Trigger all the things! Social media with IFTTT

IFTTT-rallynotes_newFollowing up on this post: “Getting Started: Social media for your rally team” I want to give you some more insights on pushing content to social media. The included graphic is my Recipes for IFTTT (If This Then That). I trigger events with Instagram now, and I’ll give you some more tips for successful social.

Picture Posts
A picture is worth MORE than 1000 words on Social Media. Text updates are all but ignored by your followers on Facebook, Twitter is getting that way, and Instagram was picture focused from the beginning.

Walled Gardens
Try to post directly on the Social Site of choice if you can. While automation is nice and handy, this IFTTT shared post will hardly bee seen on Facebook, because it didn’t get posted directly to the site. Both Facebook and Twitter suppress outside shared posts, and Instagram is a straight up walled garden. You have to work with the system to overcome this.

  • Facebook owns Instagram. It appears that anything posted and shared is 1:1
  • Facebook “hates” Twitter. It appears that anything shared here is suppressed
  • Twitter “hates” Facebook. Seen a Facebook share on Twitter? It’s a mess
  • Instagram can only post to Instagram
  • Instagram posts shared to Twitter are also a mess
  • Thank goodness Instagram recently added profile switching 🙂

My Recipes for IFTTT
The goal is to get native picture shares on all 4 sites. I now use Instagram to post pictures that also share to Facebook. I use a great IFTTT recipe for native Instagram picture posts to Twitter and I save the photos to my Flickr feed. From Flickr, I post it to the Tumblelog on WordPress. New article posts on (like the one you’re reading) push to Facebook and Twitter automatically, but as I said: They won’t be viewed by your followers any where near the number of times if you posted the article directly to Facebook. Algorithms, YAY! 😀

Let’s talk about “National” Rallies in the US.


Rally is acknowledged as a European sport, so let’s start there. Welcome to the California Rally Series! Often described as a Regional Championship, I want to take a moment and make you think about how BIG our Nation is. Here’s a picture of all of the CRS events with a European County laid over it. We Rally in an area the size of France. 😐 From the Normandy coast all the way down to Monaco. That’s what it’s like to go from Idaho to the Prescott Rally; 1393 Kilometers (865 Miles) away! Here we have a Regional Series where the racers will be towing just as much as one would in the French Federation of Automobile Sport – a National Series! Don’t think for a second that all these rallies are “small regional events”. Four of them are over 100 miles of stages, three of those are 2 day events, and all of them draw talented racers from the area.

Towing cars costs money and time, and time costs money. If you are centrally located in the CRS, your average tow would be about 400 miles to 6 events. Like other series, the CRS drops 50% of your events counting to a championship, but you should do 3 events to be in contention to win said Championship. To and from 3 events = 2400 miles @ ~10MPG (maybe you get 12… 😉) = 240 Gallons of Fuel @ ~$480 (maybe you live in AZ… 😉) Drive time? 40 hours behind the wheel of a truck + trailer. Rallies are mostly on Saturdays, some have recce`, some start Friday, but you can bet most of those hours are coming out of your PTO. 40 hours @ $25 = $1000 (maybe you work at a bigger outfit… 😉) – and we haven’t even bought tires or fuel for the rally car, nor paid for the ~$750 entry fee.

Want to do a US National Championship? Okay! Using the CRS’s model we scale this up to 12 events and the two coasts of the USA at an average tow of 1500 miles. To and from 6 (50%) of the events = 9000 miles @ ~10MPG = 900 Gallons of Fuel @ ~$1800 Drive time? 150 hours (~19 Days) behind the wheel of a truck + trailer. $3750 worth of Paid Time Off. $5500 Total. Yikes!

With this monetary barrier, we are no longer identifying the fastest drivers in the county, we are identifying the teams that have very flexible day jobs, and lots of disposable income. This describes a tiny percentage of the ~400 teams rallying in the USA. Three events in the CRS works because of the size of the region and the fact that competitors do on average 2.5 events a year. Six events across the giant United States is simply too much for the privateer or clubman rallyist to handle.

This is why the NASA National Rally Championship (NNRC) is setup exactly the way it is. One event from each region is used, usually towards the end of the year, and they alternate (Pacific / Atlantic) each year. Racers qualify using 3 methods throughout the season:

  1. Power Stage Win – Be the fastest down the last stage in 2WD or AWD.
  2. Podium Win – Get on the podium at 100+ mile event.
  3. Series Leader – Be in the top ten in points for the Pacific or the Atlantic.

It is designed to identify fast drivers. If you are talented, you could win the National Championship Title by only attending 2 events. The first event to qualify in your region, and the NNRC event itself. Which might even be close to you this year. 😀


Getting Started: Social media for your rally team

stamp3Imagine the sport of rally in the 80’s. You just got a postcard inviting you to the next rally and the results from the first event of the year still haven’t shown up in your mailbox (post office a.k.a horseback). You scour “Dusty Times” for a write up, and if you’re lucky, they might mention you in the final results for the weekend. Last week you spoke with Bill (the press guy from the rally) on the phone and told him the crazy story about how you passed car 403 on stage 2 with a millimeter to spare, and bullshitted about how your VW with a cam is faster than those silly Fire Arrows.

