After Friday night’s spectator stage at Portland International Raceway it was off to The Dalles Oregon. Located 85 miles east of Portland this is the starting point of Day 2 of the Oregon Trail Rally. We made the trek and even though I have been shooting media for quite some time, it has been a tradition of ours to go camping along the Columbia River. Yes, I am one of “those” fans that wants to experience rain, cold, trains (trains every hour, blowing their horns at every crossing)….and an occasional adult beverage, as part of our experience.
Arriving just after midnight at our favorite spot, Horse Thief Lake, the winds were howling at more than 25 mph, which made setting up the tent out of the question. So I hopped in the passenger seat and crawled in my sleeping bag to try to get a few hours of sleep, before the racing started in the morning.
Much to my surprise, as I woke at first light and gearing up for the day, I found friends that were camping near me and we had a great breakfast of eggs, bacon, and sausage. A perfect way to start the day!
The first spectator stage for the day was at Fir Mountain, which has general parking in a field and a short shuttle ride to the location, where you can watch the rally cars race from either side of the road. Cars make a left-hand corner coming into view, coming down a fairly steep grade; where they dodge a hay bale chicane, which subsequently kicks out the rear end of the car. As they continue, they end up drifting out past the spectators spraying dirt, dust and gravel everywhere! It was awesome and it was quite the show of flying dirt and rocks!!
Fir Mountain has become a pretty popular spectator location. Dick Hannah Subaru has made it a tradition to supply hot dogs for all spectators. The tradition started out as a Steak BBQ for employees at the rally, and then the employees were a no show. Subaru Shawn cubed up the steaks, put them on skewers and served the small crowd. It’s an ongoing joke that Dave Mirra loves the hot dogs, so much he stops by yearly. In reality there’s a part of the stage where he tends to go off, being towed out at the Fir Mountain Spectator Stage.
As the last cars passed the Fir Mountain stage, it was down the road back to the car and off to Boyd Road. Getting the opportunity to drive on part of a stage for Sunday’s event, you get to see what the cars have to contend with. Driving off the main road turning past the old school house onto a dirt road, it was a rough ride even in my AWD Celica. Deep ruts and non-packed dirt, tossed dust and silt into the air at just 10mph. Turning into a farmer’s field cresting a hill, you come across the parking and more spectators. Cars come out of a sweeper drop, down a carousel and then venture back up a hill, to finally crest with a great view of the the mountains in the background, as they leave your sight.
As the night wrapped up and the rumble of rally cars rolled off for the evening. It was time to head back down the hill to the campsite. As some of you know, I’m a bit of a space nerd, shooting the lunar eclipse on my birthday in Hawaii. Well, Saturday night of the rally was another lunar oddity. A Super Moon; or when the moon is within 90% of its closest proximity to the earth, causing it too appear larger. That night we also passed through Haley’s Comet’s trail, leading to shooting stars throughout the night’s sky.