News from the co-driver's seat

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another season over, and I'm thinking it's time to update this site. Had a good year in 2009 -- Travis and I won 6 out of 9 events, took second at STPR, rolled it at 100 Acre Wood, and I embarrassed myself pretty good at Colorado. Sorry Travis! But we won the championship regardless, the fourth in a row for Travis. LSPR was a blast, with no pressure and the leash off. Travis drove really well!

Monday, April 20, 2009

2009 and I'm back at it again. Travis asked and I said, "Absolutely, when do I need to be there?"

First three events of the season have been a mixed bag -- we won Sno*Drift, avenging the deer-induced loss at the beginning of 2008. Then we tried to keep up with Tigger at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, and, well, that ended up with a pretty hard roll on SS4. Eeyore!

And this past weekend at Olympus, we rallied back from fourth to claim another victory.

ACP leads the championship, thanks to his 2006-Travis-Pastrana-like consistency, but we're nipping at his heels now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Well, after nearly 10 years in the co-driver's seat, I've decided to hang up the helmet for a few months. My last event with Travis and Subaru Rally Team USA was the 2008 Sno*Drift rally, where Travis and I managed to, with the help of an errant deer, snatch defeat from the hands of almost assured victory. While it would have been nice to go out with a win, it was a good reminder of just how fickle rally is. And why we love that.

My grateful thanks to Subaru, Vermont SportsCar, James, Lance, and Travis for the opportunity they've afforded me over the last 4 years. And to Derek and Clint for being the best supervision any co- could ever hope for.

And my deep thanks and affection to the guys for always sending the car back out looking new, even when we brought it back looking like total shit. Special thanks to Gregg for the phone call to get that hose back on at Cog -- saved the season, it did. Seriously, you guys are the best crew in the world. Travis and I owe every success we've had to you.

So that's it. Hasta Pasta. This blog is done. For your fill of Christian Edstrom writing, turn to the pages of 0-60, or to the New York Times Auto section blog, Wheels.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Back from Argentina!

Oy, kids! Travis and I are back from Argentina.

And what a trip it was.

Started up with a little bit of recce in a rental 4x4 truck. Unfortunately the poor thing was pretty gutless so we had a bit of a struggle - the notes on the downhills were pretty good, but on the uphills, we marked almost every corner "flat out!" Not so in the rally car. Just kidding, we weren't that bad, but the lack of poke definitely made us stress out on the recce road sections.

Co-driver tip: The stages in Argentina are really rough! To write good notes on the recce, you really need a little table and some padding underneath it. The best way to accomplish this is to build yourself a recce table. Take a 3' x 4' piece of Coroplast and cut three sections from it that are approximately 19" x 14" each. You want two pieces along the grain and one across the grain. Now, paste them all together (across grain in the middle) with good rubber cement (McMaster-Carr) and round off the corners, especially the top left (so Mr. Driver doesn't cut his hand when shifting) and bottom right (so you don't scratch your arm). Finish off with a bit of duct tape edging and you're almost set. Last, pilfer a pillow from the hotel room and get a big ole binder clip. Place pillow on lap, place desk on pillow, binder-clip the road book to the top right corner of your desk, and you're ready for some recce fun! Remember to wear a long sleeve shirt on recce so you don't smudge the writing!

After that, we flew to Buenos Aires for the SSS at River Plate. I won't belabor that except to say that Jack Hitt's re-telling of "Peter Pan" on This American Life was both funnier and shorter. if you have no idea what I'm on about here!

After that experience, we went back to Cordoba and did a SSS there. Then we rallied some. Which went ok. Ish. Hit a water splash too hard on SS14 and the car sputtered and stumbled the rest of the stage. Lost more than a minute. Hit a bank on SS18 and broke a lateral link on the car. Had to drive 11km on that, and then change it on the side of the road. Lost like a minute, plus. Then on Sunday suffered a double front puncture 4km into SS20 and had to change it on stage. It took 5 minutes to change them, and we lost another 2 minutes driving slowly and trying to find a place to change them. All in all, a rough rally, but one that we were very very happy to finish without having to resort to SupeRally, as many did.

