~ by Chris #16 Demaras ~
Yeah…I got to drive a rally prepared Subaru. See that picture, above, of the orange Subaru? Not that one…the dirty grey one behind it. That was my car; car S6 in the Race Lab fleet.
I’ve driven this track at Millhaven before, although the configuration was slightly different. But this time, I just couldn’t shake my nerves.
My instructor was Mike Heinrich, whom I’ve known for a while, and even competed against In the CRKC Series years ago. Mike’s a good guy, but dude just couldn’t hide the disappointment in his voice when he’d say “OK… you could take that corner a little faster”.
The funny thing about rallycross driving on gravel is just how unpredictable everything feels. When you’re on the road course at Cayuga, and you take Turn 1 at 110 km/h, everything feels under control. Go ten clicks faster, adjust your steering angle, and the results are predictable. But pitching a dirty Subaru sideways through a corner and waiting for it to grip-up as the edge of the road rushes towards you? Just a little nerve wracking!
Race Lab does a lot of driver training with the Canadian military, and on this visit to the school, we were required to wear tactical helmets. The number of times Mike’s helmet bonked into the GoPro we’d attached to the sunroof was almost comical. When I played back the video I laughed MY A$$ OFF because every time he’d hit his head. the camera would chirp, like scoring points in Mario Kart!
The event was still a lot of fun, despite my lack-luster performance. I think the big challenge is actually believing your car is going to stick, even when you throw it sideways or take the apex later. We drove for less than an hour, but I felt like I’d need all day to get used to the car and the track. More seat time would definitely help.
Here’s a compilation my onboard videos with Mike as my co-pilot, plus offboard video of Daniel driving the same car, with K1 Speed veteran Dawson as navigator. Enjoy!