You want to drive a rally car, welcome to the party, we all do. Driving a rally car involves allot of money and time and is completely worth it. Just because you don’t have the money to build a car or go to an event doesn’t mean you can’t have an awesome time going to events as an important part of a rally team. This year at the 100 Acre Woods rally I went as part of a two man crew for two cars from Colorado. Competing in a rally is a complicated task that is made much better with a crew. As crew we took the cars to tech, ran the service stops, and did many small things to make our teams successful.
Rally involves several logistical problems before the race even starts. First, for 100 Acre Woods, we tow two rally cars ~850 miles. After arriving you need to figure out Lodging, Registration, Recce, and Tech inspection. With a large group of people it is often more convenient and less expensive to rent a house then stay in hotel rooms. This year we stayed in a comfortable house, The Lodge At Fair Winds with wifi (important because there is no cell coverage). Ideally you’d want to find a place that has a garage you can use in case you need to do overnight repairs to the cars. This year we were fortunate to not have to do any repairs at the lodge as both of our drivers did a good job of keeping their cars on the road. Lodging should be coordinated before you arrive but there is still the task of getting all the vehicles to the location, checking in, unloading gear and finding the closest place to buy beer and food.
Recce (short for reconnaissance) is where the driver and codriver drive the stage roads with the stage notes at posted speeds in a non-race vehicle. This can only be done by the driver and codriver and is the first task on their mind before the race. For our team we used rental cars because they present the same perspective as the race car (vs a truck) and the roads are often times rough back roads that would really beat up the truck. Having a couple of crew members makes getting a rental and doing registration simpler because you have more drivers. Registration is the simple task of checking in with the organizers and showing them that you have all the required items (prof of insurance and registration on race and crew vehicles).
Often on the same day as recce a tech inspection needs to be done. Doing Recce alone is a really taxing activity as you are driving hundreds of miles slowly and checking the notes you received at registration. If you are experienced you are also writing pace notes (extra reminders that help you know where you can go faster). Working as a crew member you can make recce more successful by handling tech inspection. What that means is you drive the race car from the house or hotel to the place where the organizers are looking over the cars and inspecting the safety gear to make sure you are following all the safety rules. This is fun because you get to drive the race car and hang out by all the other race cars. In our case we got to see the Escrot build being teched. If you weren’t at the race you should go to the next race where they enter because that build is awesome. Pictures and video do not do that car justice. At tech inspection you will also register for service areas and at this point it is advantageous to try to get a good spot surrounded by others you know so you can help each other out.
One of the big downsides to working as crew is there is often limited opportunity for you to spectate on stage because you have to be in service areas as need to be somewhere where you have good cell coverage to give your team the best chance of being able to contact you if they need to. However you do get to go to the shakedown stage (a short practice before the race starts on the first day). This can be a fun opportunity to see the cars launch. The organizers did a good job of marking out places where you could spectate as crew however just know that as crew you are just as much on a schedule as your team and they are depending on you being in service when they get there. When you go out to spectate you are taking the risk that you get lost, are caught behind traffic, or your vehicle has a problem and your team is without a crew when they need them. We attempted to spectate on stage 2 and managed to take a wrong turn that resulted in us only seeing the second half of the field. Thankfully on the way out of there back to service we had no trouble and made it to service before our teams did.
At service you have a limited time to try to fix anything that is wrong with the car and prepare it to continue racing. Because both of the drivers of our teams did an awesome job keeping their cars on the road there was no major repairs for us to do. To keep them going at pace we did small things while they got a chance to stretch their legs outside of the car. The cars went up on jack stands and we looked underneath for any damage, checked and adjusted tire pressures, checked the torque on all lug nuts, refilled water and other drinks for the driver and codriver, and got them food to eat. Lastly we looked up their times on stage and encouraged them to continue pushing for the win.
When you are competing in a rally you have many things to think about and keep track of as a driver/codriver team. One of the things you have very little time for is pictures and keeping up on how the race is going for everyone else. As crew you should be taking pictures to share online for friends and family and looking for updates on the competitors. This is fun and the driver/codriver team can focus more on driving fast with you handling the media side of racing and keeping them informed on their times and how their competitors are doing. You can see more of my pictures and follow me on instagram at tyler_128_. To find more pictures and videos of of 100 Acre Woods check out these tags #100aw, #100awrally, #100acrewoodrally, etc.
Working on a crew is an awesome way to participate in rally at a very low cost, build great friendships, and help your friends be more competitive. It is completely worth it and much more involved than you would initially think. Special thanks to Steve, Scott, Sam, Joe, and Grant for letting me be a part of their team and participate in such an awesome event.
In the end both teams did well. Steve and Scott pushed hard and drove the wheels off the car for a 3rd overall finish, 2nd in national class (OL and SP), and 1st in OL for both days regionally. Sam and Joe were successful in completing Sam’s first event as a driver and having a blast doing it. Pictures don’t do this event justice, the roads are amazing, the local people are inviting, the competition was fierce, the organizers and volunteers ran a smooth event, and the weather was perfect. If you want to get into rally you should find a team that you can crew with, it will not only be a great time but you will learn so much about the sport that will help you if you plan on building a car and competing yourself.