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Some Rally Love On A Future Road Course

Team O'Neil Rally school teamed up with Motor Trend Magazine for a little fun

I received an email sort of last minute about a unique opportunity to attend and document some rally cars out on the unpaved track that is Club Motorsports in Tamworth, New Hampshire. The vehicles were supplied by Team O’Neil Rally School and after a crash course at their 600+ acre facility in northern New Hampshire, Jason Cammisa with Motor Trend would be tearing up the dirt on the unpaved track mentioned earlier.

If you are like us, we have been following the progress of Club Motorsports with great interest. Within the past year they have made significant headway with the construction to the point that it will be ready to pave in late spring/early summer of 2016. That being said, they just ran out of time to pave this fall. With fluctuating New England temperatures and lining up such a huge paving job at the end of the season, it didn’t make sense for them to rush it. So here in lies the opportunity for something fun. Rally cars on a unpaved road course.

I showed up early. It had been a few months since the last time I was here and they had completed removing all the crushed rock out of turn 10 and 11. A monumental task in itself. Over 100,000 cubic yards of material in just those two turns. Lines had been painted on the gravel base to help give a finished feel to the course. I can’t wait to get in a rally car and take it at speed!

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Shortly there after, the folks from Team O’Neil Rally School showed up. Wyatt Knox, Special Projects Director for Team O’Neil and recognized National Rally Champion, unloaded one of two E30 BMWs to be used in todays events. Not much later, his co-worker, Chris Rennie, Facility Manager and Instructor, showed up with the other E30. Both Wyatt and Chris were very enjoyable to be around, and just as excited as I was at the prospect of having rally cars on this road course.

Just after unloading the second car, the people from Motor Trend showed up and preparations for the day started. Jason Cammisa is the new face of Motor Trend’s hit Youtube channel. Producing some of the best automotive videos and series in the industry to date. Everyone on his team was very nice and more than happy to talk shop. After all, they’re car guys too.

Let the hot laps commence!

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Now that the introductions and preparations are over, time to get to “work”. Wyatt piloted one E30 along with Jason and crew to get a layout of the course.

Here is a video from the day, Courtesy of Media Wing :

Chris piloted the other E30 to get the rest of us out on course to get an appreciation of the car at speed on the track. I had my Polaris Ranger to get around the track quickly to different positions for a variety of shots. At one point, I had a rally car sliding sideways around turn 3 giving me all the encouragement needed to step on the throttle and get out of the way. All in good fun.

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Fast forward a little bit, and first impressions start coming in from the folks at Team O’neil and Jason from Motor Trend. The consensus is the same. They absolutely love this course! Specifically, Jason said it was “the best course in America”. High praise from someone who has had the privilege of driving on some of the most prominent tracks in the country. Their smiles confirmed their convictions.

Eager to get back out, the folks at Motor Trend fixed their cameras to the car and went back out on course. After only a few more laps they were back in the pits. The cars were wearing snow tires in lieu of dedicated rally tires to help keep from rutting up the track too much. The only problem with that is the snow tires are very soft and the gravel is very hard and sharp being that it is all 2″crushed granite. Not a very forgiving surface to race on.

Spares were brought but needed to be mounted. Jim Hoenscheid, President of Club Motorsports, offered to take the tires to be mounted at a local shop. Not long after leaving, a phone call comes in that the wrong size tires had been packed for spares. With this news, we had to make the most of what was left of the current tires. Not very promising, as it wasn’t even noon time yet.

Various camera operators were out on course getting some more shots when Jim came back with four brand new, freshly mounted snow tires. Luckily, the tire shop had the correct size in stock and Jim paid for them, so we could continue on with the day’s fun. This was a life saver, as there weren’t too many laps left in the rear tires on either vehicle. We could have swapped them to the front, but then steering would become an issue.

Old tires were swapped out for the new ones, and vehicles were prepared to go back out. Lunch had arrived, so we took a break to eat and mingle before finishing out the day. Around this time, Lloyd Daimen from Club Motorsports showed up in his E-Type Jaguar. A pleasant surprise, even more so when he took it out on course for some laps. Again, it was great to just hang out with all these different people, coming together for a common passion. During the break, I was fielding questions to Jason about his recent time with the current Camaro Z28 and the new Shelby Mustang GT350R. High praise for both of them, but what really impressed him most was the new Camaro SS. I look forward to a future video about this car. Anyways, I digress.

