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The $500 Rally car
March 22, 2010 12:11 PM   Subscribe

How one man got 3rd place in a World Rally Championship event, in a $500 car.
posted by hellojed (42 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome.
posted by schyler523 at 12:17 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I gotta say, I'm not a car geek, I don't understand half of what he was talking about, but reading the story made me want to drive vaay too fast somewhere deep in Mexico.
posted by komara at 12:37 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amazing.
posted by mecran01 at 12:43 PM on March 22, 2010


This *is* awesome.
posted by vivelame at 12:54 PM on March 22, 2010


Amazing story. I can't believe he kept the car together in those conditions with no team, hardly any money and only himself working on it.
posted by empyrean at 12:55 PM on March 22, 2010


Okay. He didn't get 3rd place in a WRC event. He got 3rd place in the G2 class of the Rally America event being held at the same time as the WRC event, but Rally America Mexico (not to be confused with Rally America, the US Rallying Championship) doesn't have the G2 class, so they raced as a "open" N class car. He did indeed place third in the Rally America N Class, and 4th overall -- an A8 machine won the RA Overall

You can see he's not good that this. He had the top time penalty, at 14:20, the 2nd worst was 2:00. The winner of the class and the A8 both had no penalties.
posted by eriko at 12:55 PM on March 22, 2010


Not to deny that this was an amazing feat, but it was a $500 body, not a $500 car. The M3 engine probably cost ten times that alone.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:58 PM on March 22, 2010


Okay. He didn't get 3rd place in a WRC event. He got 3rd place in the G2 class of the Rally America event being held at the same time as the WRC event, but Rally America Mexico (not to be confused with Rally America, the US Rallying Championship) doesn't have the G2 class, so they raced as a "open" N class car. He did indeed place third in the Rally America N Class, and 4th overall -- an A8 machine won the RA Overall

You are correct. Although he still got to race with the big boys and hooned with the best of them. Points for that.

You can see he's not good that this. He had the top time penalty, at 14:20, the 2nd worst was 2:00. The winner of the class and the A8 both had no penalties.


Time penalties do not mean he is not good at driving. They mean that he missed a lot of start deadlines because he obviously did not have a team to make repairs for him.
posted by Authorized User at 1:00 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to deny that this was an amazing feat, but it was a $500 body, not a $500 car. The M3 engine probably cost ten times that alone.

Yeah, this is a lot like one of those CGI short films that cost "$300" to make.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:02 PM on March 22, 2010


My wife and I sold t-shirts at the Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally in 1983. I wasn't a rally fan so I was unprepared for the spectacle of vehicles flying down dirt roads I wouldn't taken at 20 mph. You have to admire those willing to do that over multiple days. But this guy not only did that but acted as his own crew. That's extra credit in my book.
posted by tommasz at 1:07 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be correct, he finished 4th from 9 participants (all other from Mexico) with 5 to finish in Rally America, some kind of side event of the WRC series Rally Mexico.
posted by Free word order! at 1:16 PM on March 22, 2010


Self: Learn to preview.
posted by Free word order! at 1:18 PM on March 22, 2010


This warms my grease-soothed heart. The fact that he showed up and raced with the big boys in a car put together from Craigslist and junkyard parts is impressive. The fact the did as well as he did in his category is icing on the cake. But the simple fact he wrenched on his own car to keep it going is distilled awesomeness over ice. Imagine Kurt Busch or Michael Schumacher hopping out of his car after stopping in the pits and setting to work rebuilding the suspension before jumping back in to finish the race. This, my friends, is the kind of sport story I, an unrepentant gearhead, love to hear.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:28 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've got no idea what any of this means, but it does sound rather exciting:
I came through this 70-80 mph section with thousands of people lining the roads. We come around a corner and there's a bridge that somehow got missed in the notes. But it's a flat piece of concrete like 15 feet wide and our trajectory is right off the side. Slocum says into the mic, "We're done," stops reading notes, and braces for impact. The river below has boulders the size of Volkswagens. Sand and gravel in corner, almost as if spectators filled it. Can't get to apex, four feet off, sliding way wide, exit of corner is entrance to bridge. I pitch the car and floor it. 35-45 mph. Half the car falls off the bridge. We are looking at daylight and I am full throttle hoping the left tire and diff can put the power down. We fell so far over the bridge it collapsed the inner leg of the trailing arm by an inch or two. Almost the entire right side of the car hanging in the air. ... Trailing arm has a one-inch dent in it from where we hit the bridge. That's what saved us — it popped the car back up onto the bridge. The car smacked the bridge two inches from the bolt that attaches the subframe to the body.
posted by memebake at 1:28 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


But this guy not only did that but acted as his own crew. That's extra credit in my book.

