As the saying goes: "That's rally!..." Rocky Mountain Rally turned out to be extremely rocky, in several meanings of the word.
I have been with DirtFish for several years now, and the last 3 of those as an instructor. Ironically, my background was in tarmac based racing; autocross, gokarts, and a few track days. Stage rally had always been extremely out of my budget. So when coworker, friend, and all-around badass, Michelle Miller, offered me a co-driving position with her for the Rocky Mountain Rally, I jumped at the opportunity!
(A little on Michelle: She has been professionally co-driving and driving in ARA and RA for the last 4 years. She's a DirtFish Instructor. She heads up DirtFish's motorsports division, and she is a 3 time SCCA Solo National Champion. Go follow her @mmillerracing!)
We left Michelle's house in Preston, WA at 6:00am sharp. It was a 550 mile journey to Invermere, BC where the rally was being held. We blasted through the tedious I-90 drive across the state, only made interesting by random philosophical conversations or rocking out to throwback 80s rock and hip-hop on Sirius XM. Invermere lies at the foothills of the Kootenay National Park of Canada. The majesty and beauty of the landscape grew and grew, along with our excitement the closer we got. However, with this being my first time co-driving in a real rally, my nerves grew exponentially. But like Allstate customers, I was in good hands with Michelle. She is one of the best co-drivers in the business. She could have practically co-driven this rally herself, and I would just be counter ballast in the car. I felt fortunate to have Michelle be the driver at my first rally as a co-driver.
We'd stayed at the Copper Point Resort. A fantastic lodge, much fancier than anything I have ever stayed in. I almost felt bad that we would be making it so dirty with all our rally gear. Copper Point served as the base of operations for the rally, hosting the driver's meetings, rally officials, and awards banquet at the end. I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in that part of the woods.
The rally was being held over that Saturday and Sunday, so Friday was the day for recce. The rally organizers decided to keep the competitors together as a convoy through the various stages. This took the stress out of planning our recce routes. However, it did make it take eons to finish because we had to wait for all competitors to make their pass before we could move on. We started recce at 7am and did not get back to the lodge until 8pm. While I did enjoy the process of nerding out on the road crafting the notes for it, the heat and constant bucking from our truck over the washboards meant our brains were fried. So much so that as we admiring a statue of a big horn sheep in downtown Invermere on our drive back, we got quite a startle when it moved, realizing it was, in fact, a real animal. This was Canada after all. Of course that's normal.
I learned an incredible amount about note writing during recce. Michelle can get extremely detailed with her notes, not just indicating corner severity and direction, but recommended placement on the road, camber, brows vs crests, surface changes, corner modifiers, etc. Some of it might have been overkill for the car we were racing. We recorded the stages so that we could video review the notes that night before racing the next day. She kept joking that her notes were better than her driving.
Race Day! After getting only about 4 hours sleep, race day began at 6am with a hearty breakfast before suiting up for the driver's meeting and heading out to Parc Expose. (Small aside: This was the first time I had ever worn a racing suit and I definitely had a boyhood dream fulfilled moment that morning.)
I've been to many Parc Exposes as a photographer, but this was my first as a Co-Driver. It felt quite odd not having my trusty Canon with me. Regardless, it was a fun time socializing with other competitors, namely Rhianon Gelsomino, Tiffany MacDonald, and Jordan Rock. Rhianon may be one of the biggest names in co-driving, but she is still humble, approachable, and has quite the 'exuberant' vocabulary. It was always fun when kids took an interest in Michelle or our Ford Focus rally car. Their faces would light up when Michelle would let them sit in the driver's seat and pretend to be racing while their parents took several photos. Our Time Out to the first stage approached. I took a couple nausea pills for good measure. We fist bumped and headed out from Parc Expose.
I have to admit, it felt extremely badass to transit on normal city roads in a rally car. You're in a race car on the road! Fans wave and blast horns as you pass them on your way to the stage. We had to wear headsets like airplane pilots in the car to communicate because it was so loud, which just added to the coolness factor.
When we got to the first stage, there is a long line of competitors waiting for their turn in front of us. The wait did nothing to calm my nerves. It may have been early in the morning, but the sun was blazing, cooking us in our race suits inside our metal tin can of a rally car. Already profusely sweating from the heat and my nerves, we strapped on our helmets and HANS devices. (I didn't realize much compression the HANS puts on your body making it feel like gravity just got twice as strong). The time control steward hands back our time card. I make a last minute review of the pacenotes for this stage. With a fist bump from Michelle, I turn my focus to the countdown clock and my watch. Michelle pulls the handbrake back, revving the engine.
