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I promised that I would tell how it went at the Neste Rally in Jyvaskyla, Finland this year. I really got into rally after playing way too much RallySport on the XBOX and so did my 3 year old boy Henri. We decided that we wanted to also see the real-deal and this was our second time down to one of the biggest events Finland has to offer (along with the wife-carrying contest, the sitting-in-the-sauna contest and the boot-throwing contest).

First off, Henri really enjoyed himself as he is a big car-enthusiast.

The first day was spent roaming around the pits of the various car companies that compete in one of the biggest rally races there is. This is a great place to go and see all the work it takes to get cars ready for rallying.

Here we have Ford, Peugeot, Subaru, and Skoda. If you look at the last photo, you can see the cell-phone attached to the dash. I thought that was funny. “Hello? Mom? ... this isn't a good time.”

The Finnish rally is FAST! At some points they hit 180km/hour all on a dirt road. The object is to first - finish the race! You have a lot of stages throughout the day and your car has to make it through them all. You cannot fix the car in between stages, so if you smash into a tree or something - it is goodbye! There was one bad accident this year as there was a bunch of 20-year olds that were way too close to the track. The car coming hit the ravine and flew into the crowd. There happened to be a TV camera man there while this happened and they showed it over and over on TV. One of the guys in the crowd wasn't so lucky as you see him running (for his life) and the twirling car is chasing him down. The car hits a tree that is probably 10 inches across. The tree breaks and hits the running man, knocking him down. Then the tree rolls to the side. THEN the car flops right on top of him (upside down). It wasn't good.

This years winner was Marcus Gronholm of Peugeot (a Finn)!

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He was rather superb and at one point, his car's fourth gear wasn't working. Wow! Overall is was an exciting event and I will definitely do it again next year.

Second place winner was Markko Martin from Estonia (last years winner) and after all the tracks - he was only 34 seconds behind the winner. It is such a close race and there is no margin for error. ** Markko's car is the Ford car in the photo above.

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Besides that - vacation was great. Some interesting side notes about my trip:

* On the plane ride from Helsinki to Jyvaskyla on a small, small plane - I sat with Carlos Santana's band. Really! They were heading up to play in a music festival. I sat with the keyboardist and we talked about a lot of things: how much he likes fishing, playing music and how mp3s suck and more. It was a fun conversation.

* On the plane ride from London to Cincinnati, I sat next to a Kato look-alike who is a cosmetic dentist and did the twin boys on MTV who wanted to look Brad Pitt. Another interesting conversation.

* In Göteborg, Sweden I had to go to the bathroom at the airport and the only bathrooms were co-ed bathrooms. Now that was different. As much as I travel - things still surprise - which I guess is a good thing.

Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 10:47 AM Social Life | Back to top

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