I first met the Summit Rally Team at the Oregon Trail Rally. The thing that caught my eye was that they were driving RWD Nissan Silvia, not your typical rally car. Second, the caution sticker stating that they were Right Hand Drive….. I started to wonder where this team was from. I hadn’t seen them at any of the Rally America events before.
The last day of Rally at the award ceremony, I got my questions answered: Summit Innovations Rally Team is a crew from Australia. Driver – Will Orders and Co-Driver – Toni Feaver placed 1st in 2WD. Ross Allen and his brother Scott Allen, were in contention for 3rd place but had a mechanical failure causing a DNF, during the last part of the rally.
As part of the entire crew for all drivers are: team mechanic Hayden Taylor, PR Steph Richards, Manager Bill Orders and Hilary Evans, Director.
The Summit Rally Team, decided to take time away from their daily lives and to embark on a 4-month epic, rally journey across the U.S. With their first rally, the Oregon Trail Rally, in the record books, they are continuing on to Susquehannock Trail Rally in Pennsylvania June 1st and 2nd then New England Rally July 13th and 14th.
Here is a quick clip from the Oregon Trail Rally:
Needless to say, after the Oregon Rally was over, the Summit Rally Team was in the Northwest, with some downtime….so what do you need to do? Pretty simple….go to DirtFish Rally School!!!
It was a beautiful sunny day in the Northwest (Yep! Really awesome weather….) and the sound of Subaru Boxer motors lobbed in the background. Will Orders and Ross Allen hopped in the Subaru STI’s and took them for a few laps, during a break for the ½ day rally school patrons.
In our down time, My Life at Speed, had some time to chat with the team. Here is what they had to say:
ML@S: What made you guys decide to compete in the Rally America series?
SRT: It was all based on brand awareness for Summit Innovations, being one of the biggest and best suppliers of QSR products and technologies in Australia. It was only a matter of time before Summit Innovations started making an impact on the American market. Hilary Evans (director of the Summit Group) is a passionate rally person (like every one on the Summit Team). Hilary loves to use the rally team to market the company as it gives customers, suppliers, corporate partners and sponsors, an experience not many can say they have done “100mph through the woods in the passenger seat of a rally car.” The marketing and exposure for sponsors and corporate partners is also massive. It also helps that the Rally America championship is world class and the competition is fierce, with some of the best drivers in the world competing.
ML@S: How long has it taken from the idea of lets run Rally in America to where you are today?
Will: Approximately 8-9 months of preparations, as you can’t come into something like the program we are running blindly. Every one in the team has put in hundreds of hours, to make sure we make the most of our time here in the US.
ML@S: At what point did it click that you were leaving your daily life behind and making the trip the U.S. for 4 months?
Will: At 5 4 3 2 1 GO! Oregon Trail Rally haha!! In all honesty, the team has been so busy that is is hard to even realize what day it is or was! It’s only just starting to sink in now 5 weeks down the track, that things have slowed down just a little bit. And I’m sure (the slowdown) will be short-lived.
ML@S: How did you get involved with Rally?
Will: It has been apart of my family for many, many years. My father had rallied for 25 years but retired only 2 years into my rally career, so he could give me a fair go and that he did! I love rally, it’s my life!
ML@S: You’ve been on the road for a month in the U.S. any favorite places you’ve found in your travels?
Will: We still have lots to see, so ask me again in another 3 months. There has been lots of beautiful and different scenes on the way!!
ML@S: So, why the 240sx? I have to say it was the most crowd pleasing/sideways/photogenic car at the OTR, but I thought Nissans were built to drift tarmac?
Will: The Australian Rally Championship is heading in the 2wd direction and we wanted to build something that could tick all the boxes:
-fun to drive
-fun to watch
And most importantly still competitive with all the other 2wd cars, and we think we have found a combination that does all of those thing really well.
Will: It is hard to compare, as DirtFish is a single location outfit and they do it very well. Rallyschool.com.au moves around Australia to 6 different venues weekly and really has a handle on it, and also does it really well.
The courses presented to the customers of both Rallyschool.com.au and DirtFish are very similar and the “in car” drive time versus the classroom time, costs, level of car preparation, instructor consistency, etc. are very good with both operations. Both are very very well run – and it was a blast to be out at DirtFish today.
ML@S: Driving an AWD Subaru, is it a big change of driving style over your 2WD Silvia?
ML@S: What do you think about the instructors and their teaching methods at DirtFish?
Will: All the methods were as you would expect. It is really hard to teach some groups, as you could have some people in the groups that are at different ability levels. So you must start everyone at the same base level, just so everyone is on the same page….which was really good to see.
ML@S: Although you were only able to hop in the cars for a little bit, what did you think about the course they had setup?
ML@S: What was your favorite part about DirtFish?
Will: Sitting in Colin McRae’s 1999 Ford Focus !
ML@S: During the lunch break, we were able to stop by Snoqualmie Falls. What did you think about the area?
ML@S: What is the biggest misconception Americans have about Aussies? Do Dingoes really eat babies? Are Koalas awesome pets? Or is it “shrimp on the barbie” is a main staple?
Will: Hahaha! All of which is the first thing we get asked, once people find out we are from Australia and we generally have had some fun with it too!!
ML@S: What did you think of Running Oregon Trail Rally?
Will: I have competed in over 100 rallies and Oregon trial rally is up there with the best of them.
ML@S: Whats you best Rally Memory?
Will: There is so many good memory it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Every time I get into the rally car is an awesome memory.
ML@S: I love shooting rally due to the close-knit teams and grassroots style mentality. Have any teams been a big help?
Will: Everyone at Oregon Trail Rally (competitor & officials) were super helpful and nothing seemed like too much of a problem.
ML@S: What is Your Life at Speed? (Why do you do what you do? What makes you climb out of the bed in the morning and want to do this? Is it possible to have a bad day?)
Will: In this sport, it’s very easy to have a bad day; but it’s how you handle those days which determines when your next good day will be. I love rally with a passion like no other!