"5,...4,...3,...2,...1, Start." Michelle drops the handbrake. Gravel sprays from the spinning wheels. My voice shakes with the vibrations of the car as I begin reading the pacenotes. "Flat left up; 5 right opens right over crest; 50; 4 right tightens 3 late; 40; short 5 right; 40; 4 left opens 5..." and so on. This first section was wide, fast, and flowing. I was glad this was the first section since it was less risky if I made a mistake while trying to come to grips with proper pacenote calling and Michelle's driving style.
I was feeling confident. It felt like my note calling was working well. But then she took a left following the road when I had called a right. There was no fork in the road. Somewhere back in the notes I had gotten off line. My heart sank a little. I didn't want to let Michelle down. She knew we were off notes though and started calling what she saw to help me find my place. Thankfully, there was a lake on the side of the road that we had noted during recce. Just after realizing my mistake, we came upon that lake and I was able to find my place again. Her pace picked back up and away we went.
After a notably rough potholed hairpin, Michelle asked if I felt anything wrong with the front right of the car. Sheepishly I responded that I couldn't feel anything. She didn't appear to bothered by this. We continued the stage at speed. 15 pages of pacenotes later we crossed the finish time control. I was excited and relieved! I felt I had done better than I expected and Michelle seemed pleased. We didn't get much time to enjoy the moment though. On transit to the next stage, apparently the front right had been damaged during the stage as it was making an astonishing noise. Like loose gravel in a washing machine. We pulled over to take a look.
Game over. The front right strut had completely sheared at the top hat. The only thing holding the strut in place was the extended spring in the strut tower and the control arm. We suspected it broke on that rough hairpin. I was astounded we finished the stage at the pace we did with this kind of damage. Michelle's typically chipper appearance had a stern grimace across it. We didn't have the necessary tools to fix it, nor the spare strut to replace it with. We were forced to make the hard choice. Michelle called our service crew to bring the trailer full of parts and tools from service, some 30 kilometers away.
We sat there stranded on the side of the transit road waiting. It was an inexplicably low feeling to watch each competitor drive by on their way to the next stage and see us like that. Like seeing the calvary come over the hill to save us, our crew and trailer crested the road gleeming in the blazing sunlight. Michelle and our crew tech, also named Michelle, immediately got to work getting the broken strut out and getting the spare put in. The only caveat was that the spare was a stock strut. Without the spacer, which was lost when the race strut broke, the stock strut didn't fit properly. We forced to scavenge every bin we could to find any washers and nuts we could to Macgyver together the most janky spacer we could manage. With getting assistance from the crew on transit, we were affectively out of the running for the podium given all the penalties incurred, but we would be allowed to keep racing the rally if we could drive the car back to service under it's own power. After a stressful and rather quiet transit back to service, the real scope of the car's damage became apparent.
We had 45 minutes to assess the damage and fix it before we had to leave service for the next stage in order to continue in the rally. The officials did allow a 20 minute late departure window, however. We were going to use nearly all of that extra time. Rally is one of the few motorsports where competitors help competitors. Sure we all want to win, but equally we all know how tough and torturous a rally can be. So we all want to see each other finish. The team pitted next to us, helmed by Eric Bailey, sprung into action helping the Michelles work on the car. The outlook was bleak. It was discovered that the K-member bolts had come loose, the bolts that hold the front part of the car on to the rest of the subframe. This was likely what caused the strut to be loose and snap off. It was a silverlining though that the strut broke, or else those bolts falling out on stage at speed would have been...less than stellar.
We also found that the engine and transmission mounts were barely hanging together, which explained the thud we heard each time Michelle let off gas. Most of the time was spent getting the suspension fixed. We had no choice but to run the spare stock struts on both sides with thrown together parts-bin spacers. The rest of it we just had to hope it would hold together for us. As a co-driver, pacenotes are not my only duty. I have to look after my driver. Michelle was filthy from wrenching hard on the car. I didn't remember the last time I saw her eat or drink something. So before we suited up to head back out, I had to force her away from the car to get some rest and food. After a hot and hectic service, we loaded up in the car and departed for the afternoon stages. We arrived at the departure time control 19 minutes and 56 seconds late. 4 seconds to spare before being disqualified completely. Only Tom Cruise defusing a bomb in Mission Impossible cuts it closer than that.
