Photo Credit: Tara Turbo-HurlinWith a definite lack of snow in the woods, temps in the 40’s and slippery wet ice for a track, the intrepid teams began one of the most challenging motorsport events in North America. The first rule of rallying is that the cars must be street legal and studs are illegal in Michigan. At Sno*Drift we don’t need no stinking studs! A quick look at the cars in Parc Expose showed that most of the teams decided to use an ice tire like a Hakkapeliitta.

It is often said that just to finish a rally is an accomplishment. To finish the 2018 Sno*drift is a true drivers triumph and testament to skill and concentration. Many of the drivers reported that it only took a small mistake to end up biffing the bank, sliding down the stage or parked off the road.

Overall Delivers

Usher/Jacques jumped into the lead with their Non-Turbo Open Light car by winning the first two stages and building a lead of 5 seconds over the more powerful Open Class cars of Fetela/Jozwiak and Gruszka/Sawicki. Rooney/Kaltak, one of the early favorites, cut a tire on stage 1 and dropped to last place.

Usher’s dominance ended on Stage 4 with the car on its roof. Fetela/Jozwiak took over the lead with Kramer/Kimmett only a minute back and Brown/Brown only 2 seconds beyond. Stage 5 caught out Fetela/Jozwiak as they overshot a corner and damaged the suspension. That elevated Kramer/Kimmett to first overall. In 2017 they held the lead for most of the event only to lose it when they stuffed it at the gravel pit spectator stage. Would they hold on this time and take the win?

At the end of the first night Brown/Brown would be in first by almost 2 minutes. Barribeau/Rhudy moved up from a 23rd starting position to 2nd overall in only their 3rd rally. Kramer/Kimmett were holding on to third 36 seconds back. The surprise 4th place was Rooney/Kaltak. After their tire issue on Stage 1 they put together a string of stage wins to crawl back up the leader board from last place to 4th overall.

The first casualty of day 2 was Gruszka/Sawicki as they retired after stage 9. At the first service the only change was that Rooney/Kaltak had now moved in to 3rd behind Barribeau/Rhudy. Pelizzari/Stevens moved up to 4th overall in their first full race in their new OL car.

With 5 stages to go would Rooney/Kaltak be able to press for the win? Would the rookie team of Barribeau/Rhudy be able to hold off the cagy veteran team? Would Brown/Brown hold on to win their 2 National Event in 4 tries? Who would be the first to make a mistake? What team would be there to capitalize? The final Stage, Thunder River, would answer all the questions.

Rooney/Kaltak pressed very hard yet couldn’t quite pull off the last to first trick. However, they still get the Biggest Mover Award for going from last to 3rd. In the end Brown/Brown would hold on to win their 2nd National event and Barribeau/Rhudy would finish in a well-earned 2nd place.

B – Spec Under Hyphenated

Keanna Erickson-Chang with her new Co-Driver Preston-Osborn were the best of the B-Spec field. They took the lead on stage 1 and never looked back. By the end of the race they had opened up a very

comfortable lead, even setting a top 5 stage time. Finishing in 2nd place was the team of Colin Robinson and Alex Schum. 3rd place went to Doug Gekiere and Mathew Hoffman.

2WD - 2nd Generations

Unlike the B-Spec class the 2wd race was a fight to the finish with several different leaders and vastly different cars. At the first service Erickson/Good were leading by about a minute over Langbein/Wimpey. Kollien/Garant were in 3rd another 5 seconds back. The VanDamme/Carlson Rabbit was a close 4th only 7 more seconds back.

At the end of Day 1 Kollien/Garant would have a solid lead. Erickson/Good were a minute back with VanDamme/Carlson 25 seconds behind them. Erickson-Chang/Osborn held down 4th another 30 seconds beyond.

By the first service on Saturday it was starting to shape up as a 2 horse race. Erickson/Good were leading VanDamme/Carlson by 40 seconds with Erickson-Change/Osborn holding down 3rd. Kollien/Garant had a problem on stage 11 that dropped them back to 4th.

Stage 13 was to be the decisive stage. It was definitely unlucky for Erickson/Good who lost over a minute due to a flat tire. They ended up following VanDamme/Carlson through the stage. Erickson later commented that “Adam was attacking every corner. We kept thinking he was going to crash but he never did. He was hitting every corner perfectly. They deserve to win.”

VanDamme/Carlson captured the victory in an 81 Rabbit that is older than most of the competitors. Erickson/Good would bring their Mitsubishi home in 2nd with Erickson-Change/Osborn in 3rd for their 2nd podium of the race.

