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An Introduction to Road Rallies

By frankwork in Culture
Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 10:30:57 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

When most people think of a rally in the motorsports sense, they picture immensely powerful all-wheel-drive vehicles hurtling sideways down a dirt road, missing by inches a horde of fanatical spectators.

A slightly tamer but much more accessible variant of this activity exists as well. Road rallies are organized quite regularly by local car clubs, with little more than a street legal vehicle required to participate. While there are some variations on the format, generally the goal in a rally is to drive at a specified average speed according to a set of instructions given out just prior to the start of the event.

Read on to find out what it takes to participate.

The "hurtling sideways down a dirt road" type of rally is usually categorized as a performance rally. Because certain expensive safety equipment is required by the rules (primarily a roll cage, fire suits and helmets), and certain expensive modifications are strongly advised (such as rally tires and uprated suspension), entering a performance rally is not very accessible to a novice of modest financial means.

A road rally is basically free of cost by comparison. Road rallies are held on open public roadways at speeds that are (at least on average) below the posted speed limit. Cars are usually unmodified "daily drivers," with only a few basic safety items required, such as a warning triangle and a first aid kit.

The basic gist of a road rally is that you're given a set of directions incorporating average speeds, along with landmarks, times, and/or distances at which to change your average speed. The goal is to arrive at a set of checkpoints (whose location is generally kept secret) at the correct time.

The Basics

The way a road rally is set up is that the organizer (or "rallymaster") chooses a route, usually on a scenic or otherwise interesting road. He or she then chooses a reasonable average speed for each section (always below the speed limit if the rally takes place on public roads), and picks out landmarks (quite often road signs) to designate where the average speed will change. The next step is to measure precisely the distance between the landmarks, and the location of the checkpoints. Finally, the time that the vehicles are to pass each checkpoint is derived from the distance and specified average speed. The rallymaster compiles a set of "route instructions" that specify the average speeds, landmarks, and directions.

The directions are written according to a very specific set of rules laid out in the "general instructions" which are usually available well in advance of the rally (e.g. on the organizer's Web site) and are quite often handed out together with the route instructions before the start of the rally.

The competitors in the rally need to stay on course and follow the average speed for each section, as well as change speeds at the landmarks. This would be relatively straightforward on a route with no curves or stops. To keep things interesting, these sorts of routes are usually avoided. Thus the competitors have to resort to various tricks -- and the occasional bit of "spirited driving" -- to keep up with the specified average speed.

Almost all road rallies are run with a driver and a co-driver, along with (somewhat rarely) any additional passengers. The co-driver's job is to read the route instructions and tell the driver where to go and how fast to drive. The driver and the navigator (another name for the co-driver) usually share responsibility for spotting the landmarks listed in the route instructions.

Technically-minded people will note that keeping track of the proper speed is made trivial if a precision odometer along with a reasonably accurate clock is mated to a computer in the car. Such "rally computers" are fairly common, but will place the competitors in a class with similarly-equipped cars.

Times, Speeds, and Distances

Times in road rallies are based on a hypothetical "Car Zero" (car numbers signify nothing more than the starting order). If the event starts at 6 PM, the first car leaves at 6:01 PM. Subsequent cars leave (in order of their number) at one minute intervals. When the route instructions list car zero as passing a point at, say, 19:23.20 (that's 12 seconds after 7:23 PM) and you are in car number 20, you need to leave that point at 7:43:12 PM.

Again, speeds are specified as averages (using the acronym CAST, meaning "change average speed to," even when there is no change involved). The CAST (it's also used as a noun) will be a few miles/kilometers per hour below the posted speed limit to allow you to slow down for curves, stop signs, and traffic lights and not have to exceed the speed limit to keep your average speed on track.

As mentioned earlier, the directions are described via a very specific set of rules. One instruction might be 'L onto Main St.' which is different from 'L at "Main St".' The first instruction tells you to turn left onto the street called Main Street and stay on it even if it changes direction later. The latter instruction tells you to turn left when you see a sign (as defined in the general instructions) that says "Main St" -- not "Main Street" -- onto an eligible road (also as defined in the general instructions). "Trap rallies" make a point of using such technicalities to trick the competitors into choosing the wrong direction, wrong speed or wrong time at which to change speeds.