The car may have been dragging but we weren't. The weight was lifted from our shoulders. There was a renewed sense of excitement between Michelle and me. We may have been out of podium contention but we were just happy to be back on the move ready to prove what we could still do. We chowed down the last of our lunches as we transited to the afternoon stages. Poor Michelle had forgotten to grab a fork, so she was forced to eat her salad with seasoning from her blackened fingers from working on the car.
When we arrived at the first of the afternoon stages, there were still cars waiting for their turn to start the stage. This gave us some time to figure out our gameplan and do some last minute checks on the car. Our Lego strut spacers were still holding together and the K-member bolts were still there. With the car bodged, we agreed our goal was simply to finish. We didn't want to push the car to it's limit and break down on stage. Michelle told me my new duty was to keep her in line. If I noticed the red mist descending on her driving, I had permission to call her out and calm her down on stage.
Our turn had come. This stage was one of the most technical of the rally. We only had one stage under our belts as a team. My nerves spiked up again. But with a smile and thumbs up from Michelle, I let out a breath and focused. Ready. The lights went green.
The first couple minutes of the stage were marked by deceptive corners, narrow bridges, big crests and car shaking cattle guards. I could feel Michelle's reservation. Not only in the car's ability but in the notes. She didn't fully trust them. Sensing this, I doubled down on making my voice sound strong and confident. I worked harder to sense her speed in comparison with the pacenotes to make sure I was calling the notes when she needed them. This subtle change in my demeanor caused a spike of energy in the car. Her pace quickened. The car felt more alive and confident. (I'm sure the car didn't like this one bit given how broken it already was). This moment was short lived however. I could feel the anger developing. Michelle's driving had gone from confident to aggressive. I don't blame her though. I would have had a hard time controlling my anger too if the car was so broken after so much time, money and effort was spent to get here. We had entered a narrow technical section of the stage. Tree filled ravine on one side and a rocky car crushing side of a mountain on the other. It was barely wide enough for our car to slide. And that's when it happened. Over a sharp crest right hander that led into an immediate sharp downhill left hander, Michelle came in too fast. Because of how a car gets light over a crest, the car slid wider than expected. The left rear tire dropped into the ditch between the road and the rocky mountain side picking up the front right. Luckily the Rally Gods were on our side again. The car regained its footing and Michelle was able to make it through both corners. It was close! I forget what I said to her in that moment; probably something along the lines of "Breathe, let's make it to the end." It was enough to shake the red mist.
After that moment, we fell into a sustainable pace. To our surprise, the road ahead started getting dusty, meaning we were catching someone. My first thought was how are we catching someone in our broken car. Are they broken as well? I kept calling out the notes but at a certain point, it was futile. The road was so dusty we couldn't see more than 10 to 15 yards in front of us. I had pushed the "Push to Pass" button on our RallySafe device. We cautiously keep driving the road hoping to see the other car pulled over to let us by. This process happened 3 times before we eventually got into a clear enough space to see the other car and make a safe pass. We resumed race pace and soon reached the end of the stage.
We came to find out later that despite our broken car and catching another competitor, we had set the 4th fastest time on that stage in our class. I could only attribute Michelle's extensive driving experience and our time as DirtFish instructors to that kind of pace despite the odds. It also proved to us that had the car not let us down on stage 1, we would have been in podium contention. It fueled our resolve.
The next stage started where this one ended. So all the competitors were lined up waiting for the last of us to arrive and for the martials to clear the return stage. The landscape surrouding us was like something from a Bob Ross painting. Happy trees blanketing a mountain valley. Snow still frosted the tips of the mountains. When we got in line, we were greeted by plenty of smiling faces. The rally family, aka our competitors, were so happy to see us back in the car racing along with them. That sort of sentiment feels so unique to rally. This rest break was short lived as the next stage got started.
This is when the problems started again. The car wouldn't start. A brief moment of defeat fell over us. Luckily we were parked on a slight incline. Michelle had the ingenious idea to bump start the car in reverse. The car coughed to life and we made our way to the start. She had to keep the revving the engine to keep the car from dying on us while we waited for our turn, a hard balancing act when on a hill and having to use the brakes as well.
