An Un-concise History of
Rainier Auto Sports Club
by Mark Nolte
In the beginning, there was Puget Sound Sports Car Club. A huge organization that did it
all. There was also the local SCCA Region, and a bunch of marque clubs (for MG, Triumph,
Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa, Mini, etc. owners). In the mid-sixty's, PSSCC got too big and folks
went off in groups to form their own clubs. This is thought to have been caused by the
budget battles, where profits from races, rallys, and gymkhanas all went into a big
budget, never to be seen by their champions
again. As the rallyists formed their own clubs, the racers also split to form the ICSCC
(known as the Conference.) What was left of PSSCC turned out to be racers who liked to
rally, and the rallyists. This "big bang" left the Puget Sound region with a
bunch of rally clubs, none very large, but hard core. RASC formed with about 20 members
and has stayed that way ever since, with rallying as its only advocacy and all the other
forms of motorsport deemed to be a fringe area.
RASC got the reputation for being hardcore by putting on rallys that were deadly serious
in their goal. If it was a long TSD, then it took 2 days, and was called the NOR'WESTER.
If it was tricky-trappy, then the Jabberwocky was so tough that the leg scores were
unimportant compared to the accumulation of on- and off-route control points. In 1968,
RASC initiated a monthly Friday Niter series, which continues to this day in the same
format (I hear the idea was stolen from a Bay
area club). RASC members also carried the name all over the country. This was in the days
when roads were rough, but trailering the car was admitting that it was going to be
trashed- no guts. The rest of the community was dazzled by the amount of money the RASC
folk devoted to their sport.
The sport evolved a lot. Up until 1971, a tough rally was a long TSD, with checkpoints
encountered on the hour or so. Most ran all night, with awards at 8 AM. The roads got
rougher and the speeds went up (well, for the NOR'WESTER) until part of the game was
finishing in one piece. And the "tricky-trappy's" required a knowledge of the
protest decisions of the last rallys in the series, and perhaps a lawyer-like knowledge of
the Generals. Under the SCCA's banner, the PRO-Rally
series was formed and RASC transformed the NOR'WESTER to the new format. Roads were
actually closed down, arrows marked the stage route, and a sweep truck was designated to
carry communications from one checkpoint to another. HAM radios came later. As the safety
requirements became stricter, the rally length decreased until the logistics for people
whittled it down to maybe 4 closed roads, with live people parked at all the crossroads.
We've had a great safety record in the Northwest. The price of a single non-rallyist
"incident" would probably end the "real road" aspect of the sport.
RASC also introduced the Monte Carlo format in the NW, way back in 1982. Passage controls
(hidden checkpoints) replaced the "stop at the checkpoints" style of prior
rallys. It required precise layout, but required fewer workers. Of course, some rallyists
growled that they wouldn't be able to double check their checkpoint times, but more
checkpoints evened things out, in theory.
NEXT: Where the names came from.