The key to a rally driver’s success is their co-driver. Rally drivers cannot practice the course and must rely on their navigator (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-driver’s 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 public roads on which rally drivers can go flat out. With eight events held across the country, the Rally America Championship has a mix of everything from mid-winter in Michigan to mid-summer in New England. A typical 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 speeds and incredible handling on any road surface and in every weather condition. Fast yet strong, they must survive hundreds 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 New England Forest Rally features a lineup of cars that the average fan could buy from their local dealer, 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? This rally event is totally free!