EVAP mystery hour.

Let me start by letting you know that this article is going to be very technically oriented towards fixing a 2003 Dodge Neon. I’m sure some of the info will be helpful for any car built in the 21st century, but you may want to skip over the gritty details. This article will also reveal the complicated way cars check for fuel leaks and explore some of the huge frustrations of modern emissions testing. Ready to unravel a mystery? I recently learned so much about the Chrysler EVAP system that I wanted to share – in plain English – what I went through, and what I learned.

You: “I have code P0440 – what should I do?”
Every car mechanic: “Replace your gas cap!” Continue reading

The Prescott Rally 2013 Story

Racing isn’t always cut and dry: This is our 2013 Prescott story.

Two engine short blocks and a new head were rolled into my garage the weekend before Prescott, so those and the stand alone engine management that took too long for me to receive were going to have to wait until after the rally. Mildly disappointed with the situation I looked over the tires we had for the event. Two new Silverstone skins had been freshly mounted and I was picking over what was left of Rally Idaho spares. If I can’t have a hot motor, at least I have new tires.

Since we didn’t qualify for the NNRC in Idaho, our goal for the weekend was the California Rally Series CRS-2 championship. Our competition in class is a Porsche 911 driven by Jason Lightner. We raced together in Idaho, and at Gorman when we helped out with scoring I watched him beat a lot of teams and grab the Power Stage win – so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from him at Prescott. We knew if we took first in CRS-2 we’d have the points. We also knew there would be a bunch of new teams in Subarus, and I delight in surprising people with the speed to which I can pedal a Dodge Neon down a stage. You must admit that all drivers have a few pounds of ego in the car. Mine is made up mostly of beating all wheel drive turbo cars. πŸ™‚

We arrive at the rally and our best laid plans turn to shit immediately. Ray Hocker (NASA Rally Sport) hands us a start order list with a bunch of asterisks next to half of the names. “Congratulations! You are qualified for the NASA National Rally Championship.” he says to us. We excitedly thank Ray and this hasn’t even sunk in when a super clean Datsun 240Z driven by the past Prescott winning driver Brian Scott rolls by, and it’s built to the absolute limit of the class. Sure the 2.4L I-6 motor isn’t idling quite right, but I think it’s because it’s not at 6,000 RPM making 200HP. πŸ˜‰ I look at all the clean fittings on the car and I day dream of the ported and polished head that is sitting on the floor next to the laundry and the box labeled “plumbing” in my garage. I look down at my start list and I notice that Brian Scott is NOT qualified for the NNRC. His last minute unlikely co-driver is Michel Hoche-Mong (who happens to be the CRS director) will obviously get CRS points and could jeopardize the CRS-2 co-driver standings. We need max points and I already know what’s about to happen… and dammit I’m going to try and stop it.
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Prescott Rally 2013 – Follow us!

Want to keep up with the team this weekend? (Oct 4-5) We’ll be posting lots of pictures and updates to our Tumblelog! We’re also over on Twitter @rallynotes and of course the rallynotesteam on faceyspace. APRS tracking is GREAT at this event and maybe you can spot us doing triple digits on these fantastic dirt roads.

Rallydata.com will have scores up as usual. The scoring link has live text as well, so be sure to check that out.

This is our 9th year at Prescott and our 6th time competing. Always an amazing event! 2005 – 2008 (P-Car), 2009 – Zero Car (P-Car), 2010 – Scoring, 2011 – Zero Car (2GN), 2012 – 2013 (2GN). See you on the stages!

Idaho Rally 2013 Media Roundup


Last weekend as you may have already noticed, our videos stepped into the 21st century. πŸ˜€ We’ve now got a GoPro3 Silver for inside the car connected to the Peltor intercom, and an older GoPro Hero for those more expendable exterior shots. Here’s the link to our YouTube Channel. As usual, I’m not going to post every video here, so feel free to explore and subscribe to our channel at your leisure.

Our Idaho Rally pictures are up on a Flickr set. I haven’t discovered any other Idaho Rally public galleries, so if you know of one or come across one – I’d love to see pictures and I’ll post the link here.

A full write-up is in the works. We’re going to cover:

  • How Rally Car Tracking broke… and stayed broke.
  • Tire testing: Got to drive on two types of rally tires on the same stages.
  • Plus the complete Idaho Rally story – 4th in class and 12th overall!

