Widget Claims Lead in National Championship Top Five Finish for Team at Oregon Trail Rally Hillsboro, OR. A solid fifth place finish at the Oregon Trail Rally on April 25th vaulted the Widget Rally Team into the points lead for the Open class of...
Widget Claims Lead in National Championship
Top Five Finish for Team at Oregon Trail Rally
Hillsboro, OR. A solid fifth place finish at the Oregon Trail Rally on April 25th vaulted the Widget Rally Team into the points lead for the Open class of the Sports Car Club of America's national ProRally championship. Leon Styles of Mission Viejo, CA, driver, and John Dillon of Thousand Oaks, CA, codriver, raced almost 400 miles over the dusty gravel roads of the Oregon Dept of Forestry in a Mitsubishi Evolution prepared by Frank Brown of Rhys Millen Racing. It's the first time the two have ever been atop the leader board in a national championship. They earned regional championships in 2002 and 2003.
"We came to Oregon with the goal of finishing in the top five," noted Styles, "and that's exactly what we did. It was hard to settle into a rhythm at first, but in this sport you can never give up." The team claimed its first ever national stage win as well, ironically for a quarter-mile stage on the Portland International Raceway drag strip, which is about as far from rally racing as any motorsport can be!
On Saturday's first stage, a fire in the cockpit threatened to derail the team's effort. "We smelled smoke, then it began to fill up the cabin," reported Dillon, "I checked the gauges and told Leon everything looked okay, but a fire can sure break your concentration." It turned out that the harness for the in-car cameras had shorted out, burning the wires before finally tripping the circuit breakers.
Even after the fire, handling problems with the car meant Styles couldn't drive with absolute commitment to every corner. "I couldn't seem to get the brake bias adjusted," he said. "No matter what we tried, we couldn't shift the balance towards the back at all. We had a scary moment on Stage 11 when we slipped off camber on a long downhill right hander going way too fast, but I buried my foot in the throttle and somehow managed to barely keep it on the road."
Still, all in all it was a successful weekend. Widget's toughest competition for the season were dealt some tough breaks in Oregon. Both the Dennis Martin/Kim DeMotte and Doug Havir/Scott Putnam teams rolled their cars on the tricky trails, while Seamus Burke/Charlie Bradley blew their head gasket with two stages remaining. With only two weeks until the next national event, the Subaru Rim of the World Rally, they will have to scramble to get their cars ready for the rough fire roads of southern California. "Rim" is home turf for the Widget Rally Team so they'll work hard to put on a great show for the local fans.
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 well above 100 MPH as they snake between trees and along the edges of cliffs in this sport of strength and stamina.
Seven events remain on the 2004 SCCA ProRally calendar. After the Subaru Rim of the World Rally in Lancaster, CA the team heads east to events in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, and Michigan. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is also part of the championship. The Widget's season concludes with the Ramada Express International Rally which takes place in December in and around the Grand Canyon.
About the Team
The Widget Rally Team, that "serious team with a whimsical name," is supported by Worr Games (www.worr.com), manufacturers of tournament-quality paintball guns; Perforce Software (www.perforce.com), makers of high performance software for computer professions; 7-24 AirX (www.7-24airx.com), a domestic and international trucking and air cargo company; the Town House Motel in Lancaster, CA; and Tombstone Paintball Park (www.tombstonepaintball.com). 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. Satellite phones are provided by WCC Global Satellite Communications (www.wcclp.com). The team will stay at the Inn of Lancaster (www.innoflancaster.com) for the Rim of the World rally.