Check this out! The Slapdash Racing E30 BMW and the Cage This flagship E30 are featured in the February 2013 edition of Bimmer magazine. Renowned BMW racing photographer Klaus Schnitzer was on hand at last year’s Bavarian Autosport show-and-shine in Portsmouth, NH and asked us to perform a few Scandinavian Flicks after the show. Of course, we obliged. Bill Doyle, proprietor of Cage This, my title sponsor and cage builder of my car, whipped his car around those wet corners with a continental drift, and I followed, trying to learn the technique on pavement.
Many thanks to Klaus Schnitzer, a genuinely fun guy, Red Bull-fueled Bill Doyle, Bavarian Autosport, and, of course, Bimmer magazine, for their permission to reproduce the story here. Check out Bimmer here.
Slapdash Racing in the media...
Slapdash Racing has 'zippy' good time and finishes the 2015 New England Forest Rally!
Rally is always an adventure and the 25th Anniversary of the New England Forest Rally was no different for Slapdash Racing. It was a dark and stormy night. No, wait, it was a bright and beautiful day for the haul up to Sunday River on Wednesday. We left early, myself in the hot seat and a newbie co-driver, Dan Downey, in the silly seat.
We loaded up my tow rig, a 2002 Xterra, with a garage’s worth of tools and spares for my antique, then tossed the rally car, a 1988 BMW 325is (E30) on a rented trailer for the ride Up Noth.
Cruising along in style, with the trailer hitch almost dragging on 95, we hit our first bump in the weekend. With perhaps a heavy foot, laden with excitement to rally after two years of not, the Xterra pilot (that’s me) perhaps pushed a little too hard. The V6, 4-speed auto and transfer case on my little truck got hot enough to melt the fuel pump hoses on top the tank amidships and one of them burst off, spilling high octane fuel from Cumberland to Gray.
No matter, immediately proving his worth as a fellow rallyist, Navigator and Crew Chief, Dan ‘Cuddly Soft’ Downey, set about the task of repairing the rig for the rest of the voyage by splicing and dicing and hose clamping and duct taping and spit and bailing wiring the failing part. We set off again and were great for another 50 miles, then off it came again!
Out goes Downey again, cinching up the repair enough for us to make it to Base Camp at Sunday River. A looong day for sure.
We made it to Base Camp.
Calling it a day and settling in with some fine IPA, we pooled our resources and hit up some local teams and officials and explained our little fuel delivery issue. Despite concern, no one could help at the moment, so we took the rally car to the local auto parts store early the next morning and found the needed parts. Well, the parts were for a Chrysler, not a Nissan, but they worked just the same.
So we hopped back in the rally car, turned the key and wouldn’t ya know it, the sum-of-a-B was dead! Now I had been having electrical issues for several weeks before and finally got the car to start every day for a week on its own, even after overnights of leaving the battery connected and so on. So, y’know, it just didn’t start on the most important day.
With a little pop start, we were back on the road. Dan fixed the Xterra right proper, then we caught up to the recce train, after missing only two stages, which were ones I was already familiar with anyway.
The BBR Crew
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, since we were crewless, the crew at Beliveau Boys Racing (BBR) offered to push our car through scrutineering so we could go out on recce and try to not get killed the next day. Halfway though recce, Dan got a text saying the car wouldn’t start and wouldn’t pass tech because of it, so off BBR went back to the very same auto parts store and picked up a battery for us!
In goes the battery, up starts the car.
In all my testing, clearly, I overlooked the obvious. Crewing for BBR, Scott Carlson told me the battery was eight frickin’ years old, which pre-dates my ownership of the car! BBR could have left us flat, as they had their own car to take care of, but no sir – they stayed and helped in true rally spirit.
BBR crewist Teo Ebratt did us further solids throughout the entire weekend by driving our service rig to New Hampshire for Day 2 service and offering help when needed and other things here and there. Forever grateful, we are.
Day 1 went off great. Car started every time, Dan and I started gellin’ like felons and everything was dry and slippy until I figured out my tire pressure was too high at 31. So down to 25 for Day 2 and we started to boogie. Despite a torrential rain the morning of, which kept the dust down (phabulous), but then made the stages like driving on raw brownie batter (somewhat phabulous), we were once again humming along, singing rally songs.
Until I broke the gas pedal.
