Friday, May 8, 2015
at: 5:47 PM
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Look for the Honda Fit at the next round in Oregon!
The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is the second race of the Rally America National Championship and is known as one of the most scenic. Named after the storybook home of Winnie the Pooh, the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is a picturesque race with enough twists and turns to test every driver’s ability. Set in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, this race is always a favorite due to its pristine surroundings and fast, tight roads. Although you won’t see Winnie the Pooh or any of his friends, you will see some of the best rally driving on some of the best rally roads in North America.
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from
at: 7:10 AM
Monday, March 2, 2015
The base for the new rally platform is a 2011 Honda CRZ EX. The team took the former rental car, and began the transformation to rally machine late last year. Although the hybrid unit was removed to save weight, the rest of the vehicle is in nearly stock form with the exception of the cage and safety equipment required by competition rules and the addition of rally specific dampers from Hot Bits. In this build state, the car would be eligible for the Group 2 class, one of the most heavily contested classes in the regional series.
The 100 Acre Wood event is notoriously hard to predict. The weather can range from hot and sunny, making it a fantastic gravel event, or it can be cold and snowy, similar to Sno*Drift. As the event neared, it became apparent that the event would be cold, snowy and slippery. The G2 field was also looking to be contested by 16 other competitors. Both of these combined would make for an exciting and challenging debut event.
On stage 12, the CRZ found some more traction, and made up some time, catching and passing an open light car. As the teams rolled in for the first service of the day, the THR CRZ was sitting in 6th place in G2. “We had some trouble on stages ten and eleven”, stated Guitar, “but we were starting to move a little better on stage 12 and made up a little time.”
Monday, February 9, 2015
Returning for the 2015 season, the B-Spec Fit team was looking forward to starting the difficult Sno*Drift rally and defending its 2014 B-Spec Championship title. In addition, the team would campaign a brand new 2015 Honda Fit, equipped with the CVT transmission. This would be the first time in 15 years that a Honda would compete in North American Rally with such a unique transmission.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Yahoo Autos editor and racer Alex Lloyd took to the same tree-lined gravel roads as Travis Pastrana and David Higgins in the Lake Superior Performance Rally in the 2014 Rally America championship. Driving a 2009 Honda Fit, Lloyd competed in the B-Spec class, proving that competing with the best rally drivers in America doesn't have to break the bank. Here's his story: (Photos via Scott Rains)
I'm up to my shins in icy water. It's dark, my head weary. Every exhaled breath reminds me of a 1980s Jaguar with a blown head gasket. I'm so cold my fingers can barely grasp the "OK" board, signifying to other drivers that despite my 2009 Honda Fit being beached in a mud bank, I am, in fact, uninjured. As is my co-driver, James Guitar, a man with the greatest name in the world and an identical twin brother so identical that even they forget who's who. "Just get back in the car," he yells.
Should I downshift to first?
Here we meet our crew guys. They look over the car and fix whatever you broke. You take a leak, grab a coffee, perhaps some food, strap back in the car and head out. In my case, I’m going too slowly to break anything, so we all enjoy some piping hot soup.
In a car, understeer is where you turn the steering wheel into a bend and the front tires slide straight. It’s known as a horrific sin in rallying, like punching the Queen of England or buying light mayo. It’s a crash waiting to happen; you must kick the car sideways so it’s easier to scrub speed if the corner tightens. And even if it doesn’t, with the front wheels sliding, you’re sure to run wide and into the wilderness.
I do this time and time again. It’s never particularly costly, but it’s embarrassing and highly amateurish. I’m using my left foot to brake, which is correct; in rallying, you spend more time using both feet at once than you do just one. Reason being is that dabbing the brake mid corner will help pin the front and get the car to rotate, hence eliminating understeer. In the faster corners you can hold the throttle flat and simply shed speed by stabbing the brake. Only it’s not working. I don’t understand why, and I’m too fearful of trying something new lest I end up off a cliff.
By now it’s dark. I’m feeling dejected and want to go home. I later figure out that I’m stabbing the brake too hard in the sloppy mud and locking up all four tires, not just the rear. When that happens I simply shoot off the side of the road. I’m also going into the turns too slowly. My theory of taking it easy is sound, but if you don’t brake late enough to get the weight transferred onto the front axle, allowing the rear to pivot around, you’ll never get the car turned.
So it’s catch 22. The more I feel uneasy, the slower I go. Hence the more I crash.
