What can I say about the 2018 RallyCross season but “Wow it was one heck of a ride”. If there is one thing I learned from this season and my first time running a racing program, you have to plan for the unexpected because the weather is always unpredictable.
Our first event was cancelled due to a snow / rain / freeze / thaw situation that ultimately turned Thunder Valley Sand Drags into a mud bog. We decided to instead have a committee meeting over lunch to discuss with the members that showed up anything that could be improved going into the 2018 season. We received really good feedback and strived to make those improvements starting at our next event in March.
Our second event came very close to being cancelled due to rain but we still held the event and had a good turnout. Even though we had to deal with muddy conditions, a few cars losing fender liners, and a few cars with cracked front bumpers we all had a good time. We were working towards training new people for positions they had never done and things were not as smooth as they could have been but like anything you have to start somewhere in order to learn how to get better.
The third event was supposed to be at one of our new venues StoneGate Motorplaza where we managed to bury Greg Cheney and James Cahill’s cars up to their axles in the mud during a test day 2 weeks prior to the event. We managed to reschedule the event to coincide with the Kansas Region’s second event at their Carbondale site just south of Topeka, KS.
I am fairly certain that Greg wanted to bury me in the field after taking this picture.
Our fourth event was also the same weekend as our first attempt at a MiDiv event in 2 years and the weather leading up to the event was so-so but at least it was not supposed to rain for the event based on the forecast that we kept seeing, which was a 20% chance of rain. Now I am no weatherman but I am certain that 20% chance does not mean 3 heavy rain storms during a 24 hour period. We setup the site for the Saturday part of the event and just as we finished setting up it rained for about 30min. The first half of heat one cars managed to get done without any major issues but just as we were finishing up and prepping to start the second half of heat one a second round of rain rolled through and we decided to send everyone out to lunch. After lunch we tried to run the course in the configuration from the morning and it degraded extremely fast and we buried 2 cars in the mud and needed to have them towed out. We made some course changes and continued to press on into the afternoon. After that train wreck I asked everyone for a vote on if we should continue with the second heat and almost everyone wanted to press on. I ordered dinner for us and we set out to change the course. We fought through the rain and mud to try to put on the best event that we could. Just as we were finishing up the second half of the second heat a looming thunderstorm finally arrived and chased us off the site. With that thunderstorm and the absolute deluge of rain that fell overnight we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the event for Sunday.
This was the storm that chased us off the field with 60mph winds and hail after the second heat
The next event after the MiDiv was our official joint event with the Kansas Region at their Carbondale, KS site. The event was a welcome change to our schedule where we had no adverse weather what so ever. The gimmick for the event was the “Unity Challenge” where two drivers were paired up with each other at random and the lowest overall combined times would win vouchers to future events. Both KC and KS groups had a good turnout and a new Novice class was introduced at their event, which we “borrowed” to help us with our program.
Our next event was at I-35 Speedway in Winston, MO, which was our new site for 2019. When I drove out of the garage at my house it was pouring down rain I thought oh great here we go again. Amazingly on the drive North up Hwy 35 I drove out of the rain around Holt, MO and the rain never made it to the site. Drivers from MO, KS, IA, and NE came to compete at our event and we had a fantastic day with our biggest turnout of the season at 38 drivers. We also used the Novice class for the first time since “borrowing” the idea from the KS region and lifting the supplemental rules from the KC Solo program. The new class managed to net us 9 drivers that we probably would not have in attendance if it didn’t exist.
Our second event at I-35 was also a dry event, which was again a happy surprise since it rained the day before and we thought it would make the track too muddy to race. Our turnout wasn’t as impressive as the previous event at I-35 but with less drivers and a smooth running event we managed to have 13 runs and approximately 9.5 minutes of total seat time on course, which is comparable to a single rally stage.
Our final event was at Thunder Valley Sand Drags in early November and even thought it had rained the day before, the track dried up relatively quickly during our morning runs. We had another fantastic event that ran relatively smooth, had a good turnout, and minor course degradation.
Our last event of the year was supposed to be the first Saturday in December but we had a late November snowstorm followed by a thaw and additional rain the day of the event. It was a tough decision but we opted to end the season rather than attempt to reschedule it. Unfortunately our year ended exactly as it started with a cancelled event.
Through all of the crazy weather that we had over the past year I still remember all of the fun we had together as a group of dirt loving enthusiasts. More important than any trophies or even the cars, we made new friends along the way this year and when you get down to it that is really why we enjoy the car hobby in the first place because it is about the people. We grew substantially as a program this past year with 7 successful events where we averaged 30 drivers per event and had 97 unique drivers for the season. There were many hard fought battles for each of the classes we had with several of them coming down to the last event. We learned many things this year as a program and plan to make adjustments for the 2019 season so that we can build on this year and make next year even better.
Have a good off season and I look forward to seeing you in 2019!!!
David Williams – RallyCross Advisory Committee Chair