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STARTING A RALLY PROGRAM – The Name of the Game

By on August 28, 2013

Getting Started in Building a Road Rally Program 

by Patrick Strong, Regional Development Committee 

If you’re reading RoadRally eNews, chances are that you’re already an active participant in the SCCA’s rally program, either as a competitor (Driver or Navigator), Rallymaster, or event staffer (such as Checkpoint Worker, Scoring, Road Rally Safety Steward, Pre-Checker). However, it’s also possible that you are new to rallying, and perhaps have an eye on bringing Road Rally to your Region. If it’s the latter, you have may have my sympathies. The prospect of starting a Road Rally program from scratch is daunting; there are forms to be completed, staff to be recruited, routes to be planned, and events to be publicized.

To help smooth your path toward becoming a Road Rally Event Chair or Rallymaster, RReNews will present a series of how-to articles that will hopefully demystify the task of starting a program the SCCA way. We’ll walk you through the sanctioning process, give you pointers on course creation and event safety, and recommend ways to generate healthy entry lists. First, though, we need to define what an SCCA Road Rally is…what’s the name of the game?

SCCA Road Rallies generally fall into one of three categories: Tour, Course, and GTA (for Game-Tour-Adventure). Each rally style has a distinctive personality, and will require varying levels of preparation from the Rallymaster. It is likely that each category will appeal to a different subset of road rallyists, though in a nascent program it’s probably safe to assume that most entrants will be relative novices themselves and may be up for anything!

Tour rallies are a straightforward form of TSD (time-speed-distance) rally. In a Tour, entrants are given a specific, unambiguous set of route instructions with assigned average speeds to achieve over segments of the course. For competitors, the object of a Tour Rally is to arrive at checkpoints along the route exactly on time (neither early nor late). Tours might be created to highlight the scenery of a particular area, or to give driving enthusiasts a chance to tackle a challenging set of roads. Additional demands can be made of navigators by including frequent speed changes or the need for identification of tough-to-spot landmarks to remain on time.

A Course rally takes the TSD format a step further by adding the concept of “traps.” Course rallies incorporate route instructions that require contestants to interpret the guiding rules of an event (or “General Instructions”) correctly in order to stay on course. The object for the Rallymaster is not to get competitors lost, but rather to create “off-course” traps that will cause rallyists to eventually arrive at “on-course” checkpoints, but at an incorrect time.

GTA rallies might not incorporate a timing element to determine competitors’ success. Instead, contestant scores could be determined by a quiz on landmarks encountered along the route, through success in solving a mystery or completing a scavenger hunt, or even by random chance (such as on a “poker run” where rallyists receive a playing card at each checkpoint, with the best poker hand winning). Rallymasters have a tremendous amount of latitude in creating GTAs, as there is not a specific “correct” way to write one!

If you’re considering hosting a Road Rally, you probably already have a sense of the sort of experience you wish to provide – a relaxing drive to a winery, for example, or a thrilling run through the canyons! Your event will likely fit into one of the above three Series, but as a rookie Rallymaster you may be unsure which one is right for you. Here are a couple of things to consider:

  • TSD rallies require some sort of timing system to score competitors’ on-time accuracy. Though it’s not required that a Region have fancy, expensive timing systems, you’ll need to have something in place to measure timing and official mileage, as well as sufficient event staff to run it (both of which will be discussed in further detail in future articles.) Consequently, a GTA might be a good fit for upstart programs. Simple Tours with minimal timing needs may also work well.
  • All Road Rally Series must be run to a set of event rules called General Instructions (again, to be discussed in a future article). Course Rallies will require a set of General Instructions that are sophisticated enough to allow Rallymasters to exploit them to create off-course opportunities, a.k.a. traps. While Course Rallies can be extremely fun to write – and to run! – they usually demand a bit of experience to put together in a way that won’t alienate would-be competitors with their complexity. It is the opinion of your humble author that use of Course Rallies be deferred until your region has a few GTAs or Tours under its collective belt along with a refined set of General Instructions.

Once you’ve determined which type of rally is right for you, you’re ready to start developing a route, recruiting an event staff, and of course, getting the necessary sanction in place with the SCCA. Next month, we’ll discuss the sanctioning process: what paperwork you’ll need to file, what type of event sanction to request, how much it costs, and how long it takes.

Until then, get out and start dreaming up rally routes!

Patrick Strong, SCCA Member, Cal Club Region wears a few different hats in the rally world: he serves on the RDC (Regional Development Committee), as his Region’s Publicity Chairperson for Cal Club’s Road Rally affiliate, the Santa Monica Sports Car Club and he Rallymasters three events per year – two First Friday Niter social rallies and the “The Spring Classic” Regional Tour, with his first event in 2011. As a competitor, he’s a driver first, with a preference for pavement-based TSDs. Competing in Limited (with a navigator uses an Excel spreadsheet linked to official rally time for an “up-or-down” function, they run with the stock, uncoupled odometer). Rallying since 2008, he drives a vintage Toyota MR2, which is especially well-suited for Southern California’s canyon roads.

Downloaded from RoadRally eNews September 2013 Edition.

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