2013 Rally of the Tall Pines: a Frozen Adventure

2013 Rally of the Tall Pines: a Frozen Adventure

Saturday Morning, Racing Begins

We start the day by once again heading to the makeshift paddock called “service” in the rally world. All of the cars are laid out this morning as teams get ready to for the start of this year’s rally. I spot two I missed the night before: an Rally-of-the-Tall-Pines-2013-71.JPGEagle Talon Tsi and a legendary Peugeot 205 Turbo rally car; I’m not sure which is more impressive to still be running.

Shuttling us around for the weekend, our guides are Jud Buchanan and Keith Townsend of Vehicle Dynamics Group (VDG). Aside from both having been competitors of this rally on several occasions, Townsend was the Chief Coordinator of the Rally of the Tall Pines for three years. Safe to say these guys know their way around the woods.

We arrive at our first location just in time to park the car and walk half a mile down an abandoned (I hope) railway track. Having team VDG pays off already as we are allowed to cross the rally course quickly to get to our viewing location. This location is “the jump: but upon arriving there rally veterans inform me the cars are driving the opposite direction and it is too snowy for them to get big air.


The first few cars are the most competitive and favored to win the rally. They include Pat Richard, Max Riddle and “Crazy Leo” Urlichich all in Subarus, as well as three time defending series champion Antoine L’Estage in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO. All four of these competitors grab air off of the jump, but it’s Rally-of-the-Tall-Pines-2013-34.JPGCrazy Leo who quickly affirms how he gained his nickname by launching his Subie high off the jump. Later that night at the bar when discussing his drive, Leo will tell me how he was unhappy at how much he had to slow down due to the conditions; I saw no hesitation in his driving.

This location is part of the rally’s second two and after all of the competitors drive by I notice the Peugeot never made the stage. Sure enough, word comes down he is indeed already out thanks to a blown head gasket.

As we wait to cross back across the course to head to location number two, we are entertained by watching locals at a Rally-of-the-Tall-Pines-2013-46.JPGcottage across the street allegedly Toboggan off a roof; an empty beer cooler sitting by their cars could be to blame. It is only 10 a.m.

Our second point is inside a sharp 90-degree turn that heads over an ice covered one lane bridge. We are right up against the road and can really see how the top ranked cars take the corner’s proper line to launch over the icy bridge with alarming speed. Some of the slower cars take the apex too early, or drive into the corner too deep and a few nearly took out the guardrail. After many near misses, the rear-wheel drive Nissan 240SX gets squirrelly and taps the bridge’s wall.

Saturday Afternoon, Subaru is Happy


After a quick lunch, we begin driving down a five-mile road that happened to be a stage earlier in the day. To say these roads are icy would be an understatement but what surprises me most is how unbelievably rough the surface is; rally drivers take a pounding during an event like this.

Rally-of-the-Tall-Pines-2013-58.JPGWe finally arrive at our next viewpoint, which is a high speed section that no other spectators are at since it is at the end of a one lane road. The marshals guarding this checkpoint aren’t sure if we should be here, but once again having a former rally organizer is a big help in convincing people to let us stay.

By this point Crazy Leo has a large lead over the rest of the field and victory is his to lose. But the real story is between Richard and L’Estage. Not only are both drivers locked up in a battle for the driver’s championship, but also one for the manufacturer’s title. L’Estage has a big lead in points, meaning Richard has little hope for the title unless L’Estage encounters an unexpected problem. Earlier in the day L’Estage has suffered a mechanical fault and now sits outside of the top ten while Richard is positioned in second place. Currently he and Subaru could walk away with both titles, but it’s still early in the rally.

During this portion, the VDG guys pull out a radar gun to gauge the vehicles speeds through this long left-hand sweeper on a single lane snow covered road. The fastest cars approach us around 85 mph and are pushing 100 mph by corners exit.

Saturday Night, Subaru is Sad


After dinner at a local restaurant and a lesson in sarcasm from the waitress, it’s back to the rally to watch the special stage where drivers will take two turns around a field-based rallycross course that takes roughly two minutes to complete. It is now completely dark and all of the rally cars have their full retina-searing auxiliary lighting set to blinding levels.

Rally-of-the-Tall-Pines-2013-57.JPGOver the course of the afternoon, L’Estage has climbed back up the rankings and is destined to be the series champion. However, Subaru still sits in the top three positions and could claim the manufacturer’s championship.

But then disaster strikes. Richard blows apart his rear differential on a particularly rough stage and is forced to retire from the rally. Worse yet, Crazy Leo who has been dominating the event since the rally’s opening stage has a camshaft failure and is forced to retire with a mere handful of stages left. This moves L’Estage up to second place overall; enough to claim the driver’s crown and the manufacturer’s trophy for Mitsubishi.

Rally-of-the-Tall-Pines-2013-43.JPGThe only consolation Subaru can take from the event is local privateer racer Chris Martin, who with a fraction of the budget and resources compared to the larger teams, wins the event in his 1993 Subaru Impreza. Proof you don’t need to have the latest or greatest equipment in rallying necessarily; you just need to finish. That’s what makes rally racing great, the element of uncertainty around every bend. It is what will make gear-heads come back to stand in the cold year after year.

Discuss this story on our Subaru Forum

Check Out Our Mega Rally of the Tall Pines Gallery



« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked