What's in a name?
Some people question the name "Minnesota Winter Rallye." Much of the rest of the world thinks of "Minnesota" and "Winter" as self cancelling. The jokes are myriad, centering around a minimum of warm weather and a maximum of cold and snow. In reality, only about three months are usually guaranteed traditional Winter weather, and the Minnesota Winter Rallye falls square in the middle of that quarter year.
Past winter rally participants remember fondly traveling down roads with a fresh blanket of snow and no previous tracks, making them wonder if they are on the right route. Being extracted from an off-road excursion, yet having no body damage due to the resilient nature of snow. Unable to reach the crest of a hill due to lack of traction on ice or hard-packed snow. Ahhh, the good times. The 1999 version of the Minnesota Winter Rallye created a few new stories to add to the legends.
A dozen hearty teams - ranging in experience from National SCCA Champions to first time rallyists - left the warmth of Black Woods Grill in Proctor under overcast skies, but with temperatures just below freezing. The odometer check traveled a short distance on Skyline Parkway, giving teams a glimpse of Duluth from the hillside, then north toward the airport and the end of the odo check at the Arrowhead Sports Car Club "Adopt-A-Highway" sign.
(Click here for a map of the route.)
Leg 1 took participants down narrow Pioneer Road at a leisurely CAST 25 and pretty good scores all around. A loop along the shore of Horseshoe Lake, then out to Fox Farm Road, where experience began to show in the results. Phil Schmidt and Steve Irwin - winners of the most recent ASCC Winter Rallye, Sno*Fall - were bitten by the minuteman on leg two (took nearly one minute in penalty points) which dropped them from a possible win to fourth place overall by the end.
One of the twistiest roads north of Duluth, Rossini Road, was leg four. It also caused the most problem, as several competitiors took a time allowance (T/A), and the associated 5-point penalty. Tobin Goetz upheld the Taylor Family Curse (son-in-law of Bill, brother-in-law of Al) by stuffing his Audi into the snow, requiring extraction assistance from the Audi of Brian Larson. Wise use of T/A allowed decent scores for both teams. Bill Taylor foolishly admitted to a spin on Rossini as well, though his faux pas did not require extra-vehicular assistance.
Another favorite road is Drummond Grade, the old logging railroad bed into Two Harbors. While it is fairly straight and level, it is also one lane in many places, cut through hills and filled over swamps. In addition, it is unplowed unless there is logging going on as few drivers use the road, and it's marked "DEAD END" at one end, though the locals know better. The troubles began when car #1, Forehand and Fuss, encountered a logging truck moving slowly toward them. So slow, in fact, that Fuss reported, "The only way we could tell it was moving was that snow kept falling out of the tire treads." They were able to safely make up the lost time, however, and made it into the control without a T/A penalty.
The Taylor Family Curse struck again when B. Taylor/McConnell and Goetz/Bitle missed the turnoff for Drummond Grade, got a bit behind on time, and had to follow a very slow truck/trailer hauling a logging skidder into Two Harbors. They were so late that the control had already closed. However, since there was a long break in Two Harbors, they created Out Times for the next leg, resulting in good scores for both at control 7. Al Taylor, who had a history of stuffing his VW Fox at least once on most previous ASCC Winter Rallies, was apparently unaffected by the curse, or maybe it was that he now drives a Dodge Neon and not a VW product.
Legs 7 and 8 were northeast of Two Harbors, with the route heading up the North Shore through the recently completed Silver Cliff and Lafayette Bluff tunnels, then along some roads that even long time ASCC member Randy Jokela (25+ years) had never seen.
Back through Two Harbors and along the Scenic Lake Superior North Shore Drive, with a short stretch at CAST 15 into Control 9 along Stoney Point. At that speed, teams wee able to enjoy a close up look at Gitchee Gumee as the road was right along the shore. A couple more short, simple legs on snow covered roads, then back to Duluth for the final leg, a DIYC along Skyline Drive. The first rally teams returned to Black Woods about 7 pm. Scores were tallied, winners announced, and rallyists from the Twin Cities were able to make it home before Midnight.
Scrutiny of the scores shows the team of Jachimstal and Bialas from Houghton, Michigan, held the points lead until Leg 11, where they arrived 6 seconds (10/100ths) late. That handed the lead to former SCCA National Champions Forehand and Fuss, who were running with Stock Class equipment though entered in the Equipped Class for CenDiv points.
Fashion points must go to the Jachimstal/Bialas (Timebandits Rallysport) and Page/Hughes (Maximum Density Racing) teams, as both took pains to look the part of competitors. The Timebandits wore matching red headbands, while signmaker Scotty Hughes created matching sweatshirts and a load of magnetic signs for the Maximum Density VW Jetta. Could this lead to a new era of sartorial competition in addition to the motorsport contest?
The only casualty of the day was one team of workers, who rolled their Ford Explorer on a straight piece of paved road! Neither was injured, and the SUV was probably not as damaged as the driver's ego. Organizers were able to man the other controls without incident.
Minnesota Winter Rallye
January 23, 1999
Sanctioned by Land O' Lakes Region SCCA
SCCA Central Division Rally Championship Series Event
(Click on highlighted names to see photos)
OA SCCA ASCC Driver Navigator Car Total
1 1E 1A Scott Forehand Dave Fuss 93 Audi S4 38 2 1L 1B Matthew Jachimstal James Bialas 92 Ford Ranger 47 3 1S 1C Randy Jokela Jon Anderson 89 Toyota Coro GTS 94 4 2E 2A Phil Schmidt Steve Irwin 98 Subaru 2.5RS 117 5 2L 2B Paul Moormann John Niemi 83 Audi Quattro 296 6 2S 2C Al Taylor Paul Rosholt 95 Dodge Neon 313 7 3S 1D Tobin Goetz Dean Bitle 90 Audi 100 382 8 4S 2D Danny "Tiny" Page Scotty Hughes 96 VW Jetta 407 9 5S 3C Bill Taylor Mike McConnell 90 VW Fox Wgn 413 10 6S 3D Bill Yarroch Michael Yarroch 93 Jeep GC 420 11 7S 4D Brian Larson Erin Sullivan 87 Audi 5KQ 715 12 8S 5D Dave Lind Teri Lind 89 Chevy 4x4 PU 966 Chairman: Tim Winker RallyMaster: Diane Sargent Workers: Mark Strohm, Brad Enberg, Dana Goetz, Jeff Burmeister, Laurel Strohm, Bryan MacDonald Sweep: Ken Cich, Mark Mahla 12 Controls, approx 150 miles total distance.
Read what competitor James Bialas had to say about MWR 99 by clicking here.