Kevin Blount and Bob Lucurell are both veterans of the Classic Northwest Rally. This four-day event (July 25 – 28, 2013), sponsored by Monte Shelton Jaguar, commences in Portland with registration and opening celebrations on Thursday evening. On Friday morning the 100 car field embarks on two days of rallying in and about the Cascade Mountain Range of the Pacific Northwest.
Each year the time and distance rally visits a particular resort where the participants end Friday’s and Saturday’s rallying with social activities, special refreshments, tire-kicking and banquet dinners. They conclude the event on Sunday morning with the Awards Brunch. This was the maiden voyage for Kevin’s recently finished Allard J2X. Kevin’s report is as follows:
This was my friend Paul Brewer’s and my 7th time running this rally, and our first time in the Allard. Last year we won the vintage class (also known as the "seat of the pants" class) in my Mercedes and got 4th overall – beating many serious rallyists who were using calculators, stopwatches, etc. We were as surprised as anyone, and chalked it up to dumb luck rather than great skill. Time will tell.
This year we didn't do nearly as well, finishing mid-pack for a number of different reasons, all of which of course illustrate the 'dumb luck' comment above.
I took the J2X to a local speedometer shop to have the speedo and odo calibrated to be spot on, but I realized about 1/2 way through the first day that they were off by about 8%. As a result we were consistently early, earning us many unwanted penalty points. Also, the rally master caught us with a "trap" that earned us a significant penalty. We should have known better too, since they caught us with the exact same trap about 3 years ago.
The Allard was more difficult to TSD rally than my other cars for a number of reasons. First off, it's LOUD. We had a set of voice-activated headphones so we could communicate. Except that Paul's mic went out right at the start line, so we spent the next two days yelling at each other.
Secondly, having the odometer in front of the navigator really threw us off. Many navigators love to have it there, but over the years Paul and I have developed the routine where watching the odometer is the driver’s job. So its location over in front of Paul really messed us up.
Lastly, I found it tougher to keep a constant speed with the speedometer out of my line of sight – especially so with 400 HP and a 3.25 rear end. As a result, a few extra rpm translates to quite a bit of speed. Even a one or two MPH error can add significant points. Anyway, so much for my litany of excuses...
The Allard ran brilliantly, and was great fun. It was a crowd favorite and I got lots of favorable comments from folks (as an aside, the week earlier I showed the car at the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance placing 3rd in class. On the Concours tour the day before, I was at the back of the pack and a bicyclist who was watching the cars go by said "I don't know what it is, but that's by far the coolest car that's come by!"). What I've found is that everyone loves the Allard. Hot Rodders love it. Muscle car guys love it. The European sporty car crowd loves it. Ok, maybe one or two snooty CCCA Packard or Rolls Royce folks turned up their noses, but that seems to be the exception.
One checkpoint worker said he listened to us for about 5 minutes as we roared through the switchbacks up the hill, and that it was a symphony. We also got a fair number of comments about how uncomfortable we looked. Neither Paul nor I are small guys, and in some of the photos it appears that we are almost comically stuffed in, and overflowing out of the car. We were happy to play the martyr so we didn't dispute the comments. However the car is more comfortable than it looks. While we were tired at the end of a full day of driving, we weren't completely used up either.
In two weeks my girlfriend and I are taking the J2X to central Oregon for the Oregon Festival of Cars. We'll put up to 1000 miles on it over about 3 days of very quick driving chasing Ferrari's, Lamborghini's, Porsche GT3 RS's, Audi R8's etc. I'm really looking forward to a weekend of spirited Allard driving on great roads – weather permitting of course. With the Allard having no weather protection what-so-ever, I'll probably take a car with a top and windshield wipers if it looks like stormy weather.
So, in conclusion, the J2X is fantastic and I plan on keeping it and using it for a long time. While it's not the ideal TSD rally car for me, and I won't be taking it on the Monte Shelton Rally every year, I love driving the car and everyone loved having it there -- so much so that the Allard won "people's choice", the vote of all the rally participants for their favorite car on the rally!
Special thanks to Joe Cantrell for sharing his great photos!