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Old 03-17-2001, 09:21 PM   #1
grimlock
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Smile My Cherokee Trails Story (long)

Hi guys, I just got back from the rally.

I ended up spectating stage 1, working parking patrol and spectating for stage 5, and spectator marshaling stages 8, 10, 12, and 14.

I got to stand within feet of the cars as they flew by at really nasty speeds, but I didn't get to see any real action other than a few cars swinging their ends around on the 90 left junction I worked at stage 12 and getting pelted with gravel.

Evos have an awesome exhaust note. They sound completely different in person. Anti-lag system pops are loud, and the flames shooting out of tailpipes are neat when you're right next to them.

Above and beyond the Evos, the RX7 with the straight pipe was CRAZY loud. We could hear him coming above the sound of cars in front of him, even when they were almost on us.

I talked to Jon Bogert at the podium ceremony, and though he didn't place, he did finish, which is quite an accomplishment in a rally with a more-than-50% attrition rate. I also thought he looked great when driving the course.

European rally fans will watch the rally on their own terms, no matter what. The Polish guys were constantly slipping the spectator lines and running up and down the course, and some of them actually got federal citations for throwing rocks at the passing cars. The Irish guys also ran off down course, but at least they stayed out of the way. I guess it's a good thing they got out of my hair, because I could only understand about every third word out of their mouths.

When the rally came to town, it was quite evident what discriminating U.S. rally fans like to drive. The Impreza population of Polk County, TN increased about 100 times, and Mazda 323 GTXs were swarming like flies as well.

Kelly Subaru from Chattanooga donated Foresters as pre-stage sweep vehicles, and they looked great out on the course. They had some serious drivers, too. Imagine a bone-stock Forester with rally tires, skid plates, and mud flaps sweeping the course in front of the rally cars at about 70% of their speed, and looking good doing it, and you can imagine the kind of positive PR that Subaru's generating. Unfortunately, the 00 sweep car had to retire two stages before the rally finished, due to the brake pads being gone. It fought well, and valiantly.

I'm sure there's other stuff I could mention about the VIPs I talked to, the drivers, etc. but I'm really tired right now. I've got pictures and film to get digitized over the next few days, so I'll post those when they're done.

Ok, if you guys have any questions about my incoherent rambling, fire away.

Ross N.
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Old 03-18-2001, 08:23 AM   #2
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Thumbs down

Apologies to all who went and had fun, but I thought this event sucked from a spectator's viewpoint. I've been to PA, ME, MI, OH events and this was definately the most unfriendly rally to watch. The instructions to get to the specatator areas were horrible, the drawings a joke, the program a mess, and most of the places to watch from were right at the start of the stage where no real speed is taking place. The forest roads are all gated so you can't even try to drive in to the mid-point of a stage to get a good view. If they want to have this as the FIA event they are going to really have to improve the access and quality of the spectator areas.
Charging to park is a bunch of BS too, especially when the parking is nowhere near where you want to be
It's a shame, the Tennessee area where the rally is held is really beautiful, and the paved roads are great
The attrition rate of the Subarus didn't help my mood either
Anyone else have feelings on this subject?
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Old 03-18-2001, 10:44 AM   #3
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I agree with you on the difficulty of spectating. The problem was twofold. One, these were remote gravel roads with very limited access. Two, this year was very important for the rally, and many very important people were watching to see how the event turned out from a safety standpoint.

Therefore, the spectator areas were pretty restricted. The organizers are considering bussing spectators in and out of the stages if the rally gets bigger. This would allow for more and better spectator areas, but I think that the people would still be restricted to the spectator areas for insurance/legal reasons.

I, personally, am glad the event was as safe as it was. If we want a WRC event here, it's going to have to remain safe. The first death of a spectator watching a high-visibility rally in the US is going to be the beginning of the end of spectating them. There are just too many lawyers out there.

