Team  #88 – 1979 Pontiac Firebird
Team #88 – 1979 Pontiac Firebird. Click image to enlarge
Rally Dixie 2012

Article and photos by Michael Schlee

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Rally Dixie 2012

As was alluded to in the Rally Dixie 2012 article published last week, this event would have never happened without the colourful participants and their equally colourful cars. Although well over 70 vehicles took the green flag, there were a few that stood out from the crowd. Whether it is for the right or wrong reasons, most on the rally will not soon forget these 29 vehicles and their drivers.

From fast cars to slow cars to cars that refused to stay in one piece, this rally had a bit of everything. So, allow me to now present the completely unofficial “Rally Dixie Awards”.

The Never Quit Award – Team #88 – 1979 Pontiac Firebird
It was Day 1, on the way to the very first checkpoint that this Firebird first broke down on the side of the road spewing gas. Then at the first checkpoint of the day, the figure-eight racetrack, the Firebird dropped its exhaust. Believe it or not, things just got worse from there. However, having recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, this team refused to quit and used their determination and work ethic to keep this car on the road. Three days later and countless hotel repairs and roadside breakdowns later, this Firebird rolled into the hotel at Fort Walton Beach, Florida to receive the checkered flag.

Team //MPRESSIVE #00 – 2008 BMW M6
Team //MPRESSIVE #00 – 2008 BMW M6. Click image to enlarge

Most Stickered Vehicle – Team //MPRESSIVE #00 – 2008 BMW M6
In what will most likely take a twelve pack of Goo-Gone to de-sticker, the 2008 BMW M6 arrived in one of the most colourful and stickered-up rally appearances. Honourable mention goes to Team ACP #50 and their BMW 328i, which was equally stickered up. Guess which teams own vinyl machines?

Most Appropriate Vehicle for Rally Dixie – Team Challenger #01 – 2010 Dodge Challenger R/T
Let’s see, a large, two-door Dodge muscle car painted bright orange sporting “01” on the doors and an antenna on the trunk. Seems just about perfect, missing only a confederate flag on the roof to emulate its inspiration, the General Lee…

Team Toyota  #16 – 1993 Toyota Celica WRC
Team Toyota #16 – 1993 Toyota Celica WRC. Click image to enlarge

Most Unique Car Award – Team Toyota #16 – 1993 Toyota Celica WRC
This isn’t your ordinary Toyota Celica. This is a right hand drive, all-wheel-drive turbocharged Celica that was imported from Japan. In 1993 it was created to qualify for FIA World Rally Car competition.

Father and Son Award – Team Hopps #23 – 1986 Porsche 944
Back for their second rally, this father and son duo endured another heat-filled trip, and even came second overall one day. Although they may not be the only father-and-son team on the rally (including yours truly), they continue to rally in a 25-year-old Porsche lacking air conditioning. Now that is family bonding!

Team Lotus #25 – 2005 Lotus Elise
Team Lotus #25 – 2005 Lotus Elise. Click image to enlarge

Best Packing for a Week Award – Team Lotus #25 – 2005 Lotus Elise
Although there were both a Mazda MX-5 and a Smart ForTwo on the rally, the award for most creative packing has to go to the Lotus Elise. Where and how two people were able to pack a week’s worth of clothes is beyond my understanding… unless they unloaded it on other teams.

Smallest Car Award – Team Fortwo #28 – Smart ForTwo
Speaking of small cars, these tiny cars driven hard usually mean big fun and judging by the speed these guys were carrying around the figure 8 racetrack and Talladega, they seemed to be having a blast. This car could also be considered the runner-up for best packing for a week award as well as the most time consuming read award.

Loudest Car Award (TIE) – Team Angry Goat #66 – 2006 Pontiac GTO; Team Bimmer #34 – 2008 BMW M3
It is hard to tell which one of these cars was louder or which one sounded the best. Both had earth-shaking V8 rumbles, albeit from completely different pitches, approaches, and technologies (pushrod vs. DOHC). One thing is for sure though, if either of these cars were driving, it was never hard to tell where they were.

Team Eco-friendly #36 – 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Team Eco-friendly #36 – 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Craziest “Wheel Man” Award – Team Eco-friendly #36 – 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Yes, the craziest “Wheel Man” of the rally was the guy driving a Highlander Hybrid. Why? Well, several reasons really, but the main ones would be:
1.He drove the figure-eight course in reverse at an alarming rate of speed;
2.At the 1/8-mile drag strip he did several runs, almost broke into the 9-second range and beat up on some V8 muscle cars;
3.In the twisty roads, he would routinely be found hanging with the MX-5 and Shelby Mustang at moderately high rates of speed;
4.And the most important reason… he had a family of four with him for the entire length of the Rally!

Most Intimidating Vehicle Award – Team Raptor #38 – 2010 Ford F-150 Raptor
When you see a Ford Raptor sliding around a small figure-eight track, it grabs your attention. When you see a stickered up Ford Raptor being driven by two people wearing camouflage approach you from behind, you get out of the way. The fact that I was sitting in a convertible near the ground only made this truck look more massive.

Brannon Auto Parts #39 – 2006 Dodge Viper GTS
Brannon Auto Parts #39 – 2006 Dodge Viper GTS. Click image to enlarge

Most Lusted After Award – Brannon Auto Parts #39 – 2006 Dodge Viper GTS
You would be hard pressed to find anyone on this year’s rally who wouldn’t love to take this Dodge Viper for a spin around the figure-eight track, or on a rip around the twisty canyon roads. It grabbed attention everywhere it went.