On a tight three right I do it again. At what feels like ten miles per hour I slide off into a ditch. This time I’m stuck. After around ten minutes of misery stood in that icy puddle, the driver of a Toyota feels sorry for me. He stops, and James hooks our towrope onto the back of his car. I drop the clutch and the cabin fills with the stench of burning iron as I fight to bring the Fit back onto the road. After, James straps back in, flings his pace notes onto his lap and informs me that, in all the chaos, he has no idea where the hell we are. With my race suit caked in mud and my confidence well and truly shattered, I’m no longer a professional race car driver – I’m a lost little boy in need of his blankie.
Back at service, I’m already 13 minutes down on the B-Spec leader. We still have four more stages to go before the day is done, and that won’t be until around 12:30am. I confide in my wife as we walk to grab a coffee: “I hate this,” I tell her.
“Well at least you’ve done it,” she says, trying her best to comfort me. “You’ve been wanting to do this forever, just try and enjoy it.”
“I’ll try,” I mutter, my socks soaked in Michigan mud.
As the night wears on, exhaustion sets in. We’ve been in the car for eight hours, with just two breaks consisting of a handful of minutes. I never imagined rallying to be this grueling. You see the stages and think that’s it, but the transits are killers, and with the imposed time limit, you’re always concentrating on something.
On stage 7 I witness a fellow racer upside down on his roof. The car’s destroyed and we check to see if they’re OK; in rallying, the car behind is the first response. Everyone’s fine, but if they weren’t, we’d do what we can to help and signal the car behind us to speed to the nearest checkpoint and call for proper assistance. Given the lengthy time for trained medics to arrive, we all look out for each other: “We’re like a family,” one driver told me after the race. “We have to be.”
As the stages tick by, my confidence slowly builds. I begin to rid myself of the dreaded understeer and attack corners with more gusto. This helps, and for the final three stages of the night, I make no mistakes. I’m also comforted by the spinning mayhem of those around me. It’s not just me struggling, the conditions are some of the worst seen in years.
This race had turned into one of attrition.
As we pull into service at the end of the day, both James and I are wrecked. I’d chugged some Red Bull during an earlier transit, and we’d both fought for the last chocolate chip cereal bar. It didn’t help much. We’re starving, but I’m amazed how quickly my mood has shifted: From being utterly despondent, but a shell of the man I typically am, back to my normal self in just a few miles of tidy motoring on gravel.
Rallying does that.
Before, the car was driving me. Now, I’m driving it, and like my wife said, I’m finally enjoying myself. In fact, I’m loving it, and tomorrow, I’m putting the hammer down.
It had taken 1 hour 30 minutes to drive back to the hotel the night before. We didn’t arrive until 2am, and with just a few hours sleep, we’re back on the road heading to the picturesque town of L’Anse, the venue for this morning’s parc exposé – the place where all the cars and fans gather before heading out on their muddy way.
My improved times and lack of mistakes during yesterday’s evening stages have left us just a couple of minutes down on the B-Spec leaders. We should, if I can hold it together, have a reasonable shot at victory.
After just the first few corners of stage 11, a hideously bumpy course with rocks the size of Mini Me, I can sense my improved technique. The sun is shining, albeit temps are hovering below freezing, and I feel good. My performance is proving that. Until I enter a “four right plus,” the “plus” signifying that it is only a smidgen tighter than a five. All looks good, until the back snaps ferociously. I have no chance to recover. I spin, fortunately missing the trees, leaving me facing in the wrong direction. In a front wheel drive car, you can’t just drop the clutch and flick it around; I have to embark in tedious six-point turn. All in, it costs me around 30 seconds.
Here’s the trickiest part of rallying: In changeable conditions, especially ones that involve enough rain to piss off ducks, you have to be able to predict what the grip level will be like in the upcoming bend, something I didn’t do here. Of course you’ve never seen said bend, so how would you know what it will be like? 2WD national champ and all-round top bloke Andrew Comrie-Picard told me that you must inspect your surroundings while driving (at 100 mph). Look for overhanging trees that might shelter the road surface from the rain, offering more grip and an ability to carry more speed. Or is there a compression (like in this case) where water may linger and cause treacherous, slippery mud to form? Look for colors in the surface, an odd sheen perhaps, dripping water from branches, boys with water pistols or a gaggle of rednecks spilling their moonshine.
I was still trying to get to grips with being in a forest and not on a purpose built racetrack, listening to Mr. Fender bark orders at me, and generally hoping to mow down as few spectators as possible. This was just too much.
