lurch1.jpg2nd in MaxAttack! Triple Crown Rally Series

MAZDASPEED support driver Eric Burmeister (Hamilton, MI) helped found the MaxAttack! Triple Crown Rally Series in 2007, a three race rally series promoting the advancement of two-wheel-drive rallying.

The series took the teams from the mountains of Oregon in the spring, to the hills of West Virginia in the summer, and finally ended up in the unforgiving forests of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the season finale in October. The series met its goal, drawing out the fastest 2wd talent and best prepared cars in the country to put on a two-wheel-drive display that impressed fans across the country.

For the Burmeister Rallysport/MAZDASPEED team, this schedule would be enhanced with a stop at the famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in July for a run up the giant Colorado mountain.

At Rally America’s Oregon Trail Rally in April, fifteen MaxAttack! teams started on the tarmac of Portland International Raceway before heading out to the lush mountain forests around Vernonia. Burmeister’s MAZDASPEED3 took two early stage wins at PIR guided by codriver Dave Shindle (Falls Church, VA) calling the notes. As the rally wound down through the 3 days of competition, the rainy mountain road conditions and the drive for teams to maintain the “max attack” attitude took their toll on many cars. In the end, the Burmeister/Shindle MAZDASPEED3 clinched 3rd behind Andrew Havas and Francois Morin (Honda Civic) and the CPD Team’s Kyle Sarasin/Mikeal Johanssen (Ford Focus).

lurch2.jpgIn July, the Burmeister Rallysport team headed west to Colorado for the 85th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Pikes Peak is a weeklong event with 3 days of practice and qualifying on the mountain and culminating in a one-shot run at the famed Pikes Peak. Practice days started at 3am as the team would head out from Colorado Springs toward the mountain and unload the trailer at the base by 4am. The hill and the competitors were divided into three groups that would practice a different section on each day. For the MAZDASPEED team, this meant the first day was spent above the tree line between 11,000 and 14,000 feet of elevation as a service park was set up at “Devil’s Playground.”

By 5am, the sun was just peeking over the mountain as the starting flag fell for each of the practicing/qualifying groups. The stage was set for some great rally car competition as Eric and Dave’s MAZDASPEED3 traded times with the unrestricted Subaru of Ken Gushi and others through the 3 days of practice. Eric was continuing his hillclimb education thanks to some helpful hints from Rhys Millen and Todd Moberly.

lurch3.jpgUnfortunately on race day, a simple electrical connection at the electronic throttle body failed and sidelined the team before reaching the summit. “It just means we have to come back again,” vowed Eric “Lurch” Burmeister. “I can’t let this hill get the best of me!”

Next on the calendar was NASA’s Rally West Virginia in Elkin’s, WV. Once again, the 2wd rally competition was out in force as twenty-two MaxAttack! teams took the start for a tough course of dusty, rocky terrain through the West Virginia mining mountains. An early mishap that nearly saw the lamp pod (large removable pod with 4 driving lamps for night racing) leave the car made for some anxious moments as the MAZDASPEED team was forced to slow to 30mph to finish an early stage, resulting in an early deficit that would be hard to overcome. Burmeister and Shindle worked hard though and again found themselves on the podium in 3rd behind Sarasin/Johanssen and the local team of Josh and Jeremy Wimpey (VW Golf).

lurch4.jpgThe final event for the MAZDASPEED team was the more familiar territory of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The rally came with a combination of somber and celebratory tone, as Eric’s co-founder for the MaxAttack! Series, Jake Himes, had recently passed after a bout with cancer. “Jake was the drive behind the MaxAttack! promise,” explained Eric. “We were very like-minded in our goals for the series, and we worked very hard to make rallying a more valuable motorsport venue for competitors, organizers, and sponsors alike. I intend to continue working to grow the series along with a wonderful cast of volunteers who share in this responsibility. But we really miss our friend, Jake.”

As the rally got underway in the picturesque city of Houghton, MI, yet another all-star class of seventeen teams and vehicles surfaced for a MaxAttack! showdown. Veteran factory support Dodge racer, Doug Shepherd was in a freshly built SRT-4 with Karen Wagner by his side calling the notes, Kyle Sarasin was back with Mikeal Johassen in the CPD team’s supercharged Ford Focus. But in the end, it was Cary Kendall and Scott Friberg in another SRT-4 Neon that would be fighting with Shepard/Wagner for the win.

