The Best of Rally TV Ads

Just for fun, see how rally sponsors pay their bills.

September 21, 2007. Rally. Leave a comment.

Remembering Michael “Beef” Park

In two short years, Britain has had to endure the loss of its greatest rallying heroes. The first of the untimely losses was that of codriver Michael “Beef” Park, claimed by a side impact at his home rally on September 19 18, 2005. A man with arguably the best sense of humor in the WRC, he made everyone smile with his on-camera antics. But Beef definitely wouldn’t want anyone to mourn over his memory. Here’s a great tribute video from AXN’s Shakedown that includes the absolute classic moments (“Did you watch football last night?”)

Also, on the anniversary of his death, Rally Radio produced a tribute program, including a revealing interview with driver Markko Martin recalling their most spectacular moments. He talks about Beef bringing the wrong pacenotes on the Safari Rally, meeting Beef, and even Beef’s hidden Japanese accent skills. You can download it here.

September 20, 2007. Appreciation, Rally, Rally Radio, Rallying, WRC. 5 comments.

The Passing of Colin McRae

If you haven’t already heard, Colin McRae has been killed in a helicopter crash at his home in Scotland. I can’t believe that a man who seemed so invincible, who survived countless crashes and rolls, is now gone. Oh, how we’ll miss him…

But just think of what an adventure it was to be Colin McRae! The WRC, the Dakar, the X Games, the MBE, the motorcycles, the R4, the video games, the fame, and the wonderful family. He’s like a real-life action hero, with all the virtues one looks for in a friend. Few people will be as admired and loved as Colin McRae is.

My recent birthday tribute to the departed legend.

Meeting the man himself. 

Colin - Turkey ‘06 Stage End Colin and Nicky Grist, Turkey ‘06

How can you not love Colin?

September 15, 2007. Appreciation, News, Rally, Rallying, WRC. 2 comments.

Marcus Gronholm Announces His Retirement

I’m calmer now. What was I like this morning? Like this: “Nononononononono…why?! What are we going to do?! Noooooo…you can’t take Timo with you too!”

It’s no surprise, though. I knew, despite how much I didn’t want it to be true, that Marcus would retire at the end of the year. When you’re a true competitor like Marcus is, then you wouldn’t want to see yourself decline before you finally ended your career. There will always be the “what if?” It lends a flavor of romanticism. We’ll only remember him as the greatest at his craft.

But OK…I’m going to turn all hypocrite here. We fans should campaign to turn this from “retirement” into “holiday.” Just like Michael Schumacher, who turned up at all the grands prix because he was so bored at home. Marcus is going to be bored on the farm. You can’t drive Ouninpohja, then go home and be content driving a tractor, or selling antiques. So maybe we can lure him out of retirement in 2009…

If not, I hope 2009 mirrors Schuey’s retirement in another way: totally unexpectedly, someone (like Lewis Hamilton) will rise to fill in the vacuum. Mikko perhaps? Atko? Jari-Matti? A really bored Timo who finally decides to take the Focus for a spin?

I’ll end with a look back at my birthday tribute to Marcus, a link to the funny pictures thread at Marcus’ forums, and the best picture of him I could find:

Marcus - enjoying lunch, courtesy of “say”

Just kidding. How ’bout this one?

Marcus sez, “Don’t worry. It’ll be OK.”

September 14, 2007. News, Rally, Rallying, WRC. Leave a comment.

Funny Quotes Vol. 1

This is from the pre-event press conference in New Zealand:

Q: What happened to your co-driver Cato this morning, he wasn’t with you at shakedown? Are you confident he will be okay for tomorrow?
Henning Solberg: It was the flu; he was very sick last night, we had to get the doctor in this morning and the doctor said that he has to stay in bed today. They say he will be okay for tomorrow. I am confident that he will be okay.

I just think it’s funny that Henning, in the usual rally driver must-finish attitude, announces that Cato’s virus will definitely be gone by Friday. Probably because Henning would have personally buckled Cato into the seat, whether he was okay or not!

Q: Marcus, you are another one not feeling particularly well. How bad are you feeling from the flu?
Marcus Gronholm: I am not in bed, at least not with Cato!

Hehe. Classic Marcus.

September 7, 2007. Funny Quotes, Rally, Rallying, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Phil Mills!

The day before Rally New Zealand kicked off, Phil Mills celebrated his 44th birthday. So…why is Phil my all-time favorite codriver (well, tied with Timo Rautiainen)?

Yowza, can he talk! He’s rather quiet and mild-mannered outside the car, but when he’s strapped in the seat, it’s more of a machine gun than a mouth! Every single time I play onboards for my rally newbie friends, they ask, “is that English?!”

