Ending the 2019 Season Atop the Podium at LSPR
The Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR), held on 18-19 October took place in Michigan’s beautiful upper peninsula. The autumn foliage creates a stunning backdrop to the rally’s gravel stages during this time of year.
Returning to her home state to compete for the second time this year, NSR driver Amanda “RalyGrl” Skelly will be joined by crew member, Jay Grizaniuk. Grizaniuk is the Shop Manager and one of the Driving Instructors at the Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park, and also a co-driver and crew member for the Krypto Motorsports team.
While Grizaniuk had worked with the team during prior events this season, this would be his first time sitting beside Skelly. The duo modified their notes, sought out to find a rhythm in the car and kept a positive outlook over the weekend.
"I really don't know how I would have been able to function without the positive attitudes, smiles and luaghter from Jay and the rest of the team. Once again, my team, my rally family, and racing was my saving grace" states Skelly.
The team faced a variety of challenges during LSPR, entering in on a somber note after receiving news of Skelly’s former crew chief, Gino Malinoski’s passing just days prior to the rally.
“I just remember waking up to the phone calls and messages and it just didn’t seem real. I connected with the rest of my team that morning to deliver the terrible news and waited for Jay to arrive in Michigan that evening. I had no expectations at that point for LSPR. The plan was to just get there, compete, and honor Gino in the best way I knew how; with rally”, says Skelly.
With RECCE completed and their pace notes prepared, teams gathered Friday afternoon outside in the crisp northern air for Parc Expose before starting day 1 of the rally. As cars darted down the twisty gravel roads, the event would come to an early halt for Skelly and Grizaniuk. Just a few turns from the end of SS1, the transmission was stuck in neutral for the second time this season, leaving the team stranded on stage.
“I was gutted. Jay and I tried everything to get the car into gear, but to no avail we were stuck” says Skelly.
The car was towed to the end of the stage where the crew waited to trailer the car back to service. The team worked diligently trying to get the transmission to release. With enough brute force and some added luck, the guys managed to get the car into drivable condition and ready to take on the next day's stages. Unfortunately, with the amount of time the repairs had taken, it was too late to join back in for day 1. The team decided to return to their cabin, driving the rally car back to test the transmission along the way. Luckily, the team was able to super rally and restart on day 2.
The second day went a little smoother, despite some hiccups with the battery terminals, and the team made their way through the forest stages to the final stage of the day in downtown Houghton. At the finish, the duo was greeted by the rest of their team, along with interviews with Open Paddock. During the final ceremony of the 2019 ARA National Season, to their surprise, Skelly and Grizaniuk were called atop the podium for second in NA4WD class to enjoy one last champagne spray of the year.
“It was certainly an experience and a whirlwind of emotions that came and went. All I wanted was to make it to the finish of that rally, and with the ability to super rally, we were able to continue the event. And to bring home a podium in Gino’s honor… What more could I have possibly asked for?” concludes Skelly humbly.
2019 Partners: Link ECU, TurboTime, Whiteline, The FIRM, Tire Streets, DCCDPro.com, BRAID Wheels USA, Team Illuminata Motorsport, Turtle Gloves, 5 Star Design, Restoration Race Works, INC., Impression Center & Rocky Mountain Autosport.
You can follow the teams along online and via social media below:
Noble Star Rally