Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Rhode Island based Tag Rally Sport (TRS) is a family-owned and operated rally team created by rookie rally driver Tracey Gardiner from North Providence, RI and co-driver Maureen Hascher from Akron, OH as a way to share resources and advocate for all-female rally competition.
In TRS’s first season in the Rally America National Championship the pair enjoyed working with friends and family to get them to the finish line, but they also observed other grassroots rally teams doing what they can to run rally events on tight budgets.
With Gardiner’s husband, Alan Gardiner, a longtime rally follower himself from Ireland who serves as crew chief, TRS concocted an idea to offer complimentary service area to other teams like themselves at Round 5 of the Rally America National Championship, the New England Forest Rally (NEFR), which was based at the Sunday River Resort in Newry, Maine.
“The desire came from wanting to help other teams and share resources,” said Tracey Gardiner, “It’s our contribution towards building a solid grassroots base for the sport.”
In exchange for the complimentary service provided by TRS, team members from the other start-up teams would need to agree to wear TRS T-shirts at the event and display TAG Rally Sport logos on their rally cars.
Six teams took TRS’s offer, including the Gardiners own 20 year-old son Rory Gardiner, to make TRS the largest rally team with seven cars total at the New England Forest Rally representing 14% of the entry field.
At the NEFR single service area located at the Sunday River Resort at the base of astounding mountain peaks the Gardiners prepared for the sheer size of preparing a seven car field in the midst of mid-summer heat wave and high humidity levels. The logistics of servicing seven cars with just eight crewmembers added to the complication.
Says Tracey Gardiner, “Fortunately the teams were staggered so we can concentrate on each one-at-a-time and none really had a major repair.”
One team taking advantage of the complimentary service offered by TRS at this event was that of Chris Duplessis from nearby Bethlehem, NH. Duplessis, a two-time Rally America 2WD National Champion, driving a 2012 Ford Fiesta R2, was leading the 2012 Rally America 2WD Championship heading into this event where he was hoping to lock up the 2WD Class Championship.
Duplessis was happy to join TRS knowing that the help of an additional service crew could make the difference between him securing the 2WD Rally America National Championship or sitting on the side of the road.
Fortunately, Duplessis ran a clean rally and as a result, didn’t require any major service on his Fiesta during the event. Following the rally, Duplessis quickly stated, “Tag Rally Sport was just amazing! Their support was essential to me finishing the 2012 New England Forest Rally and being that they’re a family team made it even better.”
Ultimately, TRS was proud to be part of the effort that helped Duplessis finish the New England Forest Rally second in class and sixth overall. Although Duplessis wasn’t able to wrap up the 2WD National Championship as he had hoped, he did manage to make it harder for his closest rival, Andrew Comrie-Picard to mount a 2WD comeback going into the final event of the season at the Olympus Rally, which will take place in Olympia, Washington in late September.
Rory Gardiner’s broken control arm ended up being the only major repair for TRS’s service crew to repair. Rory Gardiner, with the help of TRS, has now successfully completed the four rally events he’s started and has handled tenuous situations with the skill of a seasoned veteran.
See a viral video of Rory Gardiner’s steering wheel coming off in the middle of a stage: www.youtube.com/watch
As a result, he currently leads his mother by nine points in the 2012 Rally America Eastern Regional Rally Championship with 19 points.
Says Tracey Gardiner of her son Rory, “Youth is on his side. He’s not as cautious as I would often be.” After stumbling early in the season, Tracey has also shown continued improvement in her own driving abilities though and was excited to finish fourth in class at this years New Hampshire Regional Rally.
Also joining the two Gardiners and Duplessis in the TRS service area was Peter Nelson from North Providence, RI, Martin Egan from Quincy, MA, Kris Gove from Cranston, RI, and Michael Cosgrove from Pearl River, NY.
Servicing the seven cars was a tight ballet with only eight crewmembers, but the Tag Rally Sport team was happy to accept the challenge in the spirit of camaraderie and the common goal of getting each vehicle to the finish.
When all was said and done, TRS could also boast of assisting Martin Egan and his co-driver Jarrah Lankas to a New Hampshire Regional Rally overall win in their 2002 Subaru WRX STI.
“The whole TRS crew, along with Wicked Innovation who prepare and maintain my car, were essential to us as they helped immensely in keeping us on the road on time and laughing,” added Egan, “Tracey and Alan made sure everyone felt part of the team!”
The Gardiners plan to offer the same type of combined service support at future Rally America events – within reason. They want to continue to help as many teams as possible, but they also want to be able to offer the proper support needed to give start-up teams like theirs the boost necessary to achieve their goals.
Although the sport of rally can be difficult to compete in at times with limited resources and access to outside support, teams like Tag Rally Sport are finding creative means in which to help overcome those obstacles while helping others to achieve their goals.
As such, Rally America salutes Tracey, Alan and Rory Gardiner and Tag Rally Sport for their efforts, and for supporting other teams in the Rally America Regional and National Championships!
Photo 1: Nemesis Photo
Photo 3: Pete Kuncis