Team O’Neil is offering a women’s only 2-day rally class the weekend of Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19. This class will mirror our typical 2-day rally course; however, it will be conducted only for women students. This class will offer women an opportunity to build both personal empowerment and effectiveness behind the wheel, as well as to learn practices that build a capable driver in all conditions — whether on the rally course or on the road of life.
So what will you learn in this 2-day class? On day one we will identify any areas of your driving skills that may need improvement and give you a chance to develop and practice correct responses in a safe environment. Over the course of the two days some of what you will learn includes:
- The art of Left Foot Braking and the reasons for using it
- How to use the throttle and brake to steer the vehicle
- Introduction to: Anticipation, Compensation and Timing
- Critical and life-saving driving skills & accident avoidance maneuvers
- Understanding of weight transfer
- Exposure to the 5 types of skids
- Introduction to Pendulum Turns
- Looking Up and Linking Turns
- Gear Choice and Timing & Vehicle Dynamics
Team O’Neil’s highly trained and professional instructors (who, it must be noted, are men) will teach the class to ensure that our women’s course students receive the same quality instruction that all of our students receive. Students should expect to leave the course with a new confidence in their driving skills, an understanding of skid control and a variety of breaking techniques. We offer a 2:1 student:teacher ratio and plenty of seat time in our Team O’Neil specially-prepped Ford Fiestas for you to practice the skills you’ll be learning.
Also added to the mix will be several accomplished women motorsports athletes who will share their stories and what they’ve learned competing in a male-dominated sport. Included among our guests will be Verena Mei, formerly a drift racer who competed in Formula Drift and the Redline Time Attack Series (where she won a class championship in her first year, placed podium at every event and became the first female to win a championship in the series) and who recently became a rally competitor in the Rally America series and trains regularly with Tim O’Neil. Verena signed with TrueCar to be part of the TrueCar Racing “Women Empowered” initiative, and has been a consistent finisher in the 2012 Rally America championship series. She also has extensive experience working in the motorsports and automotive industry.
We will also welcome Christy Carlson, a PhD student in Meteorology/Climatology and full-time scientific programmer for Atmospheric and Environmental Research who has also made a name for herself in the world of SCCA and Rally America. Christy is a National SCCA Solo champion and the first and only woman to ever trophy at the SCCA Rallycross National Championships. This year Christy has competed in two Rally America rallies, finishing as the fastest female driver at both Sno*Drift and 100 Acre Woods, and 9th Overall regionally the second day 100 Acre Wood. She will soon be taking on the famous Pikes Peak Hillclimb in a Subaru WRX that she has built herself with the help of a grassroots crew.
The cost for the weekend course is $1,897, which includes the use of Team O’Neil’s vehicles (complete with safety equipment) and helmets, and a course curriculum. It also includes an on-site barbecue luncheon on Saturday as well as a Team O’Neil t-shirt, hat and water bottle. Click here for information on lodging options in the area.
Questions? Please give us a shout and talk to Nancy or Pam at 603-444-4488, and learn more about our school at www.team-oneil.com.
Four new vehicles, a Ford Focus sedan and a Ford Explorer, along with the Ford Fiesta, are being added to Day 3 class to give our students the opportunity to feel for themselves the differences between vehicles that are and aren’t equipped with ABS (anti-lock brake systems), traction control, and an electronic stability platform (ESP) (these platforms are called different things in different cars; i.e., dynamic stability control, Porsche stability management, etc). These systems all prevent skids and they all use the ABS control module, engine ECU computer, a yaw sensor and a steering angle sensor.
As anyone who has spent a week learning driving techniques at Team O’Neil knows, the vehicles that our students learn on are stripped of these systems, which are all designed to help the average driver avoid getting into a skid. As skid control is our specialty, we’ve removed these systems so that they don’t interfere with instruction. However, once most people leave our school, they do so in vehicles that include these systems. As such we think it’s important for students to understand how these systems can help them, what their limitations are, and how to adjust for those limitations, and we’re pleased to be able to offer an opportunity for students to experience a side-by-side comparison of how vehicles perform with and without these systems.
