How a trip to DirtFish helped an ARA beginner learn from his mistake

Richo Healey's last rally ended in a crash. To make sure that didn't happen again, he headed to DirtFish Rally School


Every now and then we have somebody coming to DirtFish to get it wrong. It helps to get it right. When Richo Healey hauled his Lexus off the tree it was leaning against at LSPR last October, the time had come to pay us a visit.

Fortunately, Richo’s co-driver is DirtFish senior instructor Michelle Miller. Having watched the whole tree thing play out in Michigan, she came up with a plan to put her driver in a similar position in Snoqualmie. Minus the tree.

“Somebody else had gone off in that corner at LSPR,” Healey told DirtFish. “I saw the [warning] triangle, but I couldn’t see the people. I was looking for them and basically I realized I was in a bit over my head when we ended up going where I was looking. We found a tree. That sucked.

“What I wanted when I came to DirtFish was to replicate that scenario that, OK, plan A has gone south and now what? It’s that moment when, for whatever reason you arrive at the apex way too quickly and getting turned into the corner is not going to happen. What now? How am I safely going to get this thing stopped and get it turned, give up some places but not give up the race?”


DirtFish instructor Miller re-created the exact sceanrio that caught Healey out on LSPR, within the safe confines of the world's best rally school

Miller ran a two-day private course for Healey with the aim of him missing corners and dealing with it.

“I had the mindset going in that this is going to be scary, but it’s going to be valuable,” he said. “It helped that Michelle’s a really calming influence in the right-hand seat, but we’d come thumping into the corner and at the point where I would normally brake, I took a deep breath, went by and then gave the brakes everything. It was incredible and more than one time we made it through clean. It didn’t wind up being that: ‘Oh no, we’re going deep, we’re over-rotating, this is not great, but we’re making it work…’

“There were a couple of times when I realised you can go into corners way faster than you thought and just make it work. It was a massive learn. When I was braking at 70 or 80%, the car wasn’t getting all the weight on the front, but when I was hitting the brakes to like 98% – just on the point of the mad lock-up the car turned so much better. Those two days were so valuable.”

This week’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is the first event in Healey’s challenge for this year’s ARA L2WD aboard his River City Rally-run Lexus IS250. The Californian-based Australian said: “I feel very privileged to have sort of stumbled into what I think is kind of going to be the race this year. Obviously I want to do really, really well, but there’s a lot of people out there with a lot of experience. This is the first event with my own car and [Michael] Hooper (RCR team principal) has done a phenomenal job in managing the deal for us. For the first four rallies I did, I rented a car from Hooper, but it’s different being in my own – it’s like the seats are just perfect for me, there’s no compromise anywhere. I like that.”


Healey is confident his extra training will pay off on this weekend's Rally in the 100 Acre Wood

This week’s Missouri event is only Healey’s fifth ever start, what’s a realistic goal for him?

“We’re out there to do really well,” he said. “I want to put a drive behind me that I can be proud of and then let’s see where that puts us on the leaderboard. I’m going into this week with my eyes open – the car is a fresh build and I want to do well and finish.”

And to make that finish, two days at DirtFish was a great place to start.