The multiple jobs of a privateer rallyist

Tonight we leave for Grand Junction, CO for the Lands End Hill Climb, arguably the best all gravel hill climb in North America. I am super excited as last year I was plagued with problems and this year I have addressed those issues as well as have three additional events of practice and experience in the car. I crashed at the last event and have spent the last three weeks rebuilding the front right corner, replacing suspension components, cooling components and upgrading the brakes to a dual master setup with adjustable bias control. I have driven the car two blocks since getting it back together. Let’s discuss the multiple jobs we fulfill in our quest to rally. But first, let’s talk about multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is a horrible skill. For me I have found that I am an excellent multi-tasker but it also means a much higher risk of forgetting something. So today I am playing team manager. That means no longer worrying about the car, driver, service crew, team engineers, tires, or brakes. Today my main concern is, do we have everything we need to successfully make it through the weekend. This is complicated by choosing to camp this weekend. For the past three weeks I have mostly been alternating between engineer as I design and spec out the components for the brake system (primarily determining master cylinder sizing to achieve desired bias) and service crew as I repair and replace parts from the previous incident. Tonight I get to be transport specialist as I haul the whole rig in a 1991 Dodge Cummins over multiple mountain passes to the western slopes of the Rockies. Tomorrow I have to juggle service crew as I finish final prep, driver as I work on and finalize notes, test driver and brake engineer as I work with myself in a private testing facility trying to dial in brake bias and pedal box settings, and lastly team manager/crew chief as I set up camp and service area to prepare for a long weekend.
Saturday I will start the day as chef preparing breakfast for my fellow racers. There will likely be one or two people NOT driving or codriving so I may attempt to recruit them to help. As soon as I have eaten my last pancake I will switch to driver mode. One thing I have started doing this year once I am in driver mode is to not concern myself with anything else. If the car is working well enough to drive, leave it alone and drive. This did kind of lead to my crash at the previous event as it was a combination of two known problems happening at once, combined with a little kodak courage. But it also has led to me becoming a faster driver in the car. As privateers we often are stuck fulfilling all the positions of a successful rally team. The main person that suffers from this is typically the driver. Can you imagine a weekend spent focusing on just driving and not worrying about the technical or logistical aspects, or minimally concerned only with the aspects that affect your ability to perform. That is one thing we have been working on training the drivers we work with to do. We do not let them work on the cars when we are providing service. We try to remove decisions related to meals and simply make sure they are fed. We do not ask questions about anything that isn’t related to their primary job, to drive the rally car as fast as possible. All I know is this weekend, I hope I don’t burn too many pancakes. I have a feeling this may be my last year camping at a race.
- Grant
PS> We do offer full rally support and logistics in a range of budgets.