The Focus and Explorer were used as part of a project that Team O’Neil participated in to develop a loose surface tire model for driving simulation, as well as automated feedback training for driving simulators.
As Ed McNelly (third place finisher in the 2WD class at this past weekend’s Oregon Trail
Rally and Team O’Neil’s fleet manager and senior technician) and Danny Grant (who helped service Ed’s Fiesta R2 as well as Verena Mei’s Fiesta at OTR, and who is a Team O’Neil motorsports mechanic) make their way back across the country from Oregon, this seemed like an appropriate time to list some tips and suggestions for long distance driving. Here are some of our ideas as well as ones we’ve gleaned from various sources on the web, but we’re sure there are more. Feel free to share your tips with us!
- Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready! Check your tires’ tread depth and pressure. Check your oil and coolant levels. A good idea would be to have your vehicle serviced a week or two prior to your trip.
- Know your route. Bring a GPS system if you have it, and have maps available too. A navigation system can help you identify where you can stop for fuel, food, restrooms, etc.
- Bring a cell phone, and don’t forget your charger!
- Have your AAA Membership card with you, and make sure your account is current. AAA Plus offers better towing (up to 100 miles free) as well as free fuel service and other benefits that the basic membership doesn’t offer.
- Have cash on hand as well as debit or credit cards. If you’re driving across country, chances are good that you’ll pass through a few toll booths along the way.
- Be sure to have an emergency kit on hand – including things like jumper cables, emergency triangles, flat tire kits, flashlights, and windshield-wiper fluid. Some basic hand tools might come in handy as well on a long trip. Don’t forget to pack gloves (even if it’s warm, work gloves can be really helpful to have on hand), as well as outerwear to deal with whatever weather you might encounter on your trip.
- Listen to music! We’d recommend against anything too soothing or mellow, because you don’t want music that is going to put you to sleep. This is your chance to unlock your inner rock star or pop diva – play something that will keep you awake and singing along! Bring your MP3 player, CDs, or whatever other music player you might have for those times when there are no radio stations for you to listen to.
- But, if you’re passing through areas with thick traffic or when you need to be paying attention, we recommend turning the music down, or off altogether. Your ability to stay focused on the road is the key to safely arriving at your destination.
- Bring snacks and drinks, but be sure you don’t get distracted trying to open them while driving. Lighter fare is better than heavier foods when you’re driving, as the latter will tend to make you drowsy. Your best bet is to use hunger as a good excuse to pull over and take a break, and give yourself some time to actually eat while not also trying to pay attention to the road.
- Take breaks! Try stopping every 2-3 hours to use the rest room, get something to eat or drink, and just to get out of your vehicle and stretch… When you do stop, be sure to do so in a safe place, where there are lots of other vehicles and/or you’re under the lights when you stop at night.
- Listen to your body. If you’re tired, if you’re drowsy, if you’re uncomfortable, just take a break, and find a safe place to maybe even take a nap. You’re a lot better off taking some time for rest than getting in an accident because of fatigue later.
- Try not to stress (this will only cause other problems like heart rate and blood pressure increases), and enjoy the scenery!
This month we feature Team O’Neil Rally School graduate Paul Willemsen of Costa Mesa, CA, who attended TON in 2009 after rallying for several years. Here’s his story.
I had the opportunity in late 2009 to fill a last-minute spot in a 3-day rally course. I
suppose I should start by saying I have been an active Production GT competitor on the West Coast since 2003. Finances and car condition permitting, I had competed in some notable rallies, including Rim Of the World Rally a few times. I didn’t even know about rally in the USA and had been watching on WRC on TV for years. A friend one day was watching with me and says “you know a buddy of mine at work does that” – that was all I needed to hear. There wasn’t much on the internet at that point, but I found out what I could, attended a licensing school/class(SCCA, CRS) and it wasn’t long before I purchased a used rally car. I literally jumped into it. I purchased a 1992 Mitsubishi GSX Eclipse (AWD Turbo). Back then you could start in all but “Pro” class. Growing up in mainly suburban areas in Southern California, I hadn’t gained a lot of off road or racing experience. I always assumed it was out of my reach. With a fairly powerful car, I suckered one of my closest friends into the “Silly Seat” (Co-Driver) and we were off to our first event. The story(s) escalate from here from respectable finishes, to DNF’s, and just about everything in between.
