ProRally: Lake Superior Friday Notes

D&N Bank Lake Superior ProRally Round 9 1999 Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship Houghton, Michigan October 22-23, 1999 1.) Good afternoon and welcome to the D&N Bank Lake Superior ProRally, the ninth and final round of the Michelin SCCA ...

D&N Bank Lake Superior ProRally Round 9 1999 Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship Houghton, Michigan October 22-23, 1999

1.) Good afternoon and welcome to the D&N Bank Lake Superior ProRally, the ninth and final round of the Michelin SCCA ProRally series. A big field of 68 cars is set to challenge the rally long known as the oldest, meanest and toughest on the circuit. True to that reputation, Mother Nature is ready and waiting for them -- and she definitely is having a "bad hair" day. 2.) When teams got up this morning they were greeted by gray, sullen skies, driving rain threatening to change to snow, temperatures in the 30s and very strong winds. In fact, at about 2:00 a.m. today the winds were so strong that they were noticeably shaking the upper stories of the headquarters hotel, where the press room is located. 3.) In recent years, the weather for this event has been comparatively mild to downright warm. However, the Weather Channel's forecast makes it sound as though we will have the sort of conditions that old-timers always expected -– and generally got -- from this rally. Temperatures are supposed to be in the 30s, with angry, relentless winds gusting to well over 50 mph, and rain changing over to snow this evening. Accumulations of one or two inches are expected, all south of Houghton -– where virtually everything takes place today. 4.) The "s" word in the forecast has several teams pretty concerned, either because they feel that they don't have the right tires with them or because they feel that their cars will be at a distinct disadvantage in the snowy conditions predicted. 5.) We will be getting reports from several sources in the field today and tomorrow. These include Kevin Ericson, the rally's press director; Jeff Burmeister, who helped us so well at Prescott; and SCCA Rally/Solo marketing manager Kurt Spitzner. 6.) Also out and about and scouting for us is former series media relations rep Dr. Tim Cline, who sort of got the itch to come back and see everyone. He figures that it has been eight or nine years since he's been able to get to a ProRally. It's good to see him back on the scene. 7.) Before we move away from the weather altogether, Kevin Ericson has pointed out that the weather we are experiencing today is very much like the stormy conditions that destroyed the Edmund Fitzgerald. The huge, ill-fated ore boat was the subject of a popular Gordon Lightfoot song. She sank without warning not that far from here -- in sight of another ship, virtually in the blink of an eye -- taking all hands with her. 8.) This year's edition of LSPR will have 18 stages, 10 today and the remainder tomorrow. The total stage miles will be 141.06, and the total event distance will be 441.70 miles. The ceremonial start is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. adjacent to Dee Stadium. Tomorrow's start will be at 10:00 a.m., from the D&N Bank branch in nearby Calumet. The finish will be at the D&N Bank's headquarters, across the river from here in Hancock. 9.) There will be a powerful contingent of Open Class cars headlining the field here this weekend. We have three factory Hyundais and three powerful Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, plus several other fast-runners. 10.) The Hyundais will be driven by newly crowned overall driver and co-driver champions Noel Lawler and Charlie Bradley (Tiburon), Paul Choiniere and Jeff Becker (Tiburon), and John Buffum and Lance Smith (Elantra). The Mitsubishis will be piloted by Garen and Doc Shrader (Evo IV), Henry Joy and Chris Griffin (Evo II), and 1999 Production driver and co-driver champions Karl Scheible and Gail McGuire (Evo V). 11.) There is a navigator change on Jim Anderson's Group 2 Honda Prelude. Regular co-driver Martin Dapot will not be able to compete in this event, due to a sudden illness in the family. Mark Williams will be taking his place. 12.) It will be interesting to see if Williams tweaks Anderson the same way he did John Buffum a couple of months ago. Prior to that event, Williams had navigated for the Mexican national champion in Susquehannock Trail, where he had to give all instructions in Spanish. So, just to have a little fun with Buffum, he gave the first few instructions in Spanish. 13.) The drawing for FIA drivers was held here in the press room and, for the fourth time this year, Noel Lawler will be first-on-the-road. That won't count for much, though, as there isn't a prayer of a chance of any dust. There has been way too much rain. Teammate Paul Choiniere will start second, followed by Henry Joy, who won here in 1995, and then John Buffum. 14.) There has been a bit of drama here the past couple of days, as company executives and team personnel kept waiting for the factory Daewoo Nubira to arrive -- or even be located. Late yesterday afternoon, they finally made cell-phone contact with the transporter, which was in Michigan but several hundred miles away. Just three hours before today's start the Prescott Production Class winner still had not arrived. However, it did pull in shortly after that, and got through registration and tech in time. 15.) In addition to the representatives from Daewoo, we also have Doug Matthews and another representative of Pirelli here observing the event. Pirelli is Noel Lawler's tire supplier. 16.) Lynn Nelson, the Regional Executive of SCCA's Lake Superior Region and chairperson of last year's Rally of the Year-winning Lake Superior ProRally, has sent everyone wishes for a safe and happy event. Obviously with an eye toward the Weather Channel, she wished everyone a "shiveringly good time." 17.) Houghton is home to Michigan Technological University, and the MTU Future Car Team led cars away at the 4:00 p.m. ceremonial start today. This volunteer, non-credit student program is part a presidential initiative aimed at tripling the fuel economy of a typical mid-size car without losing any of the comfort and desirable traits of a normal mid-size vehicle. The MTU car is Dodge Intrepid diesel-electric series hybrid, using a 1.8-liter Peugeot non-direct-injection diesel engine, a large alternator and a modest battery bank. The engine and alternator provide the motive power most of the time, with the battery pack providing a boost for acceleration, hill-climbing, etc. The MTU car was selected to be among 13 finalists this past June, and ultimately finished third in the competition. Testing included both dynamic and static tests, as well as manufacturing feasibility studies. In addition to everything else, the students published an SAE paper on the project. 18.) Although he probably won't be selling many units at this event, Al Kintigh of White Knuckle Rallysports is the newest distributor of Chill Factor cool suits. The units include a water-cooled shirt, cooler unit, pump, mounting tray and hold-down straps. He will have a complete unit installed and available for inspection in car 531, which will be competing in the upcoming ClubRallies in Paris, Texas.

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Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Jeff Becker , Lance Smith , John Buffum , Mark Williams , Jim Anderson
Teams Williams