Thunderbird Recap


The 50th Anniversary Thunderbird TSD rally is over. All four TeamD cars and their passengers are back to the mundane daily life of work and family. Hours slip by and still my thoughts drift back to the weekend; what happened, what should have happened, where the snow went, why the 1 dollar coin works in Canada and not in the US.

Car 8, Satch and Russ, winners of the 2007 Thunderbird Rally48 cars (21 Subarus along with 5 Volkswagens, 4 BMWs, 3 Saabs, 3 Audis, 2 Mazdas, 2 Dodges, 2 Volvos, 2 Hondas, 2 Toyotas, 1 Ford, and 1 Chrysler) spanning years 1967 to 2006 all braved the snow and ice and mud and water and gravel to see who could keep on time through two days and eight regularities and the winner turned out to be a venerable Saab Sonnett from 1969 driven by Satch Carlson and navigated by Russ Kraushaar. These two intrepid adventurers braved deep water crossings (deep enough that Satch later commented that he had “spotted a few species of fish” during their splash), suspension failure (repaired Saturday night with loaner bolts from TeamD and much mechanical assistance from other competitors), and an oil-drenched clutch (cleaned with a combination of water and coca-cola, who would have thought) to come in with a total of 13 points for the entire event, a great result, especially considering that their 38 year old, two wheel drive car was up against a full field of the best and brightest in the Northwest TSD rally scene. That is not to say that their win was surprising. In fact, Russ and Satch have been teaching the rest of the field how to run a rally for many years and their win at this year’s Thunderbird is only one in an illustrious line of finishes.

Car 6, Jeff and Marvin of TeamDSecond place went to Peter and Timothy Ryce in their 1988 Mazda 323 with 20 points. Third place went to Lee and Rod Sorenson in the debut of their 1997 Impreza wagon (the internals of which bear a striking resemblance to the 1999 2.5 RS that went over the cliff at Totem 2005) with 26 points. First Calculator went to Josh Keatley and Leanne Junnila in their 1998 Subaru Outback with 51 points. First Paper went to Steve Perret and Kathryn Hansen in their 1986 Subaru GL Wagon with 118. First Novice went to James and Cindy Alison in their 1987 Audi 4000 with 255.

TeamD had a blast out in the hills this year. Our focus this year will be preparation for the 2008 Alcan 5000 but that doesn’t mean every point doesn’t kill us a little bit inside. With four cars on the road, we were expecting to make a push for some good results, and while we didn’t get a trophy, we did collect enough adventures and excuses to make up for the lack of hardware.

Example: The mysterious 7. During the day, I pride myself on a special torture called keeping a running track of our points. This not only gives me something to focus on and obsess about as I am driving, but it also helps me focus on how good or bad we are doing compared to all the phantom low scores that I imagine our competitors are getting. At the end of day 1, I am guessing that our car 6 should sit with something around 10-12 points. Saturday night and the first day’s scores are posted and immediately I sense something is wrong. Our day 1 total is 28. 4-6 points can go either way but 16? So I look at the detailed scores (per checkpoint times) and we have 7s when we should have 0s. Not just one one or two checkpoints but every checkpoint. Another odd thing; Cars 5, 12, and 13 seem to have a similar problem. Then a horrible thought comes to me. What if our clock was wrong, off by 7 seconds? So out into the cold I go with my calibrated watch and I compare it to the rally computer in the car. Sure enough, approx. 7 seconds difference.

Car 5, Eric and Steve of TeamDHow was it that all four TeamD cars were off? Steve has a Timewise 650 clock. Once that is set to rally time, it’s an easy process to sync our in-car computers to the master clock. This is what we usually do and this is what we did this time. Normally, the next step is to compare that time to our watches or stop watches (that we manually set to rally time at the driver’s meeting) to double-check the reading. Why did none of us do this? Who knows. Confidence is an evil master sometimes.

Another fun game to play is What If? This year’s What If? goes like this: “What If The Clock Were Right?” Marvin spent some quality time crunching the numbers and if we take out the clock error, Car 6 ends up with a 29 for the weekend (Why does the error correction give us only 19 points rather than 7 for each checkpoint? See Winter Timing Rules in the Thunderbird Supplemental Regulations). Still not a podium finish but a much more respectable 4th overall. Car 5’s game was “What If The Clock Were Right And We Didn’t Get Stuck In That Ditch On Day 1?” Subtract the clock error and the ditch excursion and Car 5 ends with an even more respectable 26 which ties them for third with Car 3. Heck, since we are playing this game, why not assume the clock error is 8 seconds (which is what Marvin thinks it could be, not 7 seconds). That gives us a 28 and Car 5 a 23, giving them full control of third place.

But then, what if….. See? You can play this game over and over and eventually you get 0 points and first place in every event. The reality is we got what we got and someone should have caught the clock error. I don’t think that’s going to happen again soon.

dan hans thunderbird2007Dan Comden and Hans Adomeit in car 12 took the opportunity to get more familiar with each other and with Dan’s Saab 900 in preparation for Alcan. This was Hans’ first serious TSD rally but he grasped the complexity of the Timewise and, despite warnings and hand-waving, he dealt admirably with the x-factor that lays many an novice navigator down for the count, namely motion sickness. Perhaps it is his years of autocross experience or perhaps he has that much sought after iron stomach. They left the weekend with 259 points, a great score considering that 133 of them were tied to pulling over to assist Car 5 in the ditch.

greg bill thunderbird2007Greg Woodbridge and Bill Joy in car 13 came through with a 183. As they get more and more confident in Greg’s Audi 90 and as Bill works on mastering the Timewise (with the able assistance of Steve and Marvin) we expect them to continue to climb the leader board. Despite much persuasion, they remain reluctant to join us on the 2008 Alcan 5000 but with more pressure from the rest of us, improving scores, and persuasion from the rally community as a whole (hint hint, gentle reader) they will surely change their minds.

Another annual worthy diversion tied to the Thunderbird Rally is the Savoia Aero Team Trophy. This year, two TeamD cars (5 and 6) joined two other cars (Car 17 and Car 34) to form Team Rainier (named after the Rainier Auto Sports Club of which most TeamD members are also members). Car 17 was driven by Steve Richards and navigated by Gary Reid. They competed in Calculator class and came in 4th in class with a score of 65. Car 34 was driven by John Taylor and navigated by Matt Warburton, two stand up guys from BC that joined us last year for the team competition as well. They competed in Novice class and came in 3rd in class with a 538 (most of which is due to an off-road excursion similar to the one that Car 5 enjoyed.

The 50th Anniversary Thunderbird TSD rally is over. Long live the Thunderbird TSD rally.

(Photos courtesy of Warwick Patterson and For more photos, click here.)

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