My name is Carl Siegler, I’m from Golden Valley, MN (the home of Rally America!). I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of St. Thomas and work as a manufacturing engineer for Goodrich Sensors and Integrated Systems. Specifically I deal with angle of attack sensors which are used to detect an aircraft’s pitch relative to the airstream.
What got you interested in rally?
I bought a 1992 Galant VR4 in 2005. After reading up on the history of the car I became very interested in its rally heritage. I did some digging and found out that the Ojibwe Forests Rally was held only a few hours from my home so a buddy and I made a trip to check it out. After watching the cars rip through the woods, I was hooked. I immediately began pouring over the Rally America rulebook when I got home but came to the realization that as a college student I couldn’t afford to run a car. Fast forward a few years and I now have a 2004 STi. I began rallycrossing that car at the local SCCA events, took rookie of the year and after re-visiting the finances decided it was time to stage rally.
Tell us about your rally car/truck. How long have you had it?
My rally car is a 2004 Subaru STi. I’ve had it since 2006 where it served as my daily driver up until 2008 when it became a dedicated rally car. It’s been built to run Open Class and is a very well rounded considering I run on a pretty low budget.
Did you buy your rally car or build it?
What challenges did this cause? What benefits did you realize as a result?
I built my rally car. I know the conventional wisdom (and it is advisable for many) is to buy a pre-built car, but I often do things the hard way. I’m a gearhead and engineer and the actual process of building the car appealed to me. The biggest challenge for me was in the time and money – it’s a long and expensive process to build a rally car from the ground up. However, I’m very lucky to have Graham Evans (aka Whiskers) as a local resource. Whiskers is a former Prodrive employee and knows more about Subarus and rally cars than anyone I’ve met. He has been instrumental in helping and guiding my build.
Without having support from others with prior rally experience, you could make a lot of mistakes and waste a lot of money doing a first time build so I recommend anyone thinking about building a car find some knowledgeable locals to help guide you! My benefit in building the car was being able to tailor it to myself and knowing exactly how it was put together. Having that comprehensive knowledge can make trouble shooting go so much quicker when it’s crunch time. There is some downside though as you do tend to get attached to the car when you’ve put hundreds of hours into it – you can’t do that or it’ll make it hard to drive flat out.
Tell us about a time when you stuffed/crashed the rally car (or maybe had a nasty off).
In 2009 at Nemadji Trail 3 I barrel rolled the car three times. This was back when the car was Open Light and had a really poor front and rear differential set-up. I had some good results the previous rally and was getting a bit overconfident. I came into this tightening left off a high speed section and didn’t slow down enough. The road had a lot of loose dirt and gravel on top of it and I wasn’t able to power out of it as my rear wheels got stuck in the sluff – then as the corner tightened they got sucked off into the ditch and the frame hooked up and over we went. We ended up way off the road in a marsh with really tall grass all around us. My codriver, Dave Goodman, and I were so confused – we couldn’t find the road at first because of the direction we were facing and the tall grass! check it out.
Tell us about a time when you narrowly avoided a DNF. How did you press on regardless?
Ojibwe Forests 2009 is a great example of a Ziptie Rally POR moment. This was the first rally after I had rolled and I was driving really slow. We got caught a number of times that weekend. It was the second to last stage of the rally and I was moving over to let a faster car pass when we clipped a rock that was hidden by the grass. We limped the last few miles to the end of the stage, cleared the control and jumped out to see what the hell broke. We found our front control arm looked like a banana and the tire was now jammed into the fender well and could barely turn.
Dave and I quickly set to work. We had to disconnect the end link as it was keeping the swaybar jammed in an awkward spot, then we could pull the wheel off to switch to our spare (it was worn more so the smaller diameter gave it just enough clearance to kind of let me steer). By this time sweep was waiting for us to relinquish our time card – we only had minutes to go! Just in the nick of time we got the arm and tie rod pushed out enough and the car back on the ground to “drive” the car. We ran that last stage and final transit with sweep right on our tail but we finished!
What’s the most rewarding part of being involved in rally? The most challenging?
I can’t really pinpoint one single most rewarding thing about rally. To me, the whole experience is why I love it! From pre-event car prep to the road trip out to hanging with all my rally buddies to blasting down a forest road to the post event festivities… it really is a complete package. I have never truly had a bad time at a rally – crashing or dnf’ing is disappointing but we’ve always made the best of it! The most challenging aspect for me is trying to adjust back to “normal” life after a rally. That may sound odd but rallyists know what I’m talking about. I have to wait how long before the next one?!
How many events did you enter last year? Is that trending up or down? Why?
We did 15 last year (looks like a lot but we did a lot of dual weekends – like each Nemadji Trail is actually two separate rallies). That’s more than we did our first year. For 2011 Ziptie Rally is trying to run as a national entry. In that case we’ll only do the 6 national rallies. If we don’t secure the necessary sponsors expect to see us run the same number of regional rallies as we did this past season.
What kind of cash prize structure would entice you to enter more rallies or push the car harder?
Really any kind of cash payout. I think MaxAttack has an awesome format going right now.
How important are car classes? What class/region do you race in? How many competitors in your class at each event?
I think well thought out classes are important but too many classes dilute the competition. We currently race Open class in Rally America’s Central Region. There are typically enough regional Open class cars that getting on the podium is a battle. There is some really good competition out there – Janusz Topor, Henry Krolikowski, Erik Zenz for example.
