For the first time in the history of the Widget Rally Team, co-driver John Dillon will try his hand behind the wheel of a rally car at the Gorman Ridge Rally on 26 August 2011. Dillon has several overall and class victories at this NASA-sanctioned event, based in Frazier Park, California, but he’s never before worked the pedals of a rally car. Veteran co-driver Kim “Corporate Co-driver” DeMotte of St. Louis, Missouri, will be the man in the passenger seat making the calls for Dillon. Together they’ll be competing in a 1982 Toyota Corolla prepared by Doug Nagy of Streetwise Motorsports.

“What am I supposed to do with that big round thing?” joked Dillon as he considered the prospects of a turn behind the wheel. Then, turning serious, he reiterated the priorities that the Widget Rally Team established years ago and still races by today: “Safe, fun, finish, fast, in that order.” He elaborated, saying “If you’re not safe, you’ve got no business anywhere near a race car because you could endanger not only yourself, but your teammate, the other competitors, and the many volunteers and spectators. If you’re not having fun, why do it? If you’re not finishing rallies, you’re not going to become a better driver and pick up the speed safely. Only then can you focus on racing faster, so ‘fast is last.'”

DeMotte will celebrate his 65th birthday at Gorman Ridge. “I fly into Burbank airport as a regular fare, but I’ll fly back as a senior. Boy, will Southwest Airlines be confused!” DeMotte, who’s Corporate Co-driver logo will grace the rear quarter panels of the rally car, has been involved in the sport for over forty years. His first event was the Moonlight Monte in Michigan in 1970.

Crew chief Doug Nagy of Streetwise Performance explained how he became involved in the project: “John and I have been active in racing and rally together for almost twenty years. Our very first rally event was Rim of the World back in 1992 or ’93, when we both volunteered as workers. I manned a checkpoint while John helped press liaison Andy Schupack. Recently John helped me acquire a Toyota FX16, which Lauchlin O’Sullivan has run with great success in the U.S. Global Rallycross series. He’s helped promote my business over the years, so I’m happy to return the favor.” In addition to Nagy, other crew members will include Steve McNaughton, Nick Taylor, Jon Coltrane, and Don Shreyer, who offered to co-drive if Kim wasn’t available.

“I’ve never had the desire to drive a rally car before, but I must admit that I’m already getting excited about the possibilities,” explained Dillon. “I continue to enjoy co-driving, but it’s time that I experienced–on a more personal level–what a driver has to contend with.”

Widget is fortunate to have several team partners working with them, including Shults Dot Com for web hosting services, Porterfield Enterprises for racing brakes, Streetwise Performance for car preparation and Corporate Co-driver for the services of Kim DeMotte. “We’ve always treated our sponsors as business partners because we realize that we’re all working together to help each other,” explained the co-driver-turned-driver. “That’s why many of our partners have been with us for over a decade now.”

If all goes according to plan, the team will race again at the Prescott and Seed 9 rallies later in the year.

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