When we got to the end of this stage, smoke was creeping out of our hood and the car smelled of buring oil. It must not have been enough to concern Michelle. We drove out to the remote fuel location to fuel up for the remaining stages. When we arrived, she made it very clear that I was not to touch the car during the fueling. That would be considered an illegal service and we would be disqualified from the rally. This was unreasonably stressful. I had to ask the martial if it was acceptable to open the back hatch to put our helmets in the back of the car. Then I had to stand there at the ready holding a rather large fire extinguisher. Fueling a car shouldn't be this stressful.
Then of course the car wouldn't start again after fueling. We initially tried to bump start it again in reverse down the hill but it didn't work. A few of the martials along with myself had to push the car back up the hill and then get it up to speed enought to bump start it. It took several attempts. In the blazing heat in full race gear, this effort exhausted my stamina. I considered myself mentally and physically fit. However the fatigue from lack of sleep, stress of everything we had been through so far caught up to me in that moment. I put on a smile for Michelle to hide my fatigue and ate some fruit snacks hoping that would kick start my system again.
I was still feeling fatigued, hazy, and nauseous when we got back in line at the next stage. To add to the excitement of it all, clouds of smoke billowed from our engine bay when we arrived. Michelle asked me to grab the fire extinguisher from my foot well, something I never imagined I'd be asked when I first accepted her offer to co-drive. When we got the hood open, it looked like a scene out of Aliens. There was oil and fluid everywhere. It was enough that pools of fluid were starting to form. It looked bad, like this might have been the last stand for the car. Michelle and I couldn't find the source of the leak. She tried smelling and tasting the fluid, but she couldn't determine which type of fluid it was. The oil level according to the dipstick was low, so we put more in thinking it was engine oil. No wonder I was nauseous and hazy. I had been sucking up the burning fumes all through transit. Michelle called her husband, who was back in Washington, trying to figure out what she could do and if she should still run the car. They both decided it couldn't get much worse and chose to run it.
I'll admit I was surprised at their decision and optimism. Outwardly, I tried to front the same level of optimism but inwardly I was worried for the fire hazard. Plus I was still feeling high off the burning oil and fatigued from the heat and stress. The car wouldn't start again, so I had to help bump start the car again. I felt very weak this time around trying to get the car bump started. When I climbed into my seat, Michelle could immediately sense my sentiment. She asked what was wrong. There was no need to hide it. I admitted how weak and nauseous I felt along with my worry about the fire hazard. Her bubbly response was, "Fire? Don't worry about that, we'll out run the fire!" And while that makes no sense and that's not how fire works, it did make me chuckle. She then found a snack in the back and asked a medic for some extra water. All of which did help to make me feel some percent better. I focused my energy back onto the upcoming stage and the countdown clock for us to begin. I was still wavering in this decision to run the car in such a state, but it was either this or give up. There was a tenacity to Michelle that I knew she wasn't going to give up until the car truly couldn't move anymore. I tried to match that and off we went into the stage.
Most of that stage was a blur. We regrouped with the rest of the competitors at the staging area for the final stage of the day. It was getting later in the day, so getting out of the hot car and feeling the cooler fresh air whisk over me helped rejuvenate me. Michelle high-fived me, congratulating me for toughing it out. She told me a story about her first time co-driving where the car she was in had a very similar problem with the oil all over the engine bay. She too had been worried about the fire at the time, but her driver told her the exact same thing about outrunning the fire. I wish she had told me that before we started the stage! But I couldn't help but enjoy the irony of the situation. No wonder she was so calm. It must be a rule for everyone's first rally that they must be tested by the threat of catching on fire.
After having been through so much to get to this point in the rally, I finally felt like I could enjoy this downtime between stages. A couple other co-drivers came over and introduced themselves to me. They thought it was so cool I was co-driving for Michelle. We bonded over stories from the day. None of us were without our own chaotic moments to share and laugh over. We chatted over our other hobbies like mountain biking or which anime we were watching. We may be race car drivers but we can still be nerds! Then the sounds of the engines of the competitors at the front roared to life. It was time to start the final stage. And we weren't out of the woods just yet.
There was a lake of oil underneath our car this time. Eric Bailey and co-driver Jordan Rock once again came to assist. Nothing concrete could be determined though. The car would not give up it's secrets on what was exactly causing such a leak. We had no choice but to run the car, it was the final stage of the day. We had to complete it. And to just add more challenge, those MacGyver'd spacers on the front struts were starting to fail. The bolts were all bent in different directions, looking as if one critical smack could sever them. So we had a car that was ready to catch fire, a car with a broken starter motor, and two front struts ready to eject from the car. What could possible go wrong on this final stage?