And on the plus side, now that we have notes, two higher-speed passes on the recce next year should make for nearly perfect notes, and should really allow us to attack 100%.

Next up, Olympus, weekend after this in Olympia, WA. This weekend, I'm going to Philly for a vacation. I'll be sure to let you know how the water ice (Hint: Say 'Whadder Iaice') is.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Take your kids to work day update!

Travis and I are off to Argentina tomorrow for the WRC round in Cordoba and Villa Carlos Paz. Rally Argentina should prove to be fun as the roads are rough and the field in Group N is very deep. Niall McShea will be there, as will young Swedish hotshot Patrik Flodin. Both guys we're looking forward to running against! The weather in Argentina has been unseasonably warm, so here's hoping that continues.

After Mexico, Travis and I went to the Vermont SportsCar shop to do a few tech days. We are now pretty handy at changing a TCA, tie-rod, or lateral link, as well as diagnosing odd noises. Not much use practicing changing other suspension parts than the above since it can't be done in under 30 minutes with the tools carried in the car. (If you are more than 30 minutes late for a control in a rally, you're excluded.)

Last weekend, we ran at the Oregon Trail Rally in Portland, OR. Unfortunately, we had a motor issue and were forced to retire after only 1.1 miles, which was a bit of a disappointment. But it was the first mechanical retirement we've ever had as a team so we aren't allowed to whine too much. Ken and Alex had a better weekend, grabbing second place and the championship lead.

This past week, I've been preparing recce plans for Argentina. On Tuesday night, I dropped in on the premiere of the new DC driving shoes in SoHo. Ken, Travis, and Rob Dyrdek were signing autographs. I was drinking (free) Amstel. I am ok with this division of labor.

Ok, with that, I'm signing off for now and doing some vacuuming. Then packing and off to South America. Many thanks to Billy Deakins and the whole crew at Alpinestars for all their help this week! And to Brian Scotto for showing me how much fun Long Island can really be. If you haven't been to yet, I'm not sure we can be friends any longer. Seriously.

Will try to send the next dispatch from the land of the clockwise flush!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A very quick summary of our weekend in Mexico

I stole the following from a post I made on NASIOC. It's a quick summary of the weekend in Mexico, and I thought some of you might enjoy it:

Sunday - flew to BJX via IAH. Arrived 5pm. 86 degrees out. Picked up rental cars and drove to airport. Had dinner with KB, AG, TP at a (shocking!) Mexican restaurant. Skyped home. Early to bed.

Monday - Up early. Went to Gr.N test arranged by STi. Met Risto Pietilainen and Denis Giraudet. Caught up with Mark Higgins, Dan Barritt, and Nasser. Drove some test stages to test damper and diff settings. Ate hamburgers grilled by George Donaldson of STi and Colin of WRC radio. The boys were slinging 160 burgers in a day; impressive! Back to the hotel. Early dinner. Final prep of notes for recce and discussion re recce support with JB and AG.

Tuesday - Up super early. At first recce stage at 6:37. First car there. Yes! In about two minutes OMV Bixxol Hungary team shows up then KB, AG and all the rest. They let us out at 6:57 and TP and I are first car on SS19. Was first stage we recced in 2006 and we quickly realize notes suck. Ruh-roh! Clean up as best we can and do two quick passes. Also realize that Dodge Durango is WAAAAAY too heavy and crappy to be a good recce vehicle. Thankfully, we'll have a Spec. C recce car in Argentina! Recce recce recce until late in the evening. Meet up with JB after each loop of stages to consume tuna on bread, trailmix, powerbars, Diet Coke, and Red Bull. Notes much better after SS19. Thinking we're not as terrible at this as we thought! Spend all night cleaning up the notes until exactly 0:00. Do not finish. At 0:00 go to bed regardless. This turns out to be the best decision I made all week.

Wednesday - Up super early again. Recce recce recce. All a big blur. Finally recce the SSS. Finish. Good news. It's only 18:00. Go to SWRT PR event with Travis and the boys. Drink bottled water in a corner. Totally excellent. Ditch ASAP to go work on notes. Eat chicken soup at VIPS with AG. Work on notes until 0:00. Do not finish. Go to bed.