Can’t Believe They Made It Award – Team G60 #60 – 1991 Volkswagen Corrado G60
After breaking down regularly leading up to the rally and then having a loose rear brake caliper eat its way through a brake line upon arrival at the pre-rally hotel, no one gave this VW a chance to make it to the finish line. However, not only did the Corrado make it to the end of the rally in Florida, it also made the trek back home to Maine. So what if it got stuck in third gear once, for a few hours, at 75 mph? And what’s the big deal if it constantly blew hot air out of the foot vents during the 36 degree Celsius days?

The Oil Burner Award – Team TDI #78 – 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI
Following the tradition set last year by the oil-burning Mercedes team, this year a 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI continued the diesel winning streak by placing first on Day 3 in grand style. It must be the lack of fuel stops.

Team Rattletrap #80 – Ford Mustang 5.0
Team Rattletrap #80 – Ford Mustang 5.0. Click image to enlarge

The “Bring Your Own Party” Award – Team Rattletrap #80 – Ford Mustang 5.0
Most everyone who attends a Rally North America event is there to party, but some take it a step further. Case in point: Team Rattletrap arrived at this year’s event with four bottles of moonshine supplied by one of their sponsors. To say the end of rally party on Day 3 got started on the right foot would be an understatement.

Drive it Like You Stole Borrowed it Award – Team Rental #87 – 2012 Nissan Maxima
Although I too brought a car to the rally that wasn’t mine, the good people at Mazda Canada knew where it was going, what it was being used for, and that it would see minor track time. The same cannot be said for this team’s rented Nissan Maxima. (Until now. Sorry guys. –Ed.)

Team Econobox  #122 – 1989 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo
Team Econobox #122 – 1989 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo. Click image to enlarge

Strangest Noise Award – Team Econobox #122 – 1989 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo
I’m not quite sure if there was a car fan or an industrial blower hooked up to the radiator of this little turbo Mitsubishi, but when it was on it was louder than half the vehicles on the rally. If I recorded the noise and asked you what it was blindly, I doubt you could guess “radiator fan” in your first 10 tries.

Best Sportsmanship Award – Team Mojoe #187 – BL Subaru Legacy GT
A rule on any Rally North America event is that if you get a ticket on any day, even if it is a day you didn’t place in the top three, you must forfeit your placing and trophy. After placing second on Day 1 of the rally, Team Mojoe received a ticket while entering the final town on the final day unbeknownst to the rally organizers. When the Rally Awards were being presented that night, this team stepped up, announced they had to forfeit their award and graciously gave it to the next fastest team.

Team Bacon B8 #203 – 2007 BMW 335i
Team Bacon B8 #203 – 2007 BMW 335i. Click image to enlarge

Sleeper Award – Team Bacon B8 #203 – 2007 BMW 335i
Although a BMW 335i is not a sleeper of a car, this unsuspecting, laid-back team were gracious hosts of an open invitation BBQ the night before the pre-rally dinner at their house for any rally teams already in town. Then, on Day 1 of the rally they proceeded to trounce all the other teams and take first place easily.

Colourful Wheels Award – Team Shortbus #281 – Ford Mustang Cobra
When your car is green, your vinyls are yellow, and “I’m all jacked up on Mountain Dew!” is written across your front bumper, it only makes logical sense to paint your rims yellow as well. In fact, this was by far one of the coolest colour combinations on a car at this year’s rally.

The Sightseeing Award (Three Way Tie) – Team aWeSoMe #409 2004 BMW E46 M3; Team Snake #410 – 2005 GMC Sierra; Team Effectsfortyfive #483 – 2005 Infiniti FX45
The phrase “Take time to stop and smell the roses” is taken a little too literally by some teams during the rally. In 2010, yours truly was the master of arriving to the finish line not just last, but well after dinner had been served, and I am proud to report that in 2012 a new group of Canadians have taken over. Arriving on Day 1 and 2 long after the rest of us had eaten, these three teams from Cornwall were having too much fun making their own checkpoints to notice how late it had gotten.

Top Donator Award – Team Red Beard CCGTO #725 – 2006 Pontiac GTO
Raising money for charity is what this event is all about, so we must recognize the team that raised the most. Not only did this team raise the most money, but they are some of the coolest people with the best attitude (and a great beard).

Team Cream #911.5 – Ford Crown Victoria
Team Cream #911.5 – Ford Crown Victoria. Click image to enlarge

The Best Theme Award – Team Cream #911.5 – Ford Crown Victoria
Official winners of the best costume award, this team never broke character during the rally even during some ‘interesting’ situations. As a bonus, when people see the big Crown Victoria coming at them, they can’t help but to move out of the way.

Burning Rubber Award – Team Struck #42 – 2008 Ford F-150 Lightning
Not only was this truck the quickest at the drag strip, but it also put on one of the best smoke shows during the figure-eight race track. Just this side of drivable, this monstrous F-150 Lightning was always ready to lay down two rubber patches.

Most Unsuitable Rally Car Award – Team CCR Racing #313 – Ford Mustang
Bringing a full-blown drag racing car from Michigan doesn’t sound like the best idea for a multiple-day road rally that is several thousand kilometres round trip, but that didn’t stop team CCR Racing. Complete with skinny front tires, meaty back tires, and horrendous fuel mileage, it was a daily struggle to get this car started. It was at the finish line, though, and that is all that matters. Not sure if he made it back home… let’s hope he did.

Team Tallahassee #3 – 2010 Ford Mustang GT
Team Tallahassee #3 – 2010 Ford Mustang GT. Click image to enlarge

Most Time-Consuming Read – Team Tallahassee #3 – 2010 Ford Mustang GT
This Mustang had quotes from the movie Zombieland stickered all over it as well as sponsorship stickers galore. You could take a good 15 minutes trying to read all of the various quotes. Even the blank space on the roof had to be called into action and sported a giant ‘Z’ representing their key sponsor, the Zimmerman Agency.

For a full gallery of all the cars that participated in the rally, please click here.

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