Saturday, February 22, 2014

DirtFish Rally School - One Day Class

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On Friday, 2/21/14, I had the distinct pleasure of taking a one day class at DirtFish Rally School near Snoqualmie, Washington.  First let me say that without a doubt if you are into cars, driving, or just want to improve your driving skills I highly recommend their school.

A friend and I both did the class.  It was fun to have someone there that I knew although the class would have still been quite fun by myself.

So, what can you expect in a one day class?  Well, it's very helpful to already know how to drive a manual transmission.  However, if you don't it's not a big deal.  The instructors can still help you out to get past that and onto having fun quickly.  There is a fairly short bit of classroom instruction first thing in the morning.  The lead instructor, Adam, was great though.  Next we headed out for the actual driving.

First we were out on the skidpad to get used to the cars.  The brakes and clutch both feel different than what most folks are used to in a street car.


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Next it was on to the slalom course for some great fun and some left foot braking.  The left foot breaking seems odd at first but becomes pretty natural after more practice.  There was also a fun sweeping corner at the end of the slalom where we could practice sliding the car.


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Next we moved on to the "Bone Yard" part of the course which wasn't really as intimidating as the name might imply.  It featured several different types of corners and different types of terrain with varying amounts of traction.  The ground was quite wet in some places and the temperature outside was only in the upper thirties.

We had a good lunch break and then it was onto another short bit of classroom instruction regarding threshold and trail braking.

Shortly after that we went back outside to give threshold and trail braking a go.  I found that the trail braking when used to try to rotate the car was a bit more challenging than it looked.  After some practice though I was getting better at it.  Above is a video of the instructor demonstrating this exercise.

The final part of the course was putting everything together.  So, they have a section of the rally course called "Link" which connects the slalom to the "Bone Yard".  It took a few tries to get it down but it sure was a blast when things were going right.  Even when I made mistakes it was still a lot of fun.  Above is a video of me driving (note: the YouTube preview image might show the video as upside down but it's not).

Overall, the course was great!  My instructor Don was excellent as was the lead instructor, Adam.  The 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STi fully prepped rally car was awesome!  It's amazing how capable the cars are.  It was a bit sad to see the day end but I was a bit tired afterward.  Again, I would highly recommend DirtFish!

One minor suggestion that I think would be good though is to allow each instructor to drive a stage rally.  It would be an awesome thing for them to put on their bios and just great fun too.  Cheers.

P.S. If you'd like to see more photos from this class they are located here.  Also, here's a little more video from outside the car.

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