Happy Birthday, Chris Rawes!

Thank goodness we have people like Chris Rawes running Rally Radio–it’s a rally fan’s best friend. There’s tons of information, analysis, serious stuff–and slightly deranged humor to break up the intensity of it all. So if Becs is the Duchess of rally, Colin the Town Cryer, and James the Court Jester, then I’d nominate Chris as the Prime Minister. And why does he deserve control over this metaphorical parliament?

He keeps everything together. If there’s a problem, then Chris is there to press the buttons and get things back on track.

You’ve got to love the suave, refined, and yet nutty vocal stylings of Mr. Rawes. I still love the way he says “the Limassol Sponge Museum.”

He’s Henning Solberg’s biggest fan! And why? Because Henning once raced a bobsled on Top Gear. That’s a good enough reason for me!

Kudos for being a responsible adult, oftentimes taking the morning shift when James sleeps in.

So this completes my birthday tributes to all the members of the Rally Radio team. I really have no idea how old Chris is (you can never trust what’s announced on air…), but a big happy birthday to him all the same.

PS: I have no pictures to post. I say WRR takes a group picture, perhaps a Christmas gift to the world!

December 1, 2007. Appreciation, Rally Radio. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Nicky Grist!

This is the birthday I’ve been waiting for since the inception of this site. Nicky Grist, as host of the WRC reviews on the Speed Channel when I first discovered rallying, was the first personality that I fell in love with. That’s why so many of the following reasons for loving Nicky Grist are based on his TV antics.

In the review shows, he would deliver these ridiculous jokes with a deadpan expression. How did he keep a straight face while wearing a giant Mexican sombrero? So funny…

But he does smile! I had to wait until Turkey 2006 to find proof.

He’s a true professional, having sat beside many drivers including Malcolm Wilson, Juha Kankkunen, and the incomparable Colin McRae.

And he still seems to be OK after all the accidents. He must’ve lost count of them by now…

However, he still managed to rack up 21 rally wins beside two different drivers.

Although he and Colin parted company after in-car friction, I think he enjoyed the ride. I just love hearing him crack up after the sky-high pass over the Bunnings jumps in Rally Australia 1996.

He shares his vast store of rally knowledge. He offered a codriving class at Rally New York last year. Too bad I’m in California.

I did get to see him once. At the 2006 X Games codriving for Colin McRae. We shouted his name from afar, but didn’t get his attention. And on our way out, we just happened to be walking out to the parking lot at the same time as he was. It totally looked like we were stalking him. My brother and I didn’t want to disturb him on his cell phone, so we just got in our own car and watched him drive away in a rental minivan. In hindsight, I guess I should’ve chased him down for an autograph. Sigh…regrets…

Anyway, it’s hard to explain, but Nicky Grist is the biggest source of rally in-jokes between my brother and me. He’s the OG, as far as we’re concerned. If you’re in a window-shopping mood, why don’t you head on over this his website? It sells all the nifty rally equipment that he likes.

Colin and Nicky Grist, Turkey ‘06    Nicky wants you to go to nickygrist.com

November 24, 2007. Appreciation, Rally, Rallying, WRC. 2 comments.

Happy 1st Birthday, Blog!

PS: I missed the blog’s birthday. “What in the World Rally?” is one year old!

They grow up so fast…*sniff*…

How will I celebrate? With lolcats–yay!

lolcats and funny pictures
moar funny pictures

November 13, 2007. Appreciation. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Daniel Elena!

If ever there were a perfect codriver, Daniel Elena is it. So in honor of his birthday (almost three weeks ago), here’s the traditional rundown of reasons why Dany is so great.

Literally, he is the greatest. Thirty-five victories makes him the winningest codriver in WRC history.

He makes so few mistakes that when he does make an error, it’s a shock. I can count them out for you right now: the unlatched bonnet pins in Sweden 2006 and the misspoken pacenote in this year’s Rally Japan. That’s it, as far as I know.

