Emerging Competitors Deliver at the 2019 New England Forest Rally


Subaru took most of the expected top positions at this year’s New England Forest Rally, but the usual reigning champions faced increased competition compared to previous years from some unexpected underdogs.

Two of those underdogs were amateurs Dan Downey and Tom Peplinski. The New Hampshire pair took top spot in their O2WD regional class with a time of 1:43:59.0. For Downey and Peplinski, the win was a pleasant surprise after a particularly difficult – and hot – race.

“Everything kind of went perfectly. Usually I have some kind of mechanical fault with the car from the rough terrain, but Tom and I actually managed to win our class this year, so that’s great, that’s pretty awesome,” Downey said of the win.

“We knew there were some guys that were kind of close to our times but we really were more concerned with finishing,” co-driver Peplinski said in a separate interview.

For Downey and Peplinski, the road to victory wasn’t a traditional one. At most major rallies, the best overall times are generally achieved by larger teams with big sponsors, and by drivers who dedicate much of their lives to racing professionally and perfecting their skills. For amateur racers like Downey and Peplinski, just finishing a race is often considered an achievement. Factor in that the pair were racing in Downey’s 1987 BMW 325is, as well as the fact that it was Peplinski’s first time ever co-driving, and the win seems even more impressive.

“Some of the regional competitors are just local guys like myself that don’t have a huge corporate sponsor or anything…[For me] it’s all been private tier, amateur, out of my own pocket racing. Just build your own car and go racing on the weekends and see how you do,” Downey said.

It may have been Peplinski’s first time participating in a big-scale competition, but his familiarity with the sport’s lingo can be traced back to his day job as a rally instructor at Team O’Neil Rally School in Dalton, NH. The school, founded in 1997 by driving enthusiast Tim O’Neil, teaches its students basic to advanced racing skills. Downey – who has also been an instructor at the school since 2017 – and Peplinski credit their time at Team O’Neil for their comfort on the course, as well as the easy rapport they have as a team.

“I’ve done co-driving at the school so I had a really good idea of how the notes work. It’s more like a code than words. Everything is shorthand. So me being there for six years, I’ve got a pretty good familiarization with it.” Peplinski said.

Downey added: “As you teach something to somebody else, you learn more in depth about it yourself. You learn about what you’re doing by seeing what someone else is doing and helping them change it.”

Pelinski agreed to be Downey’s co-driver for the New England Forest Rally when Downey’s usual co-driver was unavailable. In the days leading up to the final event, the two did the usual pre-race overview of the course where Pelinski had his first opportunity to see the roads they’d be driving on at top speed.

“Just seeing all the courses, it looked pretty aggressive. We were in Dan’s street car so everything was really bumpy. I was really nervous about that,” Peplinski said.

To the average person, the course – which runs through 115 miles of New England wilderness – can seem harsh and unforgiving. To trained teams it means that working together as a cohesive pair is crucial for both safety and success. Vehicle breakdowns are common, whether it be from rough terrain, extreme weather, or high speeds, and it’s essential for co-drivers to relay information to their partners about the road that lies ahead.

“I’m reading to Dan whatever he needs to hear. Some people can hear two corners ahead, some people can do one, some people just want to know what’s coming up next. It depends on their experience and their skill. If I were co-driver for someone else, my timing would be different than what it was for Dan,” Peplinski said.

Once they hit the course, it didn’t take long for Downey and Peplinski to find their rhythm.

“After a stage and a half we started to click and be where we needed to be,” Peplinski said.

Adding to the intense atmosphere, this year’s racing conditions were unusually hot, with temperatures nearing 95 degrees. Despite the intense heat, Downey’s car performed with minimal issues. According to Peplinski and Downey, the real test was for the drivers themselves.

“You’re basically in these sweatsuits, these fire-retardant race suits, that are not light. I have a lightweight one and it still weighs a lot. It’s sitting on you and it’s 90 degrees. There’s no air conditioning in a rally car. Not in Dan’s anyway,” Peplinski said.

Downey added: “It’s an endurance event for sure, to make it through the whole day like that.”

With such a big win under their belt, Peplinski and Downey proved that they’re a pair to watch.
“It was a lot of fun. It was also a lot of work though. I hadn’t realized how much work it was,” Peplinski said.