Competitors are scored at locations called checkpoints. A checkpoint crew records the time at which the car arrives at or passes the checkpoint, either with or without the competitors' knowledge. (Do-it-yourself checkpoints also exist, where the competitors record the time they pass a specified landmark). Usually a point is given for every second or hundredth of a minute that the car arrives early or late. Usually a cap exists, such that you can't rack up more than, say, 300 points on any given checkpoint. The points from all the checkpoints are summed up, and the competitors with the lowest score wins.


Most events have a novice class, with neither the driver nor the co-driver having entered more than a certain number of events. Another common class is "S.O.P." (seat of pants), which restricts the equipment to be used to the vehicle's stock odometer, a pen and paper, and a basic watch or stopwatch. An "unlimited" or "equipped" class allows a computer (electronic or otherwise) to be connected to the car's wheels to measure distance (GPS units would probably also put you into this class).


As mentioned earlier, some rallies incorporate "traps" in the route instructions. These are commonly called TSD rallies. The term is somewhat interchangeable with a road rally, although the latter term connotes an absence of traps (sometimes called a "tour" rally).

Most small events take place on paved roads close to major urban centers. Larger events will often incorporate gravel or snow-covered roads, and will traverse greater distances in rural areas. Many large events take place over two or more days.

"Brisk" rallies have the average speeds set close to the legal speed limit (and often faster than a reasonable person might otherwise drive). A performance rally is little more than an infinitely brisk road rally (the allowed time for stage is zero), which understandably requires the course to be closed and the cars to be specially equipped.

Some rallies are known as gimmick rallies, where some "skill" other than driving at a given speed is tested. An example of this would be a rally incorporating a scavenger hunt.

Getting Started

The first step, assuming you have a car and a friend, is to find an event to enter. Events can be found in the US by visiting the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Web site, or in Canada through the Canadian Association of Rally Sport (CARS) site. I imagine most first-world countries have similar organizations, and countless local clubs who may or may not be affiliated with national and international organizations also hold road rally events.

Good introductory events usually last from 1 to 3 hours and usually cost between US$10 and $20 to enter. This covers the cost of insuring the event and miscellaneous expenses (such as printing up instructions) associated with organizing the event. You'll want to budget for a full tank of gas, and you may want to have some money left over for the usual post-rally restaurant meal. A good watch (I prefer digital), a pen, a clipboard and a reading light will make the event much more pleasant.

Plan to arrive at a short rally (such as one of the common "First Friday Nighter" rallies) with at least an hour to spare before the "First Car Out" time. You'll want to leave time to fill up with fuel, possibly grab a snack, register for the event, and read the general instructions. You'll also want to set your watch to official rally time.

Once you register, you'll receive a set of general instructions and a set of Route Instructions (although these are sometimes given out later, say at half an hour prior to the start). The general instructions describe the organizers' basic rules (such as which way to turn when the route instructions don't specify a direction), and define some acronyms and terms. The route instructions are specific to the event and describe in detail where and when to turn, change speeds and so on. You'll probably also receive a car number. You'll have to put the car number someplace visible and also remember it.

Your out time will be the "Car Zero" out time plus your car number in minutes. Then it is simply a matter of following the route instructions (with any ambiguities resolved in the general instructions) and attempting to stay on course and on time.

Good luck!


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An Introduction to Road Rallies | 44 comments (40 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Precision odometer? (none / 0) (#2)
by j1mmy on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 10:06:06 PM EST

Is there really such a thing as a precision odometer? How precise is it? I've always been under the impression the odometry is inaccurate by it's very nature, due to wheel slippage and whatever else.

Precision, yes. (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by tftp on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 11:47:03 PM EST

If you use GPS then the error is fixed, and stays at very low level - actually, the relative error gets lower as you drive on.

Wheel slippage is not that significant (unless you drive like mad :-) and is easy to calibrate.

[ Parent ]

Precision (none / 0) (#6)
by ktakki on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 12:19:38 AM EST

If the odometer is attached to a non-driven wheel (e.g., front wheel on a rear-wheel-drive car), then slippage is not a big issue.