The delivery of his pacenotes. It’s precise. It’s musical. It’s rhythmical. It’s a bit funny-sounding. It’s almost like rap!

But his voice sounds completely different when he’s talking normally. Much more masculine.

When he’s out of the car, he is so friendly and always laughing. He doesn’t even anger when they flip the flag of Monaco upside-down and get the flag of Poland!

He actually is from Monaco, not a rich guy who moved there for the tax haven.

His chin has a dimple in it.

What’s not great: the bleached tips on his hair. I don’t think it looks good on anybody (sorry).

Back to what is great: his professionalism and dedication. Codrivers have a lot of work behind the scenes, and don’t get a lot of the credit. Sebastien gets the glory for his immense talent, but Dany is there to back him up. So happy birthday to a man who deserves all the honor a triple world champion should receive.

Daniel Elena  World champ, yes! Fashionista, maybe not.

November 13, 2007. Appreciation, Rally, Rallying, WRC. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Travis Pastrana!

Travis Pastrana, America’s greatest hope in rallying, turned 24 on October 8. (I could say sorry for the thousandth for missing their actual birthday, but that’s the way it’ll always be. You’ll have to get used to it, I’m afraid.) Anyway, why–even though it’s obvious–is Travis so freakin’ wonderful?

His enthusiasm! His energy!!! The adrenaline!!!!!! Woooo!!!!!!!!!

The gag photos where he pretends to be punched by his friends. If you look around, there’s a lot of them.

The double back-flip.

The impressive one-man show at the 2006 Race of Champions, where he made the team nations cup finals all by his lonesome.

This item from Travis’ Wikipedia entry, under “other activities”: “On Sept. 26, 2007, Pastrana jumped out of an airplane over Arecibo, Puerto Rico, without a parachute. In a carefully choreographed stunt, he met up in midair with another jumper, then lashed himself into a harness in time to make a safe tandem landing.”
WHAT?!

If all this weren’t crazy enough, he proves he’s even crazier than our already very brave WRC drivers by doing this:

And then reacting with a “Woooooo!”

And somehow, despite the apparent madness, Travis is still a friendly, humble, approachable guy who loves him mom. His is a personality we need in the WRC. For anyone who is wary of Americans, don’t be afraid of this one. He’s a keeper.

Me with Travis Pastrana and Ken Block–Yay!  A friendly punch to the face

October 31, 2007. Appreciation, Rally, Rallying, Subaru, WRC. 2 comments.

Happy Birthday to Me!

How self-centered would it be if I dedicated a post to how much I love myself? Ha!

Instead, I’m getting a wonderful birthday present in the form of Rally Catalunya–happy day!

I did update my mini-biography page, if you want to know how old I am.

October 5, 2007. Appreciation. 3 comments.

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.

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.

100th Post!

After trying for a while to come up with something special for my 100th post, I’ve finally got it. I’m dedicating this post to my baby brother Chadsen, who is leaving on Wednesday to serve a two-year mission to Sydney, Australia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He’s the one who first introduced me to the WRC. He’s the one who first told me about an incredibly talented Frenchman and a Norwegian cursed with bad luck. He’s the one who answers all my silly mechanical questions. He’s the one to whom I ramble on about the rallies. He’s the one who drags me out to dry lake beds for rallycross events.* And now, for two whole years, I’ll be watching rallies all alone and redirecting my rambles to other unsuspecting friends. And there will be no one to understand all the countless rally in-jokes that we have. But he’s off to do a world of good, and I’m massively proud of him.

So if you’re in northern half of New South Wales and an Elder Kat knocks on your door, invite him in for a lemonade. But don’t give away any rally results, because we’re saving all that for a massive info dump when he gets home.

Us and Dani Sordo. Yowza.
My brother’s on the left. Because obviously, my brother isn’t Dani Sordo.

*He competes with our friend Robert as the Rayberg Rally Team. Why “Rayberg”? I still have no idea.

August 25, 2007. Appreciation, Thoughts. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday, Colin McRae!