Ross N.
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Old 03-18-2001, 02:00 PM   #4
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as a first timer, I thought it rocked! We saw the podium start on Day 1, then SS1 from spectator, and SS5 from the middle of nowhere. I was up at turn 20 (about 30-40 minute hike or so), and some of the other guys were back at 13.

Day 2, we got out to service, then I can't recall what stage we hit, but I was set up 2 or 3 turns before the Hyundai went off. If I'm not mistaken, Porter was set up on the indside of that turn? I saw the pic of the drift that sent it into the woods. We heard a loud "crunch", then the engine pegged, and then nothing. We thought they went off, then backed out and went, but that wasn't quite the case. Long right hander (3 or 4?), with a valley on the outside. He drifted too late, and down he went. The car was pretty toasted.

Day 3, we got out to lunch service, then caught the last stage. Some of us were up on the start, and some at the last turn. At service, we got some great footage (thanks Nate!!). We've got a great interview with Jon.

All in all, it was a blast! I highly reccomend catching the next one if you can! If that's bad spectating, then I can't wait to catch the good ones!

I'll have the pics up in a few weeks. Gonna send off the 16 rolls.
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Old 03-18-2001, 04:19 PM   #5
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Thumbs up

I was down servicing for car 137 MGB/GT Phil & Dallas Smith. I went out spectating also. The spectator routes were bad, but you need to plan ahead if you want to spectate any rally. It's not like racing on a track where the cars come to you. You have to find them. I know it's a bit of work but it's very rewarding. I think one of the fun parts of spectating is finding your way & looking over maps for the best spots. You get to drive on some neat roads. I think all involved did a good job. Spectators are a low priority. The spectators I saw were well behaved & followed marshals instructions. I hope the organizers people get a good report from the FIA observers. All the crews I talked to seamed to be happy with the rally. It sure would be something to see a real WRC rally.
That's just my 2 pence. See you at STPR.

Chuck
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Old 03-18-2001, 05:24 PM   #6
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Yes, Porter was watching when Noel Lawler went off. He helped them out of the car and got Noel's junked wing in return for his help!

Ross N.
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Old 03-18-2001, 07:38 PM   #7
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Any comments, good or bad about the rally should be directed to Kendall Russell. I was told that she wanted comments, good or bad.

I had difficulty getting to the one stage I was able to get to as well, and that was with the route book!

Organizationally, the rally had problems. Remember though, this was the first year. The event last year was only a Club Rally. This was not only a ProRally, but run by FIA rules, which are very different.

I'd imagine that it's going to take a few years before this rally gets all the bugs worked out.
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Old 03-19-2001, 06:45 AM   #8
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FYI, here are some ProRally spectating tips:

1) Make note of the official spectator areas and avoid them.
2) Buy an Atlas/Gazetteer for the state, which will have maps of all the forest roads in high detail.
3) Figure out what roads the stages use from the spectator guide or from a competitor.
4) Find a side road that is NOT an official spectator area and go there OR go to the beginning or end (better) of the stage.
5) Get there at lease 30 min before the first car arrives.
6) Walk into the stage until you find a nice corner.

No marshals, no crowds, easier parking. The Gazetteer is also a great source of fun forest roads that aren't used by the rally, in case you need to burn off some testosterone after the stage is over.
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Old 03-19-2001, 02:24 PM   #9
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Well, here's my take on the rally. What a blast! Sure, it was pretty difficult to get to some of the stage areas but the effort made it all worth it. The number of I-clubbers there was impressive as well, we even got interviewed by a reporter from RallyXS magazine. Seeing everybody from the board was one of the highlights of the trip for me, it's always fun to place names with faces.

The rally action was at full tilt, some of the drivers were pushing way over the limit of the cars. I guess that's why they had over a 50% attrition rate. There were several amazing crashes, I think I was there for the most spectacular one though. Yes, I was there when Noel Lawler flipped off the course and smashed up his Hyundai. I have the wing to prove it! The other crazy thing I got to see was the codriver of one of the white Evos (can't remember the team) hanging out of the trunk trying to balance the car out after they smashed up the front left of the car. They were actually drifting through the corners with the codriver hanging on to the rear strut tower bar!

