2019 has been off to a crazy start. The calendar rolled over from December to January in an instant, and before I knew it, we were getting slammed with several inches of that white fluffy stuff that falls from the sky in mid-January almost like clockwork, and prepping the car for my return to the 2019 Sno*Drift Rally, which I last attended in 2015. I had brought Stitch home in December, so he, my new co-driver and I could attend the 2018 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) tradeshow out in Indianapolis, IN, courtesy of our #1 partner- Link ECU. (which was an AMAZING experience, by the way!) Yes, I drove my rally car 750 miles from Stitch’s home at TurboTime, to my little one car garage.
During my departure, about 10 minutes into my drive, the passenger side trim piece decided to come undone and flew up on the highway bending right at the windscreen. I did what any rally driver would do- and I improvised! I searched for my first aid kit, found the medical tape, and taped that sucker down! I went to the next nearest store that I concluded must have Gorilla Tape, and made a pitstop. There, I proceeded to secure the trim piece to ensure it would not come up again as I made my way back north.
Honestly, the first 9 hours went by fairly well. Not only was I the DJ, I was also the lead singer, back-up singer, guitarist and drummer for most of the songs I listened to (ha!). I had several hours to enjoy the twisty mountain roads in the Virginias under the tires, while listening to the hum of the exhaust. It was rather quite pleasant. Once I crossed the 9 hour mark though, I started to get a little bored and antsy. I was saved by my dad at 1am, when he called me and “kept me company” thanks to a nice set of sound deadening headphones. After a nice hour long conversation, I crossed into my home state and the final hour drive home went pretty smoothly. That next week, I introduced my new co-driver, Sarah (story to come later) to Stitch and we all began getting aquainted as we prepared him for the big trade show just a week later. After Sarah and I gave him a good bath, my dad came over to help out with some last minute tasks, and to help me repair the trim piece that so excitedly flung off the car. Then Stitch was off to PRI, with Sarah and I to follow a few days later.
PRI was an amazing opportunity! Sarah and I had the chance to share our personal stories with one another; you know, like how we got into Subaru, what made me start rallying, along with why she agreed to jump in the co-driver’s seat this season for the first time ever! Our adventure started after a long day of work for us both, and a 4.5 hour drive to one of our crew member, Levi’s house (thanks for letting us crash there by the way!). My little 6lb mutt of a catdog, Maia, joined in for the short trip. By the time we arrived at Levi’s and got into bed, it was merely 2am. We were exhausted, so we gave ourselves the chance to get some rest, breakfast at this adorable little gluten free cafe and then worked our way to the convention center. For those of you who have never been to PRI or SEMA, let me just say that attending at least ONCE should be added to your bucket list if you are at all a gear head or car enthusiast! We really hope to attend again this year!
The convention center was lined with rows upon rows of companies offering products and services that are all catered specifically to the racing community. There were announcements everywhere, giveaways, gear bags, interviews, seminars and demonstrations at every turn. The building was buzzing with everything racing and it was exhilarating. When we found our booth with Link, we were immediately greeted by passer-byers asking detailed questions about the car and what type of racing we competed in. It was like parc expose, but instead of conversations with fans about the race and general chatting, there were intensive questions about every aspect of the car from the engine build, to the drive train, suspension, cage, safety, tune etc… I’ll be honest, it had been quite a minute since I was last asked about the car in such detail, and while it was a challenge at first, I felt like I was given a lot of practice to share such details about Stitch and our journey together.
Sarah did a great job integrating into the craziness of all things Stitch and racing, and navigated the experience very well. We bonded, she became aquainted with the car, and actually sat in what would be her “office” for the first time during the event. It was glorious. During our time at PRI, we were able to get to know more of the Link ECU team, including some of the reps from New Zealand (aka the “kiwis”), who thought it would be a brilliant idea to walk us to our car in the middle of winter in t-shirts. (Don’t worry we made them let us give them a ride back to their hotel). I feel we have created some lasting friendships from the experience, gained a lot of exposure to the plethora of opportunities out there for racers, and learned a lot about one another, and even ourselves. If we could do it all over again, Sarah and I agreed that we would be there start to finish all three days to truly absorb the atmosphere and maximize on our opportunities to network and represent our partners with full attention.
Our trip was fast and furious, like many have been. We joined the team for dinner after the final day of the trade show, and then headed straight for our furry pal, bid adieu to Levi, and darted for home, so we could ensure some sleep, attack our homework assignments on Sunday and return to work that following Monday. Shortly after, we would attend our first rallycross together to get a little shakedown in Stitch before Sno*Drift rolled around the corner, and to give Sarah a small taste of the adrenaline she would experience at her first rally event in March.
Stay tuned for part II, III and IV of 2019 to follow soon- a perfect birthday rallycross, Sno*Drift 2019, OzRallyPro Training and Sandblast 2019!