However, some odometers are geared off of the drive shaft at the output of the transmission, and both wheel slippage and tire diameter can cause odometer (and speedometer) errors.

br. k.
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

5th Wheels/Rally Computers (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by nagasa on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 03:11:27 PM EST

On some of the more, shall we say, enthusiastic road rally participant's cars, you can find 5th wheels and rally computers.

The 5th wheel is a lightweight, bicycle style wheel mounted on the side of a TSD rally car and is manufactured to an exact roundness. They also have solid rubber 'tires' that won't change the rolling diameter of the wheel. Because of the high precision roundness and light weight, the 5th wheel won't slip, so speed/distance measurements taken from it are usually VERY exact.

Time/Speed/Distance computers take information from the 5th wheel and a highly accurate clock to calculate the exact position of the car on the rally course. Check out ALPHA Rally Products for more info.

Notice that I used the word 'exact' a lot, true rally enthusiasts are some of the most precision oriented (read- anal retentive) people I know. You need to be when +/- ten seconds can be the difference between first and 20th place in a competitive rally.

[ Parent ]

1/100th of a mile (none / 0) (#39)
by JonesBoy on Tue Sep 17, 2002 at 03:17:00 PM EST

Precision odometers usually measure to the hundredth of a mile.   They can be attached to driven or nondriven wheels.   It is rare to see a fifth wheel odometer in use by anyone except the rally master.   Precision odometers are electronic, and operate off a magnetic pickup.   They have to be calibrated to the rallymasters' odometer on a premeasured stretch of road prior to the beginning of a rally.   People with standard odometers just have to estimate how off their meter is per mile, and add/subtract that from the recorded stage miles.

Performance Rally instructions usually have "tulip" diagrams, which is a "stick figure" representation of a turn or intersection, a stage mileage, and a mileage from the last instruction.   Since you reset the odometer at every instruction, you do not have too much error from wheel spin and slip.   If you do sense a lot of this, you have to add on/subtract a fudge factor.

Road rallys usually do not involve spinning wheels and skids, and therefore do not really have lost/gained mileage problems.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]

Silver state challenege (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by strlen on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 11:37:52 PM EST

A great example of a road rallye is the silver state challenge, which occurs in Nevada. Unfortunately, I don't have a URL handy, but google has yielded a couple of results which provide a good explanation for what it is: basically it involves several speed classes, where the goal is to have a certain average speed for the duration of event. The clases I believe are 110, 130 and 140.

The only safety equipment needed is a helmet, and a 4-point racing harness (which can be attached to stock seat belt mounting points), though the 140 class does require racing seats.

Othere amateur racing events that need to be mentioned is autocross. Autocross doesn't require an enormous amount of horsepower, as it's done within a highly twisted path setup in a parking lot, alocated by cones. All it requires is a good suspension setup, and above all skill. SCCA's name for autocross is soloII, here's a link with a great expalanation.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

Quick glance: (1.33 / 3) (#10)
by Aneurin on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 10:28:21 AM EST

Grammar oddity: to allow you to slow down for curves, stop signs, and traffic lights needs to have that last comma removed.  I think I saw a few other comma mishaps too.

Subjective: Excessive parenthesis use is a little bit distracting and reduces the flow of an otherwise well written piece. +1FP for you.
Just think: the entire Internet, running on jazz. -Canthros

Above should be editorial (nt) (none / 0) (#11)
by Aneurin on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 10:28:50 AM EST

Just think: the entire Internet, running on jazz. -Canthros

[ Parent ]
It's correct (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by kiltedtaco on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 11:52:31 AM EST

It is actualy correct usage.

[ Parent ]
Thanks. (none / 0) (#13)
by Aneurin on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 12:17:19 PM EST

It would seem that my English teachers aren't qualified to do their job.  The UK education system is failing after all! Time for me to take a read of some grammar books to correct this injustice! :-)
Just think: the entire Internet, running on jazz. -Canthros

[ Parent ]
the serial comma (none / 0) (#17)
by mercenary on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 04:45:29 PM EST

...is actually a subject of some debate, so both of you have supporters.

Supposedly newspapers stopped placing the last comma in a list to save space, and do so to this day.

Most articles I find by searching Google with "serial comma" say that it should stay in, and that's my preference because it's more clear. (There are plenty of humorous examples of sentences that have a very strange meaning without the serial comma.)

