There are as many interesting stories as there are entrants. Here are the four in our team, called “Are We There Yet?”:
#10 WRX STi – Greg and Jessica Flores, from Houston, Texas, drove this rally-ready STi. Greg had ridden a motorcycle in the 2010 summer Alcan 5000, with Jessica part of his support team. He proposed to her at the Anchorage final party. She accepted, and they began modifying the STi for the 2012 winter event. Greg is no stranger to competition, having run cycle, off-road, and “anything with wheels” in Texas and the Southwest. Winter ice and snow were new to the Flores team, but they were quick studies. They placed 1st in Class 1, Passenger Cars, unlimited navigation equipment and computers.
#13 Outback XT – Steve Davidson and Bill Dubreuil hail from the Calgary, Alberta, area, so their Outback was no stranger to winter and snow and ice. It was no surprise then that when the Dempster Highway was closed by blizzards, drifts, and a stuck 18-wheeler north of Eagle Plains, they and six other teams decided to wait out the storm. Eagle Plains was the only fuel/food/motel halfway to Inuvik and then to the scheduled ice run on the Mackenzie River. The rallymaster, considering that there was no guarantee of a road opening, decided to maintain the scheduled route and travel 700 miles down to Valdez, leaving the optimists behind on their own.
After one day, four teams left to rejoin the group, leaving #13 and two unlikely but brave front-wheel drive teams. With a brief break in the weather the second storm-blocked day, they headed north to Inuvik and on to Tuktoyaktuk, with #13 sometimes breaking trail and serving as sweep. After a marathon run, they caught up with the group in Valdez.
#17 Outback ST – John Simpson and Troy Jorgensen started looking for Stop Leak for the radiator on their 2006 WRX on the Cassiar transit. By the time they got to Whitehorse, they were looking for a radiator … on a weekend. They finally found a Forester radiator under snow in a junkyard, did a shade-tree modification, and caught up with the group in Dawson City. They won 1st place non-stud in the ice race and 4th overall in SOP.
#5 2002 WRX – Suzanne and I skipped several TSD stages to tend to photo and writing opportunities, thus drawing maximum penalty points for those stages. But the others of our four-vehicle team all finished with class wins, and the “Go Farther” award was earned by Davidson/Dubreuil for their leadership in the Tuktoyaktuk adventure.