After being in the rally community for a while I kept noticing these “Team O’Neil” stickers on several cars. I found out about it, but with incident (crash) repairs and event fees I just couldn’t find it in my budget and I wanted to keep racing. Finally we had a fairly serious “incident” at Rim of the World Rally in ’04. Repairs to a jump gone very bad put me back almost 2 years. When I finally got it back together we went to Oregon & Washington to race in ’07. These were some of the best conditions and roads we ever raced. Being so far from home and the trails lined with huge trees (compared to our normal desert-like conditions at home) we decided to take it easy and save the car. We successfully completed both events, but again I was haunted by more cars with these TON stickers. At this time we decided to invest in building a new (to us) Rally Car, my 2003 WRX daily Driver. The next couple of years would be dedicated to building this car.
Finally in 2009, I stumbled onto the TON website and noticed that there was a class starting in a few days with a small discount offered to fill the last spot, made the call and decided since I was investing so much in the car I should see what this TON thing was all about and invest in myself as well. I hadn’t raced in a couple years and the rally bug was really starting to itch. I hoped this class would tie me over until we could finish the car. I had never been to the North East, and what a beautiful time to see it (October). Once in my rental from the airport and out of the city, I had to call the hotel and ask how late I could check in because the commute demanded a few stops to take it all in.
Once at TON, I was greeted by what seemed to be a few kids that were going to teach me how to rally? I was a bit older than most of the instructors like Duplessis & Knox - it just didn’t seem right. I had to have more experience… Once in the classroom and in session, however, I figured they could “talk the talk”, and once I was in the car(s) and Knox was instructing us while sliding the car though the slalom I realized I just needed to shut up and pay attention. I learned more the first day in an unassuming FWD car than I had in 6 years of trying to figure it out on my own. I couldn’t wait for the next couple days and of course it was over way too soon. Having dinner one night with fellow students, we were all amazed at what we could make these cars do in so little time. Our last day I finally got to meet Tim, and before leaving he gave me and another 3-day student (sitting in on a 4-day class) a private discussion and Q&A. It was nice to have this interaction and have the owner face to face showing concern not only that our expectations were met and exceeded, but to remind us that this was only the beginning, we would still require a lot of practice to be proficient, and that TON had opened the door and if nothing else gave us the tools to diagnose what we were doing right and wrong.
It was still almost 2 years before we would compete in our newly prepared car and put the
TON techniques to the test. Our first event was a small local rally called High Desert Trails (in 2011). I was feverishly studying my notebook from TON days before the event. The event was probably our most perfect event ever, everything seemed so smooth and fluid and we walked away with a working car and a first in class (PGT) finish, 2 minutes ahead of the the previous 2 years’ champion. I could not more highly recommend TON, and would say without a doubt, if Rally Racing is in your future you need to start by investing in yourself, and TON is the perfect place to do it….
We are now feverishly working to prepare the car for High Desert Trails Rally next month to defend that first-in-class win last year.
Best of luck to Paul and his team (DB Rally Team) at High Desert Trails Rally next month!
I was saddened by the recent loss of one of the most influential mentors during my rally career. Mike started with VW in 1967 and played a leading role as VW Motorsports manager in 1985. He brought the VW Golf to rally fame in the U.S. by supporting grassroots efforts with his extensive background in automotive racing. I bought an 8-valve Golf and was campaigning it when I was signed by VW to drive a 16-valve Group A factory GTI starting in 1989 in U.S. and Canadian rally events. Mike always took good care of me, and gave my team full support and guidance. Running a production car I went on to win the 1989 SCCA Production Championship, Canadian Championships and ran in more than 50 rallies in VW Golfs. If you want to read more about Mike’s contributions and VW history, read “Thirty Years of the VW Golf and Rabbit” by Kevin Clemens through Iconografix.com books. Mike also was one of the founding fathers of NPR Ducati Motorcycles of Georgia. Mike Kaptuch has touched many, many lives and will be greatly missed. Posted by Tim O’Neil, VW Factory Driver 1989
We’re guessing that many of you heard about Team O’Neil’s lead mechanic, Ed McNelly (a.k.a. “Fast Eddie”), rolling the Fiesta R2 he was piloting at Missouri’s Rally of the 100 Acre Wood (100AW) and continuing to finish the race. Well, we thought it would be fun to get a few more details out of Ed on this one and share them with you before the story becomes myth and myth becomes legend (unless, of course, that’s already happened…).
