What is Rally?
Simply stated, rally is Real Cars, Real Roads, Real Fast.
Teams race highly-tuned production-based cars flat-out on twisty gravel roads, and the fastest man wins. Logging roads of the great Pacific Northwest, Canada, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and around the world are the tracks for rally drivers, and the weather can feature rain, mud, snow, and beautiful sunny days in the woods – sometimes all in the same two-day event. The ideal roads are smooth, fast, and flowing, arranged in a series of sprints (called “stages”), timed to the hundredth of a second, with mandatory pit stops in between to repair the cars.
Each team has a driver and a co-driver/navigator. Rally drivers are masters of high-speed control on loose surfaces, pitching their cars through brutal conditions and continuously varying terrain, with little margin for error - instead of safety rails and smooth run out areas, rally courses feature rocks, trees, and drop-offs immediately adjacent to the road. Drivers cannot practice on the course, and must rely on information from the co-drivers to maximize their speed. The co-driver has a book of “Stage Notes” detailing every single curve, intersection, mud hole, and jump in the road, and continuously relays what is ahead to the driver through the intercom so the driver knows what angle and speed to attack the next corner.
Crashes are common in rallying, but the mandatory safety equipment is extremely good, and usually only the car is injured. Helmets, racing seats, fire-resistant suits, on board fire-suppression systems, and strong roll cages see to that.