Return to Rainier Auto Sports Club Homepage

Rainier Auto Sports Club

Overview of Rally

The following is a description of what Rainier Auto Sports Club and rallying is all about, contributed by Mark Nolte, past editor of the Wishbone Alley Gazette.

Rainier Auto Sports Club is devoted to promotion, participation, and enjoyment of car rallys. By definition, a "rally" can be just about anything that involves cars moving on public roads, with some sort of scoring system to reward the best rallyist. This precludes any sort of "wheel to wheel"
competition. Of course, since its on public roads, the rally must abide by applicable laws.

For RASC purposes, there are three kinds of rallying:

  1. Stage rallys
  2. TSD rallys
  3. Gimmick rallys

Stage Rallys are held world wide, ranging from the World Rally Cup (Safari, Monte Carlo, RAC in Great Britain, for instance) to our local Sports Car Club of America Divisional PRO-Rallys (TM). The idea is to close down a section of road, control access to it, then send the competitors out at one-minute intervals. Fastest team wins. Link a string of these Stages together and you have a rally! While the big boys spend thousands of dollars on their cars, which are specially built/modified for each rally (the Safari cars are reinforced, the Monte Carlo cars are lightened), the local rallyists are budget-limited. RASC members compete in the Divisional rallys according to the class they build the car for, or their experience level. Rules about car setup are contained in the SCCA rulebooks.   RASC also provides part of the army of WORKERS who make these rallys happen. Course Marshal's write the Route Book that guides the rallys through the rally, Stage Captain's manage their Stage, and Workers may either be timing the rallyists at either end of the Stage, or simply blocking side roads (called Road Guards). We never, ever have too many workers. We always need more!

TSD Rallys: (Time-Speed-Distance) There are many variations of TSD rallys, which depend on checkpoints along the route to score the rallyists. The Rally Route is carefully laid out and timed, then the rallyists must match the Route Instructions to arrive at the checkpoints at the precise time the Rallymaster determined they should arrive. If the rallyist drives too fast, they arrive at the checkpoint too early (score points) or too slow, they arrive late (score points). Low score wins. Under the TSD format, each rally is somewhat unique. A "straight forward TSD" provides the rallyists with Route Instructions, which they follow over public roads. Since the correct speeds are indicated in the RI's, its easy to calculate the precise time each rallyist should be at any one point
along the route (they are one minute apart). Each rally runs under a multipage rulebook, called the General Instructions. These Generals provide the definitions and abbreviations used for the rally. Rally "series" would abide by the same Generals. But the Generals for Washington rallys aren't
identical to Oregon rallys. To add spice to the TSD format, the Generals can be used to "trap" the rallyists. These are usually well thought out, planned, and enjoyable (ooops...). A favorite is the ONTO trap. When instructed ONTO a road by name or number, stay on that road until instructed
off that road. The Rallymaster finds a named road that turns right when the apparent main road seems to go straight. If the rallyist catches the signpost, they'll stay right, on that named road. The unwary will blunder on ahead until they realize their error or the rallymaster's plan sends them
back onto the correct route. A rally that puts together a series of these "traps" is often called "tricky-trappy". In its ultimate form, the winner may simply have followed the correct route, and arrival times at the checkpoints is of less importance.

At the other extreme, there are the long distance "touring" rallys. The timed Sections are linked with Transit Sections; Transits are just to get from one TSD Section to another, and are not scored. On the 5000 mile "Alcan Rally", a Transit can be 200+ miles long, followed by a 40 mile TSD, then another long Transit. Imagine driving all that distance, and arriving at the checkpoints on the precise second, time after time, for 5 days!

3) Gimmick/Club rallys- For this explanation, there are "poker runs", "sign hunts", and such. Strictly for fun, sometimes with gimmick trophies. Generally, there are no restrictions on speeds. This can lead to rallyists speeding, which isn't encouraged by responsible clubs.

RASC Rally Names

NOR'WESTER: The name was coined by Jack Deno in the mid-60's. Originally an 800 mile weekend tour of Washington, the rally evolved to be a Stage Rally in the mid-70's.

