ProRally: Prescott Forest ProRally Saturday Race Notes

Prescott Forest ProRally Round 8 1999 Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship Prescott, Arizona October 1-38, 1999 1.) Good morning and welcome to the Prescott Forest ProRally, round 8 of the Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship. We have 44...

Prescott Forest ProRally Round 8 1999 Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship Prescott, Arizona October 1-38, 1999

1.) Good morning and welcome to the Prescott Forest ProRally, round 8 of the Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship. We have 44 entries this weekend, 27 for the ProRally and 17 for the companion ClubRally. That's a very good field for this event, due to the long towing distances involved for the East Coast teams. 2.) There are activities scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, in terms of the actual competition, this is one-day event, run on completely Saturday and almost entirely in daylight. 3.) Drivers and crews got an early start today. Parc Expose began at 7:30 a.m. at the nearby Yavapai County Fairgrounds, with the rally's opening stage set to begin at 8:00 a.m. It's a looping 0.57-mile "super stage" to be run right in full view of the grandstand. 4.) When crews emerged from their hotel rooms this morning, they were greeted by a "50-50" weather --- 50 degrees F and 50-percent humidity. You could add a third "50" to that description, too --- 50 miles visibility. The weather is absolutely perfect and it's going to stay that way. The Weather Channel radar is totally blank. There doesn't appear to be a cloud within 500 miles in any direction; and we're set for the kind of weather that brochures from tourist resorts always lie about getting. It's going to be about 80 degrees F, with low humidity and a nice breeze. 5.) Prescott doesn't have to lie about good weather. They get plenty of it. That's why the western campus of Embry Riddle, one of the world's foremost aviation universities, is located here. They don't have to lie about pretty scenery either. This mile-high city is surrounded by lush, green evergreen forests, rugged cliffs and semi-arid desert. Prescott is an Old West town that grew up very gracefully. There are nicely restored old buildings downtown and very pleasant hometown atmosphere. Friday was homecoming for the high school. So Thursday evening they had a parade downtown. It was complete with floats, fire trucks, service vehicles from the utility company, a marching band and, of course, lots of students. (Prescott won the game yesterday, 24-0.) 6.) As interest in the ProRally series grows, there is more and more attention from overseas. There are two representatives here from Prodrive, the English company that prepares Subaru's factory cars for the World Rally Championship. Ed Bentley and Graham Smith are here looking things over, meeting people and just generally getting acquainted with the rapidly growing US performance-rally scene. Their boss, Prodrive head Dave Richards often has been quoted in the European press as strongly supporting the movement to bring an FIA World Rally Championship event here. 7.) Overall points leaders Noel Lawler and Charlie Bradley are going to be very busy for the next couple of weeks. They'll hardly get home from this event before they have to jump on a plane for Ireland, where they'll be running in the Donegal Rally. They have rallied together in Europe extensively in the past and like to get back home for an event or two every year. Like most rallies in the United Kingdom, the Donegal Rally is a "tarmac" (pavement) event. So Lawler will have to switch his driving style back to what he originally learned, to account for the differences from our mainly gravel US events. 8.) Lawler and Bradley can clinch the overall driver and co-driver titles with a good finish here. They just have to bring their factory Hyundai Tiburon home third overall. 9.) Paul Choiniere drew the coveted first-on-the-road starting spot for this event. After he did some early morning testing Friday, the crew spent the better part of the day working under the hood. The work involved the manifold, turbocharger and so on. However, when they started the car this morning ominous wisps of white smoke could be seen curling up through the hood vents. 10.) Shortly after checking into Parc Expose, Choiniere drove the car back out, with team owner and stepfather John Buffum riding along in the navigator seat. His crew chief indicated that they needed to tighten a fitting. A short time after that a representative stated that the car had been withdrawn. 11.) Choiniere's withdrawal sealed the championships for Lawler and Bradley, and moved them to first-on-the road. However, they started at their assigned time of 8:02 a.m., leaving Choiniere's assigned time vacant. With the championship pressure off, Lawler cut loose and really threw the Tiburon around the opening stage, much to the delight of the crowd in the grandstand. 