One of the questions we hear most often is “How did you get started in rally?” or “Why did you pick a Ford Focus?” Well, let’s answer those questions.
Getting started in rally is a funny story. We had been married just about a year when Stephen looked at me (co-driver Makisa) and said, “Hey do you wanna go to a rally?” Being the often cautious person I can be I asked … “What kind of rally; political, church, charity, I mean what are you getting me into?” He laughed, and said “no, a stage rally with cars”. After a bit more explanation I agreed. I had never experienced anything like it. We volunteered as spectator marshals, meaning we were put at key points along the stages where people would be watching and our job was to keep them in the safe areas. This also meant we had a front row seat for all the drivers flying down the stages.
It was AMAZING! I had never experienced that before and I was hooked, despite the cold and the snow and the crazy roads to get where we needed to be I was in love! Stephen had loved this type of racing since he started playing it on the PC and Xbox but experiencing it in person took it to a whole new level. Without knowing what the other thought we both found something we wanted to participate in as much as possible. We had driven to the Rally in the 100 Acre Woods in Salem, MO separately due to my job at the time and his car had trouble as we tried to leave town. As we sat and waited for rescue, we had a great time to talk and review our weekend. It was obvious we were both really excited by this “rally thing”. While we were sitting there with a car in need of repair, I asked Stephen, “When are we buying our car?” I am not sure that was the reaction he expected but I think he was thrilled with it because he immediately began searching for our first car.
The most important thing we did while we searched for our car and built it was to volunteer at rallies. In addition to being spectator marshals, we did tech inspection (which was amazing) and start time control. This gave us a great look into how rally worked, what we needed to focus on in our build and things that could cause us trouble in the future. We recommend that anyone who is interested in starting in rally spend some time volunteering. You learn so much and meet people who will help you along the way. The things we learned and the friends we made have been some of the most important aspects of rally for us. These things made rally more attainable and a lot more fun!
So – how did we pick our rally car? Well, that was very scientific. 😉 We love cars, pretty much anything that performs well, but we have a special place in our hearts for Ford and Audi. We decided based on cost and build requirements Group 2 was our best place to enter rally at the time. (Group B is available and becoming more popular but it is based on newer model cars so it will probably cost more to get into then ours did.) We bought our 02 Ford Focus SVT off EBay for around $900. We did all the build ourselves using the wisdom and input of our friends from Rally America, Google and You Tube. I will tell more about that in the next post. In the meantime…here is the before and after of our rally car.