ORRC Not the President’s Prize Rally – 15 Oct 2011

This year the President’s Prize was temporarily renamed the “Not”, since the fellow designing it is not the President of the Peterborough club and the club has been without a president all year long. But he’s an experienced rallyist, so I expected a challenging and long route (at 300 km). The rally would start in Peterborough at 11 o’clock Saturday, so we had to leave at 6 AM to get there in time, especially since we’d have to hunt a bit for a suitable place to leave the truck and trailer. At the end of the event, I’d be driving the Mazda directly to Kingston for my 40th anniversary university reunion, while Gary would drive the truck and trailer back to my house and retrieve his car. I’d been watching the weather forecast for the weekend closely, since I was hoping to get up to Calabogie for a few more laps on Sunday afternoon. But as of Friday evening, it didn’t look promising, with rain being forecast for the whole weekend, both in the Ottawa area as well in Peterborough. It wouldn’t be a President’s Prize without a big mud bath anyway.

Saturday dawned cloudy but not raining and we made it to Peterborough around 9:45. We easily found a place to park the truck on the street near the registration spot and took care of the necessary business with lots of time to spare. They had a good turn-out of about 15 cars and we were assigned car number 11. There was only one other car in Intermediate class – our main rivals and friends, Tim and Perry.

Things got off to a pretty good start as we headed south of town into the hilly countryside. The first couple of sections were fairly straightforward tulips with multiple speed changes. But soon we came to a section that had problems. Near the end of section there was an instruction that showed a T intersection where we should turn left. But when we got there, we found about 8 other teams stopped and discussing what to do. The intersection was a four-way and the distance did not coincide with the instruction! We tried going both left and straight but neither led to the next and last instruction on the page. Several others turned right, so we did too, but with the same result. So we decided to go to the end of the new sew section, concluding that the entire section would have to be scrubbed from the scoring, due to the massive error. And so it was.

Shortly afterwards we finished the first leg with only one other small error in the instructions and stopped for a break. Everyone was milling around, discussing the frustration of the errors. I sympathized with the organizer, who had received no help in checking the route against the instructions and who had completed the rally’s design in a very short period of time.

After the break, things got a little more interesting. The first section, as well as the second last one, was in the form of a story about the travels of US presidents, both living and dead.  Each had attributes, based on his politics or reputation. For example, when Obama spoke, it represented a left turn. When George W. Bush spoke, we should ignore it because you couldn’t believe anything he said. The first section began with a tricky series of turns that required a map to sort out. Fortunately, I had brought a large scale, coloured highway map that Gary had to use because the photocopy we were given was hard to read and had an End of Section sticker in precisely the worst place.

In the remaining sections, there were numerous speed changes and it was difficult to maintain the correct speed when, for example, we had to average 76 km/h for only a kilometre or less, between two lower speed sections. After a while Gary got behind on the calculation of estimated times of arrival, so we were early at a couple of checkpoints. I haven’t seen the detailed scoring yet, but overall we accumulated 4.5 points, which isn’t bad. But Tim and Perry somehow got only 1.9 points, so they finished first in our class. I’m curious about the details though, because I understand that nine out of twenty checkpoints had to be scrubbed from the scoring due to mistakes in the instructions or in the location of the checkpoint workers.

I left as soon as the rally ended and drove to Kingston, where I arrived in time for the entire supper with my classmates from Queen’s. I visited with several guys that I wanted to see and had a good conversation at the table where I sat with people I knew but who had been in different streams of engineering. When the disc jockey appeared and the dancing started, I headed for my room, since it had already been a long day. In the last rally of the season, I will have to finish first and Tim will have to finish third or worse in class for me to have a chance at the championship. It doesn’t look too likely, but stranger things have happened.

Video is available at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fav5KEXR57Q

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