First, a little background. As I mentioned above, Ed is our lead mechanic. Yes, mechanic. According to Tim O’Neil – who was a mechanic before he became a five-time national rally champion – they used to say (and still do) that rally mechanics never make good rally drivers, because they wouldn’t go fast enough for fear of breaking the car. Clearly, that old racing tale does not apply to Fast Eddie.
While Ed’s career as a rally car mechanic goes back to 1988, his rally driving career really only goes back a couple years, beginning in 2010 when he drove as a regional competitor at the New England Forest Rally. He competed in the same rally again last year, clinching 2nd in the G2 (2WD) class. This past September, McNelly entered the Black River Stages Rally in New York, where he finished the race in a TON Stage 1 Ford Fiesta but with an off. In October, he headed to Canada for the Rally Charlevoix with last year’s Rally America 2WD National Champion and former TON instructor Wyatt Knox as co-pilot, this time in one of the TON-built Fiesta R2s. The team had been pushing hard and were second in class until, as Ed put it, “we had a fuel leak and ran out of gas.” Literally. And that ended that rally. About a month later McNelly headed back to Canada for the legendary Rally of the Tall Pines. This time his co-driver was Pascal Belperron and he was back in the Stage 1, whereas Knox was now competition and piloting the more powerful R2. Despite some pretty nasty road conditions and starting at the back of the pack, McNelly pulled off an amazing third place finish as a national competitor at the final Canadian rally of 2011. Starting off the Rally America season at Sno*Drift, Ed drove to a 6th in class finish in the R2.
And now we come to 100AW. This time, McNelly was piloting a newly built R2, and he was accompanied by experienced co-driver Ole Holter, who has been co-driving since 1997 and who was the co-driver for Knox in 2011. The team did recce, making lots of note changes as they passed through, and ran shakedown not once, not twice, but four times. On day 1, McNelly was setting some good times, often finishing a stage in second place for the 2WD class and finishing the day in 3rd place. Day 2 started off well enough, until the 4th stage of the day when Ed “drove around a corner a little too fast,” the car got “a little too sideways for the power” and he couldn’t pull out of the slide.
Ed says at first he figured they’d just spin out and keep going, but instead they ended up
hitting a bank on the side of the road, and “we went backwards into the woods first, rolled two times, landed on the wheels on the bank but facing in the right direction. We asked each other if the other was OK, we both said yes, the car started, I drove and continued at the same pace.” The windshield was cracked, but they didn’t realize the extent of the rest of the damage at that point. While the roll caused them to lose about 1.5 minutes on their time and their second place lead, they managed to finish the next stage without losing any time despite the bad windshield.
What had happened really didn’t hit him, says McNelly, until the next service, where he saw the crushed rear passenger side. They ended up needing to replace the windshield, which Ken Block, about to become 6-time 100AW champion (and former TON student), provided them. A changed taillight and headlight later, and they were ready to finish the race.
McNelly says they ran two more stages, and during the second to last stage knowing that
they were only 1 second behind Van Way and a podium spot, he “pushed beyond [his] driving limits and had a few ‘moments’” – that is, some sloppy driving that caused him to lose about 40 seconds. On the final stage, Holter calmed him down (ah, the benefits of having an experience co-driver!), and they ultimately finished the race with a very respectable 4th place in class and 10th place overall.
McNelly is currently tied for 4th place in the Rally America Championship Series, and just 8 points away from 3rd place. We look forward to cheering him on at the 3-day Oregon Trail Rally in May!
