Rhys Haydon climbed out of his Porsche 944 and grimaced. Trying to get his coat on, he fumbled the zip and instead pulled it around himself and turned his back to the wind. There was cold. And then there was this.
Right on cue a Can-Am side-by-side flew by on the stage, smashing its way through the ice to offer the crew an impromptu – and freezing – shower. The whoops of delight could be heard for miles. Haydon grinned.
Forget the weather, this is what the Northwest Rally Association’s Winter Rallycross Series is all about. Last weekend was round three of four. And it was another classic.
Now in its fourth season running here at DirtFish Rally School, it’s going from strength to strength. And even when winter truly does its thing, we still can’t get enough of it. Nobody can.
“This weekend’s event at DirtFish will not be forgotten,” promised Haydon. “The freezing temperatures made the course walk like a game of chess, trying to find sequences through each section. In some places, you had a hard braking zone that transitioned over ice – it was crucial to set the car up before the ice to make a quicker exit from the corner.
“At the end of the day, we all knew we’d participated in something special. We gathered to talk about the course, what we’d seen. But the real heroes were the course workers, who battled battering winds throughout the day.
“The resilience of these volunteers showcases the true love of rally they possess. Without their dedication, the day would not have been possible.
“The cars too had to withstand the elements, and more than one found itself not up to the punishing temperatures. Heaters ran at full blast and tires wouldn’t hold their temperature between runs. It was a tough day.”
DirtFish’s head of strategy Josie Rimmer is a Winter Series stalwart. And it was going to take more than an arctic blast to keep her out of a Ford Merkur XR4Ti named Lady Avocado.
“It was 12 degrees [-11°C] when we started,” she said. “Twelve. Degrees. And then the 20mph wind made it even colder. That wasn’t rallycross, that was icecross. It was insane. Just trying to get the car off the line was a challenge. Like Rhys said, just walking the course was a challenge!
“But the Northwest Rally Association crew layered up and made the magic happen. This crew has some serious street cred. Frozen roads, frozen cars, frozen people… nothing can stop a NWRA race day at DirtFish.”
The fourth and final NWRA Winter Rallycross Series event runs on Sunday February 11.
Come along. But bring a coat. Or two.