calls," reported the codriver. "The roads had really fast sections, then would suddenly change to narrow, twisty bits, so getting the proper cadence for reading the notes was problematic. Still, we managed to stay in the top five throughout the first day."
At the start of the second day, they felt more confident, despite the difficulties of Stage 10, which lacked any sort of rhythm. They moved up one position when Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom rolled their Subaru. Now in fourth place, O'Sullivan and Dillon hammered hard on the accelerator to try and overtake Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino, while attempting to hold off Todd and Ray Moberly just behind them.
On stage 11, a tight downhill right-left combination nearly cost the Widget Team the rally when they hit a big rock. The impact unsettled the car and almost pitched them over the edge of a steep embankment, but at the last moment the Evo's power clawed their way out of trouble.
The final drama came on stage 15, the next to last stage of the rally, when the car's "dog box" transmission began to go sour. First gear made clunking noises while O'Sullivan could only find second gear about half the time. At the end of the stage they debated whether to quit or continue and risk destroying the gearbox completely. After reviewing the stage notes and seeing that the final five miles had no tight hairpin corners, they decided they could "rally on" safely. Pushing hard, the team lost only two seconds to Block/Gelsomino on the last stage, thus holding onto third place by only 6.2 seconds.
"It's been a year since I raced at the national level," commented O'Sullivan, "so a podium finish is gratifying. We could not have been able to make this event without the help of Perforce Software and Holiday Inn Steamboat Springs. [The Holiday Inn offered substantial discounts to Widget fans.] Further, we owe a huge debt of gratitude for Peter for giving us an outstanding car this weekend."
The two are still working out details for their next race together. Meanwhile, Dillon will codrive for Blake Yoon at the Prescott Rally in October. About the Sport Rallying is the ultimate team motorsport where street-licensed cars are raced at high speed on dirt trails with two people in the car, a driver behind the wheel and a codriver describing every bend in the road. Competitors are not allowed to pre-run the roads so they are racing "blind," navigating from a route book provided just hours prior to the event. Cars can easily reach speeds above 100 MPH as they snake between trees and along the edges of cliffs in this sport of strength and stamina.
About the Team The Widget Rally Team, that "serious team with a whimsical name," is supported by Perforce Software (www.perforce.com), makers of high performance software for computer professionals. Accomodations for the team were provided by Holiday Inn Steamboat Springs. The team insists on brakes by Porterfield Enterprises (www.porterfield-brakes.com) and utilizes the web services of Shults Dot Com (www.shults.com) for its internet needs.