The 16 car field for the Mt. Hood Rally included many local veterans and some novices eager to take on the 6.14 mile “Road 17” just south of Hood River. I drove the stage in my passenger car and it was amazingly fast and flowing with only a few long sweepers that would require some good timing as to when it tightens and opens back up. I had thought it might have had a few twisty bits, but not really. The fastest person on this stage is the one that was willing to take a few risks.
The format was pretty simple, as the cars would run from the South end of road 17 to the north end, turn around and regroup, then run from north to south and go to service. They did this 3 times for a total of 6 stage runs covering 36.84 miles. As I said in my previous article, using the same road multiple times is great for both experienced drivers to be able to perfect their skills and find their limits. It is especially good for novices where the simplified setting with fewer transits allows them to focus more on their pace notes, car setups, and how to deal with changing road conditions after multiple passes.
There was a large diversity in classes represented including Open, Super Production, Group 2, Open Lite and Production GT. Since the technical classes don’t accurately reflect driver skill or the actual speed of each vehicle, most teams were driving within themselves or competing across class with other teams of similar experience or car power. A couple of the event organizers that also compete went so far as to call out an “Organizers Cup”. Dylan Hooker and co-driver Jason Griffith decided their target was Kristen Tabor with her co-driver mom Janice Tabor.
Here’s a recap of the list of entrants:
|Car #||Driver / Co-Driver||Car||Speed Rank||RA Class|
|693||Carl Decker / Josh Jacqout||Subaru Impreza||97||Open|
|541||Dave Henderson / Terry McDowell||Subaru WRX STi||96||Super Prod|
|56||Jeff Seehorn / Michael Milos||Subaru STI||95||Super Prod|
|238||Matthew Binczewski / Lincoln Welsh||Subaru Legacy||93||Open|
|206||Dustin Embrey / Don Burress||Toyota Corolla||89||Group 2|
|271||Matt Tabor / Kathryn Hansen||Subaru WRX||88||PGT|
|231||Kristen Tabor / Janice Tabor||Subaru 2.5RS||88||Open Lite|
|500||Kevin Kardos / Billy Irvin||Subaru Impreza||85||Open Lite|
|799||Michael Doroski / Matthew McClure||Subaru Impreza||83||Open Lite|
|222||Bruce Tabor / Tim Maple||Acura||82||Prod|
|503||Jared Bendt / Tim Tokstad||Honda CRX||81||Group 2|
|214||Phil Meyers / Amy P. Kluge||Mazda 323 GTX-R||79||Open|
|246||Dylan Hooker / Jason Griffith||Mazda 323 GTX-S||78||Open|
|200||Jason Mumme / Christopher Ellinger||Subaru Impreza||78||Open Lite|
|282||Henry Gillow-Wiles / Jack Gillow-Wiles||Honda Civic||72||Group 2|
|442||Adam Kohorn / Michael Epstein||Subaru Impreza||61||Open Lite|
Stage one kicked off right on schedule at 11:18 AM and it was misty and drizzling a bit, but visibility was still great. For the most part drivers were just waking up and getting a feel for the stage. Dave Henderson was the most aggressive out of the gate and had some vegetation in his bumper to prove it. I caught up with Carl Decker, Dave Henderson, Jeff Seahorn, Matthew Binczewski, Dustin Embrey, co-driver Janice Taber, and Dylan Hooker after SS1:
Special Stage 3 took place after drivers had their first service and lunch. The majority had improved their times on their second pass, some of them significantly. Matt Tabor on the other hand lost a few seconds, and he reasoned that it was due to post lunch food coma. Dave Henderson continued to stretch his lead as close battles were developing behind him. In the overall competition, Super Production driver Jeff Seehorn was now just 4 seconds ahead of Open Class driver Carl Decker. Jared Brendt in his little CRX was on a tear leading group 2 and was 6th overall just 13 seconds behind Matt Tabor’s Subaru and 20 seconds ahead of his class rival Dustin Embrey in the “Purple Panda” RWD Corolla. One of the most entertaining stories of the second loop was that of Kristen Tabor who, despite fending off illness (ebola was the word of the day), almost jinxed herself by agreeing to bring some lunch to her brother Mark Tabor who was the event chair and waiting at stage end. Here are interviews Kristen Tabor and Jared Brendt after SS3 (would have had more interviews, but spent lots of time fighting internet connection trying to post live text):
Special Stage 5 was the penultimate stage and where most of the previously close battles were decided. Once again times improved for Dave Henderson and co-driver Terry McDowell of Suspect Motorsports. Jeff Seehorn and co-driver Michael Milos were in a pretty solid second overall, and to the dismay of Matthew Binczewski and Lincoln Welsh, Carl Decker let his co-driver Josh Jaqout drive his Open Class Subaru on the final two stages and gave away 3rd place. Josh used to be a driver many years ago, but it was a first for Decker as a co-driver. In the “Organizers Cup” Kristen Tabor pulled ahead of Dylan Hooker and now lead by 8 seconds. The leader of Group 2 Jared Brendt gained a further position into 5th overall as Matt Tabor lost time due to power loss at higher RPM. Here is an audio clip that includes Dave Henderson; Jeff Seehorn; Josh Jaqoet/Carl Decker (who startled me with the co-driver driver/swap); Matthew Binczewski; Matt Tabor; Jared Brendt; Kevin Kardos; Dustin Embrey; Kristen & Janice Tabor; Dylan Hooker; and finally Bruce “Papa” Tabor as they just finished SS5 and prepare for the 6th and final run up Road 17.
On the final run the teams were almost cursed by Phil Meyers’ co-driver Amy Kluge as she said just before Special Stage 6 “amazingly we haven’t lost a car yet.” That almost happened when Dustin Embrey & Don Burress’ Corolla went off the road due to an issue with their steering wheel. Eventually they got back on the road and was able to steer by pushing hard on the wheel. They finshed 2 minutes later and found an unusual solution using a tire iron to get back to service. You have to love ingenuity found in rally racing! In the end everyone made it home.
Dave Henderson certainly didn’t hold back as he said, saving his best time for last with an amazing 5:18 on his final stage. If you do the math, that’s an average speed of almost 70MPH…on gravel! Impressive to say the least. Everyone I spoke to appeared to have a good time and consistently improved their times. The only frustrations I saw were those that wanted to get that much more out of their car or had a few worrying mechanical issues. It was an awesome event bringing together good friends and good competition.
I need to send another big thank you to Mike and Paula Gibeault of rallydata.com who allowed me to be a part of the scoring team while also getting interviews, stealing their internet when it worked, and for overall being great people. The Gibeault’s are so very dedicated to scoring and getting times and texts posted for competitors, friends, and family to follow that Paula remained at the end of the stage almost until nightfall because her internet signal, however weak it was, returned. I hope to see them at another event.
More of their texted quotes from the event are here: rallydata.com
Also a big thank you to the organizers at Oregon Rally Group. Once again they had a well planned and smoothly operated event. They truly are the best in the northwest.
|Car #||Driver||Total||Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3||Stage 4||Stage 5||Stage 6||Penalties|