Published on Friday, 18 May 2012 14:19
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The following three-fold brochure was released by SCCA in the late '60s, when SCCA National was still in Westport Connecticutt. It expalins in detail about Ralleys, concentrating mainly on TSD (Time, Speed, Distance) events.

 

what it is

 

The automobile rally seems to be getting very big lately. A stroll through your friendly auto dealer’s showroom will reveal that his offerings can be had with “Rally Stripes,” “Rally Packs,” and even with the word “Rally” as part of the model name all at extra cost. So what is a rally that we are eager to part with extra cash simply for the eclat of having the word emblazoned in chrome on our new gasoline guzzler?

 We know that a lot of very excellent road racing is organized by the Sports Car Club of America at courses all across the country, and that the same club organizes many rallies. Is rallying, then, anything like racing? A resounding NO is heard to echo from SCCA. The point of racing is to get around a known, closed course faster than anyone else. the point of rallying is to find your way over an unknown open route at a prescribed average speed, neither slow nor fast. (High speed, as a matter of fact, is penalized in the scoring.)

 Rallying is a fascinating, demanding, competitive game of navigational skill. It has been called a parlor game for adults, played outdoors on the open road, with ears. One wag described it as a drive in the country to grandmother’s house, only you don’t know where she lives, and you don’t know how to get there, you have to arrive exactly on time. You might think of it as a kind of organized shunpiking, with a party after.

 

Essentially, there are two aspects of a typical rally. First, you must follow the route instructions, sometimes rather cryptic and abbreviated to keep the game interesting; second, you most come as close as you can to the prescribed average speeds (by club regulations these are below the posted speed limit), so that you will arrive at the secret checkpoint locations at the right time.

 Route instructions might look something like this:
1. First possible Right. Maintain 32.5 mph.
2. Left on second paved road.
3. Right after Gulf Station.
4. Left on Dry Fork Road.
5. Right at stop sign.
(and so forth)

 Note that no mileages are given between these points. The only way to find the mileage is to record the reading on your car’s odometer at each point. (The odometer is the mileage-measuring part of your speedometer — the part you look at when buying a used ear or when you’re wondering if it’s time to change the oil.) Knowing the distance you have driven enables you to calculate, with pencil and paper, how close you have come to maintaining the average speed. At this point one of the quick students in the back of the room points out that you will always be behind in your calculations, as you have to drive the distance before you can figure the time. Exactly. This is where’ the skill enters the picture. An experienced rally driver can maintain a speed very close to that 32.5 mph (or whatever) for several miles while his navigator calculates their average speed to the last decimal point. It takes practice, like any skill, it can be learned in time.

 What kinds of people are rallyists? All kinds and all ages, from 18 year olds with shiny new licenses up to and often including their parents.clipboard

Rallying is a game of mental as well as driving ability — distance measurement to the one-hundredth of a mile and timing to the second put a premium on people who enjoy doing precision work, high math ability is not necessary since the arithmetic involved is not above the eighth grade level. In fact, many rallyists simply drive “by the scat—of—the- pants,” guess at the average speeds, enjoy the scenery — and often beat the more mathematically inclined types.

In short, if you like a drive in the country on a Sunday afternoon and take pleasure in competitive games of skill and precision, you will enjoy rallying. If you’re the sociable type, remember there’s almost always some kind of social affair after the rally — to the extent that some people think of a rally as an excuse for a party.

 The equipment needed to get started in rallying is pretty simple. A car, of course, is kind of obvious. And it must be in safe condition, with seatbelts. What kind of car? The game is usually called sports car rallying, so is a sports car necessary? Not at all. You’ll see many sports cars on every rally hut you won’t feel a hit out of place in your old family bus. Rallies have been run by just about everything from the tiniest of imported two-seaters to the most capacious American station wagons as well as jeeps and pick-up trucks. Once, on an economy run (a type of rally in which the point is to follow the route and get the best gas mileage) one thoughtful chap entered a gargantuan ready-mix concrete’ truck! The gas mileage calculations for scoring the event took into account the vehicle weight (in order not to give too much advantage to the little imports) so, though he only averaged about 10 or 12 miles to the gallon, his enormous gross weight gave him top honors in terms of “ton-miles” per gallon. He called it a “sports mixer” on the entry form.

 About the only guidelines that can he given on vehicle type are that motorcycles are out (rallying alone is too dangerous — you must have a navigator to help you follow the route instructions). Also, since the emphasis in choice of routes is winding hack roads rather than superhighways, your Fleetwood or Continental may prove a trifle ponderous for a lighthearted tour down country lanes. Rallies are run in all kinds of weather, and the modest weather protection of some of the more sporting sports cars may prove too limited for you. Having to brush snow off the clipboard so as to read the next route instruction can dampen even the most ardent enthusiasm.

 Generally, the larger and better appointed sports cars come off well, as do the middle-size imported sedans, and the smaller (and sportier) domestics. Commonly seen on local rallies are Mustangs, Cougars, Porsches, VWs, Volvos, Mercedes-Benz, Camaros, Triumphs, Corvettes and Datsuns.

 And don’t worry about a rally being hard on the car. A properly set-up local rally will not require you to abuse your car in any way. Do think about starting out with the car in safe condition. Rally organizers are a safety conscious bunch, and may preface a rally with a safety check that would rival an official state inspection. Seat belts are almost universally required.

 Optional equipment will depend on tastes, abilities, and interests. As I mentioned, you must have a navigator — it’s required by the rules, and the rules also usually say only two people per car. If you’re single here’s a good place for a Sunday afternoon date. if you are married, you have a choice. You can rally with your spouse, and many top-rated rally teams are husband and wife; or you can split up. On a number of local rally teams the wives join up against their husbands — and the girls have been known to come in first.

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Clipboards are a big help for holding route instructions where they can be read and for keeping track of such things as check point cards and special notes. Extra pencils are recommended, since you usually drop one under the seat just when the route gets complicated. Slide rules are a help in doing arithmetic, if you know how to use them. If you don’t, there are special rallying slide rules marked off in minutes and miles. These are available from sports car specialty houses, and they come complete with instructions. You’ll need a watch of -some sort with a sweep-second hand if possible. Stop watches are veryuseful and acceptable ones may be purchased for less than $20. Finally, pads of paper in a convenient size are an absolute must. 

As in any sport or hobby, how far you want to go in the equipment line depends on the depth of your pocket and your personal taste for gadgets. There are lots of trinkets you can buy for rallying, up to and including electronic computers costing hundreds of dollars. The best way to find out what you want is to try a rally or two and see how things go. If you turn out to be happy as a carefree seat-of-the-pants rallyist, you won’t need to spend your money on anything more than a tune-up for the buckboard.

Like to get started in this intriguing game? Your local Region of the Sports Car Club of America probably has several rallies each year. Many of them will be oriented toward the novice rallyist. Farther afield, also open to you are SCCA’s big league events, the National (two- day) and Divisional (one-day) rallies. Entry in these more advanced events is divided into two classes — Equipped (for the hot-shots with gadgets) and Unequipped for just plain rallyists without gadgets. For information about these events and how to contact your local Region, write: