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August 15, 2011

2011 Monte Shelton NW Classic Rally: Day Two.

Filed under: 2011 NW Classic,Cars — chuck goolsbee @ 8:00 am
Dad at Breakfast. Alan Chockie & Antoinette Slavich behind him.
Dad at Breakfast. Alan Chockie & Antoinette Slavich behind him.
Duane Crandall and Bill Vilardi at Breakfast.
Duane Crandall and Bill Vilardi at Breakfast.
Navigators check their clocks as Route Instructions are passed out at Breakfast.
Navigators check their clocks as Route Instructions are passed out at Breakfast.

The day starts with a Transit stage, as we must pass back through Lincoln City. We drive part-way through town then turn east up the Siletz River inland into the Coast Range mountains. The actual TSD stages will begin from a park a few miles up the river. I pass the time shooting photos while Dad preps his day pouring over the route instructions.

Jim Cameron chats with Win Casey as they wait for the TSD to begin.
Jim Cameron chats with Win Casey as they wait for the TSD to begin.
British car, marking its territory.
British car, marking its territory.
Car #6, a 1970 911T heads to the start.
Car #6, a 1970 911T heads to the start.
Car #12, a 1968 E-type FHC rolls to the start.
Car #12, a 1968 E-type FHC rolls to the start.
Not something you see every day!
Not something you see every day!

The first segment of the day is a 21.4 mile run called the “Camas Prairie Regularity” with six changes of average speed. The route instructions are very simple and Dad keeps me on-time. The checkpoint comes near the end and we feel we’ve done well. Always good to start the day with a nice softball. (We are off by only 4 seconds.)

Waiting for our turn to run the Yasek Loop Regularity.
Waiting for our turn to run the Yasek Loop Regularity.

This segment was designed to test route following, using all the rallymaster’s tricks, as it goes right through a fairly big town and has several turns that are not called out in the directions but require applying the rally rules that we’ve all pounded into our heads. Lots of odd intersections are presented with directions that don’t quite describe what you see. Close attention to the odometer and quick thinking keeps us on course, and we finish confident that we come close to being on time. (We’re 6 seconds off.)

Next comes the “Pioneer Mountain Regularity” which is nice and straightforward after the Yasek Loop before. Just a nice exercise is staying on-time with only one real turn, nicely called out. We nail this one. (ZEROED!) It finishes at a post office where the parking lot is filled with rally cars as it is a planned potty break, with porta-units brought in especially for the rally with “Driver” and “Navigator” signs on the doors.

Next up is the Nashville Road Regularity, which is a math quiz. The speed is not given, except as the following direction at the start:

“CAST to an average speed that is the equivalent of driving half the distance to the checkpoint at 30 mph, and half the distance at 50 mph.”

No Car Zero Time is given except for the start, and the total miles are listed as 5.07. No indication is given on where the checkpoint may lie either. Looking at the route instructions as I write this now a couple of weeks later I see my father’s attempts and solving this riddle in the form of hastily scribbled math problems. He seems to have given up and settled on 40 mph… which is the wrong answer. The right answer should be 37.5 mph (I think!)

No matter, I drive it as he tells me to drive it and we rack up our largest penalty of the day at 17 seconds… which means I DROVE IT WRONG because we SHOULD have been off by ~34 seconds or so if I drove it right. Go figure.

Next up is the “Blodgett Regularity” which takes us down a road I vaguely recall from the 2007 rally as it follows a rail line and crosses it repeatedly. I recall thinking it would REALLY mess up a rally to have a train come along that track…

No train comes though, but Dad neglects to tell me to add a 15 second pause at each rail crossing until we’ve past two of them. He does some quick math and we “make up” our gained time at the third rail crossing then continue on. There are five of these rail crossing stop signs along the route, each with a 15 second pause. After leaving the criss-cross rail line the road ventures into some seriously twisty stuff, with average speeds changing often. This sort of thing is fun in the Jaguar, but this car, with its 3-speed automatic transmission makes my job a real pain in the posterior. I’m tossing the car through corners at speeds I normally wouldn’t in an effort to just keep the speedo stuck at 44, or 33, or 52 as the CAST instructions and Dad have me. The sun has come out, as we’re away from the coastal fog, and it is becoming difficult to keep my vision calibrated as we travel from sunlight into deep shade of trees. I find myself flipping my sunglasses and regular glasses on and off, sometimes at the same time. Struggle as I might, Dad is doing math on a clipboard while I’m going around turns with tires squealing! Dad doesn’t even see the checkpoint, but I catch it and we continue on at directed speeds until he can calculate if we came close to our proper time of arrival. (We were 7 seconds off – a great result, especially after our missed pauses and long distance with many CAST directions!)

The “maxwell Creek Regularity” is next and takes us to lunch. Before we can eat however we have to navigate through 26.6 miles of TSD with plenty of missing times for us to calculate and a half-dozen changes of average speed. Dad is in the zone though and I’m right there with him. We rally down out of the coast range and into the Willamette Valley near Monmouth. We roll past the checkpoint about five-eighths the way through, confident that we’ve done well. (We score a 1 second penalty)

Lunch is at Sarah Helmick State Park. Cook-out style burgers!