All rally action aside, the drives up and down TN 30 were almost worth the trip there! A big group of Imprezas and my lowly Saab all screaming up Rt. 30 had to be an unbelievable sight. We were doing 65-70 in 25mph indicated curves. What a blast! I'm glad I was able to keep up to watch 10th Warrior drifting through a couple of the corners, it was awesome. All you safety freaks who are about to chime in and reprimand us, please don't. Yes, we know better. Yes, we'd do it again.

Crashing the awards banquet was kind of fun too. We hung out with Paul Eklund for awhile, he's a fun guy.

Thanks everybody for making the trip all that it could be!

Here are my pics!

http://jporterwrx.50megs.com/rally/cherokee.html

-Porter

[This message has been edited by Porter (edited March 19, 2001).]
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Old 03-19-2001, 09:03 PM   #10
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first, the rally was incredible.
second, the spectator maps were crappy.
third, jon is right. the only way to do it is to hike into the course. this i did several times. it was nice being out in the gorgous woods with a couple of really cool people waiting for really cool cars to spray you with dirt (esp. that RX-7). i also want to clarify about the citations, since grimlock is incorrect about a few things. first, it was the polish guys (or imports, as the rally officals said over the radio) who told the rally officals that there were others throwing rocks. the citations came from this b*tch ranger with a **** shoved deep inside here a$$. when we were walking out of stage 5 after the sweeper had gone by, when we were 20m from the gate, the ranger came up to us and told us that the road was closed and we were not allowed on it. so we started walking on the shoulder, but that wasn't good enough for her. she wasn't satisfied until we walked a good 30' off the road through very thick brambles. some of the polish guys couldn't make it any further on the side of the road they had gone on so they hopped back out for the last few feet. they were given $50 fines for this. we had to talk the ranger out of not baning them from the park. the SCCA apparently has stepped in and taken care of it, however.
also, the foreseters did not have rally tires. they were supposed to but the michelins were 15" and they had 16" rims.

and yes, it was cool to see the co-driver of the EVO hanging out the trunk. almost as cool as it was to pass an EVO IV on the highway and yes, TN 30 was fun and no, i'm not surprised porter could keep up. i fear him in the WRX also, the dirt roads to the stages were great. i won the mini i-club rally
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Old 03-19-2001, 09:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
also, the dirt roads to the stages were great. i won the mini i-club rally
That, you did sir.... especially on that last day, en route to SS13, on the gravel. I'd be wrapping the outside corner just in time to see a glint of you 2 corners up!
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Old 03-20-2001, 07:25 AM   #12
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Hmm, looks like my information source has been compromised. Well, that stuff was all what I heard from someone else. Thanks, 10th Warrior.
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Old 03-20-2001, 08:02 AM   #13
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Well grimlock, thats what happens when you get stuff second hand

Actually, that beeyotch giving us a ticket worked out fantastic. We made some heavy contacts, Vice President for R & D for Subaru, the Heads of the SCCA on site, and some heads of the local SCCA in Chicago. The head guy for the SCCA was either going to take care of the citations, or pay them for us.

That particular ranger had a bug stuck up her rump, she didn't want ANY of us there.

The spectating sucked mostly. We tried going off road at some points, and were told we had to get lost. We still made some good out of the way stages, but nothing compared to the amount we saw in MI. Also being in a National Forest didn't help our cause. Hopefully they will get this situation taken care of.

I can't believe they were going to ban us from ALL of the national forests

This is all I have to say to that beeyotch
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Old 03-20-2001, 08:28 AM   #14
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I must add to Jon Bogert's list:

7) Go to the rally HQ and "borrow" all of their maps and start times so you can photocopy them for all of your friends. (we returned them of course).....

If we hadn't had those maps we NEVER would have found any of the stages!