He added: “It’s funny, I was in the whole race and I don’t really remember much of the stages because I was reading [the race notes], telling Dan a story of the road while he was driving.”

Driverbase Integrates with Dealersocket Inventory Syndication and Offers Dealers Free Listings and Referrals

Dealersocket’s 8,000+ customers get access to free inventory listings and referrals on Driverbase throughout 2019.

Dealers attending the Dealersocket User Summit are invited to join the Driverbase Dealership Beta and automate the car search experience for car buyers.

“AI/ML and digital retailing will have a profound impact on the automotive industry.” – Sejal Pietrzak CEO Dealersocket

Driverbase has developed a patent pending personalized vehicle recommendation system for drivers and today’s announcement accelerates the integration of dealership vehicle listings with Driverbase vehicle class recommendations.

The car search experience is getting more difficult

Car- buying journeys now include “900 digital touch-points in a 3 month period with 71% on mobile” according to a recent Google study. Drivers are owning vehicles for longer and prices are increasing so choosing the optimal vehicle is even more important.  The vehicle market has become more complex and fragmented with model lineup changes, new propulsion types, and autonomous driving technologies.

Why list inventory on Driverbase?

Driverbase is a free service that connects driver data, driving routes, and current vehicles to provide personalized vehicle recommendations in real time. Driverbase helps drivers discover the car that will maximize their ownership experience based on their unique situation.

  1. Mobile & SEO Optimized Marketplace inventory listings
  2. Mobile & SEO Optimized Dealer Profile listing in Dealer Locator
  3. Provide consumers with personalized vehicle recommendations based on their unique situation to help reduce the current (and expensive) 900+ touchpoints per car search
  4. Focus on optimal vehicle not “lowest price”
  5. Prominent dealer website deep links on VDP to encourage consumers to book direct with your dealership vs. submitting ADF leads on Driverbase
  6. Inventory included in vehicle recommendation engine that matches drivers w/ their optimal vehicle
  7. Full transparency (unlike today’s leading marketplaces we have nothing to lose/hide so you can download your raw weblog file including sessions from all Profile / VDP / VLP visits).  One example use case is that you could import this audience data into your Google 360 Marketing Attribution system for independent analysis
  8. We respect dealerships and will never undermine your credibility in our consumer advertising like some current providers do.  Our goal is to be the most customer friendly marketplace available for both drivers and dealerships
  9. Free Dealer Beta Listings
    • As a member of the dealer beta you can list all your stores inventory for free throughout 2019
    • The only expense could be inventory data transfer fees but we have multiple solutions to setup a free feed and avoid this cost
  10. Support new ventures working to fill the innovation void in automotive

Open a free Dealer Console account, claim your store(s), list your inventory, get ADF lead and dealer website referrals and monitor your audience with full transparency

More Information 

Review the Driverbase Dealership Beta presentation for more information:

https://driverbase.com/company/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Dealer_Beta.pdf

About Driverbase Inc.

Founded in 2018, Driverbase Inc. is an independent, data-driven car search platform. Our mission is to deliver a better car search experience. Driverbase has compiled vehicle information and implemented artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to calculate the optimal vehicle recommendations for every driver.

Driverbase Introduces Dealership Inventory Listings Beta at Digital Dealer

Open a free Dealer Console account, claim your store(s), list your inventory, get ADF lead and dealer website referrals and monitor your audience with full transparency

Dealers attending the Digital Dealer Conference are invited to join the Driverbase Dealership Beta and automate the car search experience for car buyers.

Driverbase has developed a patent pending personalized vehicle recommendation system for drivers and today’s launch begins the integration of dealership vehicle listings with Driverbase vehicle class recommendations.

The first 250 dealerships to signup for the Dealer Console Beta at Digital Dealer are eligible for free inventory listings on Driverbase throughout 2019. Driverbase is looking for innovative dealer partners to help us improve our marketplace product.

The car search experience is getting more difficult

Car- buying journeys now include “900 digital touch-points in a 3 month period with 71% on mobile” according to a recent Google study. Drivers are owning vehicles for longer and prices are increasing so choosing the optimal vehicle is even more important.  The vehicle market has become more complex and fragmented with model lineup changes, new propulsion types, and autonomous driving technologies.

Why list inventory on Driverbase?

Driverbase is a free service that connects driver data, driving routes, and current vehicles to provide personalized vehicle recommendations in real time. Driverbase helps drivers discover the car that will maximize their ownership experience based on their unique situation.