As usual the 2wd class was one of the more competitive and fun races with 7 different teams winning stages and 3 different leaders. Kollien/Garant even managed to set a 4th overall stage time. Not to be outdone by the VanDamme Rabbit, Wallick/Wallick would set the fastest 2wd time on stage 14 in their Finnish Rabbit.

Super Production – If you’re not 1st your last!

Last year the Open Lights cars and the Super Production cars dueled it out. This year OL has its own class and the SP cars have been combined with the NLO cars to form the new Super Production class.

There were only 2 teams entered in SP this year. Whitebread/Piper jumped out to an early lead on stage 1 while Rooney/Kaltak dropped to last overall with a flat. Whitebread/Piper failed to finish stage 2 and used Super Rally to reenter the race after the first service. They were over 3 minutes behind Rooney/Kaltak.

When it rains it pours - Whitebread/Piper also received a 10 minute illegal service penalty for bringing tools and equipment into the parc expose, which was forbidden by the supplemental regulations. I bet they will study the supp regs from now on. Rooney/Kaltak continued to charge hard for the rest of the event taking the class win by over 14 minutes.

If these two teams had not been besieged by bad luck they might have very well won the event. Whitebread/Piper won an amazing 4 stages overall. Not to be out done Rooney/Kaltak won 5 stages overall. They should memorize the old adage to “To finish 1st, first you must finish.”

Open Light – What can Brown do for you?

The news for this year is the Open Light National Championship. Last year they raced against the more powerful SP cars. This year they get to beat up on each other. While these cars have no turbo they are light, nimble and fast enough to lead the rally. Last year OL teams led Sno*Drift and won the Colorado Rally. This is an inexpensive, fun and very competitive class where drive ability shines.

Usher/Jacques started off by winning the first 2 stages overall and had the overall lead of the rally. On stage 4 they rolled the car on to the roof and out of the rally.

At the first service, last year’s leaders Kramer/Kimmett were also leaders this year. They held a slim 2 second lead over Brown/Brown. Pelizzari/Stevens were in 3rd about 40 seconds further back. The rookie team of Barribeau/Rhudy was close behind, only 6 seconds further back.

At the end of day 1, OL teams held the top 3 overall positions with Brown/Brown in the top spot. Barribeau/Rhudy were in 2nd almost 2 minutes back. Kramer/Kimmett had dropped to 3rd 36 seconds back.

At the service after stage 11 Brown/Brown were still setting the pace with Barrieau/Rhudy closing the gap to about a minute and half. Pelizzari/Stevens moved up to 3rd and were liking their new car. They were starting to feel some pressure from Bialobrzeski/Mantopoulos who were only 39 seconds back.

At the end of the race Kramer/Kimmett would overtake Bialobrzeski/Mantopoulos for 4th. Pelizzari/Stevens held on for 3rd and were enjoying their best finish ever. The rookie team of Barribeau/Rhudy brought their car home in a well-earned 2nd. The top spot once again goes to Dave Brown and Michael Brown. Boy did they deliver!

Notable Notes

  • There were 4 different leaders with 6 different teams winning stages
  • At the finish of Stage 9 all of the drivers were complaining about how slippery it was. That is all the drivers except one – and she had a huge smile on her face - Marianna Langosch!
  • Speaking of Marianna – Most OL drivers can’t beat her soon to be husband. However, she did on her very first event. I guess we know who wears the driving suit in that family!
  • Amazing as it sounds the top 2 Overall teams only have 7 races between them
  • The Browns have entered 4 national events and won 2 of them overall
  • The Carlson family had a big weekend –Eric and Camille (Dad and Daughter) lead the Open Class for much of Saturday until they were overtaken and finished 2nd. Jake (Son) co-drove for Adam VanDamme and won the 2wd class. Way to go Carlson Family!
  • Speaking of VanDamme and Carlson – Both Jake and Adam are 2nd generation rallyists that grew up in the sport. Very Cool!
  • Calling all Dad’s and Daughter to Sno*Drift Summer. Last year Sno*Drift Summer held the Stewards Challenge. Mike Hurst handily beat Steve Gingras. This year their daughters, both named Katherine, will be co-driving for them. That’s right there will be an abundance of Katherine’s. That brings us to the Daddy and Daughter challenge. There are 7 daddy and daughter teams that have said they will be there. If you’re interested talk to Mary Shiloff and you too could beat up on the stewards.