Thursday - Up sort of early to get to Shakedown at 10:00. Find out SD is delayed until 10:30. Go through FIA fuel up process and get to SD start at 10:30. Wait to start until 11:45 as WRC cars are cutting in front of the line etc. Hang out and meet Martin Rauam and Kristo Kraag and Andreas Aigner and Klaus Wicha. Seb Loeb comes by to speak to Travis, right as we need to pull forward, so I basically instruct Travis to drive over Sebastien. Oooops. Not good. Marshalls finally get control and send us out in order. Do two quick loops of the shakedown and confirm the following -- 1) The SD is not very representative of the stages and yes, it's a Gr.N car. 2) Boy, we are losing time to the fast boys (Toshi, Mark). Go back to the service park, refuel, the car, waste a few hours there. Get dressed for the ceremonial start. JB drives us to the holding area in Silao. Huge crowd. Sign autographs and pose for photos. Travis disappears to use bathroom. Hang out with the usual kids. Start to wonder where TP is. Hang out some more. Team manager asks about TP. Call TP on mobile. Found out he's ordering a sandwich. Instruct TP to return to car ASAP. TP sad as was hungry. Remind self to pack sandwich for ceremonial start in Argentina. Drive rally car to Guanajuato. Hang out in alley and talk to Rauam/Kraag who are totally cool guys. Go over ceremonial start. See the governor of Guanajuato. See a load of screaming fans. Almost get lost on way to 3rd ceremonial start. Find 3rd ceremonial start. See Wagonmonster. Go over 3rd ceremonial start. Drive back to Leon. Almost fall asleep on transit. Put the thing into overnight service area. Go to hotel. Skype home. Try to fall asleep. Try again.

Friday - Up early. Call TP. Get to service park early. Settle nerves. Review notes, fuel figures etc. Ok, time to go. Get in car. Quick transit to first stage. SS1 - good pace feels good - spin 200 meters from finish line. Go over small cliff. Costs us 17 seconds. Crap! Long transit to 2. Do front to rear tire swap. SS2 - mega fast sorta scary. Decide to ease off a bit. SS3 no issues. Long transit to service. 30 minute service, no drama. SS4 repeat of SS1. Tire swap on the transit. SS5 - mega fast again. Lots of drama. Off in a ditch on the codriver side twice in three corners. Absolute miracle no punctures. Check tires on right side. Front has a sidewall cut, but we leave it on for tire management purposes. Rear has been knocked off the bead but is holding air. SS6 is mega fast, so we decide to change the rear. Put on a spare, which we'll have to run on Sunday, but SS6 is only 17km so no worries. SS6 no drama. Transit to SSS. SSS two runs against Nutahara. Lose both - the bloody Mitsu is fast! Transit back to service. Handshakes all around. Did what we had to to get our feet wet. Dinner at VIPS with Travis. Review notes for Saturday. Off to bed.

Saturday - We know our notes this day are not as good as our notes on 1/4, 2/5 and 3/6, so we expect to fall off the pace a bit. Also, we know the front runners will push hard. Do 9,10,11. Car feels perfect. See Andrew Harvey on SS10 on a cliff side. Cool. Go into midday service. Service. Eat at PWRC catering. It is awesome. Awesome. Come out of midday service and have a wicked loud banging on front right. Call the boys on the mobile and talk. Have to stop immediately and investigate. Full spanner check at a Pemex on route. No issues found on front right, but now well late. Drive like batshit to get to control, but encounter traffic and check in 1m late. Hey - I've taken roadpoints at a WRC event. Sa-weet. Absolutely soaked in sweat, start stage 12. Decent time, all things considered, but we're swamped now.