However, if you are a journalist or write copy for someone who uses the Associated Press stylebook, the serial comma is verboten.

[ Parent ]

Very Interesting (none / 0) (#18)
by Aneurin on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 05:46:32 PM EST

Thanks; I see what you mean by 'humorous examples' and I agree with you after that bit of research.
Just think: the entire Internet, running on jazz. -Canthros

[ Parent ]
My word! (none / 0) (#20)
by m0rzo on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 06:52:32 PM EST

Commas should never, under any circumstances, precede a conjunctive; basic rules of grammar, I'm afraid.

My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

on serial commas (5.00 / 3) (#23)
by Sleepy In Seattle on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 01:14:07 AM EST

Is the comma before "and" (a.k.a. the "serial comma") correct or incorrect? It depends on whom you consider the authority on such matters. I have noticed that the dominant trend seems to be that writers of British English will omit a comma in that position, whereas writes of American English -- with some major exceptions among journalists -- will include one. But house style also differs from place to place.

Here are what a few different sources say:

  • Chicago Manual of Style 13th Ed. indicates that it should be used (item 5.50).
  • Strunk and White's The Elements of Style 3rd Ed. indicates that it should be used (page 2).
  • Fowler's Modern English Usage 3rd Ed. (under "comma", entry 4), reads: "a comma should precede the and....[it] is frequently, but in my view unwisely, omitted by many other publishers. Their preference is to omit it as a general rule...but to insert it if there is a danger of misunderstanding."
  • Dictionary.com calls it "a matter of taste", and includes an example where omitting the comma creates a rather amusing ambiguity.
  • I don't have a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, but I believe it specifies that a serial comma should not be used.
  • The alt.usage.english FAQ reads, "both styles are common" and shows that either standard can result in ambiguity.
Bottom line: Educated users disagree. As long as a particular author's usage is consistent, I don't think it's anything worth quibbling about.

[ Parent ]
TSD Rallys are great fun (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by CokeFiend on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 02:09:11 PM EST

I went on my first TSD rally earlier this year near Ithaca, NY. It was really a lot of fun. This rally was run at night over dirt roads in the middle of nowhere. We were trying to maintain 30 mph and let me tell you it was quite a challenge. There were hairpin turns, drop offs, rutted roads, and it was dark. I guess this was what you'd call a 'brisk' rally.

I remember one of the first couple turns there was a Dodge Intrepid in the ditch, I don't think he knew what he was in for!

The people at these things are great too. They're all really friendly and willing to help a newbie.

If you enjoy driving and want to have some safe, legal fun in your car TSD rallys are a great way to do it.

long lines at checkpoints? (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by mercenary on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 04:39:18 PM EST

Thanks for the article; the only stuff I "know" about road rallies comes from Deathrace 2000 and Cannonball Run.

One thing I'm wondering about.. is a strategy to drive really fast toward a checkpoint, and then park just before it until your time comes up?  Is there a minimum speed you need to stay at?

speeding to the checkpoint (none / 0) (#30)
by CokeFiend on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 07:28:11 PM EST

There is a specific rule against doing what you said. If they see you parked beside the road you get a penalty.

I don't know of a minumum speed other than that though.

[ Parent ]

Revision: (1.53 / 15) (#19)
by faustus on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 06:27:33 PM EST

Rallies are horrible for a number of reasons:

  • Fact #1: More cars on the road means more pollution, which means more noise, exhaust, and accidents. This leads to unbearably loud cities, global climate change, more injured people and the garbage of wrecked cars.

  • Fact #2: Rallies reflect a Western indifference to the third-world. Not only are we wrecking the enviroment for everybody, but have the audacity to waste precious-fuel like it was food.

  • Fact #3: Rallies are really for the rich who no longer work for a living, and therefore have all the free time in the world to drive their gas guzzling Ferraris around. This reeks of class and ethnic elitism which the civil rights movement has been trying to squash for years. Road Rallying, like Polo, is one giant step backwards in the march to equality and cleaner living.

    I hope the other side of the coin will help prevent fellow k5ers from participating in such events as murderous Road Rallies.

