All the pictures: http://gtluke.smugmug.com/RallyAddict/2010-WinterRallyNY
The 2010 Winter Rally New York was RallyNewYork‘s first winter rally event. Though in traditional Upstate New York fashion we have seen snow (flurries) on stages before this was a full on ice race. I was really excited this whole month after we got quite a few days of snow, but it let up a few weeks before the event. Luckily it never really warmed up too much upstate and the roads held all their snow and ice, but mostly ice. The roads were an honest 3-4″ of solid ice. The speeds these guys were traveling was purely astonishing.
I arrived around noon on Saturday, as this event was untraditionally set up as a Saturday-Sunday event instead of Friday-Saturday. I stopped by the remote rally HQ at the 10-Mile Scout Camp and picked up my media pass for the weekend and got to check out the cars on display and the ceremonial start. I stayed for the first few cars and left to see SS1, but when I arrived at the entrance to the Camp Kernochan spectator area I was turned away because the parking lot was full. I can usually use my media pass to gain extra access, to that road or to traditionally off limits evacuation roads but I almost always choose not to. I try to participate in rally events like a standard spectator, but I use my media pass to get unobstructed angles for better pictures. Once in a while I’ll take a walk to a better turn or just a different turn if the stage is a repeat. So, with that in mind I headed over to the alternative spectator area at Camp Aquehonga. I’ve been to both spots before in previous rallies and I knew that Kernochan wasa better spot, and the cars would pass at EVERY pass instead of every other pass like at Aquehong so I was a bit disappointed. But I arrived at Aquehonga, informed some other spectators about the full lot at Kernochan who were interested in going there. Here’s an overall map of the rally so you know what I’m talking about: mapoverallnywr2010
So, I did choose to take a walk from the spectator area since it was a complete straight away. I knew there was a beautiful forested area down the hill from the spectator spot and walked down there to find that it just didn’t work well at all in the winter. I headed back up the hill and found a little clearing after a long Right-5 where I could set up. One of the really challenging things about the winter rally is actually finding a safe place to take pictures from. The snow really makes the safe spots few and far between, as the footing is terrible and the cars have a fraction of the normal traction. I found a nice cluster of trees just of the road that I could shoot through. The only thing worse than getting hit by a flying rally car is being yelled at by the rally organizer Ivan for being unsafe, so safety first! 🙂
The Mitsubishi showing was pretty incredible, and thumbs up to bringing an E30-M3 to a snow rally!
After that stage it would be a while until the next passing of cars which is SS4 so I took a walk. I found a stunning pine swamp with a fallen tree across the road, but high enough that it wasn’t cut down for the rally. It was fantastic.
Unfortunately I just couldn’t get that spot to work for me. The branches made it really hard to focus on the cars coming, the sun was just about down and I just couldn’t get my act together. I did have a great time and got at least one good shot of the GreaseCar.
After this passing I packed up my stuff and walked back to my car. I had no company with me for this rally so I didn’t bother getting a hotel room and drove home, it’s about 2 hours each way. My Wife’s grad school semester started this week and she had a lot of work to do. My friends have no excuse other than being afraid of the cold… yawn…
I woke up at the glorious hour of 5am and jumped back in my car and headed north. I was one of the first people in the Kernochan spectator lot, I took my time and put on about 900 layers of clothes and packed some chemical foot warmers. For the first passing, SS7 I chose the same spot I used during 2009 Fall Rallysprint which was basically inside a giant pine tree up on a hill on the outside of the turn. I got some good shots from there and got a chance to talk to Neil McDaid aka Lensman. He gave me some pointers on shooting rally cars in the suck when the cars have their headlights on, one of the situations I have a lot of trouble with. Here’s what I got from SS7
After that passing the 3 way intersection seen in the background of the pictures is rearranged so that the cars are coming down the road where the spectators are standing, and back on the road the cars were previously turning on. Basically, the cars are coming by me again, in the same direction but totally straight, no turn. So I walked down the hill a bit to the next turn to try and get some good shots. A bunch of other media people had gathered there as well. The cars starting coming by for SS8
I actually had my helmetcam laying on the ground recording for this stage so I have some video. There will be a lot better video from the video crew that was right next to me, and there was even a camera in the tree that Broken hit! I haven’t seen the video’s online yet so here’s mine:
Chris Meegan (from down in the comments) has an AWESOME video of the crash in HD, Check his out!
I kinda froze when I saw it happen, but luckily I was surrounded by a bunch of people who knew just what to do. They made sure the team was OK, and they were. They steered them off the road, waved the cars by and found the OK sign from the co-driver’s book to alert the other competitors that they were OK and there was no need to stop and assist.
After hanging out at the crash site I wandered back up the hill for SS9 which was the same format as the first pass of the day. I tried from a different angle and it really didn’t work out well. I got another good shot of the GreaseCar though. Having such a bright color orange, against black highlights, on an older car that has a lot of sharp line makes their car really easy to photograph. My camera can snap into focus on their car considerably faster than say a silver brand new Subaru that has very vague lines and little contrast.
After this stage there was an extended service and then another repeat of these 2 stage formats. I decided to call it a day and drive home. I’m pretty glad I left when I did though, as the roads were horrible. Even with 4 snow tires on my horrible hyundai I was still sliding all over the road. I saw a few accidents while driving to rt17 and after I got on, I found people flashing me and noticed that ahead the entire highway was shut down because of an accident. I jumped off the highway and took back roads ALL the way home. Took an extra hour but I kept moving so that kept me from getting frustrated with traffic. There was some seriously sketchy sections of roads where I went sliding down some hill but I managed to keep my paint off of trees.