Indiana Rally Cross Event 1; Words by Derek James, Photography by Shealee Zielinski

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    12:01am May 3rd. The Audi you see above starts for the first time in our ownership of the vehicle. Within all the cries of jubilation, an undertow of uncertainty and anxiousness. The JET Motorsport garage had awoken an entire neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana with the burble of a twenty four year old five cylinder Audi. It had begun.

    In less than ten hours we would be embarking in the first round of rally cross competition for the JET Motorsport Audi 90. Six months of blood, sweat, and tears all built up to the short two and a half minute run around the 1.5 mile course at the Badlands Off Road Park and the first round of the 2014 Indiana Rally Cross schedule. 

   It was at about 12:30am that it set in, we still had work to do. The clutch master cylinder needed bled. The front tires needed to be installed, and the car needed to be test driven. I had went home to grab a couple of hours of sleep, and pack the rest of our equipment in our support vehicle. At 3:45am our lead mechanic and driver Jose sent me a text telling me that the car was ready, that he and our truck driver/support mechanic Trent, had loaded the car up and set off on the three hour drive to Attica, Indiana. Image

 

      At 5:00am the Zielinski siblings Nick, and Shea, as well as Nicks girlfriend Jasmine arrived at my home and loaded their supplies into the car and we began our trip to Attica as well. When we pulled up to the pit area at the course Jose and Trent had the jump cables hooked up to the car and were attempting to start the car. Apparently we left the radio on and the drained the battery. We are going to remove said radio before the next event, but this was the first of only a couple setbacks throughout the day. We set up our pit, prepped the car, then sat back and watched the two wheel drive group go out for their first heat of the day.Image

       Shea, Nick, Jasmine, Trent, and I sat on the truck and watched this group go while Jose was out on the stage being a corner worker. In this group we were surprised by some of the competitors, chiefly the Honda Odyssey pictured above. The directors allow any car or truck that can pass the technical inspection compete in the event. So I am sure that we will see some interesting cars as the year progresses. 

      Our three favorite cars of the group though were a red NA Mazda Mx-5, a stage prepped Toyota Celica, and a RENTED 2014 Chevy Camaro convertible, because at the hard left out of the forest and onto the grass that was the second turn of the course, these three cars were pulling off some epic drifts!ImageImageImage

    While the cars in the group were making their last couple of runs, we prepped the Audi to head out. Because we were still working out some bugs in the car, Jose had the rush back and pick up the car and I to head out for our heat.Image

      The first run of the session we took it easy on the car, not wanting to strain the new motor as it was running for the first time in over nine months. I sat in the co-drivers position and took video as well as gave Jose some extra guidance. We could have taken video of the runs with me GoPro, but I left it on while it was in my camera bag overnight and drained the battery dead. So all we have is cell phone video of the various runs. 

      When we were in line preparing for our second run Jose asked me, “What do you think, should we pull aside and let the car cool for a couple of minutes?” Of course I said it would be fine and we could make another run, THEN let it cool. That’s when it happened. Coming down the hill into turn 2, Jose downshifted into second gear, there was a loud bang as well as backfire from the exhaust, and the car proceeded to void all its coolant.Image

     As you  can see in the photo above, that’s not dirt behind the car, but a cloud of what was cooling the five cylinder. Jose finished the run, and we pulled the car off to the side to inspect the damage. The car had absolutely zero coolant left. It was all sprayed over the engine bay. Our heat was over after just two runs. 

   It turned out that the hose leading from the overflow tank to the heater let go. So we towed the car pack to the pits, and our mechanics went to work bypassing the heater system all together. Image

 

      Over our lunch break. The guys went to work and got the car fixed and running again. So, for this session, Nick and Jasmine would take turns co-driving for Jose. While Shea, Trent, and I watched. The car ran beautifully and Jose was able to get all five of his runs in, getting quicker after each one. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

    Overall, it was a great day. We hope to be back for all of the races on the Indiana Rally Cross schedule. Thanks to everyone on the team and all of our supporters. Without you guys none of this would be possible. You have our deepest respect. Please enjoy                  your next rally experience!ImageImageImageImageImage

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