    --VegDot: Vegan Living, Vegetarian Dining, Health, Animal Rights, Non-Violence

  • Tips / Instructions for organizing your own rally (none / 0) (#21)
    by kisielk on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 07:13:23 PM EST

    How about some tips and/or instructions for organizing such a rally challenege? I think this would be an interesting event to host for any group of people (I am thinking maybe as a student society event at school) especially if it is easily accessible to people with average cars and equipment.

    Talk, talk, it's only talk. Arguments, agreements, advice, answers, articulate announcements. It's all just talk."
    - Elephant Talk, King Crimson

    [ Parent ]
    Don't like it? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by x136 on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 12:54:07 AM EST

    Don't do it. Move on. Find something constructive to do, instead of bashing things that other people enjoy.

    hyaku san'juu roku
    [ Parent ]

    You're a moron for a couple of reasons: (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by strlen on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 03:33:50 AM EST

    1. There's no valid scientific reasons for me to believe climate change, "global warming scenarios". There's also no more cars on the road during a rally then normally, as rally drivers already have cars. As for accidents, don't want to get in a wreck while at a rally? PLEASE DONT JOIN THE FUCKING RALLY, IDIOT. As for pollution, modern day cars are very clean. A ship in port, in an hour, will produce more pollution, than a million cars will do in a year.
    2. Precious fuel? Sorry, but there's already solutions for replacing petroleum fuels (such as bio diesels, fuel cells), so when it runs out, there's absolutely no reason for the rest of the world to live as normal, unless they're idiots who cant adapt to new technology. But majority of trucking, heating, and other life-essential uses of energy already use diesel, which can readily be produced from biological products.And a great deal of energy is used in terms of electricity, which can be produced from non-fossil sources. Also, i'd like to point out that vast majority of third world problems, are due to their own fucking stupidity and have very little do with the west.
    3. Bullshit, idiot. I've known tons of people who participate in amateur auto sports, including rallying, and earn your average wage. Amateur auto sport can be a very inexpensive hobby.
    I hope this side of the coin will help fellow k5ers from believing into leftist idiocy. Hmm, enough for now, I'm going to go eat some red-meat.

    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    Riiighhtttt.... (none / 0) (#26)
    by birdsong on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 11:10:20 AM EST

    Fact #1: There's no reason to spread your bleeding heart opinion all over the place when what you claim as fact is really only opinion.

    Fact #2: You should pray someone doesn't come up to you and hit you on the head with a tack hammer because you are a retard.

    [ Parent ]

    Safe and legal, or unsafe and illegal? (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by metalfan on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 02:00:15 AM EST

    I found this article an interesting introduction to a sport/activity I've never heard of before. However, there are a few things that don't seem right.

    For example:
    Thus the competitors have to resort to various tricks -- and the occasional bit of "spirited driving" -- to keep up with the specified average speed.
    What exactly is meant by the term "spirited driving?" Although the drivers may not be breaking any laws, aggressive driving is not necessarily safe.

    "Brisk" rallies have the average speeds set close to the legal speed limit (and often faster than a reasonable person might otherwise drive).
    I interpret this as: faster than everyone else on the road. Driving faster than everyone else on the road is NOT safe. If you are driving faster than everyone else on the road, you are probably exceeding the speed limit. That's breaking the law.

    Finally, CokeFiend commented that in one rally he/she passed a Dodge in the ditch.

    IMHO, any event which is likely to put cars in the ditches, even if the driver of said car is an inexperienced nitwit who drives a grossly overpowered car, is not safe.

    What if said Dodge happened to spin into another car that just happened to be passing by, or even worse, into a person walking on the side of the road?

    I think a road rally could be a fun event IF care is taken to ensure the safety of other users of the road, and drivers use their common sense to drive safely and legally.

    Safety is paramount (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by CokeFiend on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 02:11:39 PM EST

    In my experience everything possible is done to insure these events are completely safe. Many of these rallies are run at night on roads with very little traffic. Obviously it is up to the individual drivers to use some common sense, especially when there are other cars around. Realistically though, since competitors are spaced at least a minute apart on the course it is very unusual to have any other cars on the road with you.

    These events are always run under or at the speed limit, otherwise they would never get permission to use the roads.

    As to the dodge in the ditch, I would guess that the driver was going considerably faster than he needed to be.

