ProRally: Lake Superior ProRally Friday Notes, Part II

D&N Bank Lake Superior ProRally 19.) Jim Konkler has dropped by the press room with news of several early retirements. Car 192, the Production GT Eagle Talon of Brian Scott and David Watts rolled about six miles into Stage 1. They got a...

D&N Bank Lake Superior ProRally

19.) Jim Konkler has dropped by the press room with news of several early retirements. Car 192, the Production GT Eagle Talon of Brian Scott and David Watts rolled about six miles into Stage 1. They got a bit sideways on a particularly slick turn and tagged a log with the left-front corner. The car immediately snapped around and hit a bank on the opposite side of the road with the right-rear corner. It then did a slow roll. Witnesses told them that they were three feet clear of the ground at one point. 20.) ClubRally entry 170, the Group 5 Volkswagen Beetle of Reny and Mike Villemure is on the trailer, out with a blown engine. 21.) ClubRally entry 538, the Group 2 Ford Escort of James Buchwitz and C.O. Rudstrom is out of today's action with a blown head gasket. According to Rudstrom, the car was running roughly almost from the start. It got progressively worse until they could huge clouds of smoke trailing them on a stage. They realized the problem and limped along until oil pressure fell off. They got oil from some fellow competitors and limped on back to Houghton. They have the parts to fix the car and will attempt to run tomorrow's ClubRally. 22.) Jim Warren and Chuck Binder have retired their Open Class Audi quattro following what they described as a freak tie-rod failure two miles into Stage 1. 23.) Just as we began writing up Tim Cline's informative report about the incident that put them out of the rally, Noel Lawler and Charlie Bradley walked into the press room. Bradley has a big bandage, 26 stitches and a fair amount of swelling under his chin, as well as some body bruises. Lawler has a sore neck and some bruises from the crash. Otherwise, they are okay. The rally had been going well through the first four stages, and they had about 30-60 seconds on the competition. Following the finish of Stage 5 the road suddenly became exceptionally slick. Nothing Lawler did to slow down for an upcoming curve did any good. They went pretty much straight off and hit a tree. There was a brief fire, but it was of no consequence. Somehow -- he isn't sure when or how -- Bradley received a big gash on his chin. He wasn't even aware of it at first. When Paul Choiniere came along he stopped and took Bradley on to receive medical assistance. 24.) Lawler wasn't the only frontrunner caught out by the sudden slickness. Henry Joy went off the same way and slid up to within inches of Lawler and Bradley's crunched Tiburon. 25.) What may come to be known as Noel's Corner has bitten another fast team. Gail Truess and Pattie Hughes crashed heavily following the finish of Stage 5. Approaching the finish control, they said that they could see the warning triangles ahead and immediately began slowing down. However, they went off the road trying to avoid another car and hit a tree. They are okay but their rented Mazda 323 GTX is pretty well crunched. 26.) The one bright point to the evening for Truess is that she apparently has won the PGT driver's championship, despite the crash. She needed only to start the event to clinch the title. Unfortunately for Hughes, the accident eliminated her from the co-driver's championship race. 27.) Stage 5 was halted due to the crashes, and remaining cars transited the stage. There is no word yet on how scoring will treat this situation. 28.) At the service following Stage 5, Tim Cline reports that John Buffum had one flat earlier in the event, and that the car showed some damage to the right-front quarter. He was not able to get a reason for the damage. 29.) Jeff Burmeister reports that Buffum says the roads are becoming very, very slippery, but that visibility is becoming the real issue. (It is snowing heavily in the area where tonight's stages are being run.) Buffum told Burmeister that although Paul Choiniere had switched to snow tires, he was going to stay on gravel tires. However, just before their time in service was up, Buffum made a mad dash to switch to snows. 30.) Choiniere said that his car was "running great," and echoed Buffum's sentiments about conditions. "Tires are not the factor for us. Visibility is the real factor." 31.) Henry Joy also commented on the roads being very slippery, and added that the ruts make it hard to keep the car under control in places. The weather doesn't seem to bother him a bit, though. "I love the weather," he said, "this is something you come to expect." 