A brief look into the Magnum Opus History....

By Stu Sarasin

I was proud to be a part of the original Magnum Opus. I was actually hoodwinked by the VanDamme Brothers, et al., them explaining to me, a rally neophyte, that it's an easy process to chair, simply task good people. I did do that, enlisting POR veterans Tom Clark, a Marquette attorney, Sue (can't remember her last name, from Lakewood Lane and truth be told the originator of the "Magnum Opus" moniker, literally Latin for "greatest work," a term typically reserved for art medium/operatic/orchestral but since becoming synonymous with a simple/great-road/terrific-competitor event. Finally, the Zen Master/Yoda/Rally Lord himself, Jon Davis. The first stage that I "selected," a paved intro into a terrific, wide, gravel expressway was summarily dismissed by Jon Davis as he shuffle-steered his Saab to over 100 mph. I was impressed. First question, "Is Zenz gonna be here?" he inquired. "Zenz?" said I, knowing not at the time what a "Zenz" was. "He'll be insanely fast, a crazy guy; absolutely fearless!" (I had to meet this "Zenz," which I subsequently did, a terrific driver, terrific competitor and terrific friend. Erik made me a better driver and was always a treat to have compete. I'll never forget Erik arriving at the final service at his "favorite" snow bank-lined Eskypades, in the co-driver's seat, smiling like a kid, having relegated driving duties to his previous-co-driver girlfriend, now perched atop three pillows to make up the two feet of height differential. Seems they had an agreement that if he stuffed it three times she was taking away the keys. I pulled him out the first two.)

The original Magnum Opus was to use the hallowed ground, Presque Isle, as a stage. I remember as a kid watching the POR run there and I think the WRC ran there (Jimmy, expound here...). We received city council approval but the front page backlash and editorials led me to withdraw our request for the "good of the sport." We did keep Marquette Mountain, however. Again, as a kid, I remember standing atop the mountain, listening eternally to the ever-growing braaaap, chirp-chirp-chirp, braaaap, chirp-chirp-chirp of Buffum's Audi and just about having a kid when he blew by. This was only surpassed by the enjoyment of the 1812 Overture that was Millen's fire-breathing AWD RX7. Holy crap! It got louder, resonating off the forest in a glorious fashion until he darted by, even the backfires backfiring. I peed my pants a little. And the, I think, pre-GLH Omni that I still remember Henry Krolikowski make do impossible things. He was, and still is, every bit as much fun to watch.

The true value of the Magnum Opus was its inclusion in the aforementioned Riverside Auto Upper Peninsula Rally Series. Truly a model that could/should extend country-wide. We developed the series as a means of hosting 6 events within a couple hundred miles. They were all a part of the SCCA Central Division championship and within it we devised our own mini-series. We allocated points along the SCCA structure, however, for series results, awarded first-place points to the top three organizer positions; Chair, Rallymaster and, I think, registrar. We had people fighting to organize an event!

Tim it's so great to see your adoption of the Magnum Opus...knowing the instrumental role your father ( Tom Maskus ) played in the original. Always in the background, he was there for any need, any task, helping me tremendously with our radio net and teaching me the details of ham ops. He truly loved the sport.

And, Dean Rushford has been there from the beginning. Always eager to help and taking over more responsibility every year until he became the Magnum Opus Father. And a good one he was.
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1974 POR Archive