Team O’Neil Rally School and Ford Racing were pleased to provide the organizers of the Sno*Drift National Rally with two 2-day Team O’Neil Ford Racing Rally Schools to award to a regional competitor and to a pre-registered worker. Both TON and Ford Racing are staunch advocates of supporting the sport of rallying on a grassroots level, and this means doing whatever they can to help support the “little guy” (no, we’re not talking about size here – we mean the competitor who doesn’t have big sponsors with big money behind him to support his rallying addiction), and also to recognize the scores of volunteers who are absolutely essential to the success of any given rally.
We caught up with the two winners (via email correspondence) to chat with them about their involvement in rally and have posted our interviews with them here. The first, driver Carl Siegler, received the award as the “Highest finishing Regional Driver who has never been a class winner at the Regional Runoffs (combined results for both days, excluding road points)”. Carl took second place in the Open Class of both the Sno*Regional and Drift Regional Rallies.
TON: You’ve attended a class at Team O’Neil previously. When did you last come, and how long was the course? What did you learn from the course?
CS: I was last at Team O’Neil in the fall of 2009 for a 4 day school. This was during my first season as a rally driver and I had just come off an event where I rolled and another with a minor off so I wanted to reset myself and break some of my bad habits and learn some new skills. I think the most important thing I got out of it was getting back to basics – things like where to be looking, hand positioning, anticipating road condition and general vehicle dynamics.
TON: How long have you been a competitor in rallies as a driver?
CS: This will be my 4th season as a stage rally driver. The 1st year was in an Open Light Subaru (2004 STI that was de-turbo’d). The 2nd and 3rd were in an Open Class Subaru (the same 2004 STI). This season I have a new Open Class 1996 Subaru Impreza because I retired the last one after a big off at Rally Minnesota.
TON: Have you ever been a co-driver in a rally?
CS: I have never codriven. I have a feeling I would get car sick!
TON: How did you get involved in rally?
CS: In 2004 I bought a Galant VR4. While doing research on the car I began to learn about its rally heritage. Eventually I discovered the Ojibwe Forests Rally took place not so far from where I lived so I went up to spectate. From that point on I was hooked but after examining the financials I realized it was too expensive for me at the time. Since then I’ve volunteered at rallies, done rallycrosses, tsd rallies, and ice racing before finally building a stage rally car in 2008/2009.
TON: Besides the Sno*Drift regional rallies, what other rallies have you competed in?
CS: I have done Nemadji Trail 1, 2, 3, Ojibwe Forest, LSPR, STPR, Gravity Park Twin Performance Rallies, 100AW, Rally Minnesota, and Sno*drift.
TON: What are you hoping to take away from your next TON experience?
CS: The next time I’m at Team O’Neil I’d like to really focus on building from where I’m at as a driver. I know there are lots of little things I should be doing to improve on my fundamentals and I’d like to try and identify where I can pick up speed.
TON: What are your goals as they pertain to rallying?
CS: The most important goal is to keep having fun! Ideally in the next couple years I would like to try a season as a National competitor.
TON: Anything else you’d like to add as it pertains to your involvement in rallying?
CS: I’d just like to give a shout out to my codriver Dave Goodman! He’s the key to our team’s success and a lot of fun to work with. I’d also like to thank our wonderful crew and Ziptie Rally’s second driver, Anthony Israelson, for everything they do keeping things going and promoting the team! Also a big thanks to our sponsors: TSSFAB, Morries Minnetonka Subaru, Gearhead Designz, Carbonetic, St. Paul Media, and Team Powder!
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Since becoming a volunteer chairman of the New England Forest Rally, Tim O’Neil says he’s realized just how much effort goes into the overall production of the events and he wanted to do what he could to give back to the workers. Knowing that the workers often express interest in coming to the school, working with Ford to offer a 2-day course was an obvious way to say “Thank You.” Our next winner, JB Lewis, was chosen out of a list of pre-registered rally workers by random draw.
TON: How long have you been volunteering at Sno*Drift?
JBL: I’ve been volunteering regularly at Sno*Drift since the 2001 event. Before that I attended as a member of a team, though the very first time I attended, they were short workers and I ended up helping at a control on the first night. That’s what first set me on the course to getting my radio license too, I think.