32.) Steve Gingras says that he is driving conservatively and aiming for a finish. On Stage 5, he says that he let the car behind him go by, so that he could use the other driver's brake lights as cues to conditions ahead, hoping to pick up some time that way. At the service, his crew was fitting fog lights to deal with the snowy conditions. 33.) Team Daewoo is having serious electrical problems. The Peter Malaszuk/Darek Szerejko Production Class Nubira is suffering a recurrence of something that plagued them at Prescott three weeks ago. Whenever revs fall off to idle the engine stalls and won't restart for two or three minutes. They have replaced the engine computer in hopes that will cure the problem, which already has cost them a lot of road penalties. 34.) Eric Burmeister and Mark Buskirk had a bit of excitement on Stage 4. Burmeister got their Group 2 Volkswagen Golf GTi way up on two wheels and almost rolled. Somehow, they slid out and saved it; but the car now has some ProRally style Darlington stripes from brushing along something. 35.) Group 2 points leader Bryan Hourt and Pete Cardimen (Honda Civic) have had their share of excitement this evening, but most of their troubles came before the start. They damaged a CV joint on yesterday's press stage, and discovered that they did not have the correct replacement with them, due to a recent drivetrain change. So teammate Jay Kowalik went to Honda's largest US parts warehouse, in Troy, Ohio, and got what was needed. He then got on a plane and flew up here. When he arrived, the team discovered that the box did not have everything they needed in it, despite the picture showing a complete assembly. None of the area parts stores had the missing pieces. However, they borrowed a similar -– but slightly larger -- part from Jim Anderson's Prelude. So far, it seems to be working fine. 36.) Following Stage 1, 1999 Production champions Karl Scheible and Gail McGuire lost the odometer in their rented Mitsubishi Evo V. So McGuire, who probably has years more navigating experience than anyone else here, is resorting to a lot of looking out the windows and TSD-type time-based calculations to keep them on he road. 37.) Brian Pepp and Jerry Stang are enjoying themselves, but lost the alternator in their PGT Eagle Talon at the end of Stage 5. They followed another competitor to the service area. While they were handing in their time card the engine died. They pushed the car from there to their service point. 38.) Stage 7 has been cancelled due to time and worker considerations. In addition to getting the rally back on schedule, this also prevents keeping workers out in the miserable conditions longer than reasonable. 39.) Karl Scheible and Gail McGuire are having a ball in the Evo V, despite having no odometer and making a poor tire choice. McGuire said that more than once they commented on the fact that in their Production Class car they'd still be "way back there," instead of being way up front as they are in the Evo. 40.) When asked if they would be in an Evo next year, Scheible said that he still is hoping to do something with Volkswagen. He then added that he could not do an Evo next season without an infusion of OPM –- Other People's Money. (In case anyone wondered, they do have rental insurance on the Evo.) 41.) Jeff Burmeister has nominated ClubRallyists J.B. Niday and J.B. Lewis (Volkswagen Golf GTi) for his new Most Unusual Damage to the Car Award. They broke a right-side control arm and got the car way up on two wheels. Somehow, they tagged a tree while bicycling and still came back down without any visible body or wheel-and-tire damage. Due to a lack of parts, they may not be able to run tomorrow's Club event. 42.) Mary Jo Bender called in some interesting tidbits about Chris Czyzio and Eric Carlson (PGT Mitsubishi Eclipse). They have 10 consecutive finishes in this event, under both the Press on Regardless and Lake Superior ProRally names. That may be more than anyone else. They also have 15 consecutive finishes in national-level events. That, too, could be the best of any active drivers. 43.) Tim Winker, who is here shooting video for the Speedvision show, found a copy of the February 1974 issue of Popular Mechanics in a shop down the street yesterday. In it was an interesting shot of Walter Boyce and Doug Wood en route to winning this event in 1974 in a 1600-cc Toyota Corolla. Second went to a Volvo 142S. A Datsun 240Z was third. The event was 1700 miles long that year. 44.) It's nearly 6:00 a.m. The snow has stopped, the wind has died down to a "modest" 35 knots most of the time and it's a chilly 36 degrees. The Weather Channel says that Saturday will be about the same as Friday. We'll be back in operation when the cars head out for Parc Expose in Calumet. Until then, good night.

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Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Eric Burmeister , Jim Anderson