2019 Olympus Rally, Part I – What Bernard and I Saw

Posted on May 17, 2019

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Last fall, Bernard and I hit the Tour de Forest Rally on the OP out of Shelton.  We had so much fun that this spring we dragged Amber back for the Olympus Rally. I’m a little fuzzy on the details but I think this is the first time this rally has been held in 20 years or so, when it was the only North American WRC rally. One of the best parts of it was Bernard drove us in his sporty Focus RS.

 

Two of my favorite people.

Favorite Images

This image pretty much captures the spirit of the event.

Last year I ran out of memory on my card and had to borrow one from Bernard. This year, I bought a new, kick ass card for the event. As always, click on any image to turn gallery into slide show. I particularly like how the rocks hang in the air like meteors in a dusty nebula.

My Images

 

Parc Exposé

The rally starts with a Parc Exposé in downtown Shelton where you can look at the cars and meet the drivers. Here, I ran into a guy I met 6 years ago at Agilepalooza. How he recognized me with my sunglasses on and my camera mashed up to my face, I’ll never know. He remembered my name, first and last. Said I gave him great career advice. Yet when he gave me his card, his title was Agile Coach.

We didn’t realize Petter Soldberg, ex WRC world champion was there as his 17 year-old son was driving one of the Subarus. In fact, he won the overall two day event. We spent quite a bit of time talking to one of the Subaru team mechanics last year. These are $650,000 cars, they have three of them, they are basically in a class by themselves, and they only compete in the US. The don’t even compete even on the WRC, so this isn’t their B team. I can’t quite fathom the business model. And it’s too bad there aren’t more cars of this caliber because once they go by, it’s pretty much a different race.

 

Stillwater Stage

After that, we drove down the road and checked out the Stillwater leg. Rally spectation is a bit tough. You get to drive out to the woods, stand on a section of forest road, watch cars go by on one or maybe two corners of the 20ish mile leg. Despite being in the middle of all out, you are pretty much wedged in with your fellow spectators. At one point I was laying/kneeling on the dirt shooting between the legs of the couple in front of me. The pro or semi-pro cameramen get all of the good shots. The first cars going by, the fast ones, shot baseball-size and bigger rocks well into the crowd – one just missed my lens last year and gave me a nasty bump on the arm. By the time they go by and you figure out your camera settings, the other cars are no where near so dramatic. This year, I wasted those shots trying to duplicate my best shots from last year, the pans and blurs.
You wait for a few crowd favorites (this year everybody hung out for the Porsche), and then bump off to the next stage to get the best spot you can. This year was much better than last in that the stages were closer together and everything seemed much better organized.

 

 

 

Stillwater Industrial Park

After the Porsche went by, we headed to the Stillwater Industrial Park were they had the service pits and a Super Special one mile course. This was great as last year we weren’t allowed in the pits and also the one mile course gave the spectators a lot of action. There were also bathrooms and a food court here. The local rally school, Dirtfish, sponsored the event, and they really stepped it up this year. I’m so glad Amber got me the one day course there for my birthday.
The dust was intense, but so was the wind, and one car’s dust cloud would just be clearing when the next car hit the track. Despite the short course, one driver got lost, and he must’ve set quite the track because the next six or so cars followed him off course. This seemed to concern the officials not at all.  For the racers, the day was only half over, but it looked like weather might be moving in, we’d been up since 5, the wind was exhausting, and we still had a few breweries to hit. Sheldon has/had a brewery, but it looks closed, so we headed to Oly and hit two brewers (Headless Mumby and Three Magnets) both pretty decent for a change! In fact, I’ve had a lot of good beer on the OP.

 

You definitely want to read Part II, that’s where the good stuff is!