Tour de Forest: When the NOR'WESTER was a spring Stage rally, RASC decided to put on a Stage Rally in the fall. This was a friendly little evening rally, and eventually linked up with another stage rally to make a weekend of rallying. The source of the name is murky, since some cheap
wine was involved in the selection.

Alcan Rally: The intent was to rally the Alcan Highway, starting from Seattle. Since 1984, the Alcan Highway has been paved and tamed, and the rally has evolved, too. Running in the dead of winter avoids the tourist traffic and the famous Alaskan insects. The road surface isn't much worse at
"ten-below" than in the summer, either. The northern British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaskan scenery tends to distract the rallyists!

Raindrop Rally: A TSD for the beginner. RASC tries to put on the "classic" Sunday afternoon rally close to our Puget Sound base. Starts at 11 AM, ends about 3PM. Usually the third week of April, but varies depending on other schedules.

Harvest Moon: This introduced the "Monte Carlo" format to the Northwest. The standard TSD format required rallyists to stop at each checkpoint; this divided the rally into "legs". With the Monte Carlo format, we instituted "passage checkpoints", wherein the rallyists were timed as they passed the locations, but didn't stop. RASC hasn't put on a Harvest Moon in years.

Jabberwocky: This became the ultimate "tricky-trappy" rally. Rallymasters would lay out trap on top of trap, with Route Controls to track the rallyists (besides the checkpoints). A RASC variation was to place stickers on the windshield at each Route Control, a red one for "Off Course", a
green one for "On Course." At the finish, it was obvious who had entered the most Off Course controls! Unfortunately, this format fell into disfavor when the Generals allowed too much room for cleverness. The classic was defining "bridge"- can a bridge be a simple culvert? Must it go over
water, or can it be an underpass for cows to get from one field to another? And does a bridge have two "ends"? ("Change speed at end of bridge"). RASC hasn't put on a Jabberwocky since 1973.

Evergreen State 1000: This touring rally covers a large section of Washington State over the span of a weekend. At 600 miles, it has started at some fairly remote locations and finished within three hours of Puget Sound. As a tour, it takes the rallyists to places they may not get to otherwise, with
time to "look and see". The 1996 version had a 3 hour stop to tour a limestone cave and Boundry Dam at the far NE corner of the state.

Friday Nighters: In order to train novices for the "big rallys", RASC instituted a monthly 35-mile TSD on the second Friday of each month. (These were also profitable enough to support the long rallys) Since 1968, RASC has shared the series with other clubs, to the point that we only put on one each year. The format remains the same: an eastside start, with registration opening at 6:45, First Car Out at 7:31 PM, and finishes at 9:30, with trophies at 10PM.

Other Clubs RASC belongs to the Northwest Rally Council (NWRC). This organization provides insurance coverage for rallys, and promotion of club events. Its strictly TSD oriented. Member clubs include Olympic Rally Competition Associaton (ORCA) (Puget Sound), South Sound Race and Rally (Olympia), Chuckanut Sports Car Club (Bellingham), Datsun Enthusiasts, Bremerton Sports Car Club, barc ( I dunno what it stands for, lower case...), and MG Car Club. A similar arrangement exists in the Portland area (with Friday Nighters on the first Friday of the month), and Vancouver, British Columbia (25 clubs, including some on Vancouver Island).

There are various marque clubs in the Puget Sound region for Jaguar, Saab, Volvo, Corvette, Porsche, VW, Triumph, and Mustangs. Probably others, too.

The Northwest Region of the Sports Car Club of America boasts 1500 members, and includes racers, rallyists, and, uh, "cone crushers" (Solo/Autocross). The SCCA provides insurance for events by a sanctioning process, and smaller clubs, such as RASC take the profit/loss for their
events. The SCCA also puts on their own events, through their own membership. RASC members have been WORKERS at other club's events. The "Black Sheep Marshals" worked the Olympus Rally, for instance. A third of the workers on the "Lost Patrol" were RASC members