What do you think about recce vs pacenotes vs blind rally?
All three have their uses. We prefer to run with recce and Jemba stage notes over tulips. I’ve crashed on both Jemba and tulips and don’t really have a comment on the safety argument. For Dave and I, it is just simply more fun to use notes. Recce is something we’ve only done once and it was useful. The downside I see is adding another full day, which is why we often have to skip it, as we can’t make it to the rally in time.
Spectators: How would you like to see them addressed?
I love to see big spectator crowds! It’s great to see people getting out in the woods to watch rally. Rally isn’t just something you show up to like a ball game, it takes some real planning and commitment to get out to spectate (even more so to volunteer!). Unfortunately in our lawsuit happy culture spectators can be a big liability. So how to attract more spectators, but keep them safe? Tough question for sure.
How do you get local gearheads involved in rally?
I’ve been very active in the local subaru club, MNSubaru. In fact, my entire rally team is made of MNSubaru members. We draw new crew from the club, hold various events with Morries Minnetonka Subaru to promote rally, and my co-driver is the SCCA rallycross chair for our region. We work very hard to promote rally to the local communities considering we have many events close by (Nemadji Trail, Gravity Park, and Ojibwe being fairly local with Sno*Drift, 100AW and LSPR not too far away either).
What do you see is the most critical issue needing addressed by the rally community today?
How would you address that issue if you were in charge?
There needs to be more affordable, introductory events. One day, short, cheap rallysprints – typified by events like Nemadji Trail. Nemadji is run on one road, is about stage 30 miles total, has an entry fee of $250, has one central service, is within a 2 hour drive from 2 major cities, and has a very compact one day schedule. This allows a team to show up with no crew, park their service rig (if they have one, two teams last year drove their cars to the rally) and run a full day of rally for a very affordable price.
Rally needs more events like this around the country. Promoting and developing these type of rallies would be a primary objective for me if I was in charge. A related problem to that is the lack of organizers and roads. It is hard to put on new rallies without fresh blood and increasing difficulties in finding and securing appropriate roads.
How do you help out at rallies when you aren’t racing?
I’ve marshaled before. This year Dave and I also joined the Ojibwe Forests organizing committee. That was a very good experience to see what it takes to put on a rally – I recommend that all competitors help out organizing at some point.
If you could enter any WRC event, which rally would that be? Why?
Rally Sweden – growing up in Minnesota, I am all about tossing a car about in the snow!
Your favorite Group B car?
Audi Quattro S1 – love the sound!
We’ve all got a rally hero. Who’s yours?
Do you have a local rally club? Tell us about it! (If not, why not?)
We don’t have a club specifically devoted to rally but we do have a lot of rally competitors, organizers, volunteers, and fans that get together on a regular basis (we just met for the Ojibwe Chili Cook-Off this month).
How often do you get together with other rallyistas to talk shop?
Very frequently. I usually see Dave or some of the Ziptie Rally crew on a weekly basis to work on something.
Tell us about some people who have made your rally dream a reality.
First and foremost that would be my codriver Dave Goodman. He’s been there since the beginning and has put in a lot of work on the car, on our organization, on our sponsors and has done a fantastic job in the right seat. Next I would like to thank my dedicated crew of Matt “Chux” Alexander, Martin Asao, Mike Rhode, Tim Anderson, Sheen Hua, Dan Mooers, and Dan Pulles – you guys are the best! I’d also like to thank Dan Drury for being our crew chief the first year and continuing to support Ziptie Rally! Special thanks to Andrew Browning and Graham Evans for their help building the car – Graham did the cage and provided exceptional advice and Andrew was out in the garage with me pretty much every night! And lastly, I have to thank my parents for putting up with me leaving a rally car in their garage and a driveway full of trucks and trailers!
Thank a volunteer (or group of them) here.
I’d like to thank all rally volunteers! Without your dedication we wouldn’t be able to go play in the woods. I’d like to specially thank the Ojibwe Forests and Lake Superior Performance Rally organizers for putting on such great events this year even after being dropped from the National schedule – keep it up!
And how about your sponsors?
I’d like to thank my current sponsors: current sponsors: NOS Energy Drink, Carbonetic/Across USA Inc, The Four Firkins, Gearhead Graphics, Morries Minnetonka Subaru, Graham Evans Motors
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from your time in the rally community?
Expect the unexpected. And if you can’t fix it with zipties, a big hammer and some kind of tape (ZRT favors aluminum tape), it just wasn’t meant to be.
Is there anything else rally-related you’d like to talk about, but hasn’t been asked?
Just a personal plug – Dave and I are pushing to run a full Rally America National Championship and are looking for some sponsors to partner with. So any companies out there looking to partner with Ziptie Rally – give us a shout! We also have a second team car driven by Anthony Israelson and codriven by Jason Standage who will be running Central Region events this coming season in Open class – they are looking for sponsors as well.
Gearbox Magazine would like to thank Carl for taking the time to share his story with us. We’d also like to extend a special thank you to our valued reader, Shaun, for dropping us a line to suggest some interviews for us, including Carl.
- There’s two types of rallyistas – those who have rolled and those who will. Which are you?
- Have you ever worked on an event organization committee?
- What’s your most epic ziptie repair?