Well, to be fair, all drivers need to know how to fix the car. If something breaks while you're out on a stage, there's really not much choice - either fix things up enough to make it to the parc ferme, or retire. Occasionally, you might see a situation where the car needs to be repaired but the mechanics are not allowed to touch it; the drivers will then have to do everything themselves, while the mechanics are standing back a bit and telling them what to do (it can get rather hilarious). Of course the pro drivers don't have to do as much themselves as they used to - I think it was (Saab rally legend) Eric Carlsson who recounted a story of how his co-driver once had to weld a broken suspension with a welding torch bought from a village blacksmith, while Carlsson was driving the car from one stage to another.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:32 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually it's fairly regular fare in rallying. Although the Rally Mexico is particularly bad for the cars. Also he did do some pretty good stage times compared to the other guys, so good for him I guess.
posted by Authorized User at 1:34 PM on March 22, 2010


Imagine Kurt Busch or Michael Schumacher hopping out of his car after stopping in the pits and setting to work rebuilding the suspension before jumping back in to finish the race.

I know next to nothing about Kurt Busch, but in Schumacher's case, it wouldn't actually be such a long shot, as he's known for spending hours upon hours learning every little thing about the car he's driving, including how it's built.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:54 PM on March 22, 2010


That was great!

Hoon of the Day indeed!
posted by mosk at 1:56 PM on March 22, 2010


They said that I must be part Mexican because of the way I fix my car. That's a compliment, right?

I LOLed.

So awesome. Thanks for the post!
posted by kableh at 2:17 PM on March 22, 2010


This is a man among men. Driving like this is exhausting, then fixing the damn thing afterwards is all kinds of awesome. So all of you just say meh-he didn't do all kinds of awesome, go out and try to do something like this and tell me how it goes.

BTW one of the reasons he had so many time penalties was he was late for the stages due to signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. I only wish the professionals cared so much.
posted by bartonlong at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Poop on how he finished all you want, I'm willing to go dollars to donuts it's cooler than whatever you did that week.

It's a great story, and made me seriously think that "hey, I could do that" for just a little longer than it took me to get out of my own skull and kick myself in the ass.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:40 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Poop on how he finished all you want, I'm willing to go dollars to donuts it's cooler than whatever you did that week.

That week, I did a solo flight to the moon and back and had to fix both the Lunar Module and the LRV by myself using only pieces of duct tape that I had already used to fix the car that I won the Monaco Grand Prix with the previous weekend (without a pit crew, obviously).
posted by The World Famous at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hope he enters his car in a 24 Hours of Lemons race next.
posted by anodyne- at 3:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've got no idea what any of this means, but it does sound rather exciting:

Translation:

In rally racing your codriver reads pace notes, that enable going really fast because you can anticipate what is coming up next. Most teams do their own recce (reconnaissance) before the race, and most of the top tier professional teams are working off versions of their own notes from previous years.

This guy borrowed notes from another driver, written in Portuguese. He doesn't speak Portuguese. Related to translation or not, a bridge is not called out. So he's making a left turn and suddenly sees a bridge he wasn't expecting. This is isn't good because he's going wide. On a normal stretch of road, this would be problematic, because it can mean getting stuck in a ditch on the side of the road, losing a lot of time. Over a bridge, this is a... bigger problem.

So he's desperately trying to correct so that he will make it over the bridge, his co-driver is less optimistic and gets into a crash position. Half the car goes off the bridge, he's tilted so all he can see is sky, but the car manages to get back on the road with relatively minor damage.

I love rally racing :)
posted by danny the boy at 5:28 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Those cars are "$400K" because they are used to sell cars.

And a "$500" with an M3, new tires, etc. stopped being a $500 car a long time ago. Yes, it's a great story, but sensationalizing it cheapens the whole thing.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:28 PM on March 22, 2010


Yeah and rally racing, of the sort "regular" people do, is filled with stories like this. That's why I love it. Top level (WRC) is interesting to watch, but the soul of rally is in the more accessible events. More or less normal people, in more or less normal cars, trying to make it to the end.

LeMons always bothered me too, in how quickly it has grown, from something that was supposed to be accessible. There are no $500 cars in LeMons either. :P
posted by danny the boy at 5:54 PM on March 22, 2010


anodyne-: I hope he enters his car in a 24 Hours of Lemons race next.