Every once in a while, someone comes along with the talent, charisma, and that little extra something that not only makes them a champion, but a star. All silliness aside, here is my humble tribute to a man I admire and respect: Colin McRae.

He can be both genial and fiery, without being uncivilized. It’s that dynamic that sets him apart from the field.

His driving style is aggressive, sometimes over the limit, but always thrilling. He has mastered the his craft so well, it’s an art. He can be tidy and lightning quick. He can throw the car sideways to entertain. He can downshift gears in an upside-down car mid-roll. It’s a thing of beauty.

Speaking of his 2006 (and 2007) X Games roll, he has raised the profile of rallying in the US to a level that no PR event could ever reach. Who knew that a Scotsman and a lanky daredevil from Maryland would be the greatest proponents of American rallying?

He’s incredibly ambitious. As a WRC driver, he scored 25 victories and became the youngest ever world champion. But after an unexpected ouster from the WRC, he didn’t beg for anyone’s scraps. In this past year alone, he’s debuted his own R4 race car, entered the Paris-Dakar Rally, spiced up the X Games, drove for Citroen in the Rally of Turkey, released another landmark video game, and will cap it off with the Race of Champions. And he’ll still take the time to chat with a very star-struck rally fan (moi).

And let’s face it–the Scottish accent doesn’t hurt.

So while this little fan tribute can’t rival the world championship title or even the MBE he’s received from the Queen of England, it’s sincere. Seeing Colin McRae in person left me awestruck and even more enamored of one of rallying’s true legends.

Colin and Nicky Grist    2005 RAC Rally From McKlein - greatest rally photographers ever

August 7, 2007. Appreciation, Motorsport, Rally, Rallying, WRC. 1 comment.

Happy Birthday, Mikko Hirvonen!

A humongous happy birthday to Mikko Hirvonen, the cheekiest Finn this side of the…um…not Pecos…not Mississippi…this side of Jyvaskyla?

The many virtues of Mikko:

He’s overcome his deficiencies as a young, inexperienced driver to become one of the quickest drivers in the championship. He’s gone from that disastrous year with Subaru, to notching up the rally victories on his belt.

Mikko isn’t one of those drivers who wasted his potential. He hasn’t given up amidst adversity. He is no longer throwing his car off the road in vain attempts to match other drivers. Instead, he has found a balance between good sense and good speed. As a result, he finishes rallies, easily scores podiums, and gains vital experience. It’s a pleasure to see him sweeten with time, like fine wine. Or good cheese.

His mischievous sense of humor (that’s where the cheese comes in). Whether he’s mugging to the camera, driving Malcolm Wilson nuts, or guest-jockeying on World Rally Radio, he’s entertaining.

He’s a true Flying Finn. While the other drivers go easier on the jumps to avoid damage to the car, Mikko declares, “it’s the best feeling in the rally, when you are flying with the car and when you go sideways over the jumps…but normally, they are flat. That’s the only way.” Sideways!

His beauty. Miss Engine 1996, baby!

He’s a complete petrolhead. He has a certain affinity for restoring rusty Skodas. And, he even proposed to his fiancee at a gas station!

And of course, I love his name. It’s a vital component of MikPetter LatvaLoebHolm, the silly-sounding alias of the silly Robert Clark, of the Rayberg Rally Team.

So in conclusion, Mikko is easy to love. He’s going to have a ton of fans when he becomes world champion one day. Not if, but WHEN.

First win in OZ ‘06  Look at that face!

August 1, 2007. Appreciation, Rally, Rallying, WRC. 1 comment.

Happy Birthday, Manfred Stohl!

A happy belated birthday to my favorite affable Austrian (not that I know any other Austrians). Haven’t done a birthday tribute in quite a while, but let’s see if the rust wears off.

Reasons to love Manfred:

He’s a very steady driver who’s almost sure to finish a rally. In 2006, he only had one DNF, and none thus far in 2007. And he really squeezed out great performances from the same Peugeot 307 that cursed Marcus the year earlier.

