A few months ago, I stumbled upon a post in a Facebook Jeep group. The annual Big White Winter Rally would be held in early December of 2018. Organization was seeking members with radio licenses and off-road capable vehicles to help manage the race.

I acquired my license in May for off-road communication. Besides the casual location report on forest roads, I had never used the PTT button for anything formal. With a slight self-doubt regarding my radio operating capability, I signed up for the position with J.

The Rally Experience

“It’s about time to take Noah in the snow and do something good.” I thought.

However, as the date came close, we had to change our plan slightly due to an unexpected police encounter a month prior to the rally.. Noah was out of commission.

J’s 4Runner, in the meantime, grounded us in the Big White snow with its studded rubber after 5 hours of highway travel.

Our first day at the rally started with radio operators’ meeting in the morning. The course didn’t start until late afternoon and went on till late. Which means we got to see rally cars competing at night with off-road lights.

Each radio operator was placed at an intersection behind yellow tape. Our responsibility was to act as blockers – blocking traffic from getting onto the live rally course.

So much could go wrong at a rally. Since the forest roads were public outside of rally hours, many people went into the cross roads during the day and attempted to get out through the course while rally was active. Although each intersection had a blocking car, non-cooperative people got through and caused delay.

The second day started early. All driving was done during daylight. Here’s course opening car 00 clearing the stage. There were a total of 3 opening cars: 000, 00, and 0. Each proceed at a faster pace than the one before. Their job was to clean the stage and make sure it was safe for course start.

Whilst positioning our vehicle, J put the 4Runner into a ditch…nice. After a quick forward winch pull to a tree we were back & ready in position for the course opening.

J decided to keep his winch gear ready, which came in handy towards the end of the rally as we were able to assist with a multi-winch recovery after the course had closed and the sun was set.

We finally set up a somewhat successful camp fire! Though we didn’t bring enough firewood and had to start chopping our surrounding to be resourceful.

The time between cars passing our intersection can be fairly long. Organizer jokingly recommended us to bring books to kill time. I decided to try out my new Sony A7 III. Coming from a 7-year Canon DSLR user, adapting to a new mirrorless could take some time. There are so many custom settings and function buttons to get used to. Most photos came out under satisfactory. However, that said, I was pretty impressed by its ability overall. With it relatively smaller and lighter body, I’m sure it will be a good addition to my future trips as I grow familiar with it.

Rally Cars

Car 1

Driver: Brandon Semenuk

Co-driver: John Hall

Car: 2016 Subaru Crosstrek

Team: Rocket Rally

Car 2

Driver: Boris Djordjevic

Co-driver: Darren Garrod

Car: 2009 Mitsubishi Evolution X

Team: Frontech Racing

Car 3

Driver: David Nickel

Co-driver: Alex Gelsomino

Car: 2016 Subaru Crosstrek

Team: Rocket Rally

Car 4

Driver: Sam Albert

Co-driver: Michelle Miller

Car: 2004 Subaru WRX STI

Team: Sam Albert Rally

Car 5

Driver: Nicholas Spencer

Co-driver: David Ma

Car: 2015 Subaru WRX

Team: Fat Tail Racing

Car 6

Driver: Eric Pehota

Co-driver: Jennifer Daly

Car: 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon

Team: EP Racing

Car 7

Driver: Ken Stanick

Co-driver: Martin Burnley

Car: 2009 Subaru WRX STI

Team: M2K Racing

Car 8

Driver: Krystian Ostrowski

Co-driver: Chris Galecki

Car: 2007 Subaru WRX STI

Team: PRM Rally Racing

Car 9

Driver: Brandon Liang

Co-driver: Michael Szewczyk

Car: 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX N/R/R P4WD E/E -/- 59.87

Team: FL4T FOUR Motorsports

(During one course on the second day, car 9 passed our blocking point and ripped a tire out right in front of our eyes… The car didn’t stop though.. Soon I heard the next blocker reporting in our radio channel that car 9 has passed him running on one rim…)

Car 10

Driver: Agatino Fortunato

Co-driver: Phil Meyers

Car: 1992 Mitsubishi EVO-1

Team: All Fours Rally Team

(I do not recall seeing this vehicle in the rally. It may have been damaged during the run on Friday. But here’s a link to its profile)

Car 11

Driver: Wim van der Poel

Co-driver: Bryan Lord

Car: 2015 Ford Fiesta

Team: Rally Syndicate – Cronus Rally

Car 12

Driver: Eric Grochowski

Co-driver: Martin Headland

Car: 1987 Toyota Corolla GTS

Team: Kamunen Racing Inc.

Ever seen your tofu delivered in snow?

Car 13

Driver: Graham Bruce

Co-driver: Patrick Levesque

Car: 2003 Mitsubishi EVO

Team: Rally Syndicate – FlashPoint Rally Racing

Car 14

Driver: Ryan Cuddy

Co-driver: Peter Brook

Car: 2004 Subaru WRX

Team: Cuddy Motorsports

Car 15

Driver: Joel Cates

Co-driver: Krista Skucas

Car: 000 Subaru 2.5 RS

Team: Hashtag Rallycar

Car 16

Driver: Nick Wood

Co-driver: Chawna Imber

1971 Datsun 1200

Team: Kamloops Race & Rally

Car 17

Driver: Alex Kouzmin

Co-driver: Steve Stevenson

Car: 2015 Ford Fiesta

Team: AK Racing

Car 17 bumped into a ditch during the first course of second day. Driver side rear wheel was lost and the car was trapped until the full day of rally finish. J self-promoted to help with the recovery in assistance to the SWEEP and medic team. Remember the winch damper hanging on his bull bar earlier the day? Yes, that came into use just in time.

Car 18

Driver: Pierce Fabian

Co-driver: Paul Lang

Car: 1996 VW Jetta

Team: RAD RACING

Car 19

Driver: John Munroe

Co-driver: Bill Dubreuil

Car: 2015 Ford Fiesta ST

Team: Rally Syndicate – Canary Racing

Car 20

Driver: Grant Hughes

Co-driver: Tiffany MacDonald

Car: 1995 BMW 325i

Team: Rally.build

Car 21

Drive: Mitchell Williams

Co-driver: Kevin Anderson

Car: 1976 BMW 2002

Team: The Blue BMW 2002

 

Car 22

Driver: Chase Hovinga

Co-driver: Michael Milos

Car: 1980 Volvo 242

 

Car 23

Driver: Mark Staples

Co-driver: Pardeep Sooch

Car: 1987 Volkswagen Golf

Team: Not Fast, Just Furious

 

This car was blasting edm while driving through the course on the first day. Yes, I said “driving” because the speed was barely considered as racing. I guess the team name explains the joy of participation? Either way, it gave me a delightful giggle while shivering in the negative temperature.