I sit back and enjoy the final three stages of the rally. My times are ever improving and I’m having the time of my life. I’ve dreamed of racing a rally since I was a little boy, traipsing through the Welsh forests with my dad. We’d huddle behind trees as Juha Kankkunen flew by in his Lancia Delta HF Integrale. I’d drink tomato soup my mom made while my father sipped warming brandy from his hip flask. We’d drive there in his red Jaguar XJS, and then we’d get stuck in a muddy parking lot; in fact, we nearly slid into a river once. And at age eight, we got so badly lost while wandering around the forest at night that we had succumbed to sleeping under the stars. Fortunately, we heard the vaguest whistle of Carlos Sainz in a Toyota Celica GT-Four, leading us to safety. These are the fondest memories of my childhood.
At the start of the first day, I was gutted that the realization of my first rally wasn’t living up to these boyhood expectations. But once I got to grips with the machine I was driving and the roads in which I was driving on, it was all of that and more. I think about my time behind the wheel of that glorious little Fit daily. What a car, a true gem that I genuinely bonded with, and a bulletproof gem at that. Not one thing broke, despite the punishing I gave her.
I also show my four year-old boy the pictures of the rally and let him hold the first place trophy. Despite all the dramas, the tears, the exhaustion, Mr. Stratocaster, his twin brother and the crew led me to victory. Stood on the hood of the car, spraying a weird pink champagne that tasted like rotten flowers mixed with cat urine, laughing with James that we’d not only won – but we’d survived. It was everything I dreamed it would be, despite the rocky start.
I had proved that front-wheel-drive rally cars aren’t boring. They’re incredibly challenging, and had I have been in an all-wheel-drive Subaru, for example, I likely wouldn’t have experienced the highs and lows that I did. I’m glad I stood shin deep in filth. I’m glad I ruined my prized race boots that took me to fourth place in the 2010 Indy 500. I’m glad I didn’t run off into the forest and douse myself in a puddle of Scotch. I stuck with it, and reaped the rewards. Not for the trophy, or for the cat wee champagne. But for the memories, the experience, tearing through the gravel roads of northern Michigan, just James and me – and our little Honda Fit.
That night after the rally we partied in Houghton’s only club, drinking beer with my fellow racers, talking stories about who survived and, more specifically, who did not. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Except for Mr. Gibson’s refusal to sing. After all we’d been through, you’d think he could muster a few chords.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Champions of USAC’s 2014 Honda .25 Midget series were toasted Saturday night in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. as the “Showcase of Champions” unfolded at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
Butch Lamb served as the emcee for the affair, which offered pre and post-banquet amusement with the Hall of Champions’ array of sports-related games and displays.
Eighteen National and multiple regional championships were celebrated, the National Champions also featured during opening ceremonies at Friday night’s 59th USAC “Night of Champions” National Awards Dinner, also in Indianapolis.
The “Generation Next” series encompassed a baker’s dozen events from coast to coast and resulted in 58 different class winners.
Honored as USAC Honda .25 Midget National Champions as a result of their “Generation Next Tour” titles were Logan Heath of Hereford, AZ (Light 160 and Light World Formula Pavement); Carson Hocevar of Portage, MI (Heavy Honda and Heavy 160, Senior Animal and Heavy AA Pavement); Berklee Jimenez of San Antonio, TX (Heavy World Formula Pavement); Brady Johnson of Mooresville, N.C. (Junior Honda Pavement); Christopher Oplinger of Mount Holly, N.C. (Senior Honda Pavement); Tanner Reif of Henderson, NV (Junior Animal Pavement); Famous Rhodes II of Parkland, FL (Light Mod Pavement); Danny Sams III of Englewood, FL (Unrestricted Animal Pavement); Jack Wehmeyer of Sellersville, PA (Light AA Pavement); Aleksander Andrecs of Edgewater, MD (Junior Honda Dirt); Bradan Andrecs of Edgewater, MD (Junior Animal Dirt); Jesse James Bartleson of Rio Grande, NJ (Heavy World Formula Dirt); Zachary Curtis of Spring City, PA (Heavy Honda Dirt); Briggs Danner of Allentown, PA (Light 160 Dirt); Hanna Flood of Limerick, PA (Heavy 160 and Unrestricted Animal Dirt); Connor Gross of Middleton, MA (Light World Formula Dirt); Mike Thompson of Holland, PA (Senior Animal Dirt); and Conner Weiss of Barto, PA (Senior Honda Dirt).