Rally Idaho – Plans and Preparation

Idaho RallyWe’re excited to get back into rally competition and kick off our 2013 season with Rally Idaho. We ran it in 2008, and I helped crew for another team in 2010. It was on the USRC calendar back in the day, and now we’re really excited to see it as part of the NASA National Rally Championship (NNRC). It’s a 2 day event that takes place Northeast of Boise.

Besides this little sidetrack, the 2GN is in great shape, and a lot of my time has been spent prepping and packing the Blazer. Following the mantra: “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Everything is considered for weight and use. Nested labeled containers inside bins make sure no air space is wasted. I even plastic wrapped spare parts and placed them throughout the truck instead of taking a huge mostly empty container of odd shaped parts. I managed to fit 5 tires into the rally car and I made sure that the gas tank was pretty much empty.

A new set of brake pads and a new air filter was desperately needed on the 15 year old truck. I managed to track down a pesky wiring problem to a fuse I didn’t know existed. For the (possibly hundreds) of people that mentioned it over the years: “Yes! My left trailer light blinker now works!” I just assumed that it would be on the same circuit – who knew Chevy had separate trailer fuses from the factory?! *after 6 years… πŸ˜€

In order to instantly qualify for the NNRC we’re going to need to be on the podium in 2WD. Our competition looks pretty strong right now, and I’m not really sure what will happen. We’ve got a fresh new set of tires, experience on the roads, and a strong desire to contest the championship at Prescott this year.

We’re on our way to Idaho!

We will have pics and updates as we go.
APRS Rally car tracking will be up and running.
@rallynotes will be tweeting to #usrally
Scores will be here on rallydata.com

This is not a Press Release

Preface: I spend a lot of time thinking about marketing and the image of Rally in the US. If this interests you – keep reading!

frank-pressNot too long ago – Everything you read, watched, and listened to was output by a handful of media companies. Your only way to “make the news” was to put out a release that was crafted and polished with your message. You needed to catch the editors attention, draw them in for a short story, sprinkle in sponsors, and tell them where they could get more. Writing press was a good way for a low budget team to be just like a high budget team. On paper they look the same: Cute story, couple of photographs, shout out to a brand, see you next time.

Who reads these anymore? They certainly aren’t actually printed, and my carefully honed list of websites who publish press – publish everything. Once you start publishing everything you get a fire hose of information that no one really wants to read. Plus your message gets diluted down to practically nothing: “Sport you’ve never heard of has guy racing for points by Ovaltine.” How do I craft a message about Rally to everyone? Be boring and as vague as possible. πŸ˜‰

Now what do we do? Well, some of the bigger teams, events, and companies have just moved their prepackaged press message over to Social Media. They post 60 times a day, every post has no real depth, and they are fire-hosing Twitter and Facebook along with every RSS feed tagged #rally #usrally. They ignore the “Social” in social media. Just shouting from mountain tops to no one in particular. After a few rallies they stop paying their PR person, get burned out, and the updates just stop or the fans tune out.

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Rally Idaho Prep – We need crew! June 8-9th

The last time the rallynotes.com team was up in Idaho was 2008. We coordinated the trip with the North Nevada Rally by heading North after the June event to leave the truck and rally car at Dick Rockrohr’s compound in Boise. Shortly after that event, Dick assumed a role as the organizer of the Idaho Rally International and enjoyed success as a rally where the Southwestern, Northwestern, and Colorado rally competitors come together to battle it out. I crewed for a team (Erik & Amy) in 2010 so I’m still pretty familiar with the awesome roads and this fantastic event.

Photo by Kenneth J. Gill
Rallynotes @ the 2008 Idaho Rally – Photo by Kenneth J. Gill

Rally HQ this year is the Best Western in Boise City, Idaho. The event is about 6 hours from Portland, 5 from Salt Lake City, and we’d never expect anyone to come up from Northern California. If you’re really interested in helping us out and seeing a rally up close, we’ll pay for food and lodging for the weekend. The racing is on Saturday June 8th and Sunday June 9th, so you could arrive late Friday night. The rally ends around 4PM on Sunday and you could conceivably make this event without taking time off from work. Plan: Figure out which of your friends cars gets the best mileage, pile in, and have a crazy rally weekend! Sign up to Volunteer for Rallynotes here!

As far as our preparation goes, we need some new 15″ rally tires, the Blazer needs some TLC, and a very careful packing job needs to be accomplished for our 14 hour trip North. The HotBits were back on the car for HDT 00 duty and had a good shakedown with no issues thanks to the Feal Suspension rebuild.

Rally Idaho officially kicks of our 2013 rally season!