August 16th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 32
Local rally racer teams up with Irish national champion
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald contributor photo
The 2016 Subaru WRX, pictured above, is pro-rally racer Nicholas Spencer’s new race car. It still needs some work to be ready for full-production class, the style that Spencer races in, but it’s got more power than his last Subaru, hopefully giving the racer an edge that’ll land him first!
Pass Herald Reporter
The Pass’ local rally driver Nicholas Spencer has been picked up by renowned pro-racer Trevor Harding to join his team and with that opportunity, he’s got a snazzy new race car.

Harding is an Irish national champion and owner of TJH Rally School out of Vancouver.

Spencer and Harding met at the 2014 Cochrane Rally when they were racing against each other in production class.

“It was the end of the day and there were only a couple of stages left. We had only a second or two between us going for first place,” says Spencer of the day he first met Harding. “He actually ran out of fuel before he got to the service station so I stopped and helped refuel his car so that he didn’t get a penalty so that we could continue racing each other. He didn’t know me, and I didn’t really know him. I just thought that we were having a good battle and I wanted to continue it. I didn’t want to win just because he ran out of fuel. We got him back into the service area and finished the race.”

They had kept in touch ever since and Harding has acted as a mentor to Spencer.

“I later found out that he had a rally school and I was looking to get some driver training. We mostly talked over the phone because it’s expensive to get out to Vancouver. He’s really mentored me and helped me perfect my notes and work on some of my driving styles,” says Spencer.

Since Harding asked Spencer to join his team last month, the two have been in close contact.

“We found a good balance between my driving style and his training style. This partnership is like something you’ve always wanted and always dreamt about, but you never thought it would happen,” says Spencer.
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Spencer’s new 2016 Subaru WRX is a swank improvement to his 2004 Subaru Impreza STI, but requires some modifications to get it up to speed for full-production class. It also comes with a learning curve.

“It’s a little bit bigger, a little bit heavier of a car. It has a bit more power than my other one. I’m really impressed with its weight distribution,” says Spencer.

On the horizon

The upcoming Ojibwe Forest Rally from August 25 to 26 in Minnesota, US, is where Spencer will test drive his new Subaru and work out the kinks for upcoming races.

Ojibwe Forest Rally will be his first ever in the Unites States and he’ll be racing against big names on the scene, like Travis Pastrana, one of the most renowned motorsport stunt performers in the world.

Ojibwe will be Spencer’s practice run for the big Pacific Forest Rally at the end of September in Merritt, British Columbia. This will be Spencer’s fifth time participating in the rally, which he calls his favourite.

“It’s a beautiful rally and the people there are phenomenal. They put on a great event with a really challenging and fun track. Some of them are really smooth and then there are really technical parts in the trees, or uphill and downhill stages,” says Spencer.
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Spencer placed eighth overall in his last race at the Canadian Rally Championship in Baie-des-Chaleurs, Quebec, which he concedes isn’t his best.

“There wasn’t any one big thing, it was just a bunch of little things,” says Spencer of the factors that affected his performance on race day.

All things considered, placing top 10 is a good finish for Spencer and his co-driver David Ma, especially seeing as this was their very first race together and involved only 5 hours of training for the race together.

In addition to not being able to afford a big service crew like some of the other racers, the Quebec climate posed another concern for the team.

“My car is made for mountains, for a high atmosphere where the air is thin, so coming down to sea level, it had too much power,” says Spencer. “That might sound like a good thing, but a car tuned for up in the mountains makes the turbo have too much pressure. It took a little while to retune it and get it set up for that atmosphere.”


With the partnership, Spencer hopes to get as much sponsorship as he can with the two-car race team. But it’s not just bigger, cooler rallies that Spencer wants to participate in. He wants to make a splash in local parades, car shows, driving retreats, test-drives opportunities for the public and any other events that would help promote the sport.
“Hopefully we get a bigger audience and more people interested in rallying,” he says.
August 16th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 32
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