THE LAUNCH

Hey Rally Takeover readers! It’s nearly two months into the New Year, so it’s time for another series/season of my convoluted blog of trans-Atlantic rallying from the only American competing in European rallies in 2016. I’m entitling it Semi-Pro because this year, I’ve reduced my income/work to go rallying, which is *almost* semi-professional, and I have a hunch that the writing will be comparable to the quality of a movie that gets a 21% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Plus, who can resist Will Farrell in a Stilo? Also, I really wanted to stick Andre 3000 in one as well, but my photo editing tools (i.e. MS Paint) cost me a bit too much time..

Now that your expectations have been set appropriately, for those of you not familiar with me or my blogs, my previous RallyTakeover Blogs were the European Championship Gets Americanized, chronicling stories from being the first American to undertake the championship since John Buffum in the 1980’s, and last year’s slightly darker tale of the Oregon Trail -> You Got Leukemia, which understandably, goes in a very different direction.

Before then, I had a cute little Blogspot from my rally exploits as a 21 year old while I studied abroad in the UK in 2008 and was trying to do lots of rallying after my contract with Dave Mirra/Subaru USA expired. Before then, I had some even cuter writings of an 11 year old obsessed with rallying and sitting in the late, great Carl Merril’s Ford Escort WRC (the first World Rally Car ever in North America).

STPR 1997 - taking the wheel of the Carl Merril Ford Escort WRC

In short, rallying has always been a passion of mine, and I’ve always been compelled to write about it throughout my 13 year rally career.

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With that caveat, I’m quite happy, I’m quite healthy (with achieving complete remission just before the New Year), and I’m in as good as shape as a co-driver can be; so much so that I could use #fittorally if I didn’t continually crush pizzas on a regular basis. Basically, this year is my opportunity to come back after my struggles of last year and finally apply all the top-level international experience from the ERC in 2014 along with all of that character-building experience from 2015 while actually having the freedom and structure in place to be able to go after some of these big events across the globe.

Aaron and I testing in Wales for the 2016 season - Photo credit: Phil Griffiths

But what is it that I’m actually doing? I don’t entirely know. At the moment, I’m pretty stoked about a recent announcement that I’ll be joining Aaron McClure in the BTRDA British Championship, the biggest championship in the UK with regards to the depth of entries (i.e. at least 100 cars per rally) where Aaron generally finishes well within the top 10 and near the top of his class. It also requires an entire (wait for it), 8 days off of work for the 8 event championship, which well, leaves me a considerable amount of time to take on even more rallying across the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe, and/or the USA. Pretty cool huh?

In addition, with MCR Motorsport Media doing all the press releases and formalities associated with promoting a respectable rally team, I have free reign to pick my tangents and blog away.

In the past, I’ve had a tendency to blog at serious length as I (attempted) to write cohesive stories to make sense of the rallying chaos well after the fact. To the contrary, this is the introduction to a story that has yet to be enacted, written, or filtered through cohesive interpretation all the while promising way sweeter pictures than before*.

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My objective this year is to make the stories more concise and entries more frequent while still steering clear of stage-by-stage accounts or stereotypical look-at-me-I’m-a-badass self-promotion. This is me trying to make sense of the chaos as I experience it, hopefully offering a genuine, authentic, educational(ish) chronicle of the greatest, least understood motor sport in the world from the perspective of the least understood position in the motor sport world, the rally co-driver. Happy reading everyone!

Photo credit to Phil Griffiths

For next time, my first real entry (with actual rally content I promise!) will be covering my first test with Aaron McClure, as well as the first round of the BTRDA Championship, the Cambrian Rally, where things take a slightly unexpected turn as previewed below. Stay tuned!

Onboard screen grab from the Cambrian

Part 2 is now available here

*I’m just assuming that an AWD car that’s out front in BTRDA events will generate some sweet photos judging by the amazingly unexpected shots produced by Phil Griffiths after our test.