Rally Chairman Reid Trummel tries to learn some navigation skills from Yulia Smolyansky at lunch.
Rally Chairman Reid Trummel tries to learn some navigation skills from Yulia Smolyansky at lunch.

After lunch came the creatively named “After Lunch Regularity” which takes us 7.4 miles with very little time checks to follow and stay on-time with. Somehow Dad pulls off another amazing bit of Navigation and is confident that we’re right on time when we roll by the checkpoint. (We zeroed!)

After the After Lunch Regularity comes the “Palestine Regularity” which trips us up with a “ITIS” (if it is such) directive. We were looking so hard for the directed “ITIS” (a right at a road named “Metge”) that we supposedly miss a protection turn and go straight. This puts us ahead of time and we arrive at the much-later-in-the-stage checkpoint 14 seconds early. (which of course we do not find out until much later. I go back and look at this protection error in Google street view and see a stop sign where the rallymaster says there was none, so I’m confused… oh well.)

A long transit takes us through Corvallis and far west of town on US 20 where we can resume TSD rallying at a closed weigh station. The “Summit Regularity” is a short 8.5 mile run. Unfortunately about six miles in I am stuck behind an SUV who prevents me from keeping my speed right at 38 mph. They slow down through curves far too much, but then speed up on straights so I can’t really pass them without getting too far ahead of where I need to be. Of course they also make one of those almost-full-stop-before-making-a-right-turn moves with me practically smelling the Armor-all on their rear bumper. I barrel ahead, trying to fill the imaginary gap I know must exist, asking Dad to get me a time-check, which of course doesn’t exist – when we pass the checkpoint! (We are 13 seconds late.)

The “Eddyville Regularity” has us right back on the twisty multiple-rail-line-crossing road we traversed in the opposite direction this morning on the “Blodgett Regularity.” Sure enough 9.3 miles into the stage we come upon this scene…

Ken and Bernice Ivey in their 1965 Shelby Cobra 289... sit and wait.
Ken and Bernice Ivey in their 1965 Shelby Cobra 289... sit and wait.
Montgomery Shelton and Brenna Murphy in their 1967 Alfa Duetto. Brenna had just uttered a profanity when she heard my shutter go off over her shoulder, and then profusely apologized, while I chuckled.
Montgomery Shelton and Brenna Murphy in their 1967 Alfa Duetto. Brenna had just uttered a profanity when she heard my shutter go off over her shoulder, and then profusely apologized, while I chuckled.

Several minutes slowly roll by, seemingly faster than the train. I’m up near the crossing on foot when I see the end of the train and sprint back to the car. We note the time we get underway. It is interesting to watch how all the different rally cars handle the situation. Some sprint ahead, passing cars. Some just hang in. We proceed as if nothing has happened, keeping to the speeds called out in the route instructions. We know exactly how far we’re behind and plan on just turning in a time declaration. If we try and sprint we’ll never be able to figure out how far we’re off when we arrive at the checkpoint. If we stay on speed, then we can make post-event adjustments. The risk we have is NOT making it to the start of the next stage on-time. This segment is 37 miles long, and we’re only one-quarter of the way through. Cars slowly spread out from our initial bunch and eventually we arrive at the checkpoint – almost all out of order and way off time. After we pass the checkpoint I drive as swiftly as I can to make up time the final several miles of the Eddyville Regularity, passing a few rally cars along the way.

We arrive at the start of the next segment. Dad has already done the math to allow us to start off-time but as it stands we have about a 30 second pause. Unfortunately there are many confused rally participants in their cars all parked near the sign that serves as the beginning of the “Ojalla Bridge Regularity.” Everyone seems to not be able to recover from the train delay properly. We do our best to not get blocked in, and barge our way to the start just in time to go right at our appointed second.

Thankfully all the drama doesn’t throw us off our game. The navigation is pretty simple and we come to the checkpoint about 5 CASTs and 20 miles in. The competition is now complete and the rest of the route is effectively a transit. Dad looks up the rule on Time Declarations and writes one up on the bottom half of the last page of the route instructions. We’re done, all we have to do now is check in at the Main Timing Control, submit our time dec, and then relax.

Approaching the MTC.
Approaching the MTC.
Dad announces our arrival time at the MTC.
Dad announces our arrival time at the MTC.
My Navigator submits our train-related Time Declaration.
My Navigator submits our train-related Time Declaration.
All done, and parked in the Beer Wash lot.
All done, and parked in the Beer Wash lot.

The traditional Beer Wash happens at the end of the NW Classic where folks enjoy a brew while they wash their cars. We skip the wash but do enjoy a beer before heading back to the room. Exhausted I collapse on the bed for a nap.

Dad wakes me in time for dinner, and we find out our times for the day. The critical bit: Our time dec saves our bacon. We were 04:39 late to the checkpoint on the Eddyville Regularity, but submitted a 4:30 time dec, so the 9 seconds is all we were off. This, combined with our other penalties for the day puts us at 01:12 for Day 2. Add our Day 1 total of 00:52 and we’re at 0:02:04 in total. In a competitive field such as this rally we have no idea where that puts us, both in-class and overall. We’ll find out in the morning.

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