What is Rally?


There are no ovals, pace cars or rain delays. Rally racing features real cars racing against the clock on closed-off sections of real roads that are usually unpaved and unforgiving. Events can last several days and cover hundreds of miles through rain, snow, day or night. This extreme test of skill, speed and endurance is what makes rally racing the world’s premiere and most exciting motor sport, one that is quickly growing in North America.

Insiders and even casual fans consider rally drivers to be the best all around drivers on the planet. They must master every road surface and every weather condition while possessing the endurance and stamina needed to make it through long hours and hundreds of miles. As the old saying goes, “Circuit racers see 10 turns 1000 times while rally drivers see 1000 turns 1 time!”

The key to rally drivers’ success are their co-drivers. Rally drivers cannot practice the course and must rely on their navigators (or co-driver) to survive. The co-driver uses a computerized odometer along with a supplied route book to communicate to the driver what lies ahead on the road. The route book describes in detail the road ahead and includes warnings for hazards such as cliffs, trees and junctions. Rally drivers determine what speed and angle to enter each turn or crest in the road by listening to their co-drivers’ constant instructions.

Gravel logging roads, mountain passes, well groomed forest roads – these are what make up the tracks for rally drivers. They are temporarily closed, actual public roads on which rally drivers can go flat out. With nine events held across the country, the Rally America Championship has a mix of everything from ice and snow in Michigan to super fast, smooth gravel in Pennsylvania. A typical Rally America Championship event will last two days and feature over 250 miles of roads split up into competitive stages and transit sections. The competitive stages, or “special stages” are where the action lies; these are timed sprints on roads that vary from 5 to 30 miles in length. The lowest cumulative time wins.

A rally car is the ultimate real world sports car: one that is capable of high speed and incredible handling on any road surface and in every weather condition. Fast yet strong, they must survive hundred of miles and several days of torture. As an additional challenge, all rally cars must be street legal, since they must traverse public roads with traffic between the competitive timed sections. The Rally America Championship features a lineup of cars that average fans could buy from their local dealers, including Subaru WRX STis, Mitsubishi Evos, Ford Focuses and VW Golfs!

Watching rally on TV is a spectacle, but seeing it in person is an awe inspiring experience. Fans get to line the road, mere feet from the sliding, jumping and gravel spraying action. Fans can also freely check out the service areas where drivers and their teams repair the cars. Meeting your favorite driver and touching your favorite rally car are guaranteed. Tickets? Most rally events are totally free!

Frequently Asked Questions:

1: How do I get started in rallying?
A: Becoming a driver is a big commitment that takes time, money and hard work. First, you should check out a rally in person, either as a spectator or volunteer worker. Being a volunteer at a rally will enable you to meet with teams, drivers and rally officials, ask them questions, and get a general sense of what it really takes to be involved at any given level. Next step would be to read the rule book – there are some very specific restrictions outlined in the Rally America rule book that you should be aware of before purchasing or building a rally car.

2: Can I build my own rally car?
Certainly, but if it’s your first time, expect more headaches and higher costs than if you were to buy a quality used rally car. (Check online at www.rallyclassified.com). Before you do anything, read the Rally America rule book from front to back and make sure you note the rules regarding safety requirements for all rally cars. Also, new drivers (with little or no previous rally or race experience) must start in a two wheel drive, non-turbo rally car. Refer to the rule book for details.

3: What does it mean to volunteer at a rally?
Rallies are only possible with the help of hundreds of volunteers that do everything from spectator control to help with timing and scoring. As a volunteer you will have the chance to watch the rally from the best locations – spectator control volunteers get to stand in the best spots, closest to the action. You’ll also get to meet teams, drivers and rally officials for a true insider experience. Every rally could always use more volunteers, so don’t hesitate to sign up. (Click here to become an official Rally America volunteer).

4: How do you attend a rally and how much are tickets?
Rallies are usually free to the public! You may need to pay for a spectator guide, which will give you all the details on the designated spectator areas. You may only watch a rally from these designated areas. However many rallies offer these spectator guides free of charge at events, and even if you do have to pay, the guides are usually under $10! Most events keep the rally route a secret until just before the event begins, therefore you usually cannot get detailed spectator info in advance of the rally weekend. It is best to use this website and the event’s website to find lodging, schedule and spectator info.

Courtesy of Rally America

What are Pace Notes?

Stage Notes

Pace notes are pre-written descriptions that the co-driver reads to the driver that explain each feature in the road down to a tenth of a mile.  More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacenotes

Why do we want them?

These notes are true advantage to us, they help keep our speeds up while keeping us safe, always knowing whats around that corner or over the next crest.