While the LongRoofian was enjoying the sun and mild temperatures of Daytona Beach, about 2,000 people decided that we were tougher than that. Instead, we would stand outside in the middle of winter in Northern Michigan facing wind and snow and ice to watch cars drive by. Some may call that insane, I call it fun.
I got a message a while back from SeanKHotay wondering if I would be interested in going to watch Rally America’s Sno*Drift rally up near Atlanta, MI. I said yes. In the weeks leading up to the race, as my excitement grew, so did the pile of work on my desk. This was one of those times where I just had to say screw it all, worked my 40 hours in 3 days, then took a few days off.
I loaded up the Jeep, picked SeanKHotay up at the airport and MiketheDog up at his house then hit the highways north. We didn’t have any snow down here by Detroit, but as we approached the 45th Parallel it was becoming more and more apparent that we would be dealing with the white stuff. We stopped by the tech inspections going on at the high school in Atlanta, and grabbed our spectator guides at rally HQ before heading to our “cabin” and meeting the rest of the crew we would be
getting drunk with spending the weekend with.
Friday and Saturday we headed out to watch some racing, and were greeted with ice-covered back roads. I’m a SoCal boy, and despite having lived in Michigan for 12 years I still haven’t spent much time driving on ice. I got better as the weekend went on. Luckily for us, the drivers were slightly better at driving on ice than I was. Well, for the most part.
Sno*Drift is both a national and regional event. That means there wasn’t just the umpteen million Subies, Evos and Fiestae running the course. There was a 1980 Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste (known here as the Plymouth Arrow), a GMC Sonoma, a Chevy Cavalier, some Neons, Golfs and Jettas, a Dodge Shadow and a couple Honda Civics. It was a mix of FWD, RWD and AWD. It was a mix of former national champs and local guys having fun. All of them running the same stages.
We avoided the main spectator areas and instead found our way out to other corners. With cowbells ringing and cameras snapping, we watched as the competitors worked there way around tight corners on snow and ice, without the benefit of studded tires (they’re illegal in Michigan). We watched as some showed their mastery of the Scandinavian flick, while others showed their mastery of getting their car out of a snow bank. We watched as a car from 1980 worked its way up the start order. We froze our asses off while watching the competitors not only have to deal with ice, but also darkness.
Mrs. engineerd™ thinks I am nuts for standing out in the freezing cold to do this. I think I’m nuts for making this my first year. I’ll be back next year and the next. I’ll just keep a fresh supply of foot warmers handy.
I’m still trying to figure out how to embed a Flickr slideshow, so until then go to my Flickr (here) to see some of the action. I’ll be loading more photos as I have time.
Below is a short video shot by Citroen67. You’ll see that the first few cars have it a bit easier than the later cars. The little bit of snow on the road gives just enough traction to work the car around the corner. Once that snow is swept away the carnage begins.
[youtube width=”420″ height=”315″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJM3JX3ZcLs[/youtube]