Press Release

October 12, 1998
Contact: Tamara Shadbolt
Tel: (503) 624-6366

Hairpin Racing Maintains PGT Points Lead

Portland, OR -- The Hairpin Racing Team, consisting of driver Lee Shadbolt and co-driver Paul Eklund, are home from the Prescott Forest PRO Rally and retain a lead in the series points. The team competes in a 1997 Subaru Impreza Brighton Coupe in the Production GT (PGT) class of the Michelin SCCA PRO Rally Championship. The PRO Rally at Prescott, Arizona was the seventh national event of the Michelin PRO Rally Championship. Shadbolt has a one point lead for the PGT driver's championship, while Eklund leads the PGT co-driver's championship by a greater margin.

Sporting a new "Morrie's Subaru of Minnetonka, Minnesota" graphics scheme, the team looked confident of a good finish at Prescott. "Drive fast, don't crash", were the orders from Team Manager Tamara Shadbolt who had no intention of repeating last year's disastrous season end. At the 1997 Prescott PRO Rally, driver Lee Shadbolt rolled the Impreza and the "new car" smell was replaced permanently by Arizona dust and gravel that penetrated the windshield.

But the start of this year's event would prove to be much more disastrous for another team in the series. The Ford Escort Cosworth of Carl Merrill and Lance Smith crashed on the first stage sending the driver to the hospital. The following morning, Carl Merrill died as the result of a cardiac event. He was 62. It was determined that a sudden cardiac arrest contributed to the accident.

The Rally resumed the following day at the request of the Merrill family, with the event being shortened to just 66 stage miles. The first and second stages went well for Shadbolt and Eklund, but the third stage was so rough that a front tire went flat 3 miles from the flying finish. Under these circumstances, a team must decide whether to stop and change the flat, or continue on and hope the shredding tire does not do any additional damage. Though a tire change would take just 3 minutes, the team chose to drive it out. In the end about 1 minute was lost - along with a rim and tire.

The fourth stage presented its own problems as the team had to complete the same stage in the reverse direction without a spare to get them to service in the event of another flat. In addition to this, the return stage was delayed one hour resulting in many teams being unprepared for the oncoming darkness. Such delays are not uncommon, and fortunately the Hairpin Racing service crew had already installed half of the auxiliary lights. As a result, the team had adequate lighting for the dusty conditions that prevailed on the return stage.

Halfway into the fourth stage, the Hairpin Racing Team encountered the heavily damaged Subaru Impreza WRX of Japanese competitor Hiroyuki Genta. One of the many large rocks in the road had bounced Genta's Impreza into a tree. His speed was sufficient to carry him back into the roadway, completely blocking the path. The two competitors following him had piled rocks along a bank so that they could drive up a steep 5 foot embankment, across a rocky plane, and back onto the rally course. Shadbolt negotiated his Impreza through the obstacle course successfully loosing little time. Two miles later, dust would become an issue as he began to catch a slower Production competitor. The thick dust obscured a hairpin right turn before the flying finish which caused Shadbolt to drive straight into an off-course banner as co-driver Eklund shouted, "hairpin right! right!". Driving over a large clump of grass, the team turned, albeit late, finishing on the tail of the slower Production class Nissan.

The following two stages went much more smoothly after adding 3 auxiliary lights and two fresh wheels and tires. The team breathed a sigh of relief as they transited back into Prescott via an old railroad bed after the final stage. The five mile gravel straights allowed visual contact with other rally cars as they sped through the chilly Arizona desert on their way back the the rally headquarters.

In the end, Hairpin Racing was awarded a third place trophy for their finish in the Production GT class. First in PGT was Arthur Odero-Jowi in a Mitsubishi Eclipse. It would be the first national event finish for the Kenya native.

The Open class was won by Noel Lawler in a Hyundai Elantra who also finished first overall. Ralph Kosmides and co-driver Joe Noyes finished first in Group 5 in the Ruby's Toyota Supra Twin-Turbo. Group 2 was won by David White and co-driver David Watts in a VW Golf. Production class winner was Roland McIvor in a Nissan Sentra.

Replica Productions, along with coverage sponsor Subaru of America - Western Region, will televise the Prescott PRO Rally on espn2. The Maine Forest PRO Rally television program was viewed by 200,000 households, indicating an increase in popularity of the series. Future espn2 program air times are shown below. All times are Eastern Standard:

Ojibwe Forests PRO RallyTuesday, Oct. 27, 6:30 PM
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 5:00 AM
Prescott Forest PRO RallySunday, Nov. 15, 7:30 PM
Thursday, Nov. 19, 3:30 PM
Lake Superior PRO RallySunday, Nov. 29, 7:30 PM
Though one event remains in the 1998 PRO Rally Championship, Hairpin Racing is already working on next season. For 1999, a new co-driver will be announced as Paul Eklund moves into the driver's seat of the Primitive Racing Subaru Impreza 2.2 Turbo Sedan. Lee Shadbolt will continue to compete in the Production GT class with the Hairpin Racing Impreza, appearing in a variety of motorsport events in 1999 in addition to national PRO Rally events.

For more information about Hairpin Racing, contact Tamara Shadbolt at (503) 624-6366. For more information about Subaru products, contact Morrie's Subaru at (800) 332-4266.

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