For the two years or so that we here at Afterburner have been a part of the Mid-West Rally/Rallycross community, we haven’t really seen an event quite like the one that the Dirty Wayners Rally Team from Fort Wayne, Indiana have put on the past couple years.
What I mean by this, is that no matter what series we follow, there aren’t really any events centered around just having a fun, laid back time. That’s where DW Rally Team comes in.
Last year, Brian Ballinger and Hoosier Performance Engineering put on an event in order to raise money so that the Dirty Wayners could pay for parts and entry fees for their up and coming NASA Rally Sport effort. Now, I wouldn’t exactly call the event a complete success. The only downside to the event being that the track surface (a freshly harvested farm field) was very muddy and couldn’t provide much grip. Which resulted in a lot of broken and stuck cars.
Despite that, we had a positively epic time at the event last year. Upon hearing from Brian that another event was going to be put on during the first weekend of November a couple of weeks back, you could say that we were eager to hop in on the action.
Now, unlike last year, we wouldn’t be bringing our own car to thrash for the day. Instead, our good friend Cody Allison would be bringing his four cylinder rally Fox body Mustang for us to thrash.
Even though the event is only a short drive down Interstate Highway 69 from Fort Wayne, we were still eager to get going in the morning. After waking up to a 5:30am alarm, Brad and I met up with Brenden. Piled in his Subaru, and drove to a local diner to get some fresh cooked breakfast in order to properly wake us up and get us all excited for what lay ahead the rest of the day.
With the short trek south to Upland, Indiana completed. We were greeted by a sunny, cool, late fall morning. Now, we’ve been experiencing some pretty unconventional weather so far this fall. With temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s for most of the days leading up to the event. Now, to put that into perspective. This time last year, the temperatures were somewhere in the 20’s and 30’s for a good month before the event. What caused the mud issues last year was that the day of the event was the hottest day we had that month. The ground that was frozen for weeks prior was thawing, and becoming un-surpass able mud.
With sunny skies and temps in the mid to high 50’s forecast for the day, things were on the up and up. Once all the drivers and spectators arrived, a short drivers meeting was had in order to let everyone know to be safe and to not act too idiotic out on course. There will be no timing, no scoring. Just go out whenever you want, and have fun……Hell Yes.
Don’t get me wrong, the competitive events are awesome. You get to race head to head with some really talented drivers. But, when you throw the timing board, the cone penalties, and the classes out the window, and focus on just having fun. That’s when driving becomes truly enjoyable.
Like Baer Bash earlier in the year, the focus was on getting as much enjoyment out of the event as possible (read that article here). Drive your car, as much or as little as you want. I walked out on course for the first half of the day to get some more practice shooting rally cars.
Because the event was so laid back, I wasn’t that eager to get into the car and drive. I was getting just as much elation watching Cody, Brad, Cody’s friend Jaalam, and even Nick’s dad Rick make their rounds of the track in the rowdy Mustang.
After a quick lunch of some delicious, home made onigiri (thanks for the hard work making the food Brenden). It was my turn to give the Mustang a good wringing. Not for long though. Two corners into my second lap, the car seemed way down on power. So after gingerly finishing my lap and pulling it into the pits, all seemed okay. One of the battery terminals had worked it’s way loose and the car was topped off with oil. So we continued on, or so we thought.
After two more laps, the car was wwwaaaaaaayyyyy down on power and was belching out a cloud of thick white smoke. After pulling it into the pits, Cody and Brenden seemed pretty confident that one of the piston rings had gone bad and was the cause of all the problems. So, because Cody is swapping engines soon in the car anyways, he just said “F*ck it” and told us to go back out and finish it off.
Before that could happen though, I swapped with Brad to let him have another couple of laps in it. He shut the car off real quick to let it cool down, that’s all it needed. Once the block and head began to cool off and compress back into their normal shapes, the head gasket finally let go. Blowing oil infused coolant everywhere. The car was done, no more rally for us that day. We loaded the car back on the trailer, I got the usual ear full of grief from Cody, and we carried on with our day.
We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out, watching some rallycross, and enjoying the gorgeous weather. Many thanks to Cody for letting us beat up on the Mustang for the day. We hope it’s downtime isn’t too long and we look forward to seeing it back out on course. Also we can’t thank the DW Rally Team and Hoosier Performance Engineering enough for putting on another awesome event! We hope you guys decide to do it again next year! We will definitely be there!