On April 21, 2013, I competed in the Badger Burrow Regional Tour RoadRally in Madison, Wisconsin. My wife and usual rally driver, Angela, had a term paper to finish so I was forced to find a different partner. After a few email exchanges, an arrangement was made for me to navigate for Indy Region Member and SCCA National RoadRally Board representative Chuck Hanson.
Chuck has been my mentor in this sport. It was he who first encouraged my wife and me to compete at a National level. I was leading the Sportsman Class Tour National Championship standings in the fall of 2009 when the shock announcement came that the deal between GM and Penske to sell the Saturn brand had collapsed. As a General Manager of a Saturn store at the time, my family’s financial security was suddenly under threat. Under such circumstances, Angela and I decided it would not be fiscally responsible to attend the season finale United States Road Rally Challenge despite the fact that it meant I could very well lose the championship. When Chuck heard about the circumstances, he stepped forward with a gracious offer of financial assistance. On a shoe-string budget, Angela and I were able to make it to La Crosse, WI, and earn enough points to solidify the championship.
Chuck arrived at my place business on Friday evening. We drove from there to my home where I dropped my car and quickly changed, then headed north in his Ford Contour SVT for Madison. We landed at the hotel at around 11:00. I was hungry and a bit wound up still, so I went to a nearby pub for a late dinner and couple beers. Chuck hit the sack right away. I got back to the room about midnight. I was hoping to sleep in a little, but the morning sun shone through a crack between the drapes and woke me at about 6:30. We had a leisurely breakfast then set off for the rally start at Dunn Imports, a cool little independent auto repair shop and Vespa dealer in the nearby suburb of Middleton. The turn out was great; 26 two-person teams and 4 checkpoint crews. Most competitors were beginners, but there were a few National-caliber teams as well.
The Rally format was geared towards beginners with minimal speed changes and fairly short timed legs, mostly in the 4-6 mile range. Also the timing and scoring would be in seconds instead of hundreth-minutes so the “window” for a perfect leg was ~67% larger than usual (1 second instead of .6 seconds). Because of this, I was expecting to earn some pretty low scores. I wasn’t too surprised to be carrying zero penalty points at the first break after 2 legs. I was surprised to still be at a perfect zero at the second break after leg 7. Fatigue started setting in however, and we made a couple small mistakes on legs 8 and 9, picking up one penalty point on each leg. Maybe I should have gone right to bed on Friday night afterall! We finished with another zero on leg 10 and headed to the post-event dinner very pleased with our performance. We were certain we had won our class, and figured we had to be in the running for the overall win with such a low score.
In the end, one of the teams in the Equipped class, which allows better calculating equipment than we use in the limited class, finished with a perfect zero on all ten legs. Our score of 2 earned us second place overall while two other Nationally competitive teams in the Equipped class finished 3rd and 4th overall with 3 and 5 points respectively. The next car in our class finished with 13. I’d have to say, this was probably my best Navigating performance ever.
With the class victory, I picked up my first 10 National RoadRally Championship points of the season. Next on the RoadRally schedule is the June 15th National Tour in St Louis, Mo. With 20 points on the line for a class win, it could be a big step towards a potential second National Championship. Keep following the blog for more info.