This fall CoolFords sponsored Matt Filkins of Grosse Ile, Michigan, and his co-driver Jordan Gougeon of MF Motorsports in their efforts to compete in the MotorCity Gumball Rally. Matt was also racing for the charity Lyme Earth, an organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for Lyme Disease.
Matt's sister suffers from Lyme Disease, so it is a cause very close to his heart. We asked Matt to give us the details of his experience racing the MotorCity Gumball Rally, and below his summary.
Day 1, Friday (Drivers Meeting)
As we walked into Friday evening’s drivers meeting, staff greeted the teams at a registration counter to take care of the final administrative items such as signing of liability waivers and turning in a copy of each drivers license and registration. Once the paper work was out of the way it was off to rummage through the “goody bag” full of swag while socializing with the other automotive enthusiasts over cocktails and appetizers.
You could feel the excitement in the room with all of the hand shaking and conversation taking place. Once all participants got settled in the MotorCity Gumball Rally staff began introductions, explanations of the rally rules, and a brief overview of how teams would check in and out of each checkpoint via QR code.
A few competitions within the rally were being held, one of them was the Facebook “like” competition. This was a competition for the most “likes” for a team page and an Escort 8500 radar detector was up for the taking. Our promotion of MF Motorsports and Lyme Earth had paid off at approximately 464 likes.
Day 2, Saturday
The excitement escalated Saturday morning as the rally participants began to arrive at the starting line located at Motor City Casino & Hotel. Teams were putting the finishing touches on their vinyl graphics, adjusting their GoPro cameras and scoping out competitor rides. Cars were released one by one and given a destination city and clue. From there it was up to each team to find specifically where the next destination would be.
The objective was to arrive at the next check point taking no longer or less than a vehicle that was traveling the speed limit. MF Motorsports initial strategy was to take three most likely traveled routes and average the time it should take to arrive. Once the time of travel was computed the driver would adjust speed in order to arrive at the desired time.
About half way through Day 1 of the rally our strategy changed to average the travel time of the most recommended route of three different internet maps. We stuck with this strategy throughout Day 1 as it seemed our best chance at earning the most check-point points. Certain check points also had challenges that were an opportunity to win points.
Day 1 challenges included a chipping contest at the first check point in Ann Arbor, a pylon weave where the driver controlled the clutch & throttle and the passenger controlled the steering in Lansing, and a “Drag Race” that involved the game of corn hole in Luther. After traveling to Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Luther the teams headed for the final check point of Day 1 at Crystal Mountain Resort.
Teams checked into their rooms and got ready for the evening festivities. MCGR put on a dinner at Crystal Mountain’s banquet center complete with a buffet of delicious food, a dj, and live entertainment. Some of the rally cars had been detailed and placed throughout the banquet hall prior to the participants’ arrival for dinner.
After dinner the MCGR organizers announced the current standings of the Rally. We were shocked to hear MF Motorsports was in 3rd place. The strategy implemented seemed to be working. We were front runners and the action packed day drained our team, so we headed off to get some much needed rest.
Day 3, Sunday
The alarm clock sounded way too early on Sunday morning, but it was time to get packed up and get the car filled up with gas before breakfast. After fueling up the #77 Ford Mustang and letting the local fuel station clerk get a picture or two of the car we headed back to the resort for a buffet style breakfast with the other Gumballers.
Conversation of last night’s festivities were discussed, it wasn’t hard to tell who had went to bed early and who made most of the night. It was decided that what we had done in day one was working and we would stick to our strategy. Matt manned the wheel while Jordan calculated routes and estimated the desired arrival times.
From Crystal Mountain we headed to Harrison, Pinconning, Owosso, Washington Township, Rochester and our final destination of Cauley Performance Automotive in West Bloomfield. Sunday’s challenges included a bean bag drop while zip lining and a scavenger hunt at a cider mill.
The zip line challenge did not go well which left critical challenge points on the line. Immediately after the zip line challenge we headed to Pinconning and ended up taking an expressway route instead of the back roads. This route was calculated to take longer than the back road route…which we found out after we had committed to this route.
We had to pick up speed in order to make the next check point on time. After stopping for a picnic style lunch in Owosso we headed to Southeastern Michigan. As we neared the final check point the stakes and adrenaline seemed to escalate. After checking into the finish line everyone began reminiscing on the weekends events that had already turned into fond memories.
The MCGR organizes handed out prizes for best ride, costume, and team as the final calculation of points was tabulated. The teams were announced from 10th place to 1st . When 1st Place was announced, we were shocked. #77 MF Motorsports had become the 2012 MotorCity Gumball Rally Champions! We were awarded $6,900 in prize money which we immediately announced would all be donated to the charity of Lyme Earth.
In addition, one of the other teams that were our wing men (so to speak) during the rally was running for “Save the Boobies”. Therefore, we personally donated another $500 to Susan G. Komen. Our goal moving forward is to run in other regional and national rallies to raise money and awareness for Lyme Earth. In addition, we will be back in 2013 to defend our title.
CoolFords had asked some questions mid way through the event, below is the correspondence:
COOLFORDS - Has your strategy changed from the beginning of Day 1 till the end of the day? If so, how?
MATT - Overall, our strategy has not changed throughout the day. We determined we would take the average of three mapped routes from checkpoint to checkpoint.
CF - Describe one crucial decision you wish you hadn't.
MATT - Stopping for gas during the shortest leg of day one.
CF - How are your tires gripping?
MATT - The Crest Ford Mustang is performing well. The Classic Design Concepts chin spoiler and read spoiler are really helping at speed.
CF - Do you feel your suspension is properly tuned for this rally? How would you tune it?
MATT - It is a stock set up and I noticed some squeaks during high revs. I would lower it in the future.
CF - Did you have close encounters (near collisions) with other teams?
MATT - No, except for at a stop sign when I thought the vehicle in front of me rolled out because I was paying attention to oncoming traffic.
CF - Will your strategy change for Day 2?
MATT - I don't think so.
CF - What was the fastest you have gone?
MATT - Triple digits.
CF - Have you evaluated the competition?
MATT - Yes, and there are some amazing vehicles. For example, the Porsche GT2, Nissan GT-R, BMW M6
CF - What are your strengths over the competition?
MATT - Consistency.
CF - Describe one moment on Day 1 that you will always remember.
MATT - Being passed by a Porsche going 178 mph.
CF - Did local police give you or other teams a hard time?
MATT - Yes, some of the other teams were pulled over. Apparently, someone called the state police in the rural areas, as they were waiting for several teams.
CF - What percentage of the rally on Day 1 was driving local and on highway?
MATT - 75 highway and 25 local.
Patrick Krupa Photography