by James Corrigan, Jr.
My friend and I have always wanted to Rally. Imagine driving 100Km/h down a dirt road, drifting the car around a curve, launching over hills, helmets, roll-cages...
But two college students surely can't afford to Rally. Or maybe they could.
There's another type of Rally out there. Called "Time-Speed-Distance (TSD)", or Navigational Rallies, these rallies can be entered by anyone, even a minivan full of kids.
Having expensive equipment is not neccesary. No roll cages, no helmets; your average family car will do just fine. Why? Because the speeds in Navigational Rallies are kept under the speed limit - the object of the game is to be on time - you are penalized just as much for being early as for being late.
Usually it is a modest fee to enter a Navigational Rally - the one we entered, the fee was $20 for non-members. Some clubs also require some modest safety equipment - the club that ran our event checks horn, tires, wipers, lights, and requires at least one reflective triangle. This club also recommends a first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
One day, my friend and I decided to participate in one of these rallies. We entered using my friend's 1985 Dodge Aries wagon - it has its own page here: http://members.theglobe.com/gti7/family.html
The starting point was in Vankleek Hill - only 1 1/2 hours from home. There were 5 entrants in the beginner class - our class. One of these entrants was a rally-prepped Subaru, this guy's even got a Terra-Trip computer mounted in his car. His car looks familiar. That's why! He lives down the street from me!
The Rally went smoothly. Everyone rocketed ahead of us and we thought we were late, and we managed to catch up. Then a local fellow waved us over to the side of the road. Apparently he wasn't too happy with the behavior of the cars ahead of us. He said they weren't stopping at the stop sign, and were spraying gravel everywhere. I told him I understand, and will report this. This rally's being held on open public roads, they shouldn't be going that fast. The fellow said they were going to get the Ontario Provincial Police out here. I said go ahead, they're not supposed to be going that fast...
When we drove off my friend who was driving was really nervous, he didn't want to upset any more people. We ended up driving really slow up to the lunch break. We were the last car in.
The organizer gave us a new restart time, after I told him what happened. We ate lunch, fueled up and headed out on the 2nd leg. Here we made up a lot of time. We saw the Rally-prepped Subaru heading the opposite direction. "huh?" We kept to our route.
These gravel roads are nasty! We landed on something hard and banged something under the car, and we must have damaged the exhaust system - it's louder now than it was before. The brakes are fading a bit too. Flying past our next turn at 80 Km/h too often, hitting the brakes, 3-point turn, etc.
We arrived at the finish. Handed in our card and waited for the results: We came in 4th!! We were happy with that, we expected to be last. Well, better to be next to last than last. Last place was given to: That Rally-prepped Turbo Subaru! Ha! Apparently they missed a few controls and were very late. I was talking to him after the results came out - he asked what kind of car we had. "It's a K-Car station-wagon. Nope, it's just a 3-speed automatic transmission. No, no turbo. No, we just used the trip odometer."
So there you go. We won 4th place, in the first event we ever entered with the word "Rally" in it. We're definitly going to do this again. But not with my friend's Aries wagon! No, we're going to use our Rally-K-Car!
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