RallyCross Spotlight: Kory Nelson

Portland RallyCross® racer Kory Nelson traveled to Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas to field his 1992 Eagle Talon in the 2017 DirtFish SCCA® RallyCross Central National Challenge. While enjoying brilliant spring sunshine, he went on to take second place in Modified – All Wheel Drive behind Janis Dancis of Denver, Colorado in his Mitsubishi EVO.


“Everybody in the pits was just as friendly and helpful as they are at home. The competition stayed out on course and didn’t reach into our personal interactions,” said Nelson. He found the competition to be similar to that at home, attributing this to the strength of the competitors in the Pacific Northwest, most notably last year’s National Champion, Bryan Rodgers, who races in Oregon and Washington. “The vibe was just as fun as our local events and not entirely about winning.”


Nelson didn’t need much of that help from his fellow competitors after an offseason that included many upgrades to his car. With a new transmission, suspension and other assorted goodies, “All four wheels were grabbing hard and the car ran great.” Unfortunately, a poor tire choice early on Saturday set him back. Figuring the surface would be quite soft once the field worked through the grass, he went with his best rubber for mud. Instead, the surface held up.


After changing what he could before Sunday, he began to make up the six seconds between him and eventual winner Dancis, but with only five laps to close the gap, it proved to be too much. “The new suspension handled the big stuff amazingly well and the motor pulled strong, but it was clear I wasn’t going to catch the leader. Knowing that I’d have to hit a lot of cones to lose second, I chose to overdrive the car on the last lap to get to know the new setup as best I could.”


Nelson also noted the amenities and professionalism of the event, attributing them to help from title sponsor DirtFish. “There was an arch at the start, an RV for officials, a sound system for announcements and live timing via the SCCA RallyCross app. Race management was very professional and staging, start order and work assignments were closely monitored.”


While temperamental Kansas spring weather temporarily postponed the event, excellent race day conditions combined with fun people and good competition made for a successful first national race for Nelson.

Michel Strickland

Kory, I have not had the chance to meet you yet, but I am proud to be from your region!  I really was impressed with the thoroughness of your post and the lack of hesitation you have in making laudatory comments.  It is often a very thankless job to stand in the rain so others can have fun and I don't think we can thank our volunteers enough.  The extra things which make it go well are the loudspeakers, the timing equipment, the central location for the officials and yes, the Arch for all to pass under.  The welcoming spirit of fellow SCCA members has not changed in all the years I have been away racing motorcycles and cars in different sanctioning bodies and on different continents in my military career.  I honestly can say that while the spirit of competition on I found on other continents was always very congenial, it was not really like my experiences in the either the automobile sanctioning bodies or the AMA.  It may be that my facility with the different languages was really the basis of that assumption and that is what I will pin the very few and very slightly diminished, yet quite memorable experiences on.

I drove in many rallies in Europe, specifically Germany while I was stationed there in the '70s and was one of about only 8 or 9 US Service personnel who were allowed to join the 1200 member Mannheimer Auto Club (if I am even remembering the name correctly.  Actually, I am old enough to be authorized to be confused.)  Rallies in those days were nothing like today's with cars going airborne over a blindsided hillock with a few hundred spectators dodging around.

Some things I will never forget such as our club day at Nurburgring on the North Loop and having fellow club members dial in my suspension for me.  These were members with whom I had never even exchanged a handshake but had followed me on the course and made astute observations which were beyond my ability.  Between the two who were acting individually and really first met each other while on their backs under my car while it was on jack stands - they rebuilt and changed the oil and valving in all four Konis, traded springs with me for ones thy had which would serve me better, changed the alignment for more camber and adjusted the steering wheel so it was on top dead center when the car was going straight instead of being one spline off.  They were also very patient in schooling me on the fine art of line finding as we shared many drawings in the dirt and what little common language we could muster.  I stayed in contact with them both for several years.

I was lucky enough to have happened upon a 1972 911S Targa I bought from the Factory after taking the tour and finding out they had one, just one, with American specifications available.  In those days, Porsche dealers in the states most likely did not have a single new Porsche in stock as the practice was to have the buyer order the car, pay for it, and then wait months until it was built to their specifications and shipped to their dealer in the States who was most often also a VW dealer.  This car's purchaser, who of course never took delivery and registered it, decided along the way to change his order in some way and the car ended up sitting all lonely and being loved from a distance.  I asked my wife how we could live with ourselves if we turned our backs on this poor car which was being sold for over a thousand less than one we might order.  No European was going to buy it with American specs and the price took it out the reach of 70% of the US Service personnel.  Suddenly, every pushup I had done in Officer's Candidate School took on a whole new meaning of opportunity!  That car and about a dozen others I owned back in those heady days of now very classic steel and iron are so missed by me and my financial standings.  Alas...  I waxed boringly....   

Now, to do my best to "unsteal" this thread...

I share your feelings about the members I have met in our region and I look forward to getting dirty in a good off road rally soon.  I returned to SCCA first with an Autocross at Portland International Raceway and was greatly impressed by camaraderie of everyone as half of the drivers put in a half of days work so the other half can compete and then the switch over.  Dan Burris and his club members were all very kind and helpful to me and it gave me a great shove in the right direction.  My next encounter was a two day Road Race event (where my heart really lives) and I had a chance to put my 1966 Mustang through it's first Tech Inspection.  While I had many faults which needed correcting, I was carefully, patiently and fully taken through the very important task of being ready to be safe.  I'll think about being competitive after I know I feel safe as well as those sharing the track with me.  The rain was no friend to any of us over those two days, but much knowledge and clarification was provided by those loaded with the specifics.  Even an instructor spoke to me after the event to make sure I was clear on a couple of pointers.  Actually, I should have kept myself off the track during the competition as the engine turned out not to be as broken as I thought it would have been as indicated by the cylinder compression readings telling me the rings were not seated and I went into competition with an RPM limit not to exceed which made me very uncompetitive on an already wet and already intensified track.  I have not see Aaron Bucemi since that day to thank him for his concerns for my safety and the safety of others.  He was very kind and very informative and very correct!  Yet another member to hold in very high regard!

I cannot stop without mentioning the brigade of volunteers who handled the traffic routing, the waiver signing the registration, the organizing of the grid and so many other important things all done with smiles on their faces.  Every event put on by any organization, Track Night, the night of the High Speed Driving Experience and every event has landed me in the happy company of so many familiar faces who come out to support we drivers!  We would be up a tree without them!

So Kory, I look forward to meeting you and the Rallyers of Oregon and Washington!  I envy you for having been in Topeka as I have some history in that area, more in the Hiawatha and Sabetha areas to the North but many friends in the area, (Hi Michael Annis!)