Champions of the Eastern, Western, Northeast and East Coast sub-series were also recognized and presented distinctive awards.
Connie Ellington of Arizona, who served for the past three years as a dedicated USAC official, was the surprise recipient of USAC’s “Spirit of Youth Award” in recognition of her outstanding contributions and dedication to youth in motorsports.
All of the USAC champions received distinctive championship jackets compliments of Hoosier Racing Tire of Lakeville, Ind.
Geri Amani: www.GeriAmaniRacing.com
G-Speed Race Management: https://www.facebook.com/pages/G-Speed-Race-Management/141021149316181
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Las Vegas, NV. -- Jeff Kelley of Eden, Utah won Saturday night’s USAC Western HPD Midget finale at the Las Veas Motor Speedway Bullring. He passed Shawn Buckley on lap 25 and led the final six laps to beat Buckley, Jim Waters, Christine Breckenridge and Michael Daniels. Buckley wrapped up the 2014 USAC Western HPD and Pavement titles in the process. Kelley's win was the first in HPD Western competition by a Honda engine.
HPD USAC WESTERN MIDGET PAVEMENT RACE RESULTS: November 22, 2014 – Las Vegas, Nevada – Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Jim Waters, 24, Waters-15.287; 2. Jeff Kelley, 55x, Kelley-15.298; 3. Christine Breckenrdge, 26, Breckenridge-15.329; 4. Shawn Buckley, 7, Buckley-15.443; 5. Michael Daniels, 87, Daniels-15.666; 6. Courtney Crone, 98jr, Pankratz-15.843; 7. Jeanille Waters, 17, Waters-15.958; 8. Anthony Waters, 02w, Waters-15.977; 9. Ashley Hazelton, 32, Hazelton-16.006; 10. Annie Briedinger, 75, Briedinger-16.038; 11. Joel Rayborne, 2U, RamBull-NT; 12. Toni Briedinger, 80, Briedinger-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Jim Waters, 2. Breckenridge, 3. Daniels, 4. Hazelton, 5. Jeanille Waters. NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Kelley, 2. Buckley, 3. T.Briedinger, 4. A.Waters. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Jeff Kelley, 2. Shawn Buckley, 3. Jim Waters, 4. Christine Breckenridge, 5. Michael Daniels, 6. Ashley Hazelton, 7. Annie Briedinger, 8. Antony Waters, 9. Jeanille Waters, 10. Joel Rayborne, 11. Toni Briedinger. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-24 Buckley, Laps 25-30 Kelley.
FINAL USAC HPD WESTERN POINT STANDINGS: 1-Buckley-1,725, 2-Hazelton-1,149, 3-T,Briedinger-1,053, 4-Cody Jessop-1,026, 5-Breckenridge-867, 6-Rayborne-819, 7-A,Briedinger-756, 8-Kelley-594, 9-Tom Paterson-581, 10-Dylan Nobile-572.
FINAL USAC HPD WESTERN PAVEMENT POINT STANDINGS: 1-Buckley-1,188, 2-T.Briedinger-955, 3-Breckenridge-867, 4-A.Briedinger-756, 5-Rayborne-723, 6-Cody Jessop-635, 7-Kelley-594, 8-Tom Paterson-581, 9-Dylan Nobile-572, 10-Hazelton-432.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Newry, ME. (July 18th-19th , 2014) – HPD and THR return to 2014 New England Forest Rally with B-Spec Honda FitTeam Honda Research partnered with Honda Performance Development to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the New England Forest Rally (NEFR), the sixth round of the Rally America National Championship.
“The best part is, our finish today allows us to mathematically wrap up the B-Spec National Championship, the B-Spec Manufacturers Championship, and also keeps our hopes of an overall 2WD National Podium alive, as well!”
Look for the THR B-Spec Fit at the next round of the Rally America National Championship Series, August 21-22 in Detroit Lake, Minnesota.
The sixth race on the Rally America National Championship schedule and always a favorite with drivers due to the technical demands of the course, the New England Forest Rally offers challenging logging roads with some of the longest stages on the Rally America National Championship. This rally is also a crowd pleaser because of its stunning scenery and wildlife. Quintessential northeastern settings such as winding creeks and one-lane bridges add not only beauty to the race, but also excitement, when encountered by drivers at breakneck speeds.
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com.