In order to get the story out you had to physically type and mail it – or call someone who would do this for you. You flip the pages and head straight for the rally section. Pure joy as you see a grainy shot of you and your co-driver with wheels off the ground jumping your European 4 cylinder. You can just make out the tire sponsor sticker on the back fender. Time to call your pal Mike at the local Firestone. “The team made the paper! Now how about a good price on four new tires?”

A couple hours of hard work paid off, and ALL OF THIS can be accomplished in 5 minutes with your smart phone in 2015, but you still have to be willing to do the work. Occasionally rallies that I go to have dedicated PR, but for the most part though, the organizer is own their own to tell the story. Some organizations are much better at this than others, and you generally won’t see a consistent message from rally to rally. Which is why you have to do it yourself, and keep doing it. It amazes me that we have phones that can send text, pictures, and video directly to outer space – yet I frequently see only 2 or 3 tweets and one dedicated instagram’er from a rally with over 60 competitors. 🙁

Why social? Here’s 5 reasons: People love a good story (and love to live vicariously through you) ; You document your adventure for the future; Cyber spectators (more people are tuning in to get the scoop); You can get help at the event; Support from friends and sponsors!
Continue reading

Ready to learn what you need to get into rally?

Run consecutively since 1998, the California Rally Series is presenting the CRS Rally School on Saturday, February 21st, 2015 with the Ridgecrest Rallycross event, the following day on Sunday, February 21, 2015.

This is a great opportunity to show a new driver, co-driver, service crew member, or spouse what rally is all about. There is no one involved in the sport that will not benefit from this workshop. The class is packed with information and covers topics including: car prep, timing, stage notes, team management, and rally driving techniques. There is also plenty of seat time for drivers and co-drivers on practice courses designed to give them the “feel” of real competition. Experienced rally competitors will ride along with you and show you how to use the practice areas to develop and hone both driving and co-driving skills.

  • Intense half-day classroom event with activities designed to teach you stage rally.
  • How to get started in Performance Rallying from basic to advanced topics.
  • Understanding controls and timing, the time card, and activities.
  • Split activities for drivers and co-drivers (break out sessions):
    • Drivers get seat time on our practice course with experienced rally drivers.
    • Co-Drivers practice reading notes on a rally stage with experienced co-drivers.
    • One on one in-car instruction from National Championship Competitors.
  • Designed to give you the ‘feel’ of real competition!
  • This is the best ‘bang for you buck’ rally school in the country!

The Ridgecrest Rallycross is a timed event where competitors race both street stock and prepared cars around a closed course in a huge dirt lot. The tight course controls the vehicle’s speed while making driver control and skill a greater factor than raw horsepower. What is rallycross? Learn more here.

The school’s enrollment fee is only $140, or add the Sunday Rallycross for $180. This year your entry includes a FREE 2015 membership to the California Rally Series! Online Entry is available at the

Always be co-driving!

One of the things we have done as a team since we started rallying was to walk, notate, and call notes for rallycross. As a new team it gets you used to hearing a voice in your helmet while you drive at 100% concentration. Other than up-rating the corners a bit, the experience is the same as a slow twisty rally stage. It gives co-drivers a chance to practice as much as the driver, and we have a ton of fun rallycrossing together!

Christine shows off her professionalism when we pop the exhaust off during our last run. She simply mentions what she thinks has gone wrong – and without hesitation – keeps calling notes!

The 2GN SOHC 2.0l Group 2 All Motor Build

Originally my plan was to jump up to the 2.4 turbo SRT-4. Throw some heavy horsepower into the 2GN and start winning rallies. Let’s break this down a little bit:

It’s all about the competition:
Open 2WD or Group 5 is an anything goes 2WD class where the motor can be as big as you want it, and as charged as you want it. This class only sports a handful of drivers in the country, and sometimes these guys still get beat by non-turbo Group 2 cars. In the Southwest, there are only 1 or 2 Group 5 (or CRS-5) classed cars.

Imagine you go for a podium or the 2WD win and you get beat by a hot-shoe in a tuned up VW GTI (this happens all the time). You finish the rally in 4th overall, you are 2nd in 2WD, and you get handed a 1st place trophy for CRS-5 because no one else is in the class. I’m sorry kids, but that participation trophy goes in the trash. 😐

Meanwhile, Group 2 (or CRS-2) has a ton of participants. 10-12 competitors at small rallies, 20-25 at big ones! I’d much rather race with 20 friends in class than compare times with a turbo. This decision was settled shortly after Prescott 2012: Eddie (tuned up VW GTI) beat us by 10 seconds to win 2WD, and we finished 5th and 6th overall. Because we were both in the same class, that 2nd place trophy will remind me of an epic Group 2 battle, and not a “you have a turbo, why did you lose?” Group 5 award.

allmotorLet’s build a hot motor:
For 18+ years now, the Dodge Neon has been spec raced, drag raced, street raced, autocrossed, and everything else in-between. If you can think of any combination of parts, there is probably someone who has run it and has a dyno chart for it. Thousands of threads in forums on every conceivable modification leads to a tried and tested set of things you should do to get your Neon 30-40 more horsepower.