    [ Parent ]

    in response to metalfan (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by riceaterslc on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 08:06:00 PM EST

    this article is very misleading in describing the true nature of TSD road rallys.

    the classes for the vehicles are set by average speed. there are three speed classes, 25, 30, and 35. that is the average speed in which you should be going to get the closest time to the actual. all of the roads which are used are public. most of them have speed limits no less than 35-40. therefore, the average speed of the "race" car is less than the posted speed.

    in respect to the dodge intrepid. the driver was a family man. i know this because his two children and wife were also in the car. he was not some man showboating his car. as stated before, these races are on public roads, maintained by the township in which the race is held. every single driver on the road is a hazard to everyone else at all times, not just during racing. most of the people you see speeding around are NOT the sanctioned racing type. the drivers of these events are very professional and do not take unecessary risks. a driver at any point in time may lose control of his vehicle, whether it be during a race, during the day, or in rain, etc.

    the cars are also staged 2 minutes apart from each other. this is an ample amount of time to prevent drivers from bunching up on each other. if someone were to have an accident, they would have enought time to set up their required triangle and/or flares to warn the next car.

    these events ARE fun, because they are well organized and the people who run the event are very friendly and helpful. the drivers are there for legal competition and are aware of the risks of driving at high speed and don't. the local authorities are always notified of the events (in the SCCA's case at least).

    [ Parent ]

    safe = boring (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by zordon on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 06:18:13 AM EST

    It's great for other people to put safety at the top of their list of things that are important, I really don't. It is on my list, just not at the top. Personally, I am of the opinion that you should actually live your life, not spend it worrying about what could possibly happen. That's not to say that I condone reckless endangerment, but a road rally is not going to super dangerous. More than standard driving, yes. But we are not talking about going Ludacris speed or anything like that.
    [ Parent ]
    sorta agree... (none / 0) (#36)
    by loualbano on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 06:08:51 PM EST

    I agree that safety does equal boring.  If safety was always a person's number one concern, leaving the house would be impossible.  

    I disagree that the people running in these races are more dangerous than your average driver going from point a to b.  Think about it, most of the drivers are enthusiasts, which means cars that are maintained better than your average car.  Which means better tires, properly maintained brakes and suspension and motors in high state of tune.  All this and a driver that is more alert, not only because he is more skilled, but is also in the middle of a competition.  Compare this with the slow-poke doing 50 in the fast lane, half asleep driving a dilapidated VW bus of questionable mechanical integrity.

    Add the fact that since these races are averaged below the posted limit, there should be no reason that these guys would have to exceed the speed limit by 5-10 mph, which is about as fast as the cops will still look the other way (not always, of course).


    [ Parent ]

    safe doesn't have to be boring (none / 0) (#37)
    by metalfan on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 07:32:53 PM EST

    I'm not saying you should wear an AFDB every time you go outside, or that I think we should go out of our way to make sure no one else has fun. (link is to google cache because zapatopi.net is currently down)

    I'm just saying you need to be careful not to endanger other people.

    There are many exciting activities that are safe. For example, Laser sailing. I don't know of a single fatality of a person sailing a Laser, yet I have heard of countless car crash deaths.

    Most of the people who died in a car crash weren't even racing. (They may, however, have been acting stupidly.) Many car crash victims were simply passing by when some idiot plowed into them. The only sailing fatality I know of, was a voluntary participant of the sport, not a spectator or someone who just happened to be passing by.

    It has also been said by many race drivers that it is much safer to drive on a closed track at high speeds than it is to drive the speed limit on a public road. (sorry couldn't find a decent source.) People are excited by different things. You can put yourself in danger all you want, and for the most part, I won't care.

    If a road rally is held safely and responsibly, great. But you should not put other people in danger just because you want to have fun.

    [ Parent ]
    One death in sailing!? (none / 0) (#38)
    by Rand Race on Tue Sep 17, 2002 at 09:11:42 AM EST

    In 2001, 701 people died in the US while boating. I'm not - gods forbid - saying boating is as dangerous as driving, but almost any activity carries with it an element of risk.

    My girlfriend and I are thinking about taking her new Tib to the Borderline Rally in North Georgia. I've driven many of these roads before, and by all accounts I drive normally much, much faster than one would in the rally. Granted I drive fast - although its been over a decade since I was involved in a wreck or got a ticket - but it seems to me that these types of races are as safe, if not more so, than regular driving.

