2021 Son of Sno*Drift XXIII Rally Report

Scott Harvey Jr.’s Son of Sno*Drift XXIII TSD rally is intended as the Detroit Region’s only winter rally. In the weeks and days ahead of the rally entrants were crossing their fingers and hoping for the snow that would make the rally worthy of its name. Alas, it just didn’t seem to be coming to pass. Instead we experienced yet another early winter of unseasonably warm temperatures, accompanied by very little snow. But in the days immediately leading up to the rally the weather turned a bit, and it appeared that maybe those tantalizing mid-Michigan back roads might have some snow and ice on them after all. As it turns out, they did! So it was that Saturday morning January 16th found twenty six teams cued up to spend the day traversing 200 miles of south central lower Michigan’s fine rally roads.

Click here to view complete results from Son of Sno*Drift XXIII.
Click here to view a map display SoS*D’s rally route.

Teams departed from the rally start point at Whitmore Lake to head out for the odometer check and rally’s first section, which was comprised of 21 checkpoints over 42 timed miles. Teams quickly found driving conditions more challenging than one might have expected. While not buried under deep layers of snow, road conditions were nonetheless a bit treacherous. Road surfaces were largely frozen, with a thin layer of mud on top from the day’s milder temperatures. Throw in some slush, and occasional stretches of frozen surfaces interspersed with patches of snow and ice, and one has some unpredictable grip conditions to contend with!

Dave and Dan Harkcom, Jeff and Nic Boris, and John Fishbeck and Laurie Dawson await their time out to start section 1.

Equipped class saw a strong field of seven experienced rally teams. Not surprisingly the end of section 1 found the always strong father/son team of Dave and Dan Harkcom leading the rally, with just 5.7 seconds penalty points for 21 controls. But just 1.1 points behind them were Rob Kay and Mike Bennett, and only 3 points past Kay/Bennett were John Fishbeck and Laurie Dawson. Kay/Bennett clawed back 0.3 points against Harkcoms in section 2, but Dave and Dan kept up their excellent effort through section 3 and pulled off the event and class win with just 26.2 points total, with Kay/Bennett on their heels with 27.3. Fishbeck and Dawson had a great run in section 3, pulling out nine zeroes in the 38 checkpoints, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their deficit to the Harkcoms and Kay/Bennett. They still finished a very respectable 3rd in class with 29.5. After 85 checkpoints over some 170 timed rally miles, the first three finishers were covered by just 3.3 seconds!

An equipped class team of interest was that of Bruce Fisher and David Stone. Bruce and David have a shared rallying history going back to the 80s during the golden era of Michigan rallying. Yet over all those years they never had occasion to team together. Son of Sno*Drift was their first run together as a team in over 40 years of rallying. Despite a class entry list filled with experienced TSD rallyists, there was one newbie. John Kytasty, chairman for Pavement Ends in recent years, drove for veteran and navigator par excellence Rob Moran. John, who has previously driven in stock class, acknowledged after the event that driving competitively in equipped class was not as straightforward as he expected.

Son of Sno*Drift competitors kick tires and tell lies at the break in Stockbridge between sections 2 and 3.

Limited class for Son of Sno*Drift XXIII was, er – well, limited. Just two teams competed, long time team Adam Spieszny and Piotr Roszczenko and father/son team Steve and Sean Riddell. Adam and Piotr have dominated the class in recent years, but struggled this time. At the beginning of the rally Adam and Pitor discovered that their copy of the Richta Rally Computer app did not have the necessary menus to invoke various functions. After attempting to install and run the app on other devices, with the same miserable result, they realized that they were going to just have to run seat of the pants. Given that, they actually put in a reasonable run, up until they somehow failed to start on the right minute at one of the restarts and ate 80 some points over the next several controls before realizing the source of the error. They learned later from app developer Rich Bireta that recent changes to the Android OS had broken the menu. Riddells took full advantage of Adam and Pitor’s misfortunes to take the class win with an 85 point margin. Steve and Shawn have been rallying together several years now, and this is their first class victory. Well done!

Stock class drew five teams. As has been the case for the past year or so, the awesome team of Sawyer Stone and Alison Lee walked away in the class, taking the class win with just 88 points – an average of less than one second per control. This is a remarkable performance for stock class, to say nothing of doing so under challenging mileaging conditions due to inconsistent grip. In a close battle for second Chandra Koganti and Chris Weinig just beat out Ryan Vindua and Tristan Koivisto by only 2.5 points.

Yes, cars did get a bit muddy while running Son of Sno*Drift XXIII.

As has always been the case, Son of Sno*Drift draws a large novice contingent, and this year’s running was no exception. With twelve entries novices were the largest class of the rally by far. Maegan Burkart and Bryce Proseus took the novice class victory with a respectable 467 points. Maegan was excited to win her first class victory. She started rallying just this past September in Press On Regardless. While her virgin rally run with hubby Mike was cut short by a broken spring, Maegan was hooked. She persuaded Jeff Boris to navigate for her for all three rallies of November’s US Road Rally Challenge. She must’ve learned some stuff along the way, because this is a fine victory. Congratulations Maegan. Sam and Mariah Fiumara put in a fine run as well to take second with 575 points, followed by Eric Dieterich and Alex West with 678.

From the Go Big or Go Home dept – Taylor Hay and Nicholas Moore’s 2010 Crown Vic!

A special hat tip to Taylor Hay and Nicholas Moore, who piloted their very bigly black 2010 Ford Crown Vic to a credible seventh place novice class finish. As I tell people who ask about what kind of car does one need to TSD rally – “Hey, you can TSD rally in just about anything, excepting maybe a school bus or 18 wheeler!”

As a part of the Son of Sno*Drift rally Scott likes to present the Son of Sno* award to someone in the region who has been a strong supporter of the Region’s rally program in some manner. This year’s recipient was John Fishbeck, who Scott wanted to acknowledge for John’s efforts over the past years in maintaining and expanding the road rally content on the Region’s website and for promoting Region rallies on the website and on Facebook. Scott likes to tailor the Son of Sno* award to its recipient. Last year, Ken Wiedbusch was the Son of Sno* honoree, and his Son of Sno* award had a yellow C2 Corvette resembling the ’65 ‘Vette that Wiedbusch stage rallied in the mid-70s. It isn’t always possible to find an exact minature replica of the recipient’s car, but Scott works hard to come close, and did so so again for this year’s award. Unable to come up with a red 4 door ’11 WRX like Fishbeck’s, Scott substitued a fine red 2 door RS – which comes pretty stinkin’ close!

John Fishbeck’s Son of Sno* award.

As always, a big shout out to Scott Harvey for continuing to put on Son of Sno*Drift. In a remarkable run, this year’s running was the rally’s 23rd. Scott’s rallies are consistently interesting, challenging and well executed. As all rallymasters must, he puts in huge numbers of hours doing all of the planning and instructions preparation. This year he responded to some comments during USRRC about Region rallies using the same set of roads repeatedly by making extra effort to essentially rewrite Son of Sno*Drift into a new rally. Previously used sections were run in reverse, or in different order. Some new roads and some infrequently used roads were included. It made for a great day of gallivanting around the countryside, and the road conditions were just dicey enough to make things interesting. Thanks Scott! And thanks to all those who assisted – we know it takes more than one pair of hands.

Rallymaster Scott Harvey Jr. (center, facing camera) politely listens to the ramblings of some SoS*D competitors.

Rallymaster Harvey reviews final scores as competitors arrive at rally’s end at Whitmore Lake.