Co-Driver Bio: Christine Marciniak

β€œI have no idea where we are… Oh wait!”
β€œStay on it man! ”
“I love being a co-driver because I have something to keep me pre-occupied when we’re flying up mountain roads.”

My first time co-driving was with Kris on a TSD (Time Speed Distance) Rally called Covered Bridge in Mt. Snow, VT. This early November 2003 event was great – driving on dirt roads, following directions, getting a basic idea of what rally is all about. I was disappointed that there were no actual covered bridges on the route, as you’re supposed to stop underneath and “observe the tradition.” (Ok, I didn’t know either – it’s sharing a kiss) πŸ™‚ The next event I participated in was the Pine Barrens Express TSD in Whiting, NJ a month later.

After we moved to California in September of 2004, I officially became the Team co-driver. I learned all about the California Rally Series, and decided to attend the Rally School in February 2005. At the school I learned everything a co-driver is expected to do at a rally from organization/pre-rally prep, to calculating stage times and knowing what time to enter a time control, as well as reading notes at speed, and other co-driving techniques.

I got some experience working a time control at Rim of the World in May 2005. I got to see how everything worked “in real time,” and also got to look at other co-drivers’ setups and equipment. Working the controls was the best experience I could have gotten before we ran a full stage rally on our own. In July 2005, we once again decided to help out with time controls at Treeline.

In August of 2005, we competed in our first event at Gorman Ridge Rally. I did admittedly get lost in my notes on the first couple stages, getting used to reading at speed, and Kris’s reactions. We both handled the situation well, putting good use of what we’d both learned at the rally school. I was excited at the last pass of what we called “the sand trap” (as it had claimed several cars through the day), because I knew we had finished our first rally! I couldn’t wait for the next one.

The Prescott Rally came up fast in October 2005. The only time I got lost was ironically on the transits. Unfortunately we had some problems with the car, and the last stage on Friday night I had to jump out with the triangles. Kris was able to fix the problem quickly, but I was in such a rush to get the triangles and myself into the car that I forgot my route book (which I’d taken out to display the “OK” sign). It almost got lost in the dirt at the end of stage 4 – luckily a worker found it for me when they cleaned up the time control signs.

At the 2005 Ramada Express International Rally in December, I got experience co-driving for someone else (Michael Taylor) on last day, despite having not brought my gear! Now I know I should always bring it, just in case someone needs a co-driver at the last minute of the rally.

In 2006, Kris and I pursued the United States Rally Championship – and won! We had a busy year, starting with Rim of the World in April, where I got lost and scared in the fog. We still managed a first in Stock class. Next we took a trip to Washington, where we once again placed first in Stock at the Olympus International Rally. Although the roads were unfamiliar, Kris and I had decided to take the opprotunity to recce. I’m so glad we did, because the organizer-supplied notes were in a different format than we were used to. I had to stay up until midnight on both Thursday and Friday to feel confident that I would not mess up a call! Next was our regional rally-versary at Gorman Ridge in August, where I was the most confident I’ve felt so far. A small electrical problem caused our first DNF, but we made the most of it, learning how much faster we’ve gotten in a year’s time.

The Prescott Rally, in October 2006, deserves it’s own mention, because not only did we once again place first in Stock, but we clinched our championship for the year, AND got engaged! To make it even more exciting, both sets of our parents had made the long trip from the East Coast to spectate the crazy hobby Kris and I enjoy so much. Of course, they also got to celebrate our engagement only minutes after it happened!

Our first try at the Laughlin International Rally in November was a heartache. We had a good run on Friday, but a hard landing on Saturday almost cost us the whole race. It did cost us first place in Stock for the USRC, but we improved our times compared to the much harder regional CRS class, and placed second on Friday night – the best we’ve ever done! Although we placed second in Stock AT Laughlin, we still placed first overall for the season in USRC Stock class and 2nd overall in the USRC 2-wheel drive Championship!

At the Reno Rally in December, there were many problems, including the first time I’d forgotten to change the intercom battery. Both backup batteries we had were also dead, resulting in my having to literally shout the notes at Kris. We made it through the only stage that ran, and won first in Production class for the Western States Rally Championship. I also secured my standings for CRS Performance Stock – Second place Co-Driver!

Kris and I were later also presented with the 2006 USRC Rookie of the Year Award.

Our first rally of 2007 was Desert Storm, where we placed well on Friday, but had our first real mechanical DNF on Saturday. A major mix-up with our crew left us waiting for hours until we were finally able to load the car back on the trailer for the long tow home – backwards (as we had busted the rear suspension). At least we got to spectate one of the last stages, but we were so bummed we had broken.

Now, the Rookie of the Year Award came with a 25% discount on all USRC rallies for 2007 – and we took advantage of that discount. Our first USRC rally was the Rim of the World Rally Challenge, which was a small enclosed course at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, CA. This was the first rally where I had a cold, and it was not a pleasant experience. Thankfully we were able to get out of the car after every run and had nearly a 2-hour break in between. We finished the weekend first in the USRC Prod 2WD Class.

Our next rally wasn’t until October in Prescott, AZ (we missed Gorman because it was during our honeymoon!). We had a good run, and another first in USRC Prod 2WD! The year ended with the Laughlin International Rally, where it seems we always have to push hard to the end. We’d had a great rally, passing our east-coast class competitors on stage 3, but a run over to the rallycross almost cost us the whole event! I cried more than I ever have as we worked hard to get the car over to the final run at the SuperSpecial, only to have to push the car across the start line. All in all, we did end up finishing the event, and in doing so we won first place in both our USRC class for the rally, AND for the 2007 USRC Prod 2WD Championship! Also, because the entire weekend was scored as well for the CRS trophies, we placed second in Performance Stock – our best place so far! This rally also secured third overall in the 2007 CRS Performance Stock Class Rally Championship for both Kris and myself.

2008 started off with a surprise invitation to co-drive for John Black at the Plan B Rally. This was a great experience both co-driving for another driver, but also for a novice at a small introductory event. We both had a great time, ending up first in CRS P-Stock for the day event, and 2nd in class for the night event. The plans Kris and I made started with the North Nevada Rally north of Reno, NV in June 2008. We had a great time all around, and everything came together for our very first CRS Performance Stock Class win!!! I couldn’t be more excited for the start of our 2008 season.

Right now our car is waiting for us in Boise, Idaho for Rally Idaho in July. The plans for the rest of the season include Gorman Ridge in August and Prescott in October. Who knows where we will go from there (Rally New York?)!

In addition, I have been serving on the California Rally Series Board since January 2007-present as the CRS Rally Membership Liaison, a duty I am happy to be responsible for.

In 2009, I helped organized the High Desert Trails Rally – my first time organizing an event.

I’m actually a graduate student, working at the University of California, Irvine. My PhD thesis involves several molecular biology projects about mitochondria (the powerhouse of your cells) with the man who came up with “Mitochondrial Eve” – Dr. Douglas Wallace. I really enjoy research, and the concept of helping people with science.

Cars I’ve owned:
1986 Chevrolet Camaro (CW914T)
2000 Chevrolet Malibu
1999 Chevrolet Blazer* (the tow vehicle)
2008 Honda Fit* (the NEW economical car!)

Learned to drive standard in 2004 on a Honda CRX
*still own

Grew up in New Jersey, and am a proud Jersey girl! I enjoy working out – aqua fitness, yoga, kickboxing, belly dancing, aerobics. I love the thrill of riding roller coasters, big and small. I’m very proud of the fact that I have ridden on many of the tallest and fastest coasters in the United States because I was pertified of them until about 10 years ago. My “small personal roller coaster” is our rally Neon. πŸ™‚