I kicked off the rally season for the car club by putting on a rally in the frozen depths of February. Why? If you asked me that two months ago, I probably could have answered that. Ask me now, and truth be told, I don’t know what I was thinking. Setting up the rally proved to be quite difficult, especially with the cold and the snow, but other unexpected circumstances popped up that certainly made the day more interesting for myself and the rallyists.
When I volunteered for the rally, I thought that I would easily have the time over the Winter Break to set it up. As it turned out, I was wrong. I never realized how much work went into planning the route for an afternoon rally, most of which are usually over 100 miles long. On top of that, it turned out that there was plenty to do during Winter Break — I had the trip with my father and a house to finish fixing up and move into. So in the end, I had a single weekend with which to use in planning my rally, which allowed me to get half of the rally route planned.
I had planned to finish routing my rally at the beginning of February and mileage it with Jerry as my cold runner. Things didn’t quite work out that way; once again, I had underestimated the task of routing the long rally legs, and finished routing the rally just in time to get an email from Jerry, who suddenly left town in order to beat an incoming winter storm at the airports.
At the time, my only thought was: how am I going to mileage the rally? My Miata has a digital odometer, which means I can’t use it to measure mileages to the hundredth of a mile. (With a mechanical odometer, you can get a fairly good read on hundredths of a mile how far the numbers have rotated.) I needed to find a car with a mechanical odometer, but most of my friends have modern cars with digital ones. At first I tried to get Neal’s Geo Prizm, but when that fell through, I found Adrian’s (or more accurately, his girlfriend’s) Mitsubishi Eclipse — a boosted car with no third gear and thinly treaded all-season tires.
I borrowed the car Friday and grabbed Sapp as my cold runner. We spent the afternoon cold running and mileaging five of the six legs that I had written down. There were some interesting moments in that car that were probably for the better. For example, there was a left turn that I wanted rallyists to take and referenced a sign right at the turn. I go down the hill at about 40mph, cross a bridge, and Sapp sees the sign and tells me to make the left turn. I hit the brakes and proceed to skid 100 feet past the turn. Whoops. I changed the referenced landmark and reduced the speed for that part of the leg.
On the day of the rally, I brought along the rally generals, rally route instructions, all of my notes, and my laptop with a spreadsheet of everything on it, to the starting point of my rally in Urbana. The instant I got there, I thought of something: where is the rally equipment? I asked the rally regulars this question as they trickled into registration and it soon became apparent that I had forgotten to get it from the previous rallymaster.
So here I am, standing in the bitter cold with several others, wondering if I could run the rally without rally clocks or signs. The rally couldn’t be run period if we did not have any insurance waivers, but Mike found some in his car. I decided to go ahead and run the rally anyway using seconds instead of hundredths of a minute. For signs, I would use two orange stakes that I just happened to have in the trunk of my car. I made a registration sheet using a piece of notepad paper and put everything into a spreadsheet. During the drivers meeting, I made note of all of the changes, gave people their car numbers, and then rushed off to place the ODO “sign” and plant myself at the first checkpoint.
Other than the lack of equipment, the rally went fairly well. The rally was 90 miles long, with the first two legs comprising the first half and the last three legs comprising the last half. The checkpoint of the first and second legs was a field entrance just north of Homer. It was only after the second leg was done and I had sent everyone away to Casey’s General Store for the midpoint rally break did I realize that my car was stuck in the snow. I had to call for help and was pushed out of the snow — the only person to get stuck in the rally, ironically, was the rallymaster himself.
The second half of the rally had three legs. The rally route instructions had the directions for four legs, but one of the legs was not cold run and mileaged due to a lack of time. I kept the instructions in anyway and directed people to skip instructions in one of the outslips. I made a single change to one of the unused route instructions to “Right after Donkeys. CAST 44.” If someone didn’t read the outslip, hopefully they’d figure out their mistake. (There were donkeys on the rally, but not in the final legs of the rally.)
The rally finished up at about 5pm at the Monical’s at the corner of Windsor and Philo in Urbana. It took me another hour to calculate the results, thanks in part to the fact that all of my times were recorded in seconds and thanks in part to a mistake in my master spreadsheet, which forced me to recalculate a leg time. When all was said and done, I had a list of results based upon points for each second over or under ideal time.
There were nine teams, of which three were Nav, four were Seat of Pants, and two were novice. The best time in the rally was 24 points, or 24 seconds. For the most part, the rallyists enjoyed the rally. I made it quite difficult for the Seat of Pants teams by asking for average speeds unsustainable on certain roads and providing opportunities to make up time on straight and fast roads — easy for Nav guys with computers, hard for guys averaging speed by intuition, feel, or magic. Most of the roads I chose were also roads that followed the Salt Fork River and were quite fun to drive at slower speeds thanks to the snow and ice.