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The day pressed on and both cars were out on course at various ends for photos and video clips. The elevation change at Club Motorsports is substantial to say the least. Between turn 1 and turn 10, the lowest point and highest point on track, there is a 250 ft elevation difference. But the most remarkable aspect is, in one lap, there is a total of over 700 ft of elevation change up and down. The cars were being pushed hard to deal with some of these elevation changes, but they never quit. It should prove to be a very fast and nicely flowing course once it is paved, although it may be a very brake intensive course due to the elevation change. Especially with a heavier vehicle.

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As the sun began to set over the adjacent mountains, the clouds were alight with hues or red, purples and blues. We brought in some other vehicles to help light up the red BMW E30 that was Jason’s main car of the day for finishing credits. It was a perfect end to a wonderful day. I can’t thank Club Motorsports enough for inviting me along to be a part of this unique adventure. To all the people at Team O’Neil and Motor Trend, you were a pleasure to work with and I look forward to future endeavors.

Here is the finished video from Motor Trend:

 

You can rest assured we will be back once paving is complete, to see the finished product. I’m sure Jason will be too.

 

More photos from the rest of the day can be found below:

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Some truly epic views can be seen while on course. Here is turn 4 and 5 going on to the back straight.
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Another shot earlier in the day of turn 4 and 5 with the other car E30 piloted by Jason Cammisa.
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Jason Cammisa shooting off towards turn 12
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Jason hanging it out sideways into turn 15. The last turn before the 2000′ front straight.
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Jason on turn 14
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Lloyd and long time supporter Joe out on course in the Jaguar E-Type shortly after lunch.
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Another shot of Lloyd and Joe on the front straight in the Jag.
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Scrubbing speed by turning instead of breaking is a staple to rally. Expertly demonstrated here as Chris Rennie enters turn 6.
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Showing off some of the scale of this course and the surrounding landscape.
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Peaking over the banking, shooting rocks. I’m back in my native habitat. Rally.
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Beautiful end to a wonderful day
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Mt. Chocorua in the background oversees the shenanigans transpiring at Club Motorsports
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Mt. Chocorua is ever a staple to the scenery here at Club Motorsports. Chris Rennie enters Turn 2a in the E30.
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Wyatt Knox giving some thumbs up, mid drift in the corner.
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Disappearing in the dust
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Gravel Machine gun anyone? Glad they held off on the dedicated rally tires.
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Lunch break mingle
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Lloyd and Joe on the back straight heading towards turn 6.
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Little do people know that this E-Type Jaguar has a full body skid plate underneath.
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Such a beautiful car.
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Fun looking out of the windshield with a million cameras attached to it. Inside and out.
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A beautiful view from above turn 10 and 11.
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The scale of this track is hard to capture in just one photo. But this is close. Turn 10 and 11.
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The Blue E30 is in the foreground on turn 7 while the red E30 is entering turn 8.
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A single shot of Jason on turn 7 going down hill on this rollercoaster of a course.
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Chris Rennie getting it sideways for the camera
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A wider shot of Chris at turn 3
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Just a couple GoPros on the car while Jason and the rest of the crew from Motor Trend get familiarized with the course.

Written by Jason Brackett

Jason Brackett

I've been addicted to power and speed ever since the first time my head got pushed back into the seat under acceleration. I grew up with an affinity for engines and the arts, blending them together into my passions. Photography, writing and motorsports.

I've traveled the country in pursuit of my passions and paid the price with my health. I'm a living marvel of modern medicine and a beacon of the human spirit.

I was down and out for sometime but now, I'm back! With new hips, a slightly shorter digestive track and a drive to further my own ability.

I'm from Maine. I have a small farm with 57 acres in the foothills of the White Mountains. I have a beautiful wife with a little girl, 2 dogs, one cat, ten chickens, and garage space to build something terrifyingly awesome.

So ya, I'm living my American Dream.

I don't particularly care for long walks on the beach
Sunsets are cool but I prefer the smell of race fuel.
One of my favorites songs is the sound of a Audi five cylinder at 9000 RPMs under wide open throttle, spitting hellfire and brimstone between gears. That always puts a smile on my face.

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