So, I wish I had grabbed some pictures from this weekend. I brought the go-pro to try to capture the madness, but apparently I forgot to charge it. Essentially, we waiting till nightfall, then started the rally. It was 3 sections, 240 miles total, we were out on the course from about 65-pm to 5am. Each section had a big of a break between, about 30 minutes. Imagine an old, windy, fire tower access road. Frozen solid, covered in gravel, topped in ice, with a powder coating of snow. Wash boarded, with ruts 4 inchs deep, barely even a car wide at points. Average speed of the course was 40mph. It was truly awesome. I couldn't really take pictures on the run, because the challenge was to be able to read a variety of maps, and stick to a certain speed, find check points, which were at the most 3 miles apart, at a minimum .1 miles apart. The jeep is certainly no rally car, but I placed 18th out of 25 cars, the top six cars were all rally class with rally computers, so really I came in the middle of stock class. (Scoring was really based on how well you stuck to the course timing, so sometimes we were faster, some times slower. Was too lazy this morning to figure out our overall over/under). Some really scary parts, the jeep just does not brake fast enough to be able to handle the twisty roads; on top of that, not really the right tires either. I did get a chance to cut off the road and through some off road terrain a few times when I got lost, and I had to pull someone out of a ditch after they lost control of their Audi, which gave me a good laugh. Drifting a jeep, probably the most fun I've had in awhile. Very intense, I still havn't decided if I'd want to do it again or not, But either way, was a real treat. Plus, oh my god my suspension. The way my new shocks and coils handled the washboard sections, amazing. I hit runs and bumps that would easily shake the electronics out of most of the cars there (there was a DNF too, thing broke down on the route), without even a murmur. Felt so nice. But despite the awesome suspension, the brakes constantly locking up and the lack of grip on the tires did make for some very scary moments (Had a check point over a blind crest that I literally slide 100 feet across the ice before coming to a stop, had to slide between the check point car and some on coming traffic. Nearly crapped my pants!).
For those wondering, I run some very used rubicon stock tires, 4" old man emu coils, and bilstein 5100's. Teraflex lower control arms, and teraflex adjustable track bars. The shocks held up great all night, although near 4am or so I could start to feel a bit of shock fade (the front end would rebound a hint after a set of washboards). I suppose if I planned on doing this type of thing all the time, I would get some reservoir shocks. However, I doubt most people are racing their jeep for more than 8 hours straight, so I can't imagine most folks need them.
My overall thoughts were suspension and handling wise, the jeep was great. For this rally, the performance was fine too. The most acceleration I ever needed was a quick jump from zero to 45, but most of the time it was dancing from 25 to 40. I often found that when I would leave a series of turns, I could over take any of the subarus or audis on the straights. The real problem with the jeep was I had to brake very very very early for the bends, and thats when the cars would really pull away from me. All in all, Jeep really handled the event amazingly well
Anyways, just wanted a fun weekend story, for those who are always asking about "why would you build a jeep for speed". Sure, it wasn't a nascar event, but for a true offroading event like a rally race, I think a jeep is a really fun choice, for something different from the millions of subaru's you always see at them!