TON: What job(s) do you perform for the rally?
JBL: At Sno*Drift, I’ve worked as a marshal and in Net Control. I’m primarily at the event to help run the radio safety net; that is, Net Control is what I know I will be doing, but I’ll do whatever Barb needs when she needs an extra body on the course somewhere.
TON: Do you work at other national, local or regional rallies as well? If so, which ones and for how long have you been involved in them?
JBL: I’ve worked at LSPR, Ojibwe Forest, Rally Minnesota, Headwaters, Rally Colorado, Shooting Star, and Cadillac. Cadillac was a one-off club rally before Rally America took over sanctioning. I have been driving course opening for Ojibwe and Rally Minnesota/Headwaters since 2003 or 2004, course opening for LSPR since 2004 or 2005. I first earned my amateur radio license in September of 2001, and started volunteering for communications duties since then. At Cadillac and Shooting Star, I was a “Super Marshal”: a roaming marshal that fills gaps and solves problems.
TON: Have you ever driven or co-driven (or both) in a rally or other kind of motorsports race? If so, please tell us about your experience. If not, is it something you’re interested in doing at some point?
JBL: I first got involved in motor sports in 1991 when I got involved with the Sports Car Club at Ohio State. We put on autocross and TSD rally events. I also joined the Akron Sports Car Club and SCCA, participating in autocross and ‘gimmick’ rallies. From there I crewed for a few seasons with a Firestone Firehawk team based out of Mentor, Ohio, and with those contacts was introduced to stage rally crewing for Mike Burke and the legendary co-driver Yorgi Bittner at Magnum Opus in 95. I crewed for them again at LSPR the following month. In 1996, Yorgi was co-driving for Selcuk Karamangalou, and I crewed for them at LSPR, as they won the PGT championship for that year. During this time, I was very involved in autocross, travelling to many regional and divisional events.
In 1997 and 1998, I crewed for Wayne and Annette Prochaska with their G2 GTI.
In 1999, I co-drove for Lyn Dillon at Sno*Drift, and then for JB Niday at Headwaters, Ojibwe, and LSPR. It was whil co-driving for JB Niday that I met Brenda Corneliusen, then co-driving for Bob Nielsen. A week after LSPR that year, I moved from Columbus, Ohio to Minnesota. In 2000 and 2001, I crewed for Mark Utecht, with Brenda in the right seat, to two National Championships.
In 2002, right after Sno*Drift, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. Following successful treatment, I started volunteering as a radio marshal.
TON: How did you feel about winning the 2-day course at the Team O’Neil Rally School? Have you ever taken a rally driving course before?
JBL: I am very excited about the school. I’m going to be calling to find out about applying the certificate’s value to a 3 or even 4 day school. I was very happy for Mark Holden when he won a certificate for the Team O’Neil school a few years ago, and I know he had an outstanding time there!
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Congratulations to these two very deserving winners, and thanks to them for the time they took in answering our questions. We look forward to welcoming them to our little slice of heaven in the northern woods of New Hampshire in the coming year!
Here we are wrapping up the third week of January, 2012, and we’ve been driving through all sorts of wacky winter weather here in Northern New Hampshire. And while perhaps in many places it hasn’t been the fiercest of winters so far, many of us have certainly had to contend with a variety of winter weather driving conditions like snow and sleet and freezing rain. Keep in mind, the typically heaviest snowfall months of February and March are still to come. As such, if you have been as lax about your winter driving preparedness as Mother Nature has been about throwing the white stuff our way, now is a good time to make sure you’re in Winter Driving Mode and be prepared for the worst.
In this first of a 3-part series on what Tim O’Neil calls “Winter Driving Mode” (WDM), we talk about what it means to be in WDM. Being in WDM means both having your car properly prepared for winter, and most importantly, making sure your brain has switched over to WDM.
First, let’s review WDM for your car. We talked about this somewhat in our January newsletter “The Drift” and Tim is featured discussing some of this as well in the January/February issue of Yankee Magazine, but we wanted to recap it here too (hey – the more you hear something, the more it sinks in!).