So 2007 hasn’t seen much speed from Manfred in his Xsara. Citroen swears it’s the same machine that Seb had last year, but Manfred has been very vocal about its noncompetitiveness. He’s ambitious and aims for the best, even after 110+ WRC starts. He doesn’t enter a rally to finish 10th, if he can help it.

I say this every time, but I love his name. Man. Fred. Truly fantastic.

Manfred’s the only WRC regular to have a female codriver, Ilka Minor.

He’s so genuine, friendly and good-natured. His face has a smile built in it.

The infamous leetle cow incident. Aww…

He rides a unicycle!

Listening to his TV interviews with his thick accent. It’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, but much happier (that’s not a stereotype–after all, Arnold’s my Governator!)

He’s the WRC’s true privateer. Keepin’ it real.

All righty then. This may be the end of the list of Manfred’s virtues, but not the end of our appreciation. Best wishes to Manfred and his young family!

Manfred sharing his unicycle skills    Manfred’s always smiling

July 12, 2007. Appreciation, Citroen, Peugeot, Rally, Rallying, WRC. Leave a comment.

Review: Autosport and Motorsport News

I subscribe to both Autosport and Motorsport News, the UK’s two leading publications on auto racing, because both have regular WRC coverage. If you live in the US, and have a couple hundred bucks to spare, you might want to sign up for them.

Autosport’s dominant focus is Formula 1, but they have a regular section for rally news. It’s written by Anthony Peacock and David Evans, and the latter brings a lot of experience and perspective to the rally reports. The design is clean, the printing is high-quality and the tone is polished. However, in between rallies there is very little WRC coverage. But when there is, the rally reports are quite entertaining. David Evans captures a lot of the stuff that happens in off the stages.

Motorsport News is printed like a newspaper (but smaller), so its quality isn’t as nice. There are more items on rally than Autosport, but the tone is a bit looser. The difference between the two is like that between Time Magazine and the New York Post. Jerry Williams and Richard Rodgers are their main reporters. It’s fun though; the commentary’s got more humor to it, the pictures can be hilarious, and there’s a crossword puzzle in the back. Bonus!

There are two downsides. One is the price. They’re both weekly publications, and though each issue averages out to $2 roughly, that works out to a big chunk of dough. My local bookstores don’t carry them either. Two is the overseas delay. I’m in California, so it takes about two weeks for them to arrive. It’s better late than never, but that’s the reason I’m sometimes very behind on my rally news.

Bottom line is that these are much better than only receiving RallyWorld. There’s great writing, relevant news articles, colorful rally reviews, and reporting on the sport’s problems and controversies. They’re both available through Haymarket Publications in the US. And if you’re lucky enough to live in the UK, they have neat-o free gift offers for new subscribers.

July 2, 2007. Appreciation, Reviews. 1 comment.

Acropolis Rally: Day One Thoughts

I’ve only seen day one, and it’s already shaping up to be a great rally! If only Rally Radio were on, it’d be a phenomenal rally. Let me get out a *sigh* right now…OK, I’m good.

So eight stages, six stage winners. Plus an uncountable number of position changes. And after a full day’s rallying, there’s less than 11 seconds separating the top six. Super Seb isn’t even in the top three. Both Subarus are. Atko took over Gronholm’s lead for four stages. Dani Sordo won a stage. It’s all so crazy!

I’ve got my fingers crossed that Petter will finish on the podium. My gut’s telling me that he’ll finish somewhat well, but Lady Luck hasn’t finished her diss on him yet.

And though I’d rather  have Seb win, I think Marcus has got the beating of Loeb on this rally. But this is the Acropolis Rally, the Big Mama Carbreaker. It’d be pointless to make predictions now, here or for any other rally. Such is rallying!

In the absence of WRR and decent reporting on wrc.com, here’s a link to motorsport.com’s leg one round-up and the overall standings.

Of course he’s happy, he’s leading!       Look! Duval made it here! But he only got to SS5.

June 1, 2007. Appreciation. Leave a comment.

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