oldSTAGER No.96
February/March 2006

 

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Garmin To Get You

Last issue I told you about my new GPS Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) gadget the Garmin Forerunner 301, and I used it to track the last two-thirds of the Preston Rally route in December. In the panic I experienced at the start of the event I forgot to switch the damn thing on, since my driver – Clive Baty – arrived only minutes before our scheduled departure time. Anyway, the Forerunner worked perfectly. Statistics for the monitored route were 143.74 miles, duration 5:29:30, average speed 26.2 mph, maximum speed 85 mph. The route overlaid onto digital OS maps shows exactly where we went, including an overshoot, unmarked tracks and those private road lappings visited on the Preston. Examination of the speed profile was the most interesting. It clearly showed the control points (zero speed) and where we temporarily became stuck in the mud looking for an obscure white slot. The files containing the data*, in various formats, are downloadable from the TT website.

Heard of Wikipedia*? It’s a free Internet encyclopaedia to which anyone can contribute. Some interesting rallying articles have been written (just enter a category search term of car rallying) which cover definitions of such things as Plot ‘n’ bash, Targa Timing, OTL and Road Rally, but there are lots of topics missing. If you fancy contributing to world rallying knowledge, try your hand at creating definitions of Regularity, Road Book, Herringbone, Tulips or any of the other strange terms that we use in our sport.

The Internet Table-Top Championships for 2006* have been announced. Masters, Experts and Novices (new) are catered for over four rounds in March, May, September and November. The Championships have been sponsored by The Basic Roamer Company, and the individual events by Don Barrow Rally Navigation, and will be run in broadly the same format as last year. For those unfamiliar with this series (and to avoid using up reduced editorial space) visit the TT website for further details.

That granddaddy of all table-top rallies – The St Valentine’s Day Massacre* – is taking place during January and February. Now in its 43rd year, this US based rally is regarded as THE original map-navigation event. The format is completely different to UK events: the plotting takes place on the Rand McNally road atlas of North America, with descriptive instructions which rely on a thorough understanding of the course-following rules. This year will be my third attempt to get more answers right than wrong.

While resolving which maps to use for the TT Championships I discovered an invaluable resource deeply buried on the OS website – the Leisure map catalogue*. This document lists all OS publications, together with the most recent revision dates, and a six-month forward plan of coming revisions. Ideal if you want to quote the latest edition of a map for an event.

This old dog learnt a new trick courtesy of the excellent Gibson/Robinson improvers course at the HRCR Open Day. I use a Brantz 2 tripmeter, which has a +/- switch. I know what it does, but its most practical use just hadn't registered with me. When you (er ... I) wrong slot on a regularity, TSD computations get befuddled – time flows on, but distance is distorted. I've now briefed my driver on the following procedure: When I say the codeword, “Sh*t”, he must stop the car at a convenient point; shout, "Minus" and turn the car round. That's my cue to flick the Brantz switch from plus to minus, guide us back to the wrong slot and then flick the switch back to plus again. I know, I know, blindingly obvious – just like relativity was to Einstein in 1905.

Only one reason to be grumpy this month: In 1974, I was competing on road rallies with Tony Morris, a huge man with a huge appetite for driving an ex-works brute of a stage-prepared BDA Escort – a decadent machine even in those almost-anything-goes heady days. We won the AEMC Championship and, as was the privilege then for area champions, I was elected to the membership of Ecurie Cod Fillet*. A few weeks ago, when raiding rally archives for this column, I came across my original ECF window sticker. Now crumpled and faded, it was time to obtain a new one. Contacting ECF was more difficult than I had anticipated – an organisation without a website? When I did track down an official, it was a depressing conclusion. Apparently, many years ago, the ECF purged from their lists the uncontactable and has-beens of rallying, and sadly, I seemed to satisfy both criteria. So, I’m starting a new ECF – Emulate Crow’s Failings. After my rallying efforts in 2005, I don’t expect many members.

*For Internet links mentioned here, visit the Rallying Links page of http://table-top-rallying.org.uk.