"Back to the 100-Acre Wood."October 16, 2009 by Mike Strawbridge
I was again privileged to be part of 100Acre Wood Rally this year (2007). My job this year was Event Steward for Rally America.
Based on my previous experience with this rally I was somewhat apprehensive about the job. Also, IO was concerned how the committee would change with long time organizer Kim Demotte strapping into the co driver seat instead of running the show.
My Steward duties began well before the event as we worked to set the start order. The new speed factor formula used by Rally America seems to be black magic by some but it gives valuable information to the stewards when setting the start order. But the task is complicated by trying to place people who have run only NASA or CARS events who use a different magic formula.
Luckily I had Steve Gringras and Al Kintigh to very capably assist me. In fact I just let them do the work and gave my approval to it. It was great to have the start list finalized and with defendable reasons for why people were placed where they were ready well before the event. It made the few requests for review minutes before the start order was finalized much easier to process.
While I did not observe the recce procedure myself, Safety Steward Russ Norton took part in the event. He was well please with the way it was handled and made only minor suggestion for improvement. I did note at the last minute before the start of the rally that it was still against the rules for co drivers to use any notes they might have made during the recce. I corrected that with a hand written bulletin much to the relief of several top co drivers.
I was disappointed that the town of Ellington was not used during this year’s run. I always enjoyed that little town and the low water crossing spectator stage. Apparently a couple of people did not like having the roads closed and were more vocal than the majority. Maybe they can return next year.
The Friday stages went relatively uneventful. They day was warm and dry and I spent most of my time at the main spectator point. It was not a great place to watch from but there was lots of activity. The spectator chief got to deal with irritated farm workers who could not access their machines and forest rangers and sheriff deputies as well as emergency workers. This guy was exactly the right man for the job, as he seemed to know everyone and handled it all very well.
We were able to shuffle things around enough to keep everyone content even if not exactly happy.
Later, I spent some time helping to train a start control crew and some last minute retraining of course opening cars. I think they all did a fine job after they understood what was expected of them.
Saturday was cold and wet. I started the day with a quick trip to Wal-Mart to buy one of the last remaining rain suits.
I returned to Spectator A to help manage a quick reroute of the course. It seems the post office required access to part of the stage road and could not tell us when. We were forced to keep open a part of the stage requiring the start control to be moved.
Spectator A became an even worse place to watch from, as all you could see was the back of cars starting up the hill. However there was a huge crowd gathered. Doing what rally spectators do best, they snuck through the woods to try to find better places to watch from. They were spotted by car 000 and the spectator marshals and I took on the process of herding the cats back.
They were very reluctant to cooperate with even the strong personality of our captain, but after I explained that I would cancel the stage if they did not move, they become somewhat more cooperative. The forest rangers on scene were very helpful in dealing with the situation as well.
Once everyone was moved to safe locations, we were able to start the stage only a few minutes late. There was still some confusion with the competitors due to the relocated start point but I don’t think anyone was penalized for it. At least there was no scoring request that came to my attention.
Service was back at the Viburmn high school and the students once again provided a great lunch and a warm dry place to hang out. I had a small incident with one of the major team’s service crews pretending not to speak English when they were found doing some service procedure that I thought was unsafe. The Rally America chiefs took quick action, which I really appreciated.
The paved mining roads were eliminated this year. Much to the relief of those concerned with safety of the event. The replacement roads seemed to serve the community just as well.
At the end of the day, 46 of the 57 cars that started were still running. The biggest crash that I heard of was Matt Johnson. He had a nasty bruise on his leg form an impact with a tree.
Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino took first over Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom both teams driving Subaru’s.
Overall, this was one of my favorite trip to Salem, Mo. It ranked right up there with the TSD rally Jeff and ran when we got fourth overall.
I think Kim enjoyed co driving even more than organizing even if they did not finish.
I enjoyed the interesting mix of vehicles that this rally always brings out. There was no Corvette this year but we did have Herbie the love bug and a Jeep Pickup. A scoring error on Friday showed the Jeep with a time about he same as Travis for a while. Since this Pickup is for sale he should have made a copy of the results for that stage before they were corrected to boost the selling price!
I took some time on Sunday to tour a couple of the huge springs that are in the area. These places are very pretty and were very peaceful this time of year. I suspect there is a lot more activity in the summer.
I regret that I did not take advantage of an invitation to tour the Flat Nasty off road park. While the practice stage was being held at the park, I saw several highly modified Jeep Cherokees entering the park. I did not think my street XJ would quite be capable of exploring very far where these guys were going.
I think I can now safely recommend 100 AW as an event to go to now. Although I think the Rally Jeep would still be more fun at Flat Nasty than on the high speed stages on the 100 AW Rally.
Update: results including the Regional Rally Championship score can be found here: http://www.rally-america.com/Update/day/day_index.html
Click on the results tab and then choose regional results. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the RRC chart.
Mike Strawbridge October 16, 2009
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