GERING — After a successful day of rallying Saturday, my dad, Sean O’Brien, and I were excited to see where the final day would take us. While I set my stopwatch clock to the universal clock, my dad and I waited for our car number to be called, so we could pick up our instruction packet.

We made our way back to the Corvette and flipped through the instructions. After crossing the final timed checkpoint, we would travel past Scotts Bluff National Monument on our way into Gering.

“Can you still drive a 4-speed?” my dad asked.

I figured I could, but I would need time to remember the feel of the car’s clutch to gas pedals. We decided once we finished the final timed leg, we would do a seat change.

Sunday’s route was the most challenging as it took drivers and navigators in the unlimited class up and down the streets. My dad and I joked that Sunday was going to be bad since town speeds were around 15 to 20 miles per hour, which the Vette could only run with the car out of gear.

Knowing we were running fast, we sat longer at the intersections, but our times remained off.

Still, we were enjoying another gorgeous day cruising in the Vette. As we turned onto Old Oregon Trail Road, I looked behind us to see no cars in sight. I turned on my video recorder on my phone as my dad and I did a Chinese fire drill. We opened the doors and ran around the car, switching seats. As I pushed in the clutch, I looked in the rear view mirror to see a fellow rally car coming. We sat there as the team of Netherlands and Vorse went around us, waving and smiling.

Putting the car into gear, I cruised toward the hill. The handling was a little squirrelly as I accelerated and listened to the motor hum before shifting.

Just as we crested the top of the hill, I noticed my boss’ vehicle parked on the shoulder. Brad Staman was taking pictures of the vehicles as they drove by the monument. I slowed down for a picture and then gassed it as I drove by the monument visitor center.

While seeing me drive into Gering was my dad’s favorite part of the rally, I’d say the weekend was an unforgettable experience in our first classic car that began with a simple question from my dad about signs on the side of my Star-Herald desk reading Sugar Valley Rally.

Pulling into the finish line, we received our final time sheet for the rally. Although the times were several minutes off the mark, we did not care because we met the first and second criteria for rally — we had fun and finished.

Dad and I are already looking forward to next year’s Sugar Valley Rally.

Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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