  1. Mobile & SEO Optimized Marketplace inventory listings
  2. Mobile & SEO Optimized Dealer Profile listing in Dealer Locator
  3. Provide consumers with personalized vehicle recommendations based on their unique situation to help reduce the current (and expensive) 900+ touchpoints per car search
  4. Focus on optimal vehicle not “lowest price”
  5. Prominent dealer website deep links on VDP to encourage consumers to book direct with your dealership vs. submitting ADF leads on Driverbase
  6. Inventory included in vehicle recommendation engine that matches drivers w/ their optimal vehicle
  7. Full transparency (unlike today’s leading marketplaces we have nothing to lose/hide so you can download your raw weblog file including sessions from all Profile / VDP / VLP visits).  One example use case is that you could import this audience data into your Google 360 Marketing Attribution system for independent analysis
  8. We respect dealerships and will never undermine your credibility in our consumer advertising like some current providers do.  Our goal is to be the most customer friendly marketplace available for both drivers and dealerships
  9. Free Dealer Beta Listings
    • As a member of the dealer beta you can list all your stores inventory for free throughout 2019
    • The only expense could be inventory data transfer fees but we have multiple solutions to setup a free feed and avoid this cost
  10. Support new ventures working to fill the innovation void in automotive

More Information 

Review the Driverbase Dealership Beta presentation for more information:

https://driverbase.com/company/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Dealer_Beta.pdf

About Driverbase Inc.

Founded in 2018, Driverbase Inc. is an independent, data-driven car search platform. Our mission is to deliver a better car search experience. Driverbase has compiled vehicle information and implemented artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to calculate the optimal vehicle recommendations for every driver.

Driverbase @ New York Auto Show 2019

Driverbase will participate in the 2019 New York Auto Show as a member of the press. The Driverbase team will cover all major vehicle unveilings, conduct data collection and host interviews with manufacturers participating at the NYIAS.

Show Coverage Schedule

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17

7:15 – 7:45

World Car Awards Breakfast

Special Events Hall, Level 1

7:45 – 9:00

World Car Awards Program

Special Events Hall, Level 1

9:10 – 9:35

Toyota

River Pavilion, Level 4

9:45 – 10:10

Lincoln

Stand, Level 3

10:15 – 10:40

Mercedes-Benz

Stand, Level 3

10:45 – 11:10

Hyundai

Stand, Level 3

11:15 – 11:40

Subaru

Stand, Level 3

11:45 – 12:05

Porsche

Stand, Level 3

12:10 – 12:30

Genesis

Stand, Level 3

12:35 – 12:55

Mazda

Stand, Level 3

1:00 – 1:20

Kia

Stand, Level 3

1:25 – 1:45

Nissan – Anniversary Editions & Reception

Stand, Level 3

1:50 – 2:15

Ford – National Mustang Day & Snacks

Stand, Level 3

2:20 – 2:40

Mullen

Crystal Palace

2:45 – 3:05

Maserati

Stand, Level 3

3:10 – 3:25

Koenigsegg

Stand, Level 3

3:30 – 3:55

Alfa Romeo – Special Editions & Reception

Stand, Level 3

4:00 – 4:45

Acura – Special Editions & Bourbon Tasting

Stand, Level 3

THURSDAY, APRIL 18

8:30 – 9:00

Wards 10 Best Interiors – Media Breakfast

Crystal Palace, Level 3

9:05 – 9:20

BAC

Exotics Stand, Level 3

9:20 – 9:35

Glickenhaus

Exotics Stand, Level 3

9:45 – 10:00

Karlmann King

North Concourse, Level 2

10:05 – 10:40

Tech Talks @ the New York Auto Show

Crystal Palace, Level 3

10:45 – 11:00

NASCAR – StarCom Racing

Crystal Palace, Level 3

11:10 – 11:40

Hypercar CEO Summit

Crystal Palace, Level 3

11:50 – 12:25

Tech Talks @ the New York Auto Show

Crystal Palace, Level 3

12:30 – 12:45

Saratoga Museum

North Concourse, Level 2

12:50 – 1:05

Polaris Slingshot

Stand, Level 1

1:05 – 1:20

Roush

Stand, Level 1

1:25 – 1:45

EVs in New York State 101

Stand, Level 1