Marathon Rally, Panama city to Ancorage Alaska:
In late 1996 Scott Trinder and his father Robert entered the FIA sanctioned marathon
Panama-Alaska Rally organized by Transworld Events.
A 26 day event that passed through 9 countries, it began on June 1, 1997 in Panama city,
Panama and finished on June 26, 1997, in Anchorage, Alaska.
To be eligible to compete in this every driver had to produce a detailed background
of their rally/race experience. The cars in the event must be built on or prior to
1970 to be eligable; modifications to the cars involved were limited to the modifications
of the day.
For this event Robert suggested the rally car he drove in earlier days; a Datsun 240z.
The Datsun is a strong, fast, and reliable car, the perfect combination for this event.
They purchased the car almost one year before the rally began, so they could build and
test the car. Testing paid off; in almost every rally the team entered something broke.
This allowed them to modify unreliable components so they would last for the 26 day
beating the car would take.
Despite testing, The Trinder's had a severe suspension failure on the first stage
in Panama, dropping them to 16th overall out of 100. The Trinders were definitly not
looked upon as a threat for top spot at the start in Panama; they had the least expensive,
car in the event. But when Scott won his first stage and the team racked up fourth
overall stage finishes consistantly they were looked upon with respect and confusion:
"how the heck are you setting such fast times with that wreck?" The Trinder's only response
was a carefree smile... Over the weeks to follow they worked up to 5th overall, and surprised
many by just finishing the event, they finished sixth overall, the first father and son team
and the first Canadian team. "We have had so many problems with car fatigue, we were
just trying to nurse the car to the finish, we are extreemly happy with our sixth place
finish under the circumstances" says Robert.
The Trinder's encountered drama on one stage in Baja where they went off course and lost 4
minutes. This would prove a major factor in the final results. Determined to
make up lost time after their error, the Trinder's pulled out all the stops. Taking big
risks, the father & son team tried hard but were unable to make up for the four minutes
they had lost. "There was a string of right/left/left/right type Y-junctions all within
half a tenth kilometer of each other in the sandy desert, we were just caught out by one
of them" says Scott. If they had not gotten lost, as many did on that stage, they would
have finished fourth overall. Scott describes the event: "The rally was a gathering of
long lost friends who never new each other. That's the only way to explain the comraderie."
"Although the competition was fierce, the main objective of the teams involved was to get
all competitors to the finish. My father and I began the event with a marathon mind set
intending to drive 7 tenths to ensure a finish, but after the first two days we realized
that this was was going to be a 26 day 9.5-tenths drive just to finish in the top ten.
All of the leading teams in their $150,000 + super cars were driving flat out. To drive
ten/tenths on a weekend event is very different from that of a marathon rally."
As every driver settled into their car over the weeks, 10/tenths became 11/tenths and so on;
it was at this point that the top ten changed. Two 200,000 dollar Capri's crashed out in bad
accidents. One Porsche rolled four or five times, and there were a string of offs and close
calls throughout the remainder of the event.
Happy just to finish the event, the father and son team placed 6th overall and first in class.
It was an adventure that given the oportunity one must not refuse.