Rally in the Rain

by Mike


Rally in the Rain

This weekend, I ran the Georgia Sports Car Club May rally. I partnered with Robert Harvey and drove his BMW.

The rally master seemed to have some logistics problems which he explained were a lack of support from his partner. Most evident was the fact that the route instructions were printed on recycled paper. By recycled, I mean form the trash can with stuff written on the other side.

We knew we would have to excuse a mistake or two along the way so we were prepared. Or so we thought.

When Robert arrived at the start, I had already read the general instructions. Traditionally the general instructions have been made available prior to the event so that people could prepare both mentally and equipment wise for the event. This tradition has all but disappeared in the last year or so.

I noticed that bullet point two of the general instructions prohibited the use of our rally computer and gps. Robert had taken time to properly mount both of these the morning of the rally. We had to take time to dismount and properly store them before the rally started.

Our fun started on the odometer calibration leg where we had to turn around twice to read the signs for gimmicks included in the leg. Thanks to Robert’s excellent navigation and math skills were still able to calculate the correction factor for our odometer. At least as best as can be done considering his BMW has a digital dash and I had to just guess how far into each tenth I was.

On leg one we managed to completely miss a turn while getting the gimmick that preceded it. We drove several miles out of our way before turning around and finding it. There we found another rally contestant who had been circling the block for the whole time as the instruction clearly did not work. We tried it a couple of different ways and met back up. Soon all the cars in the rally were sitting together wondering what to do. I had seen one of the referenced road names on our off course loop so I knew which way we need to go. Finally after a few turns, our group got back on the course.

We felt we were doing pretty well until we ran out of instructions and then out of road. As the whole group again gathered we were able to contact the rally master via prohibited cell phone use and learn that he had forgotten to give us the second page of instructions. We all finally made our way to his location to start the next leg.

The next leg was a timed section. Just as I was about to let out the clutch to start the leg, our friend and competitor knocked on our window. Considering what we had just been through, I paused to see what he wanted. He was confirming our start time as he expected to start before us and was assigned a later time. I dashed off; making up the few seconds late quickly in the 25 mph assigned speed. I was a bit confused as the route instructions led us onto the interstate. However the 65mph CAST confirmed it was the right route. Merging into traffic in a driving rain storm I quickly got later and later as Robert quickly punched his calculator. I finally worked my way over to the left lane and with the wipers on their highest setting, started to make up the time. I had us pretty close to right when I had to slow and fight my way back to the right lane for our exit.

At the end of the ramp we found a truck waiting for a safe opening into traffic. We were given a pause but it quickly ticked away before the truck moved. I was about ready to drive around him when he finally decided to go. Just across a bridge, we saw the checkpoint and I was still late. Using all the power of the BMW, I closed the gap as much as possible between the traffic in front of us. I knew we would be close but maybe just a bit late. We got a one!

The final leg of the rally had us looking for signs again. The rain was really coming down hard and visibility was very poor. At one point I had to turn around and get out of the car to read a sign. We finally made it through missing only two signs. By that point we had decided that we were not going back to look for them in these conditions.

When the scores were finally totaled as we ate at a very interesting Greek restaurant, Robert and I had finished first. Not only had we scored very well on the timed leg, we had found more correct answers than any other team.

Our waitress kept asking what trophy she would get. So after it was all over, I peeled off the engraved plaque from the first place trophy and gave the blank trophy to her. She held it high over her head as she ran through the restaurant showing it off to all her co workers. A much better use on the trophy than having it sit in my garage until the next yard sale.

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