-Nate
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Old 03-20-2001, 09:51 AM   #15
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very true, nate. if you hadn't "aquired" those maps we all would have been SOL. the $5 packet was pretty worthless. i know we weren't really supposed to hike onto the course, but only that one ranger got bent out of shape, and that was only when we were coming back, not when she saw us going out or sitting on course
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Old 03-20-2001, 09:55 AM   #16
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By the way, the National Forest Service map of the Cherokee National Forest, Southern Region is a goldmine of information if you want to drive those roads. It cost $4 at the Whitewater Center and was able to get me everywhere I needed to go.

Ross N.
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Old 03-20-2001, 01:58 PM   #17
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all challengers are welcome it was just some of us driving to the stages. i'm actually working on a rally-x here in stl for the fall, considering that the closest rally event is C.T. it sucks. the midwest is the antithesis of rally. i know there used to be the 100 acre woods pro rally in southern MO, but these days there ain't nuttin'
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Old 03-20-2001, 03:21 PM   #18
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Smile

Just a little update for Bogert and the rest...
Well, I'm sure the rally looked better from inside a rally car.
We bought the map at the ranger station. Without it, we would have been dead in the water. The booklet they sold was useless. The Gazeteer is okay but doesn't name a lot of the roads and everything is printed so darn small it's hard to read. The biggest problem with Cherokee was all the damn gates
They aren't all marked on the map and you could drive miles only to find your passage blocked.
You and I are both spoiled by STPR, Jon.
I'm really, really glad a lot of you had fun. Especially those that managed to avoid the spectator areas. Personally, I won't be in any hurry to go back to TN to this event. Like I said, I've got it too easy up here with STPR. When you can see 10 out of 14 stages you get a little lazy...
Anyone know how to contact the organizers via email to voice calm, constructive criticism?
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Old 03-20-2001, 03:33 PM   #19
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NotAnRS, I'm not sure your complaints will get anywhere. The organizers care much more about overall safety than your viewing pleasure. Traditionally, organizers turned a blind eye to walk-ins, since they couldn't do anything about it. I guess the Forest Service actually had the resources to REALLY control access for a change.

IMO, if you sign your rights away with a waiver, you should be allowed to go stand anywhere you want. Unfortunately, that's not how America works and Kendall knows darn well if you get run over spectating she'll be in court for the rest of her life trying to save her house from your Mom.

If you agree with my premise that you should NEVER go to a spectator area, it's pure guerilla warfare--get out there before anyone is there to stop you.
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Old 03-21-2001, 12:31 AM   #20
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I thought I'd chime in.

This being my first time at any form of Rally, I thought it was spectacular. I was working several of the areas with Grimlock, but managed to get out and view some areas of the race off the beaten path, and I totally agree with Jon, getting away from the official spectator areas can be alot of fun!!

I need to scan my pictures, but I have a great one of Tuthill with his EVO sideways going really fast through a sweeping left. It's great! I would never have seen that at any of the spectator areas I saw.

Yes, the directions sucked, but we found everything and had a good time.

By the way, Skidplatez is officially insane on mountain roads. We went through some of the stages (12, 14) after they were clear and tore it up! After this weekend I'm pretty sure I want to grow up to be a Rally driver.

I can get a WRX Wagon for driving and use my old car for rallying! Hmmm, anyone know where I can get a roll-cage for a 4dr Neon?

-Jeff H

[This message has been edited by monkeyboi (edited March 20, 2001).]
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Old 03-21-2001, 12:45 AM   #21
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I guess #8 for the "how to watch a rally" is "borrow" credentials or get an orange vest and walk to any place you dam well please! That is how Monkeyboi and I got out in the middle of no where and watched this wicked left sweeper!

Hey 10th Warrior I want a rematch in this I-club rally business! Maybe I'll se you at a RallyCross?
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Old 03-22-2001, 12:16 AM   #22
10th Warrior
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that was our startegy, jon. sure we had to leapfrog stages, but it was worth it to get to an awesome corner without a bunch of people standing around.

still, though, i'll have to try the view from inside the car one of these days
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