We’re going for a build that will keep the mid-range torque and won’t require a ton of RPM’s to make power. That means no long tube header or individual throttle bodies. 🙁 The goal is strong reliable power. Rally is not a 14 second drag race, we’ll be expecting good performance on pump gas over a 100+ mile event. 🙂

The Dodge Neon All Motor SOHC Formula:

  • Ported and polished head (professional job)
  • Upgraded valves and valve springs
  • Crane Cam #12 (158-0012)
  • JE 10.5:1 compression pistons + Eagle rods
  • Adjustable cam gear and mechanical belt tensioner
  • High flow oil pump
  • 2GN Intake manifold + throttle body
  • Exhaust manifold
  • Under drive pulley
  • Megasquirt 🙂

(Rinse and repeat. Use only as directed. Your mileage may vary.)
This formula is setup to make good reliable horsepower across the entire rev range. With the Megasquirt there will be zero ‘goofing around’ with fuel pressure risers and pumps, crazy over-sized injectors, Air-Fuel piggy-backs, or DOHC computer swaps. Plus I have no restrictions on combinations like a 2nd gen crank with a 1st gen head and cam sensor. It’s all basically a dropdown menu and some settings.

The crank and block are cleaned up with new bearings and ready to go. I’m sorting through the head and collecting all the parts and pieces to begin engine assembly. A serious junkyard run has been planned – watch the Tumblelog for progress!

Starting your first rally in a 2WD is the smart bet.

Not only is it the smart bet, but it’s a much better long bet. I promise!
Here’s 5 reasons for starting with rally in a cheap stock 2WD car:

#5. Rally is awesome, but you just don’t know how awesome yet.
I started my first rally thinking “I know what’s going to happen. I know what’s important!” When we barely finished a one day regional rally I had a completely different set of priorities. Stuff that was super important the day before no longer mattered and stuff that I didn’t even think about was now at the top of the list. Now what if that first list of stuff took twice as long to complete? What if I thought engine dyno time and brake bias was more important than just getting on the stages at my first event? Some people never make it to the start line for this very reason.

#4. Everyone loves the underdog, and it’s great to BE the underdog.
An easy excuse is: “The car is slow.” A better excuse is: “I am slow.” You will go out there and get beat by 10+ cars. Now you can do this in a $8,000 beater P-Car you spent 6 months prepping or a $80,000 AWD special you spent all of last year saving for. Let me tell you though – when you start beating much faster, much more expensive hardware – it feels great!

#3. A bone stock 2WD rally car is easily 1/10th the cost.
You think you’ll have money for this – but your girlfriend has other plans. 😉 You’re going to want to move out of that shitty apartment and your promotion won’t come fast enough. You think you’ll catch the eye of some big sponsors, but don’t set yourself up to fail. Rally costs real money, and really fast (top of the championship) rally cars cost A LOT of money. Like a small house in Los Angeles kind of money. You might get some parts discounts, and free paint, but chasing sponsorships can be a full time job.

#2. You will be able to attend more events and get more experience.
How do you get better at something? Practice! Do you rally 6 TIMES with a $20,000 budget, or do you rally ONCE. The more seat time you get, the faster you will become. I know, I know, Subaru WRX rally cars ARE friggen awesome and it’s totally cool to have one, but having one that does 3 rallies and then sits for 2 years is sad. 🙁 The more rallies you complete the better prepared you’ll be for the next one. It’s up to you, Underdog.

#1. You will become a much better driver. I promise!
You’ll have to setup and commit to your braking zone and learn to squeeze every last drop of speed through the corner. You’ll be controlling the throttle and left foot braking as you exit. These techniques are a lot easier to learn slowly on a cheap 2WD car than a super ‘on the edge’ AWD monster. With 2WD you can’t mess up a turn and then just stomp on the turbo to get you going again. Slow 2WD cars teach you to understand the preservation of motion. Don’t worry, when you make a mistake and plow into the outside of the turn – it’ll be a much less costly one.

“Until you finish a rally without lifting, you don’t need a faster car.”
– Tim O’Neil


I know how tempting it is to build a balls-to-the-wall AWD turbo monster car for your first time out, but you must resist! Building a faster car in 2 years will be a lot better than not having enough money to rally in 2 years. See you on the stages! – Kris

2014 California Rally Series Rally School!

Countless champions have started in rally with the California Rally Series Rally School. This intense classroom day is broken up with instructor led driving & co-driving sessions. You will learn from top to bottom what it takes to compete and win in this challenging sport. From timecards to car-prep, stage notes to car control, this school is a foundation for everything you will do in rally. An awesome value for both the school and rallycross at $150.

The rallynotes team will be representing again this year: Christine Marciniak teaches co-driving and team management, and Kristopher Marciniak talks about car prep and what it takes to build a successful rally car! The 2GN will be on display and of course rallycrossing on Sunday! Ride-alongs can be arranged – just ask!

The CRS Rally School is Saturday & Sunday, February 15 & 16, 2014
Head over to for more details and signup!