- Have the Right Stuff in Your Vehicle. That is, be sure to have a survival kit that consists of a scraper or brush, jumper cables, emergency triangles, flat tire kits, flashlights, and windshield-wiper fluid. Have an extra cell-phone battery on hand or alternative means for charging your phone. Also, during the winter months always make sure you have an extra jacket, gloves, hats, appropriate footwear for the snow and cold, and a blanket.
- Check Your Tires. The best tires for winter are snow tires, which are made with a softer rubber and are designed to ride over the snow and compress it to make it grippy. Studded snow tires offer even more protection against icy conditions. It’s important to note that the better the snow tire, the worse its tread wear rating. Proper snow tires are noisy, feel squishy, and won’t last very long, but they’ll be a lot better in the snow, and your ABS and dynamic stability control will improve with good snow tires. Also, be sure to have four of the same kind of tire – having just two snow tires can lead to poor control when driving around slippery corners. And finally, you’ll want to adjust your tire pressure, which should be slightly lower in the winter than in the warmer months. Not sure what tires to use or what pressure to set your tires at? Ask a mechanic that you trust.
- Understand what ABS Brakes Can – and Can’t – Do. ABS brakes are designed to allow you to brake and steer at the same time. However, while ABS works great on paved roads or on glare ice, it’s not as effective on snow or gravel or other loose surfaces under which there is some grip. With ABS, you should increase your braking distances in snowy conditions (so if you have a tendency to ride up on other drivers’ rear ends, well, let’s just say you should back off when the weather turns snowy…). You may also want to consider turning off your traction control. Not sure how to do that? Check out your car’s manual. When you’re plowing through deep snow, you will want that traction control turned off so your tires can dig for grip on the road under the snow. But if your tires are only going to find ice under it, leave the traction control on.
- Learn How Your Vehicle Responds in Different Conditions. Find an empty parking lot after the next snowfall or sleet event and get to know your car again. Slam on the brakes while going straight, slam on the brakes while turning, switch to different modes (for example, if your car has summer, sport and winter modes, try the same move in all three modes), and note how the car responds in each instance.
So now your car is prepared for winter driving, and perhaps in empty parking lots you are too. But what about you while you’re cruising around on the road with other drivers? The single most important thing you as a driver can do to be in WDM is to PAY ATTENTION!
In the next installment of our WDM series, we’ll get more specific about what to be aware of when conditions change. But for the purposes of this blog post, let’s just say that multitasking while driving is unsafe, and especially when you’re driving in hazardous conditions. When the snow, sleet or freezing rain starts to fall, or when you hit snowy or wet or icy roads, it’s time to turn the cell phone off, turn the radio off, and focus on your surroundings. Be aware of the conditions – the weather conditions, the road conditions, the external temperature. Slow down, allow more braking distance, and adjust how you brake. You can’t be truly tuned in to what is going on around you while driving if you’re chatting away on your phone or even with the person next to you, or singing along to Lady Gaga or Twisted Sister at the top of your lungs (just sayin’…).
Also, another key component to making sure your brain is in WDM is to remember to slow down. If you’re going all out assuming that you’re ABS and winter tires and AWD are going to keep you safe on slippery roads, think again. Even the best drivers with the best equipped cars know they need to slow down when conditions call for it.
Stay tuned for our next blog, in which we discuss factors to be on the look-out for when driving in wintery weather.
NOTE: This blog was written by Gene O’Neil for Team O’Neil Motorsports and published on 12/29/11. We wanted to make sure this recap of TON student & instructor successes made it into the Team O’Neil Rally School files too! If you haven’t read it yet, check it out. Here’s to a 2012 filled with more successes, wins and glory (hey, who doesn’t want a little glory now and then?) for our students and staff.
The 2011 Rally America and Canadian Championship seasons have very special meaning to Team O’Neil Motorsports. Team O’Neil Rally School instructors and students enjoyed various degrees of success in 2011.
Travis Hanson celebrated the most successful season of his career as the newly crowned Rally America Super Production Class Champion.