lurch5.jpgThe MAZDASPEED3 went well on the familiar roads as Burmeister/Shindle turned in competitive stage times all weekend long, and were sitting in fourth behind Mark Utecht and Rob Bohn’s monster Ford Mustang (on truck tires!) as the conditions changed from wet sand, to fast gravel, to slimy mud with enormous water holes, with just enough tarmac thrown in to keep the drivers on their toes. CPD driver and MaxAttack! points leader Kyle Sarasin had suffered driveline problems all weekend and on the final stage, Burmeister and Shindle saw the stricken Focus just a couple hundred meters from the finish and the guys trying to push it to the finish. “At that point, my race was over,” explained Burmeister. “Jake was throwing us down a little sleet and snow by this time and we needed to get Kyle to the end for the finish.” The Mazda slid to a stop, reversed, and tugged the new MaxAttack! champion to the end and to the following roadside service so he could finish the rally. In the process, Burmeister and Shindle gave up 4th place to MaxAttack! stars from the Northwest, Tom and Don Burress.

lurch6.jpgAhead of them, Shepard/Wagner took the win, Kendall/Friberg took 2nd, and Utecht/Bohn took 3rd. The 5th place finish for Burmeister Rallysport earned the team a $1000 check, which they split and put half into the Jake Himes Family Fund and the other half back into the MaxAttack! fund for next year. The rest of the MaxAttack! winnings that the team earned this year (another $2800) was donated back to MaxAttack! to help ensure its future.

In the end, Burmeister Rallysport earned 2nd place in the inaugural MaxAttack! Triple Crown Rally Series to series champion and Jake Himes Cup winner, Kyle Sarasin and Mikeal Johanssen’s CPD Focus team.

Burmeister actually competed in one more rally in 2007, but this time without a codriver. NASA introduced its RallyMoto program for motorcycles at the Sandblast Rally in Cheraw, SC. Eric competed on his trusty KTM, although he admits to conferring with codrivers Dave Shindle and Eric Adams (both previous competitors at Sandblast and both have codriven for Lurch) before the race to help understand the lay of the land. He took second on the first stage to good friend and teammate, Mark Ely (Kalamazoo, MI), but soon after suffered gear selector issues. After struggling back to service with only 1 intermittent gear available, the team pulled the clutch out of the bike and found the problem, a loose shift drum in the transmission. After a frantic reassembly, the orange bike carried him back up to 8th place of 29 riders in the RallyMoto event.

lurch7.jpgThe event served as a spring board for Mark Ely, as he easily won the event overall. Eric served as crew chief for Mark’s new Aprilia in September at Black River Stages, NY, and again, Ely won handily.

“The RallyMoto competition is a lot of fun,” explained Burmeister. “It was something I told Anders (Green) I’d support, as it brings the sport of rally to a new, enthusiastic market, and it’s much cheaper entry point for new competitors than cars.”

But make no mistake. Eric is committed to his auto efforts. “I plan on supporting Mark (Ely) where we can, as he is helping us with fresh development on the Mazdaspeed3, too. But I plan to focus my energy on my team and the further development of the MaxAttack! championship in the coming year.”

lurch8.jpgEric would like to thank the following for a great year in American rallying and wish everyone a happy and safe 2008.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Steve Sanders and Tod Kaneko, Dave Shindle and Belen Arrieta, Art and Pat Burmeister/Burmeister Engineering, LLC., Missy Piatek, Jerry and Brenda Barbret, Chad and Faith Klungle/Racecraft Engineering, LLC., Mark and Leann Ely, Jake and Danielle Himes, Ryan and Russ Johnson, Bob Olson, Beryl Ann Burton, Ben Bradley, Andy Van De Griek and Micah, Stuart and Abby Davis, Lorne Trezise, Pete Kuncis, Tom Buchkoe, Kevin Hahn, Randy Moore, Randy Hackett, Ed and Ruth and Eric Adams, RaceTech Seats, Doug Peterson and Comptech Machine, Simon Wagner and MoTeC Systems, USA, TiAL Sport, Inc., all the MaxAttack! teams who believe in the series, Rally America, NASA Rallysport, PPIHC, and all the workers, organizers, and promoters of all the great rally events here.

For more information about Burmeister Rallypsport, please see: www.burmeisterrallysport.com

For more information about Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development, see: www.mazdamotorsports.com and www.mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/displayPage.action?pageParameter=mazdaSpeedMotorsports

To learn about the amazing Mazdaspeed3, go to: www.mazdaspeed3.com

Burmeister Rallysport uses RaceTech Seats www.racetechseatsna.com , Protrac shocks www.protrac.nl , RC Engineering fuel injectors www.rceng.com , Cosworth engine parts www.cosworth.com , turbochargers by Garrett www.turbobygarrett.com , engine management by MoTeC Systems USA www.motec.com, and wastegates and blow off valves by TiAL Sport, Inc. www.tialsport.com

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