Finish SS12. Have a look at the car before 13 and realize that one of the bolts holding the rotor to the hat has sheared and is hitting the caliper intermittently. Remove bolt. No more noise. Excellent. Run SS13 and SS14 and SSS. Start hearing bad chatter from rear of car. Frankly, at this point, the car is making all sorts of noise we've never heard in a rally car before. And we've now blown the 2nd damper of the event!!! Call boys. Go to service. Boys service car - decide to replace rear diff. Put car in Parc Ferme. With Nutahara having to take SupeRally to change the gearbox, now have a lock on 5th with an 8:47 lead down to Vojtech and a 2:34 deficit to Mirco Baldacci if we can nurse this thing to the finish. Oh, yeah, talk to Kristo and find out that he and Martin are out. Bad diff, I think. Too bad, as they are super nice guys and deserve a good clean run. Definitely guys we will enjoy hanging out with for the rest of the year.

Sunday - Bad dreams, nay NIGHTMARES all night. Totally stressed out. Must get car to finish. Awake early. By now, checking in and out of controls at WRC level is just as second nature as at Ojibwe, for instance. Pull up to start at SS17. Huge clump of Travis fans. One girl wants to kiss Travis for good luck, while one kid who runs toward the car is so enthusiastic he scares a cop and gets pummelled in a ditch. Once he's up and the cop lets him go, he's at the window too. Run SS17. No drama. SS18, no drama. SS19, no drama - except we see a naked guy 800m from the end. Wow, didn't need that. Finish SS19 with brakes on fire, though. Road section to SSS. Loooooong wait at SSS where we hang out with Stepan Vojtech and Michal Ernst (who looks a lot like Ralph Fiennes). Nice guys and terrors on tarmac, but this wasn't their weekend, for sure. Michal and I extend mutual invitations to NYC and Prague. Drivers talk about... well, whatever those types usually grunt about.

Run SSS against Vojtech (I think). On second lap, braking from tar into gravel, Travis mis-shifts, and we get a wicked noise from the rear. Rear diff or driveshaft definitely gone. Nurse the car through the SSS, losing by 40 seconds (not that it matters). Ease it back to service, talking to boys on phone all the way. This should have been a triumphant transit - instead it's worry worry worry about if we get car home. Get car into service. Get weighed. Go over ceremonial finish ramp. Wave to fans. Put car in Parc Ferme. Go sign autographs and hang out with marshals, teammates, new friends until 4pm.

Travis, Alex, Ken, and I with Maria Jose and Alejandra, who were responsible for event PR.

Can't believe it's over. Review split times and recognize exactly what we have to work on for Argentina. Return to hotel and realize laptop, video camera, and $400 in cash gone missing from room. Resolve with hotel, credit card companies for 3 hours. Go have a drink with the team. Go to rally party. Have a few drinks and talk rally technology with a bunch of British men (Hi Reg and Johnny - good to see you!). Return to hotel. Sleep. Pack. Breakfast with Mark Williams and TP. Drive to airport with MW, TP, and Brian Scotto, our embed. Suffer long wait in BJX for delayed flight to IAH. Sit with Scotto on flight to IAH and laugh ass off as usual. Seriously the funniest man in America.

Oh yeah, our next event is the Oregon Trail Rally, and then almost straight to Rally Argentina.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Goals achieved in Mexico.

Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico - Travis and I finished 5th in Group N at our first WRC Event. While we didn't have quite the pace we need to compete for the win (yet), we drove a smart, clean race, and had only one tire problem while our competitors had punctures front and rear, which was enough for fifth. Our race wasn't without drama, however. We had to replace the rear differential on the Saturday evening service and broke either the gearbox or rear diff on the last stage, and just managed to nurse the car back to the finish line.

Our next race is in Portland Oregon, on April 20-22, 2007, in Hillsboro, OR.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Pastrana/Edstrom take 2nd on 100 Acre Wood.

Salem, MO - Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino simply ran away this weekend at the 100 Acre Wood rally! Congrats to them on a dominating win.