And that’s cuz he has to read all the incredibly detailed pacenotes before the next turn actually arrives. You gotta love hearing all the “forTEE’s” and “lineinta’s”.

He’s cool under pressure. Please refer to the loose steering wheel incident:

Phil has handled his and Petter’s bad luck streak with quiet poise. Petter is the vocal one. We always hear about his discontent and anguish. But Phil is in the same car with Petter, and he’s making the best of a miserable season.

His dry sense of humor. Here’s his “grilling” from Rally Radio. (I never would’ve pegged him as a Scissor Sisters fan.)

The classic 2004 Ouninpohja quote: “Gets faster now.”
Oh, since I’m feeling extra nice, here’s audio of the entire stage for you to enjoy.

Phil Mills is cool. The other codrivers are great guys, but Phil is the cool one.

Alrighty then. That’s it in a rather lengthy nutshell. Maybe you should drop by Phil and Petter’s blog and leave him a birthday message, belated as it may be. I think I’ll go do the same…

September 4, 2007. Appreciation, Rally Radio, Rallying, WRC. Leave a comment.

Duval’s Happy Tidings

Good things are happening for Francois Duval. And he deserves it. After gaining notoriety as a quick, but accident-prone driver, he scored a fine 2nd place at Rallye Deutschland. And immediately, Kronos and Citroen itself have secured him a seat at the upcoming Rally Catalunya. I had just about given up hope for him as another driver who never translated his potential into success. Although he’s not exactly my favorite driver, I hope “Frankie” does well, because it’ll be tough to get another chance if he messes up again. Plus, it would be excellent for Sebastien Loeb (who is my favorite driver) if both Duval and Dani Sordo keep Marcus Gronholm behind them on the three upcoming tarmac rallies.

September 4, 2007. Citroen, News, Rally, Rallying, WRC. Leave a comment.

Rally Report: New Zealand 2007

It’s taken me a while to calm down from the most exciting and stressful rally I think I’ve ever seen. What can I say about Seb and Marcus’ battle? The closest ever finish in WRC history: 0.3 seconds. It was good, hair-pulling fun watching them swap leads and pushing each other so, so hard. Why would Marcus want to retire after a thrill like this? He and Seb are at the very top of their game, so evenly matched for speed on gravel, even with their different driving styles. Seb didn’t end up winning, but with a mere 0.3 seconds separating them, who could even say which was the better driver? After three days and 350-odd km, that’s just ridiculous! Congrats to Marcus. This victory must be ecstasy for him, to win a fight with such a worthy rival.

Mikko’s stuck in third again, and I think he’s frustrated that he was outshadowed by the monumental battle at the top. His steady and quick drive is due some respect.

Chris Atkinson finished in a fine fourth place. Jari-Matti Latvala has been looking like the hottest young talent in the championship lately, so I think it must be a sort of vindication for Atko to best him in an out-and-out battle. Luckily, the car didn’t choke and he didn’t crash, so he now has a result to show for his speed. But you can tell Jari-Matti is analyzing every detail of his rally, so he can learn every possible lesson to take with him in his career.

Dani Sordo finished in sixth, keeping ahead of Petter Solberg, whose Impreza held up steadily enough to finish the rally. Nothing spectacular from Dani, but Petter, I think, got enough to sustain him a while more. His recent column in Autosport shows just how emotionally difficult these past two years have been. He has the very intense desire, but no luck. Anyone else with Petter’s problems would have quit the sport or jumped off a bridge already. But Petter’s hanging in there, with faith in his own talent. The tough part is keeping his faith in the team, especially now that the 2008 Impreza’s first event has been pushed to Finland rather than the expected Monte Carlo debut. That’s a half season longer spent in an absolute dog of a car. I wish him all the best…

Also, I hope all the members of the world rallying community get over the nasty flu going around. Cato Menkerud, Henning’s codriver, had it the worst. With the scratchiest voice you’ve ever heard, he had to call out three day’s worth of pacenotes through the pain. Even Rally Radio’s Becs Williams got it. Kudos to them for being real troopers.

On a final note, Henning damaged another bumper. And I saw a herd of cows (I think they were) checking out the stage from behind a fence. They didn’t cause any crashes this time.

One of the sweetest victories of Marcus’ life  Yep! You only needed 0.4s more!

September 2, 2007. Auto Racing, Motorsport, Rally, Rally Reports, Rallying, Solberg, The Adventures of Henning Solberg, WRC. Leave a comment.