    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Re: One death (none / 0) (#40)
    by metalfan on Tue Sep 17, 2002 at 07:51:19 PM EST

    I wasn't saying that was the only death, I was saying it's one of the only particular incidents I know of. I'm sure there have been others. Besides, the article you linked to only says there have been 701 people killed in recreational boating.

    I take this to mean sailing, skiboats, seadoos, fishing boats, etc, etc. I'd hazard a guess that a lot more of those deaths were related to some form of motor boat.

    Furthermore, all activities have risks. I was simply stating that IMHO, sailing is MUCH safer than driving a car. Many people who die on the water are either uneducated about hypothermia/impaired driving, or just don't care.

    How many people were killed in car crashes in the USA in 2001?

    [ Parent ]
    I know of a lot of people who've died sailing... (none / 0) (#41)
    by jdillon on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 07:18:10 AM EST

    I know of a number of people personally who have died sailing.  Many went missing in the Whitbred over the year for example, but I've heard about guys in the Hobie world dying by getting run over by power boats, concussions from masts (this is common), drowning because of capsizing, lost at sea (this happens occasionally with the windsurfers and kitsurfer in San Francisco, when they just drift out, disabled, into thie fog).

    There was even a drowning death a couple of years ago at a Hobie rally (the mile high regatta) where some guy's boat flipped over in the middle of a lake, and he got snagged and died.

    If you think sailing is safe...

    I doubt there are a lot of deaths in lasers.  Bad example.  Not much to get tangled in, I can get snagged and practically get my head above water from any angle (they're only, what, 11 feet long and 3 feet accross), and I'm certainly not taking one offshore!

    ...sailing is not "safe."  And driving is f***ing dangerous as hell... isn't is the #1 killer here in the states?

    Anyways, I have to go drink a 6er and drive to my moms. ;-)  Later.
    !#/usr/bin/php -q echo "Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.";
    [ Parent ]

    Lasers as an example (none / 0) (#42)
    by metalfan on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 07:54:25 PM EST

    I used Lasers as an example for a few reasons:

    1. They are the boats I have the most experience with.

    2. They are one of the most popular boats in North America, and possibly even the world. (43 entries in 2000 Olympics, 131 entries in 2002 Laser World Championships) There are countless local, regional, and national level regattas that are also very well attended.

    3. The lack of things to get tangled in is one of the many reasons why people choose Lasers.

    Technically, any concussion-related drownings could be prevented. The problem is that people choose to use the more fashionable (and practical) PFDs that do not turn the wearer face up when unconcsious<sp>, and prevent drowning.

    Getting run over by a power boat is what I would consider a power boat incident, not a sailing incident.

    And just for information's sake, Lasers are roughly 13" long and 4'6" wide. Though they are measured in metric.

    [ Parent ]
    Excitement, thrills, etc. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by phliar on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:36:58 AM EST

    There are many exciting activities that are safe. For example, Laser sailing. I don't know of a single fatality of a person sailing a Laser
    This activity (sailing Lasers) just happens to be one that can be performed away from non-participants. That's beside the point though. Of course we need to not endanger other people. (I'm not a rally driver, I don't even like driving; this is just what I believe our social responsibility is. I think racing Lasers is more fun than driving -- a close friend of mine does.) From reading the accounts here I get the feeling that rally drivers probably are safe and conscientious drivers, even while they are actually in an event. There are lots of motor-vehicle related events held on public streets -- motorcycle rides, antique car parades, funerals, etc.

    BTW, I believe our "social responsibility" as mentioned above is to not endanger or hurt other people; you certainly are allowed to -- actually I'd say you should -- go out and endanger yourself on a regular basis. (But not silly stuff like bungee-jumping!)

    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Statistics (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by phliar on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:55:39 AM EST

    I don't know of a single fatality of a person sailing a Laser, yet I have heard of countless car crash deaths.
    Before we can interpret this sentence, we need to know how many car drivers you know, and how much they drive; and compare that to the number of sailors you know, and how much they sail.

    I'm a pilot. I personally know (knew) two people who have died while flying. I know perhaps thirty or forty pilots, who fly an average of 125 hrs. a year. But I know a few hundred drivers, with an average of 200 hrs. a year. I know three persons who have died and five who have been seriously injured while driving. Although these numbers are far too small to have any statistical significance, they do seem illustrative.

