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Ups and downs of Ojibwe Forests Rally 2014

Was last weekend.

About 2 weeks before the event, I realized I didn't have a team to work with. My usual hand full of teams weren't running, Izzy was registered, but due to complications (car, trailer, and life) wasn't able to come. So I reached out to several friends to see if anyone needed help, and was contacted by Mark and John Huebbe.

Mark and John come from the St. Louis, MO area, and have been racing for many many years. They're known for racing a 1970 VW Beetle. They've raced it all over the country, including WRC Mexico. And they got 1st in Group 2 (lowish power, 2WD) class at Ojibwe last year.

Photo Credit: Chris Martise

Due to the Bug's age, and how many rallies it's driven, it has become somewhat high-maintenance. And the brothers have been considering getting into the very competitive AWD classes. So they borrowed/rented an Open Class 1991 Subaru Legacy Turbo. It's a pretty well-built car with only a few rallies under it's belt. And even in full rally trim, weighs less than 3000lbs. It is pretty much bone-stock performance wise, only sporting an early jdm top-mount intercooler, front LSD, and some "basic" gravel-spec coilovers (under-dampened and over-sprung, IMHO).

Day one started off pretty well, of 23 regional competitors, they came in 10th and 9th in the first 2 stages. Pretty impressive for how little time they had in the car up until then (only a few minute test-session before the event).

Photo Credit: Scott Rains Photographs

But, on the 3rd stage, a small coolant line right off the reservoir split and by the end of the stage, the coolant was all gone. They cut the line short and stuck it back on, but didn't have enough water with them to refill it. The sweep vehicles gave them some water, but they exceeded the "Maximum Permitted Lateness" getting into service and were forced to retire.

So, we put the car on the trailer, and hauled it back into town to begin preparing for Day 2. We were concerned that the intercooler lacking supports was rubbing on that line and caused it to fail, but where could we buy something to make a bracket with at midnight in Park Rapids? to wal-mart, and we ended up buying some shelf brackets. With some cutting, bending, drilling, and tapping, and we had an intercooler bracket..

We also discovered that the exhaust was crushed up into the rear axle cup and CV boot. So we spent some time bending the hangers to let it hang down a bit, and replacing the boot clamp.

Photo Credit: Me

Despite being up until after 3am the night before, we were up and ready for day 2. Zach and I drove the service truck from Detroit Lakes up to Itasca to set up service, and literally as we're about to unload the gas can at the fuel depot my phone beeps. A text message from John "we're fucked".

The owner of the car had installed a 1.5:1 steering quickener box in the column. The set screw that holds the column to the output shaft of the gearbox had backed out, and wedged itself against the outer tube of the column. This happened on the first stage and caused the steering to lock up, and the car slid into a bank and blew a tire.

They skipped the next to stages and drove straight to service, where we pulled the column to find the damage, and were able to retap the threads in the coupler, and re-install the set screw (with Loc tite this time!). While skipping the 2 stages gave us a DNF for the day, the organizers let us re-join the race just for the experience.

The final stage of the event was a very unique street stage along the waterfront in Detroit Lakes!

Photo Credit: Scott Reed Photography

Travis Pastrana blew up the engine in his Subaru trying to get out of a mud hole. But the Subaru Rally Team threw in a spare engine so he could go whip donuts on the street stage.

An article on the event, focusing on the street stage:

Awesome video on the event, filmed entirely from drones

You may have seen the picture and clip of Chris O'Driscoll locking up the brakes and skidding into a curb hard on the street stage.....



And the recovery:


  • Awesome post Matt! Love these updates man, thanks for taking the time to share as always.

    Looked like a tough go of it. The Bug is awesome. Is that the 50hp dual carb engine? Or did they pick up one of those crate engines? I can imagine keeping an aircool alive can be a challenge on a rally course haha
  • I also really enjoy reading about these rally events. Sounds like a hoot.
  • Pretty awesome!
  • Jake;3074" said:
    Is that the 50hp dual carb engine? Or did they pick up one of those crate engines? I can imagine keeping an aircool alive can be a challenge on a rally course haha
    I believe they built the engine themselves. With an off-the-shelf performance exhaust, it dyno'd at 180-some hp. They have since made a new exhaust that is a bit more restrictive, but gives a lot more ground probably more like 160.

    And it barely weighs 2k's pretty quick!
  • That's a lot of power out of an air cool VW. They must know there shit!
  • 180hp in a sub 2k# car on dirt sounds like fun
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