Brought to you by the Columbia Gorge MGA Club.
In politics they say that a little revolution every now and then is a good thing, and perhaps that also applies to “annual events” such as the Columbia Gorge Classic Rally. As the club’s “Rally Czar” for the past six years – and recall that czars are usually not too enthusiastic about revolutions – I’ve taken a hard look at the event’s form and format, closely read your comments on the recent survey on the subject, and made some adjustments that constitute a near-reinvention of the event, if not a revolution. I think you’ll like the result.
The first change you may notice is moving the event to mid-August. In reviewing the calendar of automotive activities for the summer I was surprised to find so few things scheduled in August. Therefore we have scheduled the 2012 rally for August 19. That’s two weeks after the Columbia River Concours d’Elégance & Car Show on August 5, and two weeks before the All British Field Meet on Labor Day weekend, September 1-3. It is also one of the best-weather weekends of the year in this area (“best weather” being defined as low probability of precipitation).
The second change I want to highlight is modification of the classes. Recall that we have had three: Standard, Novice and Tour. That’s all changed. Now we will have Classic and Vintage classes, and no tour. And there is good reason that the tour will not be needed at all; here’s why:
The Classic Class will have Route Instructions that include “traps” just as we have had in recent years since I’ve been the chair and/or rally master of the event. This class will challenge your route-following ability. Detailed knowledge of the General Instructions (the rally rules) will be necessary. A sense of humor is also a plus. To win this class you must work to stay on course (which will be challenging) and you must also work to stay on time (which will also be challenging, like always).
The Vintage Class will have Route Instructions that do NOT include traps. Instead, every turn will be spelled out, and a mileage given. This class will not challenge your route-following ability, and detailed knowledge of the General Instructions will not be necessary (although some knowledge of them will be). To win this class you must of course stay on course – but that will be easy – and you must also stay on time (which will be challenging, like always).
Therefore, this year we’re offering two flavors of the rally: one for those who appreciate a technical, challenging, trap rally that will challenge your ability to stay on course AND your ability to stay on time, and another for those who appreciate a nice drive where no one gets lost and that challenges only your ability to stay on time. (And since no one should go off course in the Vintage class, we’re thinking that it will not even be necessary to have a Tour group, because even if you don’t want to work at staying on time, you can still follow the Vintage class Route Instructions and you’ll arrive at the destination even if you ignore the assigned speeds.)
A third change regards allowed equipment. In keeping with the spirit of the era of our cars (and recall that cars entered in this event must be pre-1981 collector cars, so that includes all MGs imported to the USA), we are no longer allowing calculators or slide rules (although I don’t remember anyone ever using a slide rule on one of these events anyway). Everyone, in both classes, will be restricted to the use of their car’s original-equipment speedometer and odometer, plus time pieces. No Haldas, no Curtas, no nothin’! You can make your calculations using pencil and paper, and we’ll provide preprinted rally tables that will save you a TON of math. So everyone will have the same equipment – no more having to compete against the “calculator gurus”! We’re aiming for more emphasis on fun and less emphasis on work.
A fourth change is a modification to the format for the day. The last several years we have made the lunch the main meal, serving only snacks and refreshments at the rally’s end. That is a good format, but it also means that as you are trying to relax and enjoy lunch and some social time, you have an afternoon of rallying ahead of you that interrupts your relaxing and socializing when it might be nice to have more time to enjoy the people and the food and beverages. Therefore we’re going to modify the format to approximately this:
|Breakfast on your own.
7:30 a.m. – Drivers’ Meeting.
8:01 a.m. – First Car Out.
About two hours of rallying.
A 20-30 minute break.
About two more hours of rallying.
12:30-1:45 – Cars arrive, at one-minute intervals, at the finish for a catered lunch and refreshments.
3:00 p.m. – Results announced and trophies awarded.
3:30-4:00 p.m. – All done in time to be home for whatever you may plan for the evening, or continue to hang around and enjoy the after-rally snacks and beverages and the people there.
This schedule still provides plenty of “rally time” and yet increases the relaxation and socializing time without making the event drag out into the evening.
A fifth change will be the addition of a couple of brief rally training sessions after our monthly meetings. We’ll have to do these before the summer months when we have shortened meetings when we can tour someplace for dessert after the meeting, so after the April 13 and May 11 meetings we’ll spend 15-20 minutes or so to go over some important stuff.
A sixth change may be the cost. To keep costs down and still be able to afford the excellent catered food and beverages that we have enjoyed the past few years, we are reviewing whether to provide the screen-printed shirts or embroidered tote bags that we have been providing, and if we do, we may make them available by prior order only, and only for those who want to pay extra for them. John Dutra and Donna McNabb will be researching this and will make a recommendation to the Board in the coming months. Therefore we don’t yet have an exact cost for rally registration, but we’re making all efforts to keep it reasonable and still provide a quality event with quality food and beverages.
So there’s an outline of the plan for this year. Some aspects of the reinvention are still developing, but we hope you’ll agree that the changes will mean a better event with more fun and more social time, and less work and less getting lost. It is still a competitive TSD rally, but now you can better choose how competitive you want to be (how hard you want to work) and the playing field is a bit more level with the elimination of calculators.
If you haven’t been in the event for a while, maybe because you thought it was too hard or too much work, we want you back! The goal is to make this a fun, social event built around a rally, and not a difficult rally with some down time built in for licking your wounds.
Rallying CAN be fun – please give it a try!