Against all odds, this stage would be our best stage of the day and my favorite of the rally. After that break, both Michelle and I had our 2nd, 3rd...5th wind. We were firing on all cylinders. We knew the car was holding together about as good as the Millennium Falcon. That didn't matter now. Drive it as fast as we can and reach the end of the stage. That was our goal. Re-energized and re-focused we took to the stage. It was clear that our time racing together was starting to show. There was a synchronicity to my pacenotes and her driving that I hadn't felt until this point. Her confidence in my note calling gave her the ability to drive at the car's maximum while still being able to devote concentration to picking the lines that would best avoid car breaking obstacles. This is especially impressive considering there were sections where we were doing nearly 80mph down a straightaway not 3 feet wider than the car, and she is juking around pothole and large rocks. I thought it best to keep my eyes on my pacenotes during that.
Then silence! The cacophony of spraying gravel, spitting exhaust, and straining engine all died away. It was like those moments in movies where the sound gets quietly muffled as the hero, surrounded by enemies, focuses his energy and realizes the secret to vanquishing the foes. We had found that kind of magic. It almost felt as though my voice was driving the car. The car danced through the crests and turns, responding like an extension of ourselves. It felt amazing! I almost called it out how well synchronized we were. But I thankfully stopped myself short. We both knew we had found it. Nothing needed to be said. Saying anything other than my notes would only break the spell.
A 'Hazard' light on our RallySafe broke us out of this driving trance. This meant a competitor up ahead had crashed. As we approached the crash point, the co-driver had the O.K. sign up and we confirmed it on our RallySafe. With a friendly wave we carried on down the stage. We passed 3 more offs before the end of the stage. I was so surprised by the amount of last minute wrecks. The fatigue of the day must have been setting in for the rest of the competitors. Plus the road was becoming extremely torn up, like a jackhammer and a trench digger were taken to it. There were some ruts so deep our car dragged its skidplate on the ground. Those same ruts grabbed another competitor and flung them off the road into a tree. A watermelon sized rock claimed the steering rack of another. The loose debris flung from all the cars created an ice like surface just off the racing line which took another driver prisoner and rolled him into a ditch. My heart sank for those competitors each time we raced by because I had been in that very position already. But I never had much chance to linger on those thoughts since I still had my duty to keep Michelle on the road.
We flew across the finish line with a commanding presence. The sense of elation was palpable in the car, or that may have just been our stench. We were filthy and wreaked of blended together sweat, oil, and soiled cabbage. Despite all odds, we had completely Day 1 of the rally (minus a couple stages we were forced to skip). Energetic celebratory high fives done with, we transited back to service. Michelle joked that I couldn't have had a better first rally experience. I essentially experienced the tribulations of 3 rallies in 1. She also complimented me on all my hard work and dedication to making it through the day. She would happily recommend me to co-drive for other drivers. That was a huge compliment and endorsement. I allowed myself to feel extremely proud in that moment. The rest of the drive back to service was mostly silent. The day had been so loud, we both appreciated and enjoyed this moment of silence listening to just the whirr of the car's engine and gravel rambling underneath.
When we got back to service, it was already dark. About 9:30pm or so. We had started at 6:00am. No rest for the wicked. We had to get to work trying to fix the car for the next day. Little did we know it was going to turn out to be futile.
Several of the crew from Eric Bailey's pit jumped over to help us with the car. A few tried to find a solution for the broken engine and transmission mounts. Both Michelles were trying to diagnose the leak. And I was doing simple things like organizing the car, checking brakes, fixing a wheel scraper and checking other nuts and bolts. The engine mount had gotten much worse! The engine moved almost 4 inches back and forth when the gas was revved and let off. They couldn't find the bolts to fix or secure it. They ended up crossing their fingers and hoping the metal duct clamps they lassoed around it would hold it together.
In their search for the source of the oil leak it was discovered that the transmission had no fluid in it. None. Zero. Nada. The resevoir was a 2.5 quart and they put back in 2.7 quarts. That explains all the fluid in the engine bay from earlier in the day. Both Michelle and I were shocked! There had been no signs from the transmission all day that something was wrong with it. It shifted great and made no weird noises. The transmission should have blown up on stage. The rally gods had looked after us again. The engine bay was still coated in a thick layer of fluid making it extremely challenging to find where the leak could be coming from. We resorted to hosing it all with brake cleaner and wiping it all down as best we could. A tideous and dirty process. Michelle's hair was so dirty it was standing up on its own like it had been electrified.
