Team Regroups and Prepares for Prescott Rally

The engine of the Widget Rally Team’s Toyota Corolla spun a bearing a few minutes after the car was driven off the trailer at the Gorman Ridge Rally, thus ending the team’s day before it began. John Dillon (Thousand Oaks, CA), who planned to try his hand driving for the first time, and Kim DeMotte (Webster Groves, MO), codriver, were thus sidelined before the rally even started from its Frazier Park headquarters. (This NASA-sanctioned event is part of the United States Rally Championship series.)

“Naturally I’m disappointed,” said Dillon, “but that’s the nature of the sport. Sometimes the rally gods smile upon you, sometimes they don’t. We were still able to enjoy the rally by helping out as two of the nearly 100 volunteers that make events like these possible.” Dillon worked at the Maxie stages control points with several other regular competitors, while DeMotte, who carries a ham radio to every rally and is licensed to use it, worked a “blockage,” a place that obstructs a side road to prevent motorcyclists from accidentally getting onto a hot stage.

In the evening, they worked another blockage together on the Wheatfield-Powerline stages and enjoyed a spectacular after-dark view of cars racing along the cliff edges of Powerline Ridge.

“The best way to get involved in our sport is to volunteer. That’s how I got started, so it makes sense to do it today instead of simply heading home. Even though I’d rather be in a rally car, we can still have a ton of fun as one of the marshals,” noted the would-be driver.

“I think it was even more discouraging for the crew, who worked so hard to get us here,” said DeMotte. “We feel bad for our sponsors too, who didn’t get as much exposure as we’d hoped.”

Dillon added, “They had the engine running for a couple or three weeks but were scrambling to complete a bunch of other things that were needed. The bearing failure caught them completely off guard.”

Doug Nagy, crew chief for the team, made no bones about it. “We missed something, but we’ll chase it down. The irony is that we had just swapped engines because we felt it would yield better performance. Now that the rest of the car is finally prepped, we have a little time to really dive deep and solve the problem before Prescott. We’re going to make things right for John to drive, and Prescott would be a great rally for him to start on.”

One of the challenges for the car was the suspension,” said Nick Taylor, one of the crew members. “Doug worked hard with Bret Norgaard and the folks at Bilstein Shocks to get something for us in time for Gorman. Those guys really busted their chops to make sure we’d be ready, suspension-wise. We’re looking forward to giving the Bilsteins a real workout in Arizona!”

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 Codriver for the services of Kim DeMotte.

The team’s next rally is in Prescott, Arizona, Sep 30-Oct 1.



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