First thing this morning was the mandatory meeting. Introductions, welcomes, thank-you’s and scheduling items were covered. After a short break, the rallymaster covered rules and regulations, followed by a “˜how to rally’ session for the rookies. The route instructions for today covered a half day run after lunch. Today the route instructions were carefully explained page by page: this will not happen again.
Our speedometer calibration showed that we were :04 sec/hour early, so we adjusted it for the error. Scores are so close a few seconds can mean several positions in the standings. After a nice lunch at Waffle House, which was on the route, we headed to the start. It was out on a two lane country road with no houses or businesses close by. There is no race official to wave you off: you calculate that yourself.
We like to watch the better teams start off and note their times. Since this is sort of a practice run, and no one has rallied for a while, mistakes were made right from the start. The experienced teams were able to correct their errors, while some just fell further back. Even though the scores from this run do not count on your overall finish, it was very competitive.
We had what we call a “˜clean’ run: no mistakes to correct. The course was kind of typical for Florida: no hills, smooth roads, long straight stretches. To keep it interesting we had a few “˜mazes’ right off the bat. A maze takes you off the highway, and you run around blocks in a residential area at 10 to 20 mph. Numerous stops and speed changes can cause even the smallest errors to add up fast.
We already lost a few cars to mechanical failure. The little Subaru 360 broke early, and the navigator from Japan said her first time out on an Interstate in the little car was frightening, but they will get it fixed and back on the road.
We felt pretty good about our day, but what really matters is how everyone else does. We had an 11 second day which meant a 17th place finish out of 121. Not bad for just getting started but little better than average for the top 20 teams. 4 teams had more than our 12 second raw score, but the age of their car factored them down: this is called “˜being old car’d’. The winning team had a :02.94 sec. day, which is awesome. Trophies are awarded for a first in each division, and first overall.
Tomorrow morning we take our cars to the official start, where they will be on display for 2 hours before car #1 is flagged off. It’s a short day of rallying, with fairly long transits to get us to our first overnight in Tifton, Georgia. Our scores have to be sharper when the days are short, because everyone usually does well. It’s the long tough days that the experts are looking for, to help separate out the field.
Plenty of photos tomorrow!
Steve, Janet, and Allison