If you’d happened to have been in the right part of the Tioga State Forest on Friday at the right time, you’d have seen some of the most incredible views of hills, valleys, and trees.
Look closely, and mixed in you might just have found a spec of blue hiding off the side of an embankment: Brandon Semenuk’s Subaru WRX STI.
However, if you happened back upon that same spot the next day and waited around, you’d see it again, only this time not off the embankment, flying by on the road.
It was literally held by a couple of trees on its nose; it had gone into those trees roof-first.
So how’d the car make it back on the road again on Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally? Dan Anctil, Subaru Motorsports USA’s motorsport director, told DirtFish the whole story.
“After [Brandon] had the off, I went up just to see the scene,” he said. “We knew we weren’t probably going to get it out until that evening, so it actually gave us time to get back to service and make a plan.
“The car had nosed over about a 12-foot embankment. It was literally held by a couple of trees on its nose; it had gone into those trees roof-first. So actually, the mechanical side of the car was pretty well sorted. There weren’t many other problems at all.
“It was all roof skin and quarter panel stuff, so we got a big wrecker that had a big boom and we literally picked the car up off the ground and just swung it back on the road, then used a second wrecker to pull the nose forward.
“It never even touched the ground from the trees so it was a pretty awesome recovery if I’m honest.
“We’ve got a couple of guys here that are the best in the world at that recovery stuff and that’s what they do for a living outside of Subaru, so it’s pretty awesome to have them.”
However, now that the car was out of the woods, and back at a service bay, it was time for the long night to begin.
“Once we got back, we inspected the cage ourselves and honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with the cage, which was the big item. We had ARA officials come down, they looked at it, they couldn’t find anything wrong either.
“From then on, it was about 8pm to 5am rebuilding the body shell essentially. As many components as we could change, banging things out, welding all of it to get it into a good place and start today.”
However, there was an unusual hurdle to overcome. Between Anctil’s first and second trips to the accident site, a rather large part of Semenuk’s WRX STI went missing.
“Like I said,” Anctil explained, “I went up halfway through the day to see the scene, and the trunk lid and the spoiler were still there. When I went back that evening to get the car properly, those items were missing, but the plate which attaches to the trunk lid, was actually still with the car. So, somebody had taken the trunk lid and the spoiler and left the plate.
“I kind of made a mental note of a few individuals that had been up and around the area and they showed up to service without it. We just asked if they’d seen anything, with a little bit of vagueness going on there, and 20 minutes later, the trunk and spoiler were kicked out of the back of a pickup truck that was on the way by service.
“So, it showed up and it’s actually the one on the car. It was usable, a few stitches, here and there and it’s good to go, which is nice because that’s the spec we wanted to stay with.”
Though competing in super-rally, Semenuk was still happy to be able to get back on the road and learn the stages on this rally, crinkled panels, duct tape, and all.
“We are pretty fortunate that how the car was, there was no major damage to any major components or the cage. So the team got it fixed.
“They did an amazing job. I know that it didn’t look the prettiest, but it drove just as good as it normally would have.”
So, while it wasn’t the weekend Semenuk wanted by any means, it was a story that he and the team will remember for a while to come.