Before seeing how danny the boy capitalized it (LeMons), I was imagining a race full of really, really crappy cars. That could be a lot of fun.
posted by ErWenn at 7:15 PM on March 22, 2010


Budget racing is the goal of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine (more at WP):
The parent company, Motorsport Marketing, Inc., based in Holly Hill, Florida, holds an annual competition, "the $200X Challenge," wherein contestants' entries cannot cost more than the year in dollars (i.e., $2005 in 2005). The competition consists of an autocross course, a ¼ mile (0.4 km) dragstrip time trial and a concours d'elegance.
$200X Challenge videos.
posted by cenoxo at 7:54 PM on March 22, 2010


I do like the idea of 24 hours of lemons. All the cars would break at least three times and you'd have to bring it back to the dealer each time, who would then tell you that it's just normal wear and tear and maybe they can worksomething out on the price...
posted by From Bklyn at 8:08 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And it would, actually be interesting to know how much it really cost him and etc. It's a cool story that I suspect might be as cool as it sounds here in its totally abstracted and abbreviated form.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:12 PM on March 22, 2010


Before seeing how danny the boy capitalized it (LeMons), I was imagining a race full of really, really crappy cars. That could be a lot of fun.

I do like the idea of 24 hours of lemons. All the cars would break at least three times and you'd have to bring it back to the dealer each time, who would then tell you that it's just normal wear and tear and maybe they can worksomething out on the price...

24 Hours of LeMons (note the O in "Lemons") is a real race series that is a race full of really, really crappy cars. The rules include that the cars cannot cost more than $500 - and that includes prep - so no buying a crap car, swapping out the engine with an M3, putting on fancy shocks, etc. And the other teams get to vote on one car that they don't like that then gets demolished. It's becoming a hugely popular series, and the cars are getting a little bit nuts.

Here's a sampling of the rules:

2.1: Vehicle Eligibility: Entry limited to mass-produced, four-wheeled vehicles legal for US highway use at the time of their manufacture. Vehicles must be acquired and prepared for a maximum of $500 as described in Section 4. Vehicles must meet all safety standards laid out in Section 3. The vehicle's original, manufacturer-stated curb weight may not exceed 4200 pounds. Individual waivers may be granted; just don't ask about Peterbilts, zambonis, sidecars, or golf carts again. We already said no.
posted by The World Famous at 8:23 PM on March 22, 2010


Cool story. A mate of mine has done a few rallies in (what appears to my untrained eye) a similar vintage BMW. Last I heard he was thinking about selling the car, which is a damn shame (mostly because he has never let me drive it).
posted by damonism at 9:27 PM on March 22, 2010


Yeah and my lament about LeMons (not Le Mans) is that NO car that has ever participated has ever only had $500 spent on it. For one thing, safety equipment is exempt from the total, which makes sense, but that includes wheels & tires. So besides the egregious violators of the base $500 rule, of which there are plenty, everyone is free to spend as much on one set of tires as you are theoretically allowed for the entire rest of the car. Not even mentioning the "donated" parts, calling those entries $500 cars just isn't accurate.
posted by danny the boy at 12:38 AM on March 23, 2010


I do love my LeMons t-shirt though.
posted by danny the boy at 12:57 AM on March 23, 2010


Great article. Thank you.
posted by diwolf at 2:43 AM on March 23, 2010


For what it's worth, here' s blog post by the navigator discussing some of the perils of racing in Mexico on a budget: Pirating WRC Corona Rally Mexico Rally America.

So. Any MeFites wanna start a LeMons team?
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:16 AM on March 23, 2010


Yeah and my lament about LeMons (not Le Mans) is that NO car that has ever participated has ever only had $500 spent on it.

To be clear, my comment was meant to address those who apparently were unaware that there is such a thing as the 24 Hours of LeMons. I agree with you that the cars aren't true $500 beaters. But they are beaters, nonetheless. There's no way to make safe racing cheap, particularly in an endurance race, where you go through tires like butter.
posted by The World Famous at 9:36 AM on March 23, 2010


Well of course I do, but do you really want a mediocre driver with no mechanical skills?
posted by danny the boy at 9:37 AM on March 23, 2010


Not only was that awesome, but I learned the word "hoon" today. If that isn't a great post then I don't know what is!
posted by TedW at 11:29 AM on March 23, 2010


I'm on the Rally Mexico organising committee and I'd like to clarify something: Ben and Bill are not awesome.

They are FUCKING awesome.

Having them do the rally was fantastic. Regardless of their times on the stages, the feat of finishing your first WRC event deserves nothing but the utmost awe and respect. The fact that they did it with such good humour and exuberance was simply brilliant.

As to the police chase, I can't say much, but it probably ranks as the worst/best story we've had in 7 years.

I pray to Chuck Norris they come back next year.
posted by Cobalt at 7:55 PM on March 23, 2010


Bloody hell Cobalt, you have to tell us the story! If you can't post it openly, maybe just mefi mail those of us who are interested...
posted by danny the boy at 8:01 PM on March 23, 2010


That there really is a LeMons rally is genius.

There are so many details to this story that we aren't getting - It makes me wonder if this wasn't all just a little bit cooler than the story suggests.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:40 PM on March 23, 2010


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