12.) Despite the report that Choiniere had withdrawn, he suddenly showed up at the start line, after a dozen cars had started the opening stage. The car wasn't right, but they wanted at least to start the event for Hyundai. He was counted down and ran the stage, but did not seem to be at full speed. A short time later the car was sitting forlornly in the headquarters hotel with two small pools of oil under it. 13.) Choiniere said that the car actually ran well. However, rather than a leaky oil line, the problem was the turbo itself leaking oil; and he was concerned about a potential fire. He and navigator Jeff Becker were taking the disappointment well, though. They even smiled when it was pointed out that they had beaten Satch Carlson's first rule of rallying. Writer, editor, rally driver and humorist Carlson's tongue-in-cheek philosophy is that if you're going to break the car you should do it before the bars close. Choiniere and Becker now probably will be in store for some good-natured kidding from Carlson for going him one better. Because of today's early start, they had the unique misfortune of breaking before the bars opened. 14.) SoPac ClubRally steward John Dillon is hot on the trail of the Production GT co-driver's championship. This weekend he is navigating for Mark Tabor in Tabor's Mazda 323 GTX. It's Tabor's first ProRally and they are starting last in the Pro field, but Dillon figures that they'll pick off a couple cars ahead of them in the early going. Since Ojibwe, where Lauchlin O'Sullivan drove it, the car has been given more ground clearance and a new skidplate. Dillon is hoping for a better rally here than last year, where the car he was in rolled five minutes into the event and ended his day. 15.) Dillon, who instructed at the ClubRally licensing school last night, says that there are some difficult spots with big dropoffs on the stages up near scenic Jerome. He says that the trick there is to stay away from the edge of the road until you make it through the cuts. Then, he says, you can begin to drive more aggressively. 16.) Mad Mike Halley is here with his Dodge rally truck and has Emily Burton-Weinman navigating. Her parents organized Ojibwe Forests, the previous event on the schedule. Her dad, Bruce Weinman is here crewing for them and describes himself as the "crew geek." So far, he says that he hasn't had to lift a finger. Team sponsor Head Country barbecue sauce has sent a supply of their tasty product for the workers. 17.) According to medical coordinator Don Crews, all of the medical volunteers for this weekend's event are from the Central Yavapai Fire District, of which he is a member. The district has been involved in the event for years, but each year that involvement has grown, as has the support provided by Chief Dave Curtis. One of the interesting innovations making its debut is a rope-rescue unit that can respond to any problems that might develop around the sheer cliffs found on some stages. The district also has provided a 4WD ambulance that could be very handy in this rugged country. 18.) California hotshoe Tony Chavez is reported to have had a flat 3.5 miles into Stage 3. He and navigator Ken Cassidy changed the tire and continued in their Mitsubishi Galant VR4, which is now sporting a shiny new silver paint scheme. 19.) At the first service, which followed Stage 3, Ralph Kodmisdes indicated that the expected battle in Group 5 is in full swing. He says that he and Joe Noyes, and the Ruby's Toyota Supra Turbo, are a mere 0.07 minutes up on Henry and Cindy Krolikowski in their Dodge Shadow. 20.) Production GT points leader Gail Truess and Pattie Hughes are cheery and happy, and say that so far things are going well for them. It's much rougher than expected and it's very difficult seeing over the numerous crests. Gail says that, because of it, "there is a lot of trust going on" in the car. They did add that things opened up a bit on Stage 3. 21.) 'The Girls' may inadvertently have given away one of their speed secrets when field reporter Jeff Burmeister asked them if they had anything to add. Although Truess was munching an apple, they shouted into Burmeister's cell phone (in unison) "We've got Skittles." Years ago Road & Track editor Thos Bryant and art director Richard Baron relied heavily on Snickers bars when they were driving the Nissan-BFGoodrich ProRally media car. Times change. 22.) In addition to navigating with Truess, Pattie Hughes also has been doing some road racing this season. She drove in the Women's Global GT Challenge at Road Atlanta earlier this year, and was scheduled for the San Diego event as well, but it was cancelled. She^Rll be doing the full Pro Spec Racer Ford series next year.

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Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Joe Noyes , Ken Cassidy , Mike Halley , John Buffum , Graham Smith