    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Below the posted speed limit? (none / 0) (#27)
    by der on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 12:09:44 PM EST

    Road rallies are held on open public roadways at speeds that are (at least on average) below the posted speed limit.

    Hmm... I have enough trouble driving the speed limit when I'm just going places, let alone "racing".

    I'll pass. If I'm gonna race, I'll race properly, at ridiculously unsafe speeds. :)

    Possible as well (none / 0) (#28)
    by strlen on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 01:56:07 PM EST

    Some races are done with an agremeent with the authorities, and along an empty stretch of road. One of such is the silver state challenege.

    Some rallyes are also organized, ugh not so legally, and it's possible to join those. Just those are usually done without the blessing of authority, and you're on your own when it comes to speed tickets.

    Also, the ones that are done under the speed limit, are probably doen on twisted mountain roads with very few straights and tons of banked corners, where you don't get a chance to be at the speed limit in any case.

    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]

    SCCA Club-Rally (none / 0) (#33)
    by CokeFiend on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 08:33:17 PM EST

    You should check out SCCA Club-Rally. You need some fairly good safety equipment (roll cage, etc) and you probably will want a seperate car, but it's pretty easy to get into.

    Of course AutoCross is a lot more accessible, with races held in parking lots around cones and no special equipment necessary.

    [ Parent ]

    World Rally Championship (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by CokeFiend on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 08:17:25 PM EST

    If you're interested in "immensely powerful all-wheel-drive vehicles hurtling sideways down a dirt road" the World Rally Championship is where it's at.

    WRC is like the Formula 1 of rally racing. These guys are the best of the best. They drive turbo charged all-wheel-drive versions of regular street cars like the Subaru Impreza, Ford Focus, Hyundai Accent, and Peugot 206. Granted, these cars really don't have a whole lot in common with the cars of the same name that you can buy, but they're a lot closer than NASCAR cars, so it can be fun to cheer for your favorite brands.

    They race in all kinds of locations all over the world, from Sweden (in the snow!) to Kenya to Australia. Each event has it's own challenges and character due to the different surfaces and types of roads. There are even a few all-tarmac rallies which have a very different feel from the dirt and gravel races. The different locations each have their own character as well, many of these events have been run for years and have their own histories.

    I definitely think that World Rally Drivers are the most skilled drivers in any motorsport. When you see these guys going 100+ mph down a dirt road barely wide enough for the car with a rock wall on one side and a 1000 foot drop on the other, you have to be impressed.

    Rally racing has not really caught on as a spectator sport in the USA yet. The only tv coverage we get is one hour per day of the rally, at 11:00 pm on Speed Channel. I've been watching for the past year or so and have really enjoyed this exciting and fascinating sport.

    Totally different activity to article subject (none / 0) (#34)
    by goonie on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 10:46:23 PM EST

    One thing that should be made clear is that WRC-style rallies (or their lower-standard equivalents) are totally different beasts. They involve cars fitted with harnesses and roll cages, lots of go-fast gear on the cars in the full-blown WRC category (WRC budgets are as big or bigger than, say Indycars), and the stages where the actual competition occurs are closed-off and extensively pace-noted.

    It is a terrifically exciting thing to watch (and presumably do).

    That said, rally cars are driven on public roads at legal speeds between the competition stages. They're probably the only race cars left that can do so without turning into piles of molten slag and burning carbon fibre :)

    [ Parent ]

    Just tried it... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Alik on Sun Sep 22, 2002 at 09:03:31 PM EST

    Based on this article, some friends and I located our local car club, found that they had a $7 rally today, and gave it a whirl.

    Results: we got lost. Oh, Lordy, did we get lost. I *still* don't know how we actually managed to make it to the final checkpoint or how we were supposed to get there. It is my personal opinion that this month's rallymaster is a Grade A Bastard. (*You* try noticing a road sign that's parallel to the road you're on, while simultaneously looking for the next turn and maintaining the CAS. Even the old wise guys running fully equipped cars missed checkpoints.)

    Nonetheless, a good time, and we're probably going to go again next month. This is definitely a good activity for geeks.

    An Introduction to Road Rallies | 44 comments (40 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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