This page courtesy of the Sports Car Club of America
Rallying is a sport which generally involves driving on normal, public roads. There are a number of different sports gathered together under this banner. For a directory of SCCA Regions.
Sometimes you will see the word spelled Rallye. While this is generally used internationally, some people use it to differentiate this event from some political gathering. A rally is generally a competitive event. They are normally run over public roads, and except for PRO Rally do not require specialized equipment or licenses.
Many SCCA regions have rally programs; these rallys will generally be either Gimmick or Time-Speed-Distance, so called TSD Rallies. TSD events may take one of two forms: Either a Touring Rally or a Course Rally. There are National and Divisional programs in TSD Rallying. At the National Level there is The National Course Rally Championship and The National Touring Rally Championship.
Gimmick Rallys vary widely; the topic is far to broad to cover in a brief note. Generally these are low key events where the primary object is to have fun, rather than serious competition. A Gimmick rally is a very good way to introduce yourself to the sport of Rallying. Normally a Gimmick rally will have some puzzle to solve. Perhaps the contestants must search for answers to questions. These answers may provide clues to where the rally route goes, or you must answer questions about signs and buildings on the route. The Gimmick may be to draw a playing card at each checkpoint, also known as a control, and the best pokerhand wins. Most, but not all, Gimmick Rallies are won by luck or chance, rather than skill. That is why they are not considered competitive.
TSD Rallys are generally thought of as "more serious" than Gimmick Rallys. They are called TSD because one of the three variables in the equation:
D = RT are given, where D is the distance to travel,
R is the speed to travel at, and
T is the time to travel in.
Normally the variable given is R which is usually 10% below the speed limit. This is the AVERAGE speed you must travel. If you slow down for a corner, or stop for a sign, you will have to go faster than that average to make up the time you lost. The Checkpoints, or controls as they are also called, will note the time you arrive at their location. Generally for every 0.01 minute (0.6 seconds) you are early or late you receive one point. (Porsche Club Rallys are normally timed in seconds.) The team (Driver and Navigator) who scores the lowest points (minimum error) wins their class. This would be easy if you knew where the controls were. That is a carefully guarded secret. You are provided instructions which will take you along a very specific route. Normally this lets you do some scenic driving out in the country, as most rally routes try to avoid congested areas as much as possible. This distance is carefully measured, and since the rate (R) is known, the your perfect arrival time (PAT) is known. However your team must not only calculate your perfect arrival time, but you must drive it as well.
The type of route instructions also determines whether you are participating in a tour or course rally. Tour Rally instructions give you specific and clear instructions as to the rally route. Course Rally instructions may include traps that will if taken cause you to travel either shorter or longer than the intended distance. This will cause you to enter the control either earlier or later than your perfect arrival time, thereby affecting your score. Essentially in Tour Rallies, you only need to concentrate on staying on time. Course rallies require not only staying on time but on course as well. Sometimes rallies are advertised as being "brisk"; this means that the average speeds given are very close to the speed limit, and the roads are twisty or offer the driver some other challenge. This adds an additional dimension, since driver ability also comes into play as well.
TSD rallys are offered on a low key basis by many regions, and there are National and Divisional series for more serious competitors.
Pro Rally is considered by its enthusiasts to be the purest form of racing. Essentially stock cars as they are delivered from the show room are fitted with safety equipment and shields to protect the car from road hazards. Additionally they are usually fitted with large driving lights since many events run at night. The event is run on public roads, which are closed to the public while the event is being run. Most times these are logging roads, but not always. Cars are sent down these roads one car at a time at one minute intervals. The object is to drive as fast as you can, and faster than your competition. If you can catch the car in front of you, you can pass them. Speeds on these logging roads can reach as fast as 150 MPH by some of the top drivers. As such PRO Rally is best described by the saying "Real Roads, Real Cars, Real FAST." The time to traverse each closed road section or stage as it is called is added to your total. The winner is the competitor who has the fastest total time for all stages. Normally events are timed to hour, minute, and seconds. There are many classes, which offers the PRO Rally competitor a relatively inexpensive alternative to road racing.
Unlike Road Racing you do not get to practice on the stages. Essentially the first time you see them, you are there. A PRO Rally team consists of a Driver and a Co-Driver. The Co-Driver reads the "Route Book" which describes the major hazards of the stage. However, the team must drive through many twists and turns that are unmarked, using things like tree lines to discern which way the road goes. Remember you are doing this while driving as fast as you can. Thus the co-driver is an integral part of the team, as they may see the road surface, before the driver does. Consequently, drivers rely on their co-drivers for driving information when they can't see the road ahead.