It’s been quite some time since I’ve managed to get a good driving story up here.
That’s primarily thanks to COVID shutting down the majority of the country and all of the typical events I’d usually be attending this year with it. No three or four-day rallies, no major track day events, no speed festivals, and of course, no Monterey Car Week – which is often the automotive event highlight of my year. That being said, I’m sure you can understand my sense of excitement when I first heard the announcement of DWA’s (Driving While Awesome) ‘Rally From Home’ event taking place. It was just the cue I needed to give me a sense of somewhat normality in this hectic nonsense of a year we call 2020.
You might be thinking the same thing that came to my mind when I first heard the great news – what in the hell is a ‘Rally From Home’? In essence, it’s turning what’s normally a three-day-long event – which often includes having to lodge in questionable hotels in the middle of nowhere – into two separate single-day events. This way, participants could simply make the short voyage to the rally start points on the morning of the event, avoiding any sort of major risk associated with hotels. A brilliant idea that seemed to work out perfectly.Day 1
The first of the two separate Thursday events started out in the most northern part of California’s Bay Area, roughly an hour away from my home town. After making the short trek over, I entered the first meeting point to what seemed to be a traditional DWA!-themed cars and coffee event, with an eclectic mix of vehicles from supporters that reside all over The Golden State.
A couple of early 911s, a new Supra with quite the clever plate, and a rad-era Ferrari that was not red managed to capture my attention amongst the sea of other interesting and diverse cars. But the best part of the morning round-up was knowing that these cars were all going to be driven in a full-day event, touring some of the most scenic roads found in NorCal.
If you follow me on social media, then you’ve probably already heard the news of Project 912SiX being sold off and replaced with a 996 GT3. However, since the acquisition of the GT3 is fairly recent, I hadn’t had the chance to fully prep it for rally-type driving just yet.
So my buddy G offered to lend me the perfect solution for the event – an authentic Group A-spec BMW E30 M3, appropriately wearing its Prodrive/BASTOS racing livery attire to match the car he brought – a Group B Prodrive/Rothmans Racing Porsche 911 SC/RS tribute. Together, the two would be the ultimate sight to see being flogged through the canyons. Unfortunately though, that sight was interrupted briefly after the first stretch of the morning.
I think we managed to drive for about 45 minutes before I started noticing a loud thumping noise coming from the E30’s rear subframe. We luckily made it to the first checkpoint within this time, which happened to be a petrol station that also happened to have a tow yard next door. After troubling the owner of the yard to lift the car on some jacks, we sourced the culprit of the noise – a sheered-off subframe bolt that caused the rear diff to completely detach itself from the mount. While I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the rest of the rally with the M3, I took the news as a blessing in disguise, because we all know that if the second bolt that holds the subframe in place had sheered off too, the entire rear end could’ve collapsed under heavy driving conditions, which would’ve absolutely led to a major catastrophe.
Counting blessings aside, the BMW was decommissioned, and so was the rest of my rally day. G and I tag-teamed the rest of the rally in the Rothmans SC/RS the entire way home.Day 2
The following Thursday morning’s meet point was even more epic than the first, this time in the most southern parts of the Bay Area. This is the rally I was most looking forward to, as the roads found in this area of California are some of my favorite, and far more secluded from tourists.
The cars in attendance were again tasteful, with some new and some repeat participants. You may even recall seeing some of the same cars that attended my last DWA! rally event from a couple of years ago.
My goal was to use this event as a proper shakedown for my GT3, so I was a bit bummed that it was still being prepped at Stealth Labs. But that quickly changed when the shop owner graciously offered their shop 991.2 GT3 RS as my loaner for the day.
I know what you’re thinking… not a bad trade off, right?
Since my typical driving friends and I were in seemingly fast cars, we set off as the head of the pack, leading the rest of the rally-goers through some of the best roads that California has to offer.
Our small run group consisted of the GT3 RS, a 991.2 Targa, a Lotus Evora, a Cadillac ATS-V, and a Shelby GT350 KR, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way as I often prefer driving with people that I trust on the road. Not that there’s anything wrong with making new driving friends, but it’s just more comforting knowing the limits that your driving group are willing – or not willing – to push on public roads. Safety is the number one priority after all.
That being said, I did manage to link up with some old friends that I hadn’t seen for a while as well. Alvin from Z Car Garage brought out ‘Mrs. Butters’ for some testing on the new upgrades that have been done to this insanely balanced Z street car, and Geoff, who is another one of my local driving buddies, brought out his recently-acquired BMW 2002, which also is quite nicely built.
After being the head of the pack for the majority of the second day rally, it was rather refreshing hanging back for a bit to watch these two glorious vintage machines make their way through the canyons for the final stretch of the day.A Glimpse Of Normality
With nearly 1,000 miles of driving completed over the course of the two-day event, I couldn’t help but feel utterly satisfied that I finally had some sense of normality for this year.
There were of course new ‘norms’ in place, like being responsibly socially distanced and wearing face coverings anytime we’d all gather around, and of course an abundant use of hand sanitizer and washing hands more frequently. But those preliminary measures did not take away from the experience of enjoying a full day of driving with like-minded enthusiasts.
With that said, a tip-of-the-hat goes off to the DWA! crew for organizing an epic event and making the most of the shitty predicament that we are facing. It’s these types of escapes from reality that will help us get through this year sanely.