Bill Lockwood defends Rally as an "action sport." I think of it as more of a retirement community for "action sports" athletes (for example, the Summer X 14 Rally podium had a BMXer and an FMXer on it). This weekend, Simon Dumont got a sneak preview of retirement at the Virginia International Raceway. The Dumont participated as a guest driver in the first round of the SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. He liked the experience enough that he might even retire to it before he's finished skiing. And, of course, he's pretty good at it:
Red Bull athlete and freestyle skier, Simon Dumont improved six positions during the race to finish in 19th place. Dumont, thoroughly enjoyed his experience in the series and hinted about a possible return in the future.Simon Dumont has always liked to drive fast. It's a fact that plagued me throughout the first half of a trip I spent with him a couple years ago in New Zealand. Target had recently put him through a rally driving school, and he was enthusiastic to utilize his new skills, a fully insured rental car, and Wanaka's miles of gravel roads. We peeled out on every start, locked the brakes on every stop, drifted around every corner, and spun doughnuts in every open field and parking lot. It was totally awesome, except for the drive to and from Snow Park.
"The entire experience was way more than I ever imagined that it would be. The first time for me to get in a professional-level racecar was yesterday, and I'm definitely hooked," said Dumont. "My goal heading into this was to try to be competitive and not finish last, and I accomplished both goals. I'm going to do some work with my personal sponsors when I get home to see if I might be able to give the series a try full time next year."
The last 10 miles or so of the drive from Wanaka to Snow Park is a serpentine, gravel road set into a steep hillside. The road has no guardrails. About halfway to the ski area, a statue of a man named Possum Bourne comes into view. Possum Bourne was a legendary Kiwi rally car driver during the 90s and early 2000s. He died in a car accident on the road to Snow Park. Every day, Simon drifted around every corner of the road that took the life of the Kiwi rally car legend-turned-statue. Every day, I gripped the chest strap of my seatbelt while hoping that Possum's bronze simulacrum would halt our rolling vehicle when (not if, when) we went off the road.After a week and a half or so of white-knuckle come-to-Jesus sessions on the road to Snow Park, Simon, blinded by the setting sun, drove head-on into the SUV of an off-duty police officer. Lucky for everybody involved, both cars were traveling about 15 m.p.h. Lucky for Simon, the crash happened on what was likely the only non-drifted turn that he had made since he arrived in New Zealand. Lucky for me, the drives to the hill mellowed out considerably after that.
But Simon still loves to drive fast.