Crew tech Michelle eventually found the source of the leak. A small was consistent seepage from the seal between the transmission and the engine. We had no way to fix this at service. We either had to carry a barrel full of transmission fluid with us the next day and constantly refill the resevoir or we had to call it. Given that Michelle's husband had just installed a new LSD along with the transmission, she didn't want to risk completely destroying it. She was forced to call it. All of our shoulders dropped. After all the hard work everyone had put into the car, we had to admit defeat. That's a heavy blow, especially since the damage was something outside of our control. My eyes were heavy with emotion. Typically bubbly Michelle had become solemn and looked to be on the verge of tears. I didn't call attention to it. She was strong and knew we all felt the same. We slowly starting packing up the tools and organizing the pit area. We'd leave the rest to clean up the next morning.
By this time it was nearly midnight. No stores were open in Invermere. We hadn't had dinner yet. Retreating to our hotel room, we scavenged the fridge for whatever we had, which was bacon, eggs, cheese and some broccoli. So we made the best of our defeated night with some breakfast scramble for dinner. Plus since we were racing the next day, we broke out the bottles of gin and helped ourselves to its soothing crispness. At least we got to sleep in the next morning. The silverlinings right?
The next morning we leisurely made our way to our service area. After cleaning up a few more scattered objects from the night before, we drove out to the spectator area for the day's rally stages. This was bittersweet. On the one hand, Invermere has to be the most beautiful place to DNF in, and these stages would be fun to spectate. But on the other, these stages were the ones we were most excited to race since they were a hill climb and descent with some fantastic consecutive hairpin turns.
The spectator area sat just above two of the hairpins. From that vantage point, we could see the entirety of the mountain valley, the town of Invermere, and the river. It felt like David Attenborough should have been narrating this view. Sunblock applied. Facemasks on. Camera ready. Bring on the dust and rally cars!
It was a blast getting to see pros like Antoine L'estage and Brandon Semenuk tear it up the mountain. But equally, we were just as excited to see the lower level folks slide through! Especially since a lot of them, like Eric Bailey and Tiffany Macdonald had been the heroes of our rally helping us fix our car. It was great to see them race and not just fix problems on our car. Now, I didn't technically have media access. But with the reputation Michelle pulls in the community and the fact that I had shot many rallies before, I was able to get myself on the inside of the hairpin turns where the rest of the media were. It definitely provided a chance to get much closer to the cars and helped get some more unique photos!
Spectating over, we headed back to the pits and cleaned up the rest of our area and loaded up the car in the trailer. With still half a day left before the awards banquet, we decided the best use of our time would be to make some Gin and Tonic drinks and lay out by the lodge's pool. The rally race had become an impromptu vacaction. I have to admit it felt great! A little bit of luxury and cooling off after being in the chaos of the day before.
Awards Banquet over, some competitors packed up and left for their long drive home. Others stayed out on the patio to enjoy the beautiful weather and share fun stories. One of the best I remember was about this 4WD Eagle Talon rally car. The owner claimed it had so much power that during a rally many years ago he tried to launch it at the start of a stage and all 4 axles broke simultaneously! The stories kept coming, just like the drinks late into the night.
No trip to Canada would be complete without stopping by Tim Hortons. I had never been to this delectable establishment. The morning of our drive back to Seattle we stopped there for breakfast. It definitely lived up to the hype. While the breakfast sandwich I had was fairly by the numbers, the donuts and coffee I had were straight out of Willy Wonka's factory. Magical. It definitely provided us with a big sugar rush of energy to get our long drive started. And with that we said goodbye to Invermere and hit the road.
The rally didn't go the way we hoped. Not even remotely. But I left Invermere content and happy. It wouldn't be rally without all the chaotic challenges and close calls. This one might have had a few more than I wanted for my first rally experience. But now I can take this experience and knowledge and apply it to the next one. Michelle and I could drive away proud that we gave it our all. Heck, with such a broken car from the start, we were proud that we finished day 1, passed 3 competitors on stage, and set a 4th fastest time in our class. It proves how capable we were as a team. Had the car been working, we could definitely have walked away with some hardware. That's rally! 'Til next time.