Best of Delaney 2013

00Maybe only after the year I was born, 2013 has been one of the best years of my life. Between being allowed to relive races on here, and following Noble Star Rally around, it’s been an interesting and awesome year. I have to start off with this epic TVR Sagaris we randomly stumbled across in the south of England. I’m still amazed by the cars that just seem to show up in England.


I may have no rally car, no real rally skill, but that doesn’t stop me or others from having fun. SCCA chapters all across the country have events called “Time Distance Rallies.” Basically, you’re given some tulip notes (basic pace notes,) and you set out going from check point to check point on public streets trying to match the base time. So Basically rally for the street! So much for being the Son of Sno*Drift, more people had problems with mud than snow.


The automotive year starts here in Michigan with the North American International Auto Show. Drawing people from all around the world down to Detroit to see what the manufacturers have in store. Although it may not be the show it was back in its heyday, they’re still hanging in there.


The best reason for snow for me is Sno*Drift. As I’m sure you can tell by now, we love rally here, whether it’s standing in the forest for hours, having cars come by you sideways at 80mph, or the awesome fans, rally is pretty much the funnest motorsport to shoot.


And it’s also the most dangerous. And that’s not even counting in the race cars. Having to traverse miles of back country roads in all types of conditions makes rally so different from any other series. I’m sure Alex would rather forget about this little incident, but it definitely went down in my books as one of the funnest parts of the year. Sorry Alex. [Not sorry, haha -Bohan]


What would the Motor City be with out a proper hot rod show? The Autorama show travels around the Mid West and a few stops in the Southwest. The build quality on the main cars is simply unbelievable, it’s weird that they’re built not to be driven, but the detail is amazing.


With every vacation, there needs to be something automotive involved. While in England, we hit the Prescott Hill Climb in Gloucestershire, England. It may not of been a major hill climb, but getting to see the British car culture first hand was awesome. Getting to see tons of cars that were never sold state side racing up a hill was something that can become addicting.


The history in any English town never fails to amaze me. We decided this time we’d rent a car and drive around the south of England, seeing more towns than we’ve ever seen before. The city of Boscastle is in the southern tip of England, and was right on the Celtic Sea.  In 2004 Boscastle was hit by a massive flood destroying most of the historic buildings in the area. The white building for example was built in 2006.


My favorite part of England is the auto museums. One in particular is the Beaulieu Museum. Aside from having an awesome assortment of racing cars and an entire park with car shows, they had the World of Top Gear. Getting to see the cars from Top Gear in person was so exciting, I never thought I’d be so star struck by cars.


We finished in London, which is easily one of the best places to go for a major variety of cars. Everything from Veyrons, to Dodge Challengers, to this RS2 Avant neatly tucked down a small side street in Knightsbridge.


While in London, we headed down to Ace Cafe for a Marcos and Morgan meet up. With multiple trips to London, but never getting to Ace Cafe was just wrong. Luckily the Marcos and Morgan meet happened to fall inline with our weekend and there was no way we would miss it.


A couple weeks after getting back from England, I was back in the car driving out to Pennsylvania for STPR. It was the first time for me at STPR, but no matter what rally you’re at, it’s easy to get into the groove. This was also the rally where Ken Block started his push for the championship, winning here and the next two rallies, making LSPR the battle ground for the championship.


Not too much later we were right back in Pennsylvania on our way to New Jersey for East Coast Bash. An overnight drive put us in the western part of Pennsylvania during the sunrise. While Pennsylvania may not be the most exciting state, the sunrise that morning however was amazing.


Realizing that Raceway Park was only 40 minutes from the ocean, my friend Matt and I decided to take a quick detour to check it out. Plus, I wanted to be able to see the Atlantic from both coasts since I’ve never had the opportunity, so why not take the chance?


We decided we wanted to come to East Coast Bash the Thursday before the event, meaning we’d drive all Friday night and get there Saturday morning. And that’s exactly what we did. And in no way do we regret it. Being my first drift event, I was to be able to see missiles and built drift cars drift together.


At this point I have to say thanks to Noble Star Rally for letting me ride along and stay with them at every rally we go to. There was no way I’d of been able to get to Maine for NEFR, or Pennsylvania for STPR. Hitting construction in the heart of Montreal really made the trip interesting. I can’t really think of too many other groups I’d want to be in while going on these crazy long distance road trips.


NEFR was also when Alex and I were able to shoot together again. This was the hardest rally to shoot too. With stages sometimes being an hour or so apart, and one across state lines, every second counted during the weekend. NEFR was easily the best looking rally too out in the forests Maine during July.


Sometimes it’s the little shows that can bring out some of the coolest cars. Eyes on Design is a concours show held at Edsel Ford’s house every year here in Michigan. Getting to see the original Little Deuce Coupe in person was one of the coolest moments of this year.


A few weeks later was one of my most anticipated events of the year, the running of both American Le Mans and Grand Am series the same weekend at the same track. Trying to drum up hype for the merger of the two series, creating the TUDOR series coming next year.


I’ve been following both series now for years, so getting to see them both run the same weekend was a as exciting as it could get. Judging by the turnout, it looks like the TUDOR series should have a promising fan base and hopefully it will help cement sports car racing here in the US like it is in Europe.


