100 Acre Wood rally

Trip to the 100 Acre Wood

I was once again given the job as Steward for the Rally America 100 Acre Wood Rally. It was held in Salem Missouri, the last weekend of February.

I headed out on Thursday and after driving through some huge thunder storms arrived in time to observe registration and Tech inspection. Both were held at the Dent County fire Station which shows the kind of support they get form the community there.

It was fun to connect with some rally people that I have not seen in a couple of years. I found out that the former organizer of the even Kim Demotte was driving his old Datsun 510 in the event. It as fun to see Kim behind the wheel and in a very well prepared old Datsun.

I caught up with my fellow stewards and we made a plan for the weekend. I went back to my room at the holiday inn and studied the maps and route books. I sat in on the Novice driver class and part of the worker training meeting.

The first day of the rally started in Potosi which is about a two hour drive from Salem. I plotted a route that would take me past a couple of the stages that were to be used later in the day so I could check them out.

I enjoyed the delicious Holiday Inn Express cinnamon rolls while I chatted with the other stewards and other people from Rally America. I looked out and saw that it had snowed overnight. Eventually I headed out to Potosi.

I turned off on TT to check out stage 6. I was quickly met by Road Closed signs and after driving past them, I saw the cause. One of the many low water crossings was flooded by the huge storms that had passed through the area the day before.

In this part of Missouri, they don’t build bridges much. They just pave the bottom of the creek beds. Sometimes they build a small elevated concrete platform to with some culverts so that some of the water can flow under and the rest flows over when it rains. Due to the heavy rains, the creeks were very deep.

I made my way to the start of the stage and was able to get through. The stage road was fine but I then became trapped by the high water again. I had to reverse my course and find another way out.

I met up with the Safety Steward who was looking at the spectator area on stage 5. We both found that we could not follow our proposed route due to very high water on one of the longer crossings. We had to plot a different course that took us out of the way but generally toward Potosi.

I made it to the Parc Expose in Potosi just as cars were starting to arrive and helped set up the first MTC and the start of the Super Special Stage. The Super Special was a rally cross like course around the fair grounds there.

There was a big puddle of water on the inside of the final turn right at the finish line. It was fun to watch the cars splash through. The finish control workers eventually decided to move to the other side of the road to give the competitors more room.

After watching a few cars run the Super Special, I headed out to the first forest stage. Due to some flooding o the transit, the rally master rerouted the course. I observed to make sure every thing was handled correctly and it was. We received a report that Travis Pastrana had crashed on the stage. After the stage was run, I followed the sweep team and helped them drag what was left of Travis’s car to a safe place off the road.

Travis’s Navigator remembered me when he saw me. I had towed his car back to service in one of the Cherokee Trails rallies.

Near the end of the stage I came across one of the participants in our rookie school from the night before. His car had a coolant leak and the engine computer had shut it down on low water. I gave him a jug of anti freeze from my Jeep and some bottles of water. He filled it up and drove to the end of the stage.

I stayed at the finish and watched the second pass through the stage. It was much less eventful than the first.

After that I headed to Steelville to check out service. Along the way, I saw one of the competitors disabled along the transit. I picked them up and gave them a ride to service.

After service in Steelville, I checked on the control checking crews out and then headed back to Salem. I was dark and late when I got back. The stewards met with the Rally Chairman to make adjustments to the procedures for the next day.

Saturday started early with a 7:30 am stewards meeting. I enjoyed the delicious Holiday Inn Cinnamon rolls again. Then I headed to the downtown Parc Expose. I wandered up and down the street looking at the cars and talking with the competitors.

After Parc Expose, I headed out to observe the start of the stages. This stage was repeated directly and I was concerned that they would not get it cleared in time. However, the Rally Master had prepared well and the stage was restated on time.

However after just a few cars started, one crashed blocking the stage road. The remaining cars were turned around and sent to the next stage. I transited the stage and ended up assisting the sweep jeeps with moving the car and a a huge rock that the car had moved into the road.

Luckily then Jeeps were equipped with winches and we were able to easily winch the car off the road and then move the big rock out of the road as well. Moving the rock was a bigger challenge than moving the car but with some simple rigging of a strap and a snatch block, we were able to get it clear of the road.

I then moved down to stage nine to make sure that the lack of transit times had not caused too much trouble for the control workers. After the stage I decided to follow the sweep vehicles again to see if they were doing their job correctly. Just a short way into the stage, there was a Honda stuck just off the road. The fast sweep had stopped to give them a chance to get back in the rally. I Pulled off the road well behind all the sweep vehicles and assisted in the recovery as well as checking on the competitors.

When it was all cleaned up, I walked back to my Jeep and noticed that the door would not open. I looked closer and realized that the Sweep truck had backed into my fender pushing it into the door. I had to dig in the back to find a pry bar to move the fender so I could get in. I caught up with them later and asked the guy about hitting my Jeep. He tried to deny he had hit it but them I showed him the matching scrape on the side of his truck.

I drove on to Viburnum to check on service there. After service, I headed up to Stages 12 and 14 which was a turn around stage. I assisted in setting up the finish control where the start had been. The control workers offered me a sandwich. I guess I looked hungry and I was.

I worked my way back to Salem in time for the champagne spray for the winners. They can’t use real champagne due to Salem’s laws about open containers of alcohol so they use sparkling grape juice.

The awards party at the eagles lodge lasted well into the morning. I made it back to my room and fell asleep around two am.

The drive home on Sunday was pleasant with much better weather than the trip out. I missed a turn. I ended up north of my intended route but found an interesting mining museum. It was not open but I took time to explore outside the fence and found it very interesting. It did not say what they mined there, but since the towns have names like Steelville, Iron Town and the like I assume they mined iron ore.

I crossed the Mississippi at Cape Gerardo. The Mississippi river was much higher than it had been on the trip out.