New for 2012 and offered to satisfy demand, Team O’Neil Rally School has designed a two-day Rallycross class that will take place January 19-20, February 2-3, and March 1-2.
While the course is designed to provide instruction for drivers who participate in SCCA-style sanctioned Autocross and Rallycross types of events, it also will help any driver learn better car control. Another factor that sets this course apart is that students will be able to choose the type of vehicle they want to train on – Rear, Front or All Wheel Drive – and use that type of vehicle during their training. Additionally, students who wish to bring their own autocross or rallycross car may do so; these can be used on Day 2 of the course after using TON vehicles on Day 1.
Students will learn TON’s proven LFB techniques and how to apply them to that vehicle, as well as vehicle dynamics, five types of skids, lines and apexes, five types of braking, and more. As with our popular rally schools, we will maintain a 2:1 student instructor ratio.
We expect the road conditions at our 600-acre facility in Dalton, NH to include packed snow and ice, potentially with some gravel showing through, depending on weather conditions. Please note that if you plan to use your own vehicle it will need to be prepared for such conditions. It is also important to note that TON will not take any responsibility for mechanical problems or damage to your vehicle.
Class size will be limited, so sign up now! The cost for the two-day course is $1,897; if you use your vehicle on Day 2, the cost includes a $300 discount (so $1,597).
To sign up, call us at 603.444.4488. If you have questions about the class, please ask for Chuck.
At Team O’Neil, we’re proud of the fact that our staff includes some really versatile people. Last week we talked about how some of our instructors and a mechanic are going to be rallying as drivers in some or all of the Rally America championship events. This week, we catch up with Chris Komar, a TON instructor who recently returned from Kenya, where we was invited to work as a mechanic for a rally team that participated in the legendary East African Safari Classic Rally (EASCR), an eight-day race that covers 2,000 miles.
Chris was working for Tuthill Porsche, a team that has participated in the Classic before, and which had nine cars racing this year. Three of those cars were sponsored by Race4Change, which was racing to raise awareness of microfinance as a tool for women’s empowerment. Team members included Travis Pastrana, as well as Bjorn Waldegard – a rally legend himself who won the race this year with his son Mathias co-driving – and Steve Funk, R4C’s mastermind who finished the race 6th with co-driver Andrew Doig. On a team comprised of over 50 people, Chris was the only American.
I asked Chris a few questions about the experience…
Q: What were your responsibilities on the team?
A: I was assigned to work on car #24, the car that Travis Pastrana drove for four days with co-driver Fabrizia Ponzi. After Travis left (he couldn’t stay the whole 8 days of the race), Patrick Njiru [Kenya's most successful indigenous driver] took over.
Q: How did Travis do?
A: He suffered some mechanical ills but he won the last stage that he ran and set the fastest time.
Q: You’re an instructor for Team O’Neil. What are your qualifications for being a mechanic on a rally team driving all Porsches?
A: Well, I have a long heritage working as a mechanic for Subaru Rally Team USA – I’ve worked with them since 2005 and I still work for them at the Rally America championship events, as well as at some rally cross events and at the X-Games, and I worked for them during several World Rally Championship rounds in 2007 and 2008. I’ve been with Tim [O'Neil] for about 10 years – I was his mechanic during the RA championship series in 2002 and 2003.
Q: What were some of the high points of the EASCR?
A: Driving around and seeing the Great Rift Valley, Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti and game parks. We were close to places like the Ngoro Ngoro Crater when we had a service in a little town near there, but we didn’t get to go in it. I did have a giraffe nearly jump out in front of me!
Q: How was it driving throughout Kenya?
A: The highways were deadly! I couldn’t let my gaurd down ever. Dangerous, ill-repaired overloaded, un-regulated trucks everywhere… horrifing crashes, taxi vans speeding and passing as if they had nothing to loose. Livestock, donkeys, goat heards, cattle, monkees, zebras, and a giraffe, all in the roads day and night. Locals walk and bike at the edge of the narrow roadway as if there is no speeding traffic, and there were droves of school children everywhere too. I saw a man – roadkill – crumpled along the highway south of Nairobi. I drove nearly two thousand miles. The upside was that I drove moran (dirt) roads of all types, night and day. Through Tsavo, Arusha and Amboseli national game reserves, and around Kilimanjaro. I loved the back country travel and could go on for ever.
Q: Tell us about the working conditions.
A: Sleep deprivation and long hours. We’d be driving by 4am and wouldn’t be going to sleep until 11am most days. We spent maybe 3-4 hours a day actually working on the cars, which were getting pretty beat up.
Q: Were there any particular fixes you found you had to keep doing on the team car?
A: We had to keep setting the ride height, work on alignment, replace torsion bars…
Q: What were the reactions of the people who lived in the places you were driving through (and that the race was going through)?
A: People were mostly excited and we had positive support. We always drew large crowds everywhere that we serviced – people just showed up. We were all over Maasai territory so we got to hang out with Maasai people of all ages – that was pretty cool.
Q: Last question. Would you do it again?
For those of you who live in a part of the world where the seasons change, you know there are multiple seasons beyond just Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. If you’re from Northern New England, you’re no doubt used to talking about Mud Season, and maybe even the Tourist Seasons or the Off Seasons. But here at Team O’Neil our fearless leader Tim has coined a term for yet another season: Silly Season.
