Rallying Resources on the Internet
Being an Internet and rallying devotee the two subjects combine well
for me and, as you would expect these days, the resources connected with
rallying are abundant on the 'Net – if you know where to look.
This article’s aim is to save you time and trouble. I have described many of my own favourites below and categorised them by subject.
There are no addresses quoted for the highlighted pages; the next time you are on-line simply stop by at http://table-top-rallying.org.uk//General/Links and there you will find convenient links to the places you might like to visit.
Choosing an event
You will need access to a reliable and up-to-date calendar. There's no “one size fits all” here. It's unlikely that you will want a free choice of events across different disciplines, so your best bet for advanced planning is to regularly access the calendar of your preferred championship or region. I emphasise regularly because events have an unfortunate habit of moving dates from those originally published at the beginning of the year.
In theory the Motor Sport Association’s fixture and club list should provide a definitive calendar of organisers and events. In the members’ area you can select by event category and date to provide a shortlist of candidates, but I found the detailed information lacking and the selection incomplete.
The larger organisations such HRCR, Hero and the CRA all maintain excellent and up-to-date event lists.
There are a few sites that are more general: Navigational Rally Calendar, Rally Marshal’s Calendar and Ian Mills Road Rally Calendar all deal with what it says in their titles. There is also a handy motor sport calendar published monthly by Colin Wilson.
The assumption is that you already own a competition car, but if you looking for something different then there are several well-populated places to visit such as Exchange & Mart and Autotrader; and if you fancy an on-line auction, try eBay Motors.
Specialist sites just dealing in rally cars are rare, but there is a selection on the Motor Sports Association’s pages; and if you have rally cars or bits to sell, adverts there are free.
Occasionally you will find competition cars for sale in the Rally Forums mentioned below.
There’s always Alexander Forbes who is the insurance broker to the MSA, or perhaps you should take a look too at Adrian Flux Insurance or Competition Car Insurance.
Car, event and insurance sorted, it might be time to buy some extras. For modern components Demon Tweeks could help but for rarer parts, head to Quality Classic Components or Classic Rallying Paraphernalia; and maybe there is a seller on eBay who just happens to have an original chrome finishing or badge in his garage for you to complete your historic vehicle. If you are a frequent eBay user, make good use of their Favourite Searches feature. Store your search criteria and you will be automatically notified when matching items become available.
If you sit in the left hand seat and require any of the gizmos that will make your navigational life easier then the Don Barrow Rally Navigation site will be worth a visit. There you'll find all kinds of map lights, watches and trips. For accurate plotting try a Basic Roamer from the company of the same name.
I buy all my maps on the Internet; it saves me the cost of travelling to the nearest stockists and with few exceptions the map cost (including timely delivery) will be below retail prices. Try Centremaps, Elstead Maps and Mapkiosk for starters.
If you are digitally minded then you can buy a complete set of electronic OS Landranger maps from Memory Map. You’ll need 5 Gbytes of space on your hard disk and a mortgage for the £220 outlay, but if you are a map maniac the convenience is a must. Once installed you can also download map segments to your PDA which is handy when you are travelling without paper maps.
As it’s Christmas time you might like to buy your co-driver a present at Rallygifts.
Preparation before an event
I usually visit the popular rally forums to see what competitors might be saying about the event. Sometimes you'll pick up tips and gossip which could prove useful on the day or night such as a complex of white roads that are always used or references of tricky not-as-map junctions. You will have to register, but the process is safe and your privacy (if you want it) is respected.
The BritishRally website has forums for Road Rallies, Stage Rallies and Marshalling or head for the British & Irish Rallying forum (mostly stage rallying) at Motorsportforum. My personal favourite is the News and Messages forum on the unlikely named M and H Rally Photography Discussion Board.
If you haven’t got your rally licence there are downloadable application forms at the Motor Sports Association plus a wealth of information about motor clubs, regional associations, organising events, sample documentation and equipment. Become an on-line member and you can check the progress of your licence application or delve into the on-line MSA Competitors’ Yearbook (“The Blue Book”) when you need access to the latest sporting and technical regulations.
Newbies to rallying may want to study some of the Internet articles that are available on general car preparation, timing and navigation. Those like the Road Rally Training Course, a Beginners Guide to Historic Road Rally Navigation and Getting Started in Classic Rallying will be good starting points in your initiation to the sport.
Need to know the best route from home to the start of an event? Consult the AA Route Planner.
After an event
Revisit the forums to see what other crews thought about an event. Post comments about your own downfall or success.
If the downfall was dramatic, then British Motor Heritage might have a new body shell waiting for you.
Trophies for the winners can be ordered quickly from SilverTrophy.
Fans of the World Rally Championship will spend time hanging around the official WRC site and will want to subscribe to the WRC Newsletter. Lower your sights to the British Rally Championship pages or keep it within the HRCR family to catch up with the latest news on its HRCR Continental Events or HRCR Road and Stage Championships.
A major contributor to rally news of all kinds is the on-line Rally Co-driver Magazine. I am very much against news pages that require a paid subscription, and I held off studying this site until preparing for this article. For an annual subscription of £19.39 I now have access to the main pages, which cover UK and international rally calendars, news and reports. Access to some possibly interesting feature articles would cost another £5.29 p.a. Being more a club level rallyist than National or International I was disappointed with the extent of grass roots coverage. I think I may be better served in 12 months time by seeking out specific event sites rather than re-subscribing.
Let's Go Surfing
If you're an established Internet user, you'll be familiar with the Google search engine for unearthing references to particular subjects, and Google Alerts is a useful extension. You can store up to five regular search terms and receive an email when something new appears. Use one of the terms to enter your own name and qualifier (e.g. "Ray Crowther" and Rally), and whenever you (or someone with the same name and interest as you!) appear on an entry or results list you'll be notified.
Another (free) Google product is Picasa. This is a great piece of software that will help you catalogue your collection of rally (or otherwise) photographs.
If you start using some of these recommended websites, you'll possibly be adding to your list of login names and passwords. For an easy and secure way to conveniently store these details and automate your login, take a look at Roboform.
You are probably already using email, but if you want a free web-based account that grants you a huge 1 Gbyte of mail storage then sign up with Walla!
Unless you are remotely rural there’s a high probability that you will have broadband in your area. Get connected using Eclipse; they are regularly quoted as one of the top suppliers in terms of reliability and I was very impressed with how efficiently they managed my sign-up process. With the increased speed and a microphone/speakers you can register with Skype and talk to other similarly connected users, just like a normal phone call, for free.
With the proliferation of viruses swamping the Internet, you will need some kind of anti-virus software and I have had excellent protection from the little known NOD32 product. Although Windows XP now has its own firewall you might like to belt-and-braces your system to shut out intruders and install the free Zone Alarm too.
And visit Windows Update now to make sure your leaky Windows system has the latest patches.
If you are an armchair rally person then the quality and realism of the latest video games will keep you amused for hours. I would love to have the time to tackle some of the action games that have emerged since I first played Colin McRae Rally 2. I am not sure my steering wheel and foot pedals still work with my latest PC configuration, but when I am ready to try again it seems the offerings of Colin McRae Rally 2005, World Rally Championship 4 and Richard Burns Rally will be the ones to go for.
If you prefer brainwork rather than dexterity, then solving time schedule or navigation problems will suit you better. The Table-Top-Rallying site has an annual plotting championship for expert and master navigators, and a separate series for co-drivers. I’ll meet you there.
The full addresses of the websites mentioned above are conveniently available at http://table-top-rallying.org.uk//General/Links.