The following weekend was incredibly busy, forcing me to miss one of the coolest events in the word, the Woodward Dream Cruise. In short, it’s a day where everybody cruises up and down one of the main roads in the state. Originally started in 1995 to support a local soccer field, it has since swelled to the largest single day automotive event in the world. The million plus people and 400,000 cars helps back up that claim. Where else can you see a ’59 Cadillac and a GT40 side by side? Who knew a ’59 Cadillac’s door line is even with the roofline of a GT40?


Luckily the Dream Cruise has an unofficial start about week before the actual cruise, and the Friday night before the main event is equally as good as the main event. We had to miss Saturday to make it to this, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid Ohio. NASCAR is still easily one of my favorite sports, no matter what anyone says, and getting to see them on a road course was more than I could ever of dreamed of.


The sheer power of these cars is something people need to experience in person, TV just doesn’t cut it. In most of the corners at Mid Ohio the cars would come around a corner and lift one wheel off the ground and carry it throughout the corner. All this did was further cement my love of NASCAR, all we need is more road courses.


A trip to Bonneville is still one for the bucket list, but the East Coast Timing Association started holding the Ohio Mile event around Dayton, Ohio giving us a little taste of land speed runs. While the speeds were way down compared to that of Bonneville, seeing cars like this Torino hitting 198 and a 1500hp supercharged GT500, counts as a pretty decent filler.


After such a strenuous year, a family trip to California was in order. Mostly based around Cars and Coffee in Irvine and the Formula D final in Irwindale, my mom decided we needed a nature trip too. The original plan was to go to Sequoia National Park and spend the day with the Sequoia trees. Unfortunately for us, we got there during the government shutdown, closing all the National Parks.


But luckily there was a trick. Inside the park there was a privately owned lake that was still open. Hume Lake wasn’t around the Sequoia trees, but going there let you in the park for free and giving a little look into the park. May not of been the trip we wanted, but adventure is never bad.


While the park was cool, it had nothing on Cars and Coffee down in Irvine. Easily one of the coolest car shows I’ve ever been too, and I still can’t believe it’s held every Saturday. We managed to plan our trip to get two shows in while we were there. Even though the turnout is always amazing, there was a tie between a Porsche 906 and this Skyline.


Because of Life Blasters, I felt that I had to get to at least one Formula D event, and with the battle for the championship coming down this event, I felt that this was the time. While the competition cars are awesome, I was looking forward to the parking lot. It’s no secret that the parking lot at automotive events are just as good as the show itself, and being on the West Coast at an FD event I knew this lot would be killer.


I love the smell of tire smoke, it’s an unhealthy obsession we all have. Sadly, I can rarely feed my addiction with rally or even sports car racing. I think in the first 5 minutes of getting to the track I inhaled more smoke than I did all year. Getting covered in Aasbø and Conrad’s rubber shrapnel was my first experience of my first FD battle in person.


A few more tourist stops delayed our arrival at Irwindale, meaning we’d miss everything except for the Top 16. Just being there was enough for me though, the fan zone and paddock were massive, littered with enough Rocket Bunny FR-S’s and Liberty Walk M3s and the Slammed Society showcase, I was happy. With an interesting Top 16 and Great 8, I think everybody there in the record setting crowd had nothing to argue about. It’s also where I found out my LG MyTouch can take a 15-foot fall and still work. Take that, iPhone.


I was also excited to see how the championship played out. Aside from here, SpeedHunters and the occasional live stream, I don’t follow Formula D too close, but I was pulling for Essa because I liked his car. Because we missed the beginning of Irwindale, I was checking Facebook to see how the Top 32 was playing out. As we were in the gnarly parking line, Andrew posted that Essa was out on the start line. Then I started thinking about all the possibilities and how now Forsberg might take the championship. But, we all know now how it ended up.


The next weekend I met back up with Alex in the very top of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Just getting there is a trip. While Alex flew into Marquette, which is about a two hour drive, we had to come up from just outside of Detroit. After about nine hours of driving the most boring, flat, straight roads in the middle of nowhere, we arrived in Houghton. It was the UP’s time of year for the leaves to change color, but with the on and off rain all weekend it was pretty lackluster.


Like FD, Rally America had a battle for the championship coming down to the final event as well. Ken Block was going to get his first championship, or David Higgins was going to take his third consecutive championship. Block was riding a three rally win streak and was looking good to claim a fourth and the championship.


But fate had other ideas. On stage three of day two, Block had a spectacular roll and was out of the rally and championship. Handing the win of both events to Higgins and Subaru. And marking the end of the motorsports season for me.


It’s been an amazing year, getting me to places I never thought I’d go at the beginning of the year. Next year is shaping up to be just as awesome, if not even more awesome than this year, and I cannot wait. As I sit here looking out the window at the snow, I keep thinking that in just over month everything will start all over again, and we will again be standing in the middle of a forest in the middle of Michigan freezing, waiting for a ton of rally cars to shoot past. I can’t wait.

instagram: @ericdelaney, @lifeblasters

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