No, we haven’t added any circus funny cars to the TON fleet of Ford Fiestas, VW’s, Jeeps or other vehicles, and this isn’t our seasonal version of April Fools’ Day either. What Silly Season means here is that we’ve entered into a period of time –let’s just say it’s about a month or so – where we’re swamped with work on not one, not two, but FIVE Ford Fiestas that we’re prepping for our drivers as we get ready for the 2012 Rally America championship series, that begins with the Sno*Drift Rally held in Atlanta, Michigan, the weekend of January 27-28, 2012. That’s a lot of cars to get ready to race in just over a month’s time!
So here’s the lowdown. Within the next week or so, Chris Duplessis is off to Detroit, MI, to bring home his new Ford Fiesta, in which he will be installing an R2 kit with the help of our master technician Ed McNelly and which he plans to race at Sno*Drift. Meanwhile, Ed is working with Wyatt Knox to put the finishing touches on Wyatt’s new R2 so that it will be ready for final assembly and paint and be good to go for Sno*Drift also. Tim O’Neil also just got his paperwork for the new Fiesta that Ford is giving him to run a limited championship series next year (more on that in a future post!), and that will also be getting the R2 treatment. He’s figuring out when he’s going to head to Detroit himself to get the new car, in the midst of trying to make sure he doesn’t forget his wife’s and his mother’s birthdays (Happy Birthday ladies!) and so that he can actually enjoy some vacation time next week. The Stage 1 Fiesta that Verena Mei drove (and rolled – good thing we fix stuff ALL the time too) at NEFR last year, and that Ed drove to a well-earned third place win in the 2WD category at the Rally of the Tall Pines in Ontario last month, is being reworked and upgraded with more power and better suspension so that she can drive it in the RA championship series next month as well.
As for Fast Eddie himself, he’s making upgrades to the R2 that Chris drove at the Susquehanna Trail Performance Rally (STPR) and drove to win the New England Forest Rally (NEFR) last spring and summer, that Joseph Burke drove at the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) for a 2nd place finish in the 2WD class, and that Wyatt drove to win the 2WD class at Tall Pines (yes, this is a car with some history in its short life). Ed will be racing that car at some of the championship series rallies this coming year.
Phew! If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll note that we will have past champions, old champions, mechanics, instructors and movie stars building Fiestas here at Team O’Neil over the next month. Next we want to make the office staff rally champions! We know we can do it…
When you take all of this and consider that each build or rebuild takes potentially hundreds of hours to do, you can understand why Team O’Neil is in the midst of Silly Season now. Join me in wishing them all lots of good luck, no power outages and an abundance of caffeine for the next month!
Check out Ford Racing’s press release below to learn about it’s “Tournament of Ovals” Facebook contest, and be sure to vote for TON instructor and 2WD Rally America champion Chris Duplessis!
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 30, 2011 – It has been a banner year for Ford Racing. As the ‘Blue Oval’ celebrated the 110th anniversary of Henry Ford’s historic win in Sweepstakes, its drivers in NASCAR, NHRA, action motorsports and road racing have been carrying on Henry’s tradition of excellence in their Ford-powered competition cars.
Now fans and followers of Ford Racing’s Facebook page can help celebrate 2011 by crowning a Facebook Fans’ Driver of the Year in Ford Racing’s first Tournament of Ovals.
The Ford Racing Facebook Fans’ Tournament of Ovals features a field of 34 drivers, including brackets dedicated to Ford Racing North America’s primary programs – NASCAR (Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series), NHRA Drag Racing (Funny Car, Pro Stock and Sportsman), action motorsports (World Rally Championship, Rally America, Global RallyCross, Formula Drift and Lucas Oil Off Road short course truck racing) and road racing (Grand-AM and Speed World Challenge).
Each bracket will crown a champion of the individual discipline. The four champions then square off in head-to-head competition until one remains. The finalist who earns the most fan votes on that final match-up will be the 2011 Ford Racing Facebook Fans’ Driver of the Year.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a fan, a driver or a crew member, when the season ends the banter and the bench racing begins,” said Jamie Allison, Director, Ford Racing. “We are bringing the passion of our fans and the inevitable driver discussion and debate online and inviting our Facebook fans to participate. It will be interesting because most of our drivers are very social media savvy, so who knows what we will see in the next 30 plus days as they look for the support of the Ford Racing fan base.”
The tournament officially kicks off on Thursday, December 1, 2011 and features a daily match-ups working through the bracket until the finale. The driver who receives the most votes from the Ford Racing Facebook Fans in each pairing will advance to the next round. Fans can vote once per match-up.
The competition begins with “play-in” match-ups on December 1 between action motorsport rally drivers Chris Duplessis and Dillon Van Way, and in road racing between Grand-AM drivers Ryan Daziel and Enzo Potolicchio. The winners of those match ups will be inserted into the Ford Racing field of 32.
Round 1 begins on December 2 and runs daily. Voting is open to all fans of the Ford Racing Facebook page and is open from 12 a.m. ET to 11:59 p.m. ET daily.
A new match-up will post each night at midnight.