Road Rallying for beginners

Recently, the husband and I been intrigued by the idea of participating in road rallies but we really have no idea where to get started. I’ve read some information online and I’ve spent a little time looking for rally schools in our region (SC, GA, NC) but so far I haven’t really found anything in the area.

So, I turn to the boards… Are any of you road rallyists? Do you have advice/recommended resources for a couple of total beginners?

Gimmick or standard?

I’ve done a few “gimmick rallies” (AKA Ralleyes), but those typically more centered on puzzle solving over speed. If you’re talking true races, I don’t know much.

I haven’t really decided. They both sound fun and I think I’d need to try each of them to see which I like better.

I’ve got a couple questions for you, if you don’t mind:

What kind of puzzles do you have to solve in a gimmick rally?

Do you prefer navigating or driving? Why?

How fast paced is it? For instance, is the navigator constantly screaming instructions or are you driving for 20 miles before someone says “ok, turn left here.”

What kind of cars show up to gimmick rallies? It’s hard to tell from the information online. Right now, I’ve got the impression that only the off-road rallies require souped up cars.

The only rallys that I’ve heard of around here are about trying to hit an exact time. The closest to that time wins. I guess that keeps people from speeding and sliding around corners on a public highway.

Those are what I’m interested in. I think being in an actual who-can-get-there-fastest race would be a little too scary for me. A competition that combines math, logic, and my fledgling interest in cars sounds like a lot more fun (and much safer).

Depends on the style of gimmick.

There are scramble rallye’s, which are more like scavenger hunts, where you determine your own route to various landmark locations. Typically you are given a map of the surrounding area, with markers (typically numbers) to each valid location, and a bunch of invalid locations as well. You solve puzzles handed out at the beginning, whose answers will correspond to a location on the map. When you get to the location, there should be some indicator you are at the correct location, and possibly something else you can do there to get more points. (In the case of the one I’ve particpated in, each location had a riddle on a pie plate. The answers to all riddles were given on a separate sheet. You scored your sheet by writing the number of the location of the corresponding riddle next to its answer. You also had bonus words that you could search for that were hidden at each location and those gave you more points.) In scramble rallyes, everyone leaves at the same time. You usually don’t get any points for finishing early, but you will be docked points if you finish late.

Then there are predertimined route rallyes. The release is typically staggered into groups so that the cars don’t get in the way of each other. You’re start and end times are recorded. Like scrambel rallyes, you usually have a maximum time allotment before penalty, but finishing early typically earns you nothing. Everyone ideally will follow the same route based on a sequential list of instructions telling you where to turn based on road names and landmarks. However, the instructions aren’t straightforward, and frequently are superceded by other handouts, generally in the form of a narrative instruction that will have concealed hints as to when you change parts of the sequential list. Now the tricks are designed that even if you screw up, you will end up at the same endpoints as the correct route, but the landmarks and side roads you might take could be different. There are questions you fill out along the route that ask you these things, so that’s how they can tell you took the correct route rather than the gotchas. Also, there are periodic “midpoints” along the routes, where if you get hoplessly lost, you can head to there to get your bearings back. Also, midpoints divide the trick sections. Everyone is back on the correct route after a midpoint station. Frequently, there are activities you do at the midpoint or questions you are asked that earn you points provided you’ve followed the routes and directions correctly.

I’ve done both. Both are fun. As the driver, you tend to do a bit less puzzle solving because you have to concentrate on the road. Naturally, some puzzle solving is done even before your car heads out. I’ve found that for most people, 4 is a good size for a team. Less than that and you have less people to help solve the puzzles, more than that and it gets a bit crowded even with a large enough vehicle.

In between. In scramble rallyes, you plan out your route. In fixed-route rallyes, you probably average about half-a-mile between turns.

The only requirement in the typical gimmick rallye is that there is a seatbelt for every person in the vehicle. Gimmick’s emphasize safety over speed. A souped-up car won’t really get you much, because you are travelling on municipal roads with speed limits and amongst normal traffic, rather than on a segregated route like most time-based rallies.