The 2016 Alcan 5000 Winter Rally is 4,700 miles of insanity through through frozen Alaska. And two guys from Oregon have decided to drive north and tackle it in their 2011 MINI Countryman. This is where we hand it over to the Alcan MINI team and let them tell us about the car and the adventure they’re about to
Winter has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and racing season is coming to an end, but while most folks are putting their race cars in the garage for the off season, a couple of guys from Oregon are doing just the opposite.
Racing comes in many forms and for Bobby Danger and Joshua Murray from Bend Oregon, that form is a 5000 mile Winter Rally from Washington State to Alaska. Its called the Alcan 5000 Winter Rally and it’s an event held just once every 4 years. A limited number of vehicles, usually around 30, get to spend 9 days driving the roads of Canada’s, British Columbia, Alberta, Northern and Yukon Territories before entering Alaska where the finish lines lies in Anchorage.
So when does all this take place? Well in the middle of winter of course, because driving it in the summer would be a trip even the Griswold’s could probably manage. But there are no “Wagon Queen Family Trucksters” here (at least none on the official entry page). What there is are a hand full of Subarus, Audis and BMW SUV type vehicles, and even a couple Jeep Wranglers are signed up. They are all good contenders. What Josh and Bobby have chosen is a more unique ride in the form of a MINI Cooper Countryman, dubbed the #ALCANMINI. Sure, its got all wheel drive, but it probably wouldn’t be the car of choice for most people heading north to face unpredictable winter blizzards, navigate drifting snow and wild moose, all while crossing frozen ocean and mountain passes.
Now the MINI Countryman ALL4 is a quite capable car factory equipped, but as long time motorsports enthusiasts and self declared car guys, they have decided to make it a little more “Rally”. What does that mean? Well, bigger tires are a good start, and to accommodate the bigger tires the AlcanMINI will require some increased clearance,and suspension travel. A custom valved and height adjustable suspension system is in the works right now Lets not forget some underbody protection to keep all the parts safe from whatever the Alcan highway has to offer and the addition of some cold weather parts because it’s going to be cold, really, really cold.
The AlcanMINI build is a work in progress and with the race coming up in less than 3 months there is much work and testing to be done. We mentioned the motorsports background of these 2 fellas but neither has any experience with this type of rally event. Both Josh and Bobby have many years of track, road race and hillclimb experience but this is going to be their first major assault on an off road adventure of this magnitude. Central Oregon is a great testing ground and already a quality dose of snow covers the many miles of backcountry roads they plan to explore with the AlcanMINI prior to the event.
Self described on the official web site the “Alcan pursues the original idea of rallying as a grand tour, motoring adventure, and gentleman’s sport.” Most days will consist of driving on a set route to a daily destination. There will be TSD (time speed distance) sections which will require each team to leave and arrive at check points along the way on a strict schedule. The idea being to prove accuracy with both navigating and time management. There will also be a couple of ice slaloms staged along the way which offer a chance to gain extra points or to perhaps make up for points lost elsewhere. As the race progresses further north the challenges will vary more on what mother nature decides to throw at you. The simple logistics of 600 miles a day of driving will take its tolls on the drivers and the vehicles. There is no doubt that there will be challenges that no one is prepared for . Much like endurance racing, just finishing will be considered a success.
We invite you to follow along with us as we post regular updates before the start and daily updates during the event.
Here are some of the facts:
– Dates. February 25 – March 4, 2016
– Start. Kirkland Washington
– Finish. Anchorage Alaska
– Total miles. 4540
– The Car. 2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4.
– Hashtag: #AlcanMINI”