HOW DOES RALLYING WORK EXACTLY?
Rallying is a flat out race over closed sections of real public roads by modified production vehicles. The roads are real, the cars are street legal, and the driver does not get to practice the route.
- Competitors race one car at a time against the clock, usually at one or two minute intervals. Competitors aim to finish with the lowest cumulative time.
- Flat out racing is done on sections of closed public roads. The road sections are called “special stages”. Roads used in rallying can range from gravel, dirt, snow, ice and tarmac.
- Special Stages can range in length from 1 to 25 miles length, and a typical rally will have anywhere from 10 to 20 total special stages. Cumulative mileage for Special Stages can range from 100 to 200 miles in length.
- Between Special Stages the rally cars must travel on public roads, called ‘Transits’, where they must obey all traffic laws. All rally cars must be street legal.
- Each car contains a driver and a co-driver. The co-driver uses a route book and stage notes that contain detailed instructions about the course. Every turn, jump, crest and hazard is noted in order for the co-driver to accurately communicate to the driver what to expect. Many rally events in the USA do not allow the driver and co-driver to pre-run the course, or practice the course. Instead, the stage notes are provided via the event organizer. However some rallies do allow the drivers and co-drivers to pre-run the course in a non-competition car at legal public speeds prior to the event in order to write their stage notes, this is called ”reconnaissance”.
- After several stages the cars visit the Service Area where team mechanics may have anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes to perform any necessary repairs. While outside of these service areas only the driver and co-driver may work on their car.
HOW DO I GET STARTED IN THE SPORT?
- First attend a few rallies and volunteer to work at them. You will get the best spectator locations via working, plus you will really be part of the event. Event schedules can be found at www.rally-america.com
- If you want to begin driving you need to start out slow and cheap. Attend the Team O’Neil Rally School and do some local SCCA RallyCross events with your streetcar or buy a used fully prepped rally car and run some local regional level stage rally events.
- Ask questions and research: www.rally-america.com and www.nasarallsport.com are the 2 organizing bodies in the USA and they each have dozens of events to choose from. Read their rule books from front to back. They each have forums on their sites where you can search for info and ask questions. Also, www.specialstage.com (specifically their forums) is a great place to find info an ask questions as well.