Travis and I made some very good changes on the notes during the 100AW recce and were all set for a good start to the rally, but we had a few niggling issues on Friday night which didn't leave us 100% comfortable with the car or with attacking full-out. The car felt just a little bit down on power, and seemed to have some issues with oversteer, too. We fixed them at the service, but it wasn't the best night for us. Meanwhile, Ken and Alex started out of the gate as if chased by a bear. Apparently, they don't know that if you're chased by a bear, you're supposed to drop on the ground, roll into a ball, and protect your neck and head. We ended up in 4th place at the end of Friday night, just off the podium, behind Block, Ramana Lagemann and ACP, so it's no mystery what we had to do on Saturday.

Saturday proved better for us, with a change in the weather coming as an interesting surprise, and our car working 100% again. We set some good stage times on the first few stages and at the start of SS7 we had a funny little moment with a camera guy who was positioned on the outside after a R5 in a 150 R5 180 section. Travis and I had marked the corner as nearly flat out in the recce, so we planned to use 99.9% of the road. And we did, much to the cameraman's chagrin! He was pretty brave but dove into the (very wet) woods at the last minute. I think we must have missed the tripod by a good foot or two. Right, Travis? We passed ACP on Saturday morning, and with Ramana going out with engine problems, Saturday afternoon was a game of chess, driving just fast enough to stay ahead of ACP while taking the minimum risks. Travis did great, though I think he'd have been eager to chase Ken, too.

Anyway, with a 1st at Sno*Drift and a 2nd at 100AW, Travis and I are now the only team to podium at both events, and have a 39 to 30 lead in the championship over Ken and Alex. So congrats to them on a fine event. Let's hope they don't do this too often!
Next Sunday, we're off to Mexico. If you're down there, stop by and say hello!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pastrana/Edstrom set to compete on 100 Acre Wood

Salem, MO - The stage is set for another good battle at the Rally of the 100 Acre Wood, this weekend. Travis and I are here in Salem already, prepared to complete the one-pass recce tomorrow, and to start the race on Friday. We're pretty confident about our chances here, but Block, Foust, Pinker, O'Sullivan, Choinere, Iorio, ACP, and Lagemann ought to be fighting for podium positions as well. Predicting the top three will be a big job, but as always, I think the key is to drive a sensible race, make sure not to make any big errors, protect the car, and conserve tires. If we manage to do that, we should be in the fight on Saturday night.

100AW is the first Rally America event this year to feature one-pass recce (recconaissance), which allows the drivers one pass over the roads to correct and refine the organizer's notes provided by Rally America. The Maine Forest Rally 2006 was the first rally to offer one-pass recce, and it really worked well, and offered a very competitive event. I think it's a real step forward for the sport, and I hope that we'll see at least 50% of organizers offer one-pass recce in 2008. I'd like to thank the 100AW organizers for stepping up and trying it this year.

After 100AW, I'm headed home to NYC for a week, and then Travis and I and the team are off to compete at WRC Mexico. If you haven't checked out the competition in PWRC this year, you should - the field is stacked with talent - Mark Higgins, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Toshi Arai, Juho Hanninen, Kristian Sohlberg, Anton Alen, Patrik Flodin, Fumio Nutahara and on and on. It's the best year for PWRC in ages and it's exciting to dip our toes in the water and see how we stack up. I think Mexico might be a rude awakening, but then, as Mr. Pastrana says, "Once we find out where we are, then we improve from there."

But first, 100AW and a US field that has at least 8 contenders vying for podium spots. Let's hope everybody keeps their noses clean and that it's a big fight to the finish!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pastrana/Edstrom win first event of 2007 Rally-America season

Atlanta, MI - Subaru Rally Team USA driver and defending Rally America National Champion Travis Pastrana has won the Sno*Drift Rally, Round 1 of the 2007 Rally America National Championship. The 23 year-old Subaru Impreza WRX STI driver overcame pressure from a stacked field of veteran drivers to win by a mere six seconds. Pastrana's Subaru Rally Team USA teammate Ken Block finished the event 6th Overall. Travis and Christian beat Tanner Foust and Scott Crouch by only 6 seconds to take first, and Andy Pinker and Robbie Durant rounded out the podium.

