Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Road rally rakes in quarter-million

Porsche GT2 sets new rally record at 197 mph

Express Staff Writer

Former Indy car driver and Wood River Valley resident Johnny Unser was the featured celebrity for Saturday's Sun Valley Road Rally. Unser is shown here next to a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO owned by Hailey resident Steve Giacobbi. The Ferrari was one of 22 cars that competed in the rally and were on display prior to the event at River Run Lodge. Photo by Willy Cook

It seemed a normal summer Saturday morning in the Wood River Valley—majestic mountains, moderate cloud cover, mild temperatures, a bear spotted in Trail Creek at River Run, lots of bicycles and long lines at Java on Fourth.

What was not normal was the lineup of 22 fast cars at the River Run Lodge, parked there for people to inspect and query the drivers prior to the 2011 Sun Valley Road Rally north of Ketchum. The rally, raising funds for the Blaine County Community Drug Coalition, afforded owners of fast cars the opportunity to see what speeds they could reach on a three-mile stretch of state Highway 75, and all without police interference.

The top speed, setting a new rally record, was registered by Twin Falls driver Bob Shillington, who reached 197 miles per hour in a black 2008 Porsche GT2.

Drug Coalition Executive Director Terry Basolo said Tuesday that accounting is still underway for the event but "I would estimate a quarter of a million dollars was generated by all the weekend's events."

"The biggest excitement to us was being able to build it to a quarter of a million dollars," Basolo said. "It's just cool to have people value our work and to tie it together with our love of the American automobile into a real neat event."

This was the third year for the event. It raises money to help fund youth drug and alcohol prevention programs.

The cars

Parked at River Run was a mouth-dropping lineup of Ford GTs, brand new Porsches, Jaguars, Ferraris, new Ford Mustang GTs, a new Camaro, a Lotus Esprit, a Lamborghini and a few vintage racers, including a Cobra and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.

The Cobra and the Ferrari 250 GTO are owned by Hailey resident Steve Giacobbi, who also owns SB Manufacturing in Hailey.

Ross Coleman, a fabricator for SB Manufacturing, explained that the Cobra is a reproduction purchased as a kit from Kirkham Motorsports in Provo, Utah, while the Ferrari 250 GTO is an original racecar that was rebuilt by SB Manufacturing.

"We built those cars right in Hailey," Coleman said. "These are about as authentic as you can get."

Giacobbi, who drove both cars in the rally, told the Idaho Mountain Express that he generally likes to stay "low-key."

A sign in the window of the Ferrari advised that the car was "rebodied by SB Mfg. exactly as originally produced." It took 22 months and 5,000 hours to complete.

"I have a passion for these cars," Giacobbi said. "They're historic cars. They're certainly not the fastest—the technology has changed over the years—but in 1962 these were the cars to beat."

The Cobra recorded a top speed at the rally of 140 mph, while Giacobbi's Ferrari was clocked at 136 mph.

"Part of this is about preserving the art of hand-built old racecars," Giacobbi said. "See, you went and coaxed a story out of me anyway, didn't you."

The rally

Mountain Rides Transportation Authority provided shuttle bus service from River Run and north of the race site at Baker Creek. The race itself was held on Highway 75 along a three-mile stretch of road starting at Cathedral Pines and heading south. Traffic was delayed intermittently throughout the morning and early afternoon while heats of six cars made their runs.

Signs in Ketchum and north of Cathedral Pines warned motorists to expect delays for the charity race. Unlike a normal construction delay however, motorists mainly just got out of their cars to enjoy the day, meet new people and try to find out what was going on with the race.

Tom Joneston and his wife, from Twin Falls, were on their way to Stanley when they encountered a morning delay.


"It's a nice day, I'm not hurting too much," Joneston said. "I expected it, once I got to Ketchum. It would be fun to watch them. If I had a bicycle, that's what I'd be doing."

Nancy Kneeland, a member of the governing board for the Drug Coalition, and other volunteers walked up and down the highway explaining to people waiting the reason for the delay.

Adam Holt, from Mosier, Ore., was northbound to Galena Summit with some friends from Missouri. Kneeland told him he'd probably be delayed returning south if it was before 2 p.m.

"I knew it was going on," Holt said. "I didn't know they were stopping traffic altogether."

A spectator area was set up about midway through the racecourse, complete with bleachers, refreshments and a bouncy castle for the kids. About 700 people paid to watch from the spectator area, but hundreds more rode bicycles to the event or watched from campground entrances along the course.

The raffle

Tom Bailey, principal at Hailey Elementary School and president of the Drug Coalition governing board, was busy selling rally tickets and providing information at Baker Creek.

"It's been great so far; the gala last night was fantastic," Bailey said, referring to the dinner and receptions at Trail Creek Cabin in Sun Valley.

Bailey said about 800 tickets were sold for the Porsche raffle, for which the Drug Coalition purchased a 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid SUV for close to the retail price of $67,000 in hopes of selling enough tickets to make a profit. At $150 apiece, about 500 tickets needed to be sold for the non-profit organization to break even.

"The gamble paid off, definitely," Bailey said.

"It went crazy on the Internet that last day," Basolo said. "We were selling a ticket every 10 minutes."

The winning ticket was drawn at Friday night's festivities at Trail Creek Cabin. The winner was Jonathan Kingston, a photographer from Bend, Ore., with winning ticket number 152.

Cathedral Pines

Back on the highway, southbound traffic was stopped at Cathedral Pines. Many motorists simply shut off their vehicles and walked up to several hundred yards south to see the cars take off from the starting point.

The Jonestons, the couple from Twin Falls headed to Stanley, were spotted in the southbound crowd at the starting line.

"We could pull off easily, so we thought we'd get out and watch some cars," Joneston said. "We were playing it pretty lose today."

Charlie Crego was camping with family in the area.

"We're just down here camping and we heard the cars, so we though we'd come up and see what was going on," said Crego, a former Bellevue resident and Power Engineers electrical engineer who now lives in Hagerman.

George Scialabba, from Cambridge, Mass., said he had been vacationing in Stanley and didn't mind the wait along the highway.

"Not if it's for charity," he said. "Also, it's not a bad place to be delayed with all these beautiful mountains. This is my first time in Idaho. Yeah, I'm knocked out by it.

"If it weren't for a good cause, I'm sure people would be snorting and stomping," Scialabba said. "Besides, you're kind of in a good mood when you come down 75.

"Maybe you should speculate in your story why people want to go 190 mph," he said.

Terry Smith:

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