Getting the Panda VW Ready for 2018 – Hardin/Ecker Preview

Well, the beginning of a new racing season is almost upon us, so that means it’s now time to do some reflecting on the past season and prepping for a successful 2018 season.  2017 was an eventful year for the Ecker and Hardin Rally Team!  Mr. Ecker’s wife gave birth to their second child in April, and I myself got married in October.  In between all this excitement, amazingly, we managed to do some racing and keep the Jetta running in decent shape!  You can read all about our first event of last season, the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood .  The other events we managed to attend were the National Challenge Rallycross event at Heartland Park in Topeka, KS, and the Show-Me Rally in Potosi, MO.

With the unfortunate postponement of the DirtFish SCCA RallyCross Central National Challenge from April 7-9 to Mother’s Day weekend, many of the competitors dropped out, but I was able to clear it with the mothers in my life and still make the trip.  With Andy having a new baby, he was not able to attend with me.  I enlisted the help of my future father-in-law, Chip Bratcher for the weekend, and he filled in as a guest co-driver for the event as well.  It was a good weekend of racing and the weather cooperated fully.  Since the starter on the Jetta was giving us fits during the 100 Acre Wood Rally, we replaced it with a spare before heading to the event.

Adam Hardin and Chip Bratcher with all required tools for the Rallycross National Challenge

Adam Hardin and Chip Bratcher with all required tools for the Rallycross National Challenge


However, our quick fix only lasted for part of a day before the car quit starting altogether!  Thanks to the generous help of our competitors (and a light car – easy to push start) we were able to continue without even missing a single run.  We later determined the problem to be a loose wire and corrected it.  That’s what you get for rushing. In the Modified 2WD class, my cumulative time over two days was good enough for 3rd place, and Chip learned a lot in his first RallyCross event ever, and was 5th in class.

Hardin Ecker Rally Car

On October 7, the Show Me Rally was our latest event and contested again in a different driver/co-driver configuration.  I had other obligations that day and was initially unable to attend, so Andy offered to let his brother-in-law and one of our most dedicated crew, Jason Hoffmeister co-drive for the one-day tulip rally.  At the last minute, my plans were cancelled, so I was able to attend and serve as crew chief for this event after all.  The team did well at this event though not without some hiccups along the way.

The car arrived later than I had expected to the first service and they told me that a flat rear tire midway through stage 2 had cost some time, and then changing it on transit a few cars leapfrogged around them.  I swapped the spare tire out for a fresh one and the rest of the day was great.  They were even able to make up some time in the dark after the second service, so our light bar was clearly working well.  A slight bit of rain throughout the day knocked down the dust and made for some very fast roads.

The 2018 installment of the 100 Acre Wood is coming up quickly and while the car is still running well, we will inspect and refresh it for the full season we have planned.  Some Powerflex control-arm bushings are high on our list of upcoming upgrades.  After the 100 Acre Wood Rally in March, our tentative schedule includes the Southern Ohio Forest Rally in May, the Show Me Rally in October and most likely another Rallycross or two.  If all goes well, maybe we will add a later event to our schedule.

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