Our first Sno*Drift in 2005 was probably a bona-fide disaster. We hit a stump the first night, tearing off a control arm, bending a strut, and destroying a halfshaft. The several mile ride out of the woods bouncing along the skid plate was "interesting".
The next day, we proceeded to slid into a snowbank and re-wreck that same corner of the car, along with the borrowed halfshaft.
Six years later finds both of us far more experienced, a bit jaded, and more focused on regular sleep than extreme driving. The event previous, LSPR, was uneventful in nearly all aspects, leaving minimal carnage to take care of on the car.
With the luxury of time on my hands, I swapped to softer springs for the snow event- the logic being that a lower friction surface won't generate the lateral force that a surface like gravel does, and with the lower forces involved, a higher spring rate on the suspension doesn't allow things to move like they should.
We also opted to try a Note Familiarization Pass aka (somewhat incorrectly) as Recce. This has been available to US competitors for a couple of years now, but requires an extra day at the event. With no worries about vacation time, trying it here was nearly a no brainer. Spending all day pre-driving the course at moderate speeds was mind-numbing. At the time, I had little positive to say about the experience, although in retrospect, Andrew suggested he felt far more confident in the notes, and was able to try to push the pace from his seat for the first time.
While we were out on Recce, our father Barney, and brother Marc lumbered up to the event with the Van, rally car riding comfortably on the trailer.
They managed to successfully register, get the car through scruitineering, and find the nearest public house. We joined them after Recce for a carbonated beverage, and retired to the hotel to await the arrival of our hired guns, Erik and Kenny.
The addition of 4 more people into the room made it painfully obvious that we were now well above capacity. Kenny jockeyed for the coveted floor spot while Erik made his nest perched upon a series of chairs set next to each other. It looked uncomfortable, bordering on torturous, despite his claims of absolute comfort and total bliss.
Our first leg out of Lewiston was unremarkable. Sno*Drift rewards those who stay on the road. We ran a brisk but steady pace, and kept our (and the cars) noses clean. We were rewarded with a 2nd in class spot in the regional event going into the first service.
Things became more interesting in service. The cold weather conspired with some dodgy crimp connectors to render the light pod connectorless. We tossed it into the trunk, along with some tools, and anxiously sat through the RGC with the plan to fix the wiring during the fuel depot stop immediately after the RGC.
While we were chewing our frozen fingernails,we noticed that Chris Greenhouse hadn't checked into the RGC with us as expected. When he finally did, he was facing a time penalty over 2 minutes for the lateness incurred to get a balkly alternator belt back onto the car.
We'd been running neck and neck all day and this placed us firmly into the number one spot in the G2 regional. We just needed lights.
While the crew fueled the car, I used butt connectors to repair the pod wiring. After fueling, Andrew was to pull the car around near me to install the lights. This went like clock work, and we set off onto the transit.
6 miles out of town, the front end began shaking, and it became obvious something was very wrong with the car. That something wrong was a flat tire that Andrew is convinced was caused by his striking a curb while driving it into the parking lot. A rapid tire change left us with mis-matched front tires, a lost wallet, and the need to adhere to the upper end of the speed limit to ensure we'd get to the next control on time.
No one likes to arrive at an ATC in the middle of their minute; any road blockage would have let to lateness.
Running the next few stages on two different sized front tires was annoying, but workable. We had a sizeable lead in our class, and were able to maintain our pace.
On the final stage of the evening, we passed a stopped Chris Duplessis, which we immediately recognized as leaving us in 2nd place in the Thayer Automotive Sno*Attack 2WD Challenge for the weekend, sitting right behind Dillon Van Way. Within minutes, the feeling of elation was one of exhaustion as we attempted to extract our car off a small snow bank at the bottom of a medium right hand turn I'd mis-navigated.
A failed rescue attempt by Matt Marker left us with no tow rope, and sunken spirits as car after car passed. Finally, Chris Greenhouse, who had started behind us due to his service issues, stopped and yanked us out. By catching us, he was securely back into the class leading position, and being the true sportsman, he wanted to ensure we'd get going again.
The conclusion of the stage was uneventful, with plenty of time to stew on What-Ifs. Our final obstacle of the evening was to find my wallet that had dropped out of the car at some point. After driving to the pullout where we'd changed the tire, Andrew found my wallet, and we headed back towards Atlanta, exhausted, and 10 minutes down to other competitors.
We finished the Sno regional event well down in class to newer competitors who had cleaner runs, and well out of the money in the Sno*Attack event. Still, the car was in good shape, running well, and mostly needed the tires juggled around.
Marc led Erik and Kenny through the evening service routine while Andrew and I tried to decompress and prepare for the early Saturday morning that was rapidly approaching.