Photo: Lars Gange - -

Monday, January 1, 2007 debuts updated News format

New York, NY - In order to provide more timely news and behind-the-scenes updates, I've decided that the news page is changing to a blog format. That'll allow me to update the site via email and mobile devices and provide immediate breaking news directly from events. With the increased amount of time on the road in 2006, and the increasing number of international events, I thought that was the only way to ensure updates in a reasonably timely fashion. Hopefully, this format will also encourage readers to comment and ask questions.

I've updated the past Subaru Rally Team USA news to the new format as well.

And please take this opportunity to visit the Fans of Christian Edstrom. The site run by a couple of fiercely independent fans, and I have no editorial control of the content or style but, well, you have to admire their tenacity and ardor:

Photo: Lars Gange - -

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pastrana/Edstrom sign new contract with Subaru and are headed to WRC

Burlington, VT - Subaru Rally Team USA announced today that it will enter its 23 year-old star rally driver, Travis Pastrana, in select World Rally Championship events in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In addition to defending his Rally America title in 2007, Pastrana will drive a Subaru Impreza WRX STI–based rally car in three World Rally Championship (WRC) events in the Group N class. Then in 2008 and 2009 SRT-USA will officially enter Pastrana in the Production World Rally Championship (P-WRC), a support series that runs concurrent with the top tier World Rally Championship. Christian will be co-driving for Travis in both the 2007 Rally America Championship, and also in the selected WRC events.

Earlier in the month, Travis and Christian wrapped up another victory at the rain-shortened Wild West Rally on December 1-3, 2006 in Olympia, WA. Patrick Richard and Mark Williams took 2nd and SRTUSA teammates Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino took 3rd place and 2nd place in the 2007 Rally America championship.

Photo: Lars Gange - -

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pastrana/Edstrom are 2006 Rally America National Champions

Houghton, MI - Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana has secured the Overall Driver's title of 2006 Rally America National Championship by finishing third at the Lake Superior Performance Rally. Pastrana held a strong lead in the championship coming into the event this weekend and needed only a 6th place or better to mathematically secure the title. However, Pastrana's chief rival Matt Iorio crashed out of the rally early on Friday thus handing Pastrana the title with day two of the rally, as well as the final round of the season still to come. The event was won by Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino.The team's final event of the season is the Wild West Rally on December 1-3, 2006 in Olympia, WA.

Photo: Lars Gange - -

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Three in a Row! Pastrana/Edstrom Win Colorado Cog Rally

Steamboat Springs, CO - Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana and his co-driver Christian Edstrom have won the Colorado Cog Rally, Round 7 of the Rally America National Championship. The 22 year-old freestyle motocross legend and rising rally star won eight of the fifteen competition stages and claimed victory in his 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car. This marks Pastrana's third rally win in a row after winning Gold at the X Games Rally then claiming victory at last month's Ojibwe Forest Rally. Travis and Christian need now only score a sixth place finish at either of the final events of the season to win the Rally America Championship.

The team's next event is the Lake Superior Rally on October 20-21, 2006 in Houghton, MI.

Photo: Ivy Pool

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bemidji, MN - Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom have won the Ojibwe Forests Rally, Round 6 of the 2006 Rally America National Championship. With this win, Travis and Christian are firmly in the lead of the Rally America Championship, with 91 points to 59 points for the second-place driver, Matt Iorio. The win was Travis and Christian's first overall Rally America series win.

The team's next event is the Colorado Cog Rally on September 20-22, 2006 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Photo: Lars Gange - -

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Pastrana/Edstrom Win Rally Gold at X Games 12

Los Angeles, CA - The first ever X Games Rally has ended in spectacular fashion with Travis Pastrana edging out WRC legend and Subaru teammate Colin McRae to win Gold at the wheel of his BFGoodrich Tires shod Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car. But it was Colin McRae who stole the show after he rolled his Sobe No Fear Subaru on the final jump of the course, landed on his wheels and drove to the finish for the Silver Medal. Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block, and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino, netted 3rd and the Bronze Medal. The event was broadcast live on ABC and thrilled thousands of new fans at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. It was a clean sweep for Subaru and Vermont SportsCar as all three cars on the podium were Vermont SportsCar prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars.

Photo: Lars Gange - -


Email: Christian