23 Sep 2012 - For immediate release
For more information, contact: John Dillon
Widget Rally Team
P. O. Box 1231
Thousand Oaks, CA 91358-0231
Widget web site: www.WidgetRacing.com
Tag Rally Sport web site: www.TagRallySport.com
e-mail: John @ WidgetRacing.com
Olympia, WA. Tag Rally Sport driver Tracey Gardiner (North Providence, RI) approached two-time national champion John Dillon (Thousand Oaks, CA) about co-driving for her at the 2012 edition of the Olympus Rally. Headquartered in Olympia and run from the 21st to 23rd of September, Olympus was the final Rally America-sanctioned national event on the calendar. With well over 70 cars on the initial entry list, Tracey knew it would be a challenging event. Dillon was recommended to her by Brian Johnson when she learned that neither Johnson nor regular co-driver Maureen Hascher would be available.
"I've been rallying for three years now, but haven't been in the car since the New England Forest Rally last July," noted Gardiner, "so I felt a bit rusty getting back into the car. Brian suggested that John would be a good fit for the team because of his professionalism and expertise as a co-driver, and said that John might even be able to help me pick up the pace a wee bit. I knew Brian's comments were accurate as soon as we started 'recce.' It was evident that his experience would be of great value."
The car drew plenty of admirers and comments because of it's "nutty" graphics package. According to Team Manager/Crew Chief Alan Gardiner, "When we approached Nuts 'n More about advertising for them on our car, they came up with this incredible look. Everywhere we go, people tell us that they dig the way the car looks, which of course brings more customers to the Nuts 'n More table. They've been a great partner and we look forward to continuing our work with them in the future."
Because of unseasonably hot and dry weather on the Olympic peninsula over the last few months, event organizers had to make last minute modifications to the schedule, making the Saturday stages incredibly long. Teams left the host hotel around 5 AM to get to Parc Expose by 6 AM, with the first rally car starting at 6:30. All cars had to be out of the forest by 1 PM, followed by an extended service break that didn't get the cars back into the woods until after 8 PM, with the last cars finishing up well after midnight.
"This kind of schedule really challenges the volunteers, officials, crews, and of course the competitors," explained Dillon. "From an in-car perspective, just when you find yourself getting into a driving rhythm on the stages, everything comes to a halt. It can be tough to get back into the groove after an eight hour delay."
He went on, saying "Tracey managed to hold her focus throughout the night stages, keeping up her concentration and working to consistently improve her stage times. I observed steady improvement throughout the rally. The best part was that even as she picked up the pace, she never lost track of the need for car control and safety. She really knows how to stay focused in the car."
The team experienced only one minor "off," when they went wide into a tight left-hand corner and ran sideways into a shallow ditch. The car restarted and they were quickly on their way again, but the impact wedged gravel into the tire bead, causing a slow leak. Just prior to the 20 mile long Nahwatzel stage, the team had to change the right front, only to discover that the scissors jack broke during the lift, after which the electric nut gun failed. Although it was a momentary set-back, once the tire was finally changed, they were able to regroup and concentrate on the task at hand, successfully completing the rally's longest stage.
Alan Gardiner was all smiles at the end of the weekend. "We were able to drive the car onto the trailer without needing repairs," he beamed, "and Tracey's scores show that she continues to get better behind the wheel. This rally has really given her an extra jolt of confidence."
Tag Rally Sport's normally-aspirated Subaru Legacy 2.5 runs in the regional-only Open Light class. Thanks to her finish at the Olympus Rally, Tracey clinched second place in the Atlantic Division championship.
"This has been a great year for us," Tracey explained. "We've been to a lot of different events, met lots of new friends and most importantly, proved to ourselves and our sponsors that we can successfully compete on the American rally scene. 2012 was a great learning year for us. I can't wait to see what 2013 holds!"
Dillon echoed her sentiments. "She's a good driver with a level head, good car control and a lot of potential. I can see her building on this year's accomplishments to make her 2013 event results even stronger."
Tag Rally Sport has not yet decided whether any more rallies are on their calendar this year, but Widget co-driver Dillon becomes Widget driver Dillon in less than a week, at the Prescott Rally in Arizona, the final round of the United States Rally Championship series.
Tag Rally Sport is sponsored by Nuts 'n More. Widget Rally Team partners include Porterfield Brakes, Shults Dot Com, and Streetwise Performance.
Photo © 2012 by the Widget Rally Team and can be used by the media as needed. If you'd like really hi-resolution images, please let us know.
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