Late on Stage 10, I misheard a pace note and overshot an R2 and splashed deep into the wash of a spectator area (everyone was fine, except for one lady, who now may have brownie batter in her shorts!). Getting out of that deep slop, I mashed the pedal so hard it reversed itself on a little floppy thing, so the pedal was stuck down, but the accelerator arm was stuck up. So I had to get creative quickly with the gas and had to exaggerate my motions with my right foot, as it kept getting stuck in the contraption.
Just when I figured out how to do this well, the throttle cable snapped!
Out goes Dan again, sets the first triangle, then I grab the next two while he tosses the hood in the woods and goes to work. He figured out that there was no way to actually fix it, so instead, he grabbed some heavy duty zipties from the trunk and made a chain from the throttle body, up over the cowl and in through my window. He even put the hood back on!
A few cars had passed us at this point, but I gave the new pedal a yank and we took off!
Using one’s left hand for something that is usually done by one’s right foot takes some getting used to, so luckily we had the rest of the stage and a 15-mile transit to get used to it. I suggested we go back to service to fix it and blow the next stage, but when I realized we were already going the wrong way to service and heading toward the stage instead, we both said f*ck it and headed for the stage start (plus, the idea of trying to do a three-point turn using zipties wasn’t something I wanted to try).
In true co-driver fashion, I worked the throttle, clutch and brake and Dan did the shifting so I could steer. And wouldn’t ya know it, we got pretty good at it! So good, we never lost time on the transits and finished the stages only one minute slower than normal.
So back to service we go on schedule. We pull in and Dan jumps out and starts jacking up the car while I’m still in it. Then Teo pops out to help immediately. Teo, in his other life, is a master rigger for tall ships! So Teo rigs the engine side and Dan rigs the pedal side and soon enough we’re done with service with 10 minutes to spare and I’m working the pedal with the pedal, connected to zipties through the firewall!
Tippy toe, tippy toe...
By now, there was only two hot stages left and lemme tell ya, gassin’ it when you know there’s only a little piece of nylon holding things on is a bit nerve wracking. We had eight miles to go and by golly, my goal was to finish the New England Forest Rally, a known car-breaker, for the second time under our own power.
So like a bunny tiptoeing through the magical forest that is the ‘Shire woods, I took it easy through those last two stages and was met at the end by the smiling, semi-delirious, RallyMaster Mark Everett and a slew of overheated volunteers (and without them, nobody would be out here. Thank you volunteers!).
Now it’s not over till it’s over and we still had a 30+ mile transit to the actual finish back at Sunday River. We made those miles easy, powered with smiles of a great weekend. And let me tell ya, making that final check-in and parking in that dirt lot under a ski lift is one of the finer things in the world. The champagne had long since been sprayed, but the sweetness was still in the air.
Completing the nation’s most notorious car-breaking rally doesn’t happen single-handedly. Without the help of our sponsors: Cage This, Bavarian Autosport, Bilstein, Banchwerks, Integrative Health Services and Strange Brew Signs, we could never have started our colossal rally adventure. Without the un-questioning help of the Beliveau Boys Racing crew, which included Driver Jamie Beliveau and Co-Driver Scott Beliveau and their Service Crew Scott Carlson, Teo Ebratt and Dan Petrillo.
Of course I have to thank my Newbie Navigator, Dan Downey, who proved his worth time and time again. Dan’s been tirelessly volunteering at NEFR for several years, chronically rallycrosses his own E30 and is gunning for his own driving position in his own BMW someday soon. And he was pretty good with the notes too. Y’know, except for the most dangerous part of Greenough Pond, but we’ll talk about that later (seriously, he was good, but don’t tell him. I don’t want his head to get big). But we got him brained up pretty quick.
And a final thank you goes to Wifey Steph, because without her love and support, these stories and memories simply wouldn’t be. Her encouragement of my rally shenanigans is, in itself, legendary.
Resting comfortably in the finishing lot. Whew!
Olive the Wunder Dog inspects the interior post-rally. She says it smells a little funny.
Slapdash Racing is an environmentally-friendly operation. We carry in and carry out. And we even took a few moments to do a little weeding.
SNAP! The accelerator cable lets go near the end of a stage.
Navigator Dan Downey takes a few moments to chat with Wyatt Knox and the film crew.
No matter, we kept going.
Here's mud in yer eye!
Slung Lo: Xterra does the job of tow rig, but doesn't like it one bit.
So fast, we blew up the space-time continuum. You heard me.
Day 1, Parc Exposé. Gorgeous sky, gorgeous weather. Perfect day for ripping around the Maine woods in an antique E30 BMW.
Heavy duty zipties and an Exedy bandana make for some interesting driving.