The 26-year-old from Littleton, NH flawlessly campaigned a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI with his father Terry as co-driver to a remarkable third place finish in the overall Rally America National Championship – a feat never accomplished before by a Production driver.
Hanson began making history and headlines at the opening round of the 2011 season when he became the first Super Production driver to ever claim an outright win in the National Series, defeating the factory-backed Subaru team, the privateer Rockstar Rally team, and a slew of fast Open Class cars at the Sno*Drift Rally. The under-sponsored crew of Hanson and Hanson immediately captured the hearts of fans and gained significant attention from the media with their story of underdog triumph. Hanson went on to control the points lead of the overall Championship well into the fourth round of the six-round Series, another first for a Super Production team, and clinched the SP Class Title by the fifth round.
Greenhouse, a graduate of the Team O’Neil Rally School, was no stranger to the victory podium even before the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally. But on June 3rd and 4th, he teamed up with fellow school graduate Billy Elliott Mann and took a c
ome-from-behind victory in the fiercely contested Two-Wheel Drive National class at the fifth round of the Rally America National Championship series. Against substantially higher-powered cars and team budgets, the team pressed on through a punctured tire, electrical problems, and pouring rain to take the victory and proved that perseverance and consistency are some of the most valuable commodities in rally racing.
Every year, the Rally America Championship recognizes the driver who has made the most significant progress in their first year of national competition by bestowing them with the ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award. This year, FY Racing’s Adam Yeoman was nominated as Rookie of the Year for his improved performance. The 28-year-old driver from Houghton, MI piloted his Open class 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX into fifth overall in the Rally America 2011 Championship. Adam is a 2010 graduate of the Team O’Neil Rally School.
Chris helped build the Team O’Neil Motorsports Ford Fiesta R2 and alm
ost drove to a STPR win in June before a crash at a late stage with a seven minute lead in the 2wd class ended the R2 debut. Chris rebounded at NEFR with an impressive victory. In October, Chris was selected by Ford Racing to drive in the WRC Academy Wales GB Rally with a very impressive showing before a rollover on day 2.
Wyatt Knox and Ole Holter put together an impressive season in the Mazda Speed3 and capped it off with a November Tall Pines victory in the Team O’Neil Motorsports Ford Fiesta R2. After Holter came on board as Co-driver, they earned back-to-back 2WD victories at 100 Acre Wood in February and the Olympus Rally in April. With 86 total points, Knox captured the Jon Wooden Cup representing the top 2WD driver in the Rally America Championship.
TON lead technician “Fast Eddie” showed that he is an “up and comer” in Rally. Having some success at NEFR and Charlevoix in 2011, Ed drove the Team
O’Neil Motorsports Ford Fiesta R2 Stage 1 at Tall Pines in November. After entering late and being assigned #62 he moved from 58th to 34th on the first day. Ed displayed his driving skills and finished an impressive 3rd in the 2WD class.
Tim O’Neil and Ken Block participated in Ford’s Octane Academy in September and tested the Team O’Neil Motorsports Ford Fiesta R2. Two days of testing the R2 really open the eyes of many who got to see the Rally Car go through the paces.
Ken Block had a pretty impressive Rally highlight reel of his own in 2011. Ken has become one of the biggest stars in the World Rally Championship and is still learning his trade. Ken often comments on how his success is directly related to his education at the Team O’Neil Rally School.
Team O’Neil students in the Rally America Championship
An impressive number of Team O’Neil students finished in the top 40 in the Rally America Championship in 2011. Dave Mirra (4), Adam Yeoman (5), Dillon Van Way (7), Mason Moyle (11), Andrew Comrie-Picard (12), Brian Gottlieb (13), Joseph Burke (14), Andrew Wickline (15), Chris Greenhouse (18), Heath Nunnemacher (22), Viorel Dobasu (26), Nick Allen (27), Lars Wolfe (32), Justin Carven (34), Mark Fox (34), Tracey Gardner (39), and Travis Pastrana (39).
We at Team O’Neil would like to congratulate our students and champions for a very successful 2011 season and offer best wishes for another successful one in 2012.
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.