photo credit: Matt Stryker
Black Box rally team driver Alvin Fong and co-driver Billy Machin were awarded a third place podium finish in SP National at STPR, but their rally was not without its challenges. This was the third time the team had entered the event, but their first time finishing. Co-driver Billy Machin had this to say: “Every hero needs their heroine”.
The team worked for months to prepare the car since the winter regional rally, but as luck would have it, power steering failed on the very first stage on Waste Management; one of the toughest and most technical stages within STPR. By the end of the first day, the Evo’s center differential was also having serious problems, leading to unpredictable handling problems.
Driver Alvin Fong explained: “Every bump, rut, and jump threatened to take us off the road and send us into the trees. The rougher stages made this rally as physically demanding as it was mentally demanding.”
Worse still, the center differential problems were spreading to the transfer case, putting a time limit on the life of the drivetrain. The team pressed on regardless through all 14 special stages without power steering, driving conservatively to protect the transfer case. With their service crew of two going above and beyond mitigating mechanical issues, the team was able to pull into the finish of the rally, where an exasperated Fong exclaimed: “We first came to this event in 2006 as volunteers. Nine years later, we made it to the finish as competitors.”
Finishing the event was an accomplishment in itself with 70 entrants starting, and only 39 combined national and regional teams finishing day 2. Black Box’s crew chief remarked: “Clearly, we’ve once again seen the overriding importance of finishing. When we finish, we podium, even when we’re slowed by a broken car and a driver left with jello arms at the end of the rally.”
Black Box rally team would like to thank all the organizers and volunteers that made STPR possible. Their next event is New England Forest Rally July 17-18 in Newry, Maine.
Black Box rally team is headquartered in Danbury, CT. In their first season of rallying, they finished 1st PAWD in the 2012 United States Rally Championship, securing the Production AWD Cup.