Ladies & Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!


Rallies are probably the easiest race event...and the hardest! You don't drive fast. In fact, you're on the road, so you should be obeying all traffic laws.

What is a rally?
In a rally (sometimes spelled rallye), you have a driver and a navigator and you follow written directions that tell you where to go. That's it. Every rally is different. Some have straightforward directions. Some have clues to figure out. Some have pictures of signs to find. Some have speeds to follow on each leg. Some have tasks to do or things to collect (like a poker card) or questions to answer along the way. Most rallies have a target time of how long it should take to run the rally. If you get to the finish too soon or too late, your score will go down.

What do I need?
-A street legal Corvette. There's a tech inspection where they do a safety check. They will check, among other things, your lights, horns, seat belts and brakes.
-Full tank of gas. You never know how far you will be driving.
-Drinking water. Never go anywhere in the desert without drinking water.
-Snacks. In case you get hungry along the way.
-Money. Sometimes there is a rest break along the way and there's usually a get together where you can get something to eat and drink after the rally.
-A pen or pencil or two.
-A clipboard.
-Your sense of adventure.

What else might I need?
Every rally will be different and different things will help you get through them. Read the invitation or flyer to see what else the rally master suggests you bring for their particular rally. Other items that might help are
-Compass, stop watch, calculator, GPS, binoculars, maps, phone book.
-Matching shirts. Some teams wear matching shirts. If you know who your driver/navigator are going to be before race day, you could do this. After all, it's important to look good!

What will I not need?
-Helmets. Don't need 'em. You're driving on a regular road at legal speeds and you would look funny.

I won't lie to you. There are dangers in all types of racing. Rallies are no different. You're not on a closed course here. You're on real roads with other traffic. The danger here is the same as when you drive to work or the store or the club meeting. You should always look out for the other guy. When you're rallying, the driver may be distracted when looking for clues. That's why you have a navigator. Drivers, use your navigator. Navigators, help your drivers by keeping an eye out for the other guy as well as looking for clues. Some rallies give you a speed you're supposed to go and sometimes it's slower than the posted speed limit. Now, we're in Las Vegas, right? Everybody speeds! And here you are driving slowly. In a Corvette, no less! So be extra careful out there.

So, how does this work?
Arrive early. You don't want to be rushed. You will have fellow racers to visit with while you are waiting for the start time.

Racers lined up waiting for the start of the April Fools Rally, 2004

The most important thing in a rally is to CAREFULLY READ ALL THE DIRECTIONS. Generally, you will get a packet when you sign in which includes general directions to read before the race starts. Read these directions before the race starts. It will include rules to help you interpret the directions, like telling you what is and is not considered a street and if everything you are looking for is on the right. The first rule is usually, "Obey all traffic laws."

You will be assigned a start time or a number indicating your start order, or the order in which you line up may be the start order. Teams are typically started one minute apart. Figure out who is starting right before you, and, in case that team isn't paying attention, who is starting before them. When other teams start lining up their cars, get behind them. Note who is behind you and who is behind them. They will probably catch up to you at a stop light somewhere down the road.

At the start line, there may be a timer, typically with a clock. Your navigator should synchronize their watch with this clock.

The Official Race Clock

Leave at your designated time. (Tempting though it may be, peal outs aren't necessary. Save that for the other types of racing!)

It is sometimes helpful if the driver and navigator agree before the race starts which one has the final say in case of a disagreement. Yes, there may be a disagreement somewhere along the way! Ultimately, the driver really has the final say, because her hands are on the steering wheel, but try to stick with whatever you agree to do.

Talk to each other constantly. Discuss the directions as you go along. Keep reminding each other what you are looking for. If there is a long stretch while you are looking for something, and you start talking about the last social event, you may miss the something you are looking for. Keep focused. Refer to the rules occasionally to keep them fresh in your mind. Read ahead so you can see what's coming up.

Cross off the directions as you complete them. If the directions say to turn left after you pass a Chevy dealer, cross it off after you make the left turn. You don't want to forget you already did that and start looking for another Chevy dealer! (Unless you're checking out their inventory of new Corvettes!)

Sometimes there are mistakes in the directions. Not often, but it does happen. If you find something that doesn't look right, use your best judgment. If you made the correct turn, you usually don't have to wait long to find out you were right. There may be a clue coming up where you are looking for a specific sign or landmark that will assure you that you are on the right track.

Often, you can see some of your fellow racers on the road. It's comforting if you see the cars that left ahead and behind you. But keep in mind that if one of them makes a wrong turn, and the next one follows them, you could all be off track. DRIVE YOUR OWN RACE. If your directions say to turn left and the Corvette behind you is in the right lane with their right turn signal on, they could be just playing with you, they could be confused or they could be on a different leg of the rally and are supposed to turn right there. Follow your own directions and do what you think is correct.

What if we get hopelessly lost?
There will be some provision for teams who get lost. "Get lost" here means that you've gotten off the race route and can't find your way back onto the route. I'm assuming you are still in the general area where you started and can find your way home. The rules will usually give you some idea of how long the rally should last. If it says, "around 2 hours" and it is now 4 hours after you started and you have no idea how to get back on track, it's probably time to throw in the towel. But, you don't have to just go home. You should have a sealed envelope (or unsealed paper) with the finish location (usually a restaurant) in the packet that you got at the start of the rally. Come on ahead to the finish location and join the party. The other teams will be looking for you and want to hear your story!

What does everyone do after the race is over?
Once you have found the finish, there should be a place to check in, usually somewhere in the parking lot. Make sure you check in right away. They will be gathering information from you - your odometer reading, the time, any questions you had to answer, poker hands - to use to figure out your score. After you check in, you're done! Park your car, go inside and compare notes and experiences with the other teams. And relax!


What are we doing after the race? Relaxing and comparing notes!

At some rallies, you get the results right away. They may have an awards presentation at the finish location. Or you may have to wait for the next club meeting or NewsVetter to find out how you did.

For more information on rallies go to

Happy Racing!
Cathy Wilson
Lady's Racer's Edge Champion 2004, 2005, 2008 & 2009

Photos courtesy of Kathy Clapp & Greg Clapp.