Fiorally: A VW Rally Story – 1
One of the reasons I like regional rally more than WRC is because, not only can you just walk right up to the teams and strike up a conversation (and often get legitimate, race-proven technical input, frankly), the next time you cross paths at an event, the people you met previously will likely remember you and be glad you came out.
Eddie Fiorelli is a regular at California Rally Series events, and over the years, we’ve even hung out at a couple non-rally events. WRC might be the pinnacle of motorsport, but you can’t beat the sense of belonging you get from your regional rally community.
Thankfully, Eddie went deeper than most on his responses, so this conversation is going to take place in a few more parts – maybe even one question at a time. We invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy. Maybe you and Eddie have something in common…
[bd] Introductions. I know who you are and where you are and that you do something possibly classified for a living. That said, how would you like to be introduced to our readers? I like to include this sort of thing to show our readers that not everyone with a cool car or who goes racing regularly is some kind of dot-com millionaire, ya know?
Hi Brian, thanks for asking me to speak with you. I’ve been reading your blog and articles for years and I’m excited to be a part of what you do. My day job isn’t all that exciting, like a good deal of those involved in motorsports it seems I’m an engineer. My background is in mechanical and aerospace engineering and I currently work for the defense industry supporting satellite programs. It pays well however it certainly doesn’t afford the dot-com millionaire lifestyle; it does cover a modest regional competitor rally budget though.
My involvement in racing, in particular rally, started back in 2000 when Erik Christiansen, a college friend who is also still actively participating in rally, had this VHS tape of ESPN’s SCCA Prescott Rally coverage. He had been doing some research on it and convinced me to split the purchase of a rally car with him. We set our budget of $3000 (Yes! Rally cars could found for that cheap) and we patiently waited until something in our price range showed up on Ben’s Rally Page which at the time was one of the best resources for rally-related equipment. In fact, the page is still up and running to this day.
The VW was somewhat of a chance thing. Erik and I were really close to buying a Ford Escort (and not the ultra cool mk2). We were a bit slow to the trigger and the car was bought out from under us. The next car we found was an 85 Golf that was being sold by some relatively young fast driver named Ramana Lagemann. He acquired the car to drive while Vermont Sport Car was building his Mitsubishi Galant VR4. With the VR4 build wrapping up, he wanted to sell the car and we were ready to buy.
A funny story with that car is that Erik and I were graduate students in New Jersey at the time and the car was in Vermont. It was winter and there was a blizzard blanketing the east coast the day we were to drive up to see the car . Unfortunately Erik and I both drove Miatas which are far from optimal winter driving vehicles. However, we figured we had no business buying a rally car if we couldn’t drive in some snow.
I’ll never forget Lance Smith’s [owner of VT Sportscar] “You drove up in that thing!” reaction upon seeing us drive up in Erik’s Miata in all that snow. We bought the car and did three rallies in it with Erik and I swapping driver/co-driver duties before selling the car when Erik became close to graduating. If you are interested, Erik was metirculous about documenting our adventures and our old website from 15 years ago lives on at http://ift.tt/1rESlFm.
After we sold the car, I did a brief foray in karting (I had to do some of form racing and autocross just didn’t cut it anymore) until I graduated and moved out west. At that point I bought another VW from Michigan and rallied it until 2009 until I tangled with a tree at Idaho (unfortunately after the flying finish). At that point I was ready to build my own VW GTI which I finished a year later and continue to compete in.
Like many of us, I do all my own maintenance and most of the rally prep work. I do let the professionals do the things that are above my skills such as rollcage work or suspension rebuilds; shout outs go to Jim Peirce at Pierce Motorsports and Odi Bachis at Feal Suspension who are both masters at what they do and are wonderful people to deal with.
I think I’m a good example of someone who knew very little about cars in general before getting into rally and through the support of some great friends (some of whom I met through the sport) and a will to learn, I’ve been able to keep in it.
Outside of the car or the garage, I’ve been on the Board of Governors for the California Rally Series in different capacities for about 5 years now. Most recently I’ve been serving as webmaster for the organization.
via gbxm.tumblr: http://ift.tt/1rEPBI4