By DAVID WILLIAMS, Event Rallymaster and 2018 KCRSCCA RallyCross Chair
A little bit about me
I have been a fan of Rally since the running of the 100 Acre Wood Rally in 2002. I was hooked immediately when the first car rounded the corner, flew down the hill, and came furiously charging towards the spectator point I was standing at just off the road. I have had a knack for planning GPS Routes for Car Club Cruises in the past and leading cars on scenic drives using some of the same roads that I used for the Road Rally. My first Road Rally was the 2017 Pavement Ends Rally with James Cahill as my Co-Driver. I had so much fun driving that event in the gravel that I even imagined myself in an actual stage rally even though I had to keep the speeds under 30mph. We finished second in our class a hundred or so seconds behind our nearest competitor but I could have cared less since I had so much fun.
On the drive home from the Pavement Ends Rally I thought that it really couldn’t be super complex to create a Road Rally event with a little bit of help so I made a plan to pitch the idea to Rich to see what he thought. A few weeks later after researching Road Rallies and I came up with some really basic routes based on the notes from the Pavement Ends Rally. In early December, which was about 3 months out from when the event was eventually scheduled to occur, I pitched the idea to Rich Bireta and he was excited to hear that I wanted to develop a new event but we had to move fast to get it put together before the racing season started. He even thought that if we could get this one off the ground we could consider turning the 3 events into a Road Rally Championship of sorts but that was a future plan due to our truncated time table. He gave me a dump of information on everything I needed to know about Road Rally and I gave him my first draft of the Stage Notes a few days later.
My next step was to take what I had developed and actually try to drive the route so my first run was Mid-December as Driver with my 10-year-old son Co-Driving. To his credit we got lost only once somewhere up North where we should have taken a left but ended up taking a right. I was quite proud of my son for having stuck with me the entire day and taking reading of the notes so seriously. We had to end the run pre-maturely in Excelsior Springs, Missouri due to unknowingly ending stage 4 on a private road that went through a Youth Camp, which meant that it was back to the drawing board on finding a suitable location to end stage 4 and 5. The first run was completed and I got some really good ideas as to what the roads looked like and what to avoid. I re-drafted my notes and had to completely redo stages 2, 4, and 5. I made a second run in Mid-January as Co-Driver for a friend of mine (Rick Thompson) with more polished notes that were very close to the final draft of the notes we used during the event save for a few roads that I had to route around on stage 2, which meant I was back to the drawing board again to figure out that stage. I made some minor adjustments to stage 2, which was the Kearney Amphitheater stage, and made my third and final run in Early-February as Driver with Rich Bireta as my Co-Driver. I learned a lot about Rich Bireta’s background in racing and even found out he had been a co-driver in his younger years for stage rallies. I knew the stage notes well enough that I really didn’t need Rich to call them for me very much, which took a load off for Rich to just take notes and think about the event as a whole. When we were all done with the run I could tell that Rich was starting to get excited about the event but what I wouldn’t find out until just a week out from the event is that Rich really liked my choices of roads and was excited to put the event on.
The Big Day
My morning started off no-where close to the way I expected at 4am when I was dragged from sleep by my phone ringing for an IT related issue for the company I work for, which I luckily managed to get wrapped up by 8am. I was expecting to arrive at our start location at 8am and I was already behind schedule. I had to rush to get my son ready and pull everything together to make it out the door and to the start location by 9am. Once arriving at the start location it was a flurry of activity with cars arriving, competitors signing up, paper work being thrown about, and questions being asked about the event. We had our drivers meeting at 10:30am where everyone was given the basics of a road rally.
On Our Way
At 10:55am I rounded up Albert Weaver who had arrived just a few minutes after the drivers meeting started and we got ready to leave to take pictures of the competitors at the end of the tire warm-up. We rushed to the end of the tire warm-up section about 15min drive on the highway but ~30min for the competitors. As the cars started to come in we noticed that only 20 cars had gone by out of our 21 cars that started the event, which meant that we already had lost a car at some point. Not much we could do but notify Rich that we lost one and we had to roll out to make it to the check point in Paradise, Missouri before the first car arrived and they already had about a 15min head start. On our way we passed right by where the first car was going to pop out onto 169 Hwy in Smithville, Missouri with time to see them rounding the last corner onto the straight section heading towards us. I knew we had about ~25min before they hit the check point and we would get there in about 15min. We arrived with about 10min to spare and managed to get setup with time to take a breath and get our strategy.
The first car crests the hill and in a minute is rolling past our check point sign and so began the takeover of the parking lot at the gas station where we were having our lunch stop. It was chaos in the parking lot with our group and the regulars that the grill attracts on weekends. I can only assume that the chaos spilled over to the Grill inside and before we left I popped in to see how things were going and the owners were working feverishly to get the orders out and I could see they were behind by at least 20min, which I really could never have expected but I took note of it for next year. I gathered Albert and we headed off towards Liberty, Missouri which was our next stop. We stopped off to get a quick bite on the way and made it to the park to catch the last of the cars starting off on the third stage.
The park was as packed as I feared it was going to be due to the nice weather, which was a blessing and a curse. Our first car arrived and the traffic near the dog park was heavy and there was absolutely nothing we could do but watch the first car try to push through the cars and people without hitting someone. I knew right away this was going to be challenging but as I have been told this is Road Rally and you just have to do what you can with what you have been given. It was frustrating for the teams based on the looks we were getting as they pulled up and unfortunately we lost our second car there, which I later found out was technically winning the event even up to that point. All of the teams finally made it in and were back on their way down Stage 4 towards Excelsior Springs. We gathered up all of our equipment and headed off towards the end of the final stage.
We arrived with a good 25min to spare before the first cars started to arrive. While waiting for the cars to arrive I spent some time with my son on the swings at the park. I heard our first car coming up the hill to the park and I rushed to the Check Point to start calling out the times for the cars to Rich. They all rolled in about a minute apart until the middle of the pack and then they started to bunch up and come in pairs or clusters of cars. The last car rolled through the Check Point and I breathed a sigh of relief that they all made it and the event was completed.
After the Event
Rich, Albert, Marty, and myself all got together in the park to go over the stage times and come up with the results. In less than 20min we had times calculated, validated, and emailed out to the group. We packed up the equipment one last time and made the short drive to our dinner location. Once arriving I realized that again the nice weather (blessing and curse) had caused there to be 2 other large groups that showed up at the same time we had at the restaurant. We did a quick thank you to all teams and presented the awards with Greg Chaney (Driver) and Doug Patterson (Co-Driver) persevering to complete the event just over a minute ahead of the nearest competitor. The general feeling was that almost everyone enjoyed the event and that was coming from a field of competitors where over half of the field were new to Road Rally. I received many complements on the roads used and how much fun the event was. After a long day of Road Rally, I was beat … needed a place to sit just take it all in … needed some food and what better way to cap off a day then to have BBQ for dinner and eventually a frozen yogurt with my son.
I learned some important things to factor into the 2019 event and I can’t wait to do it all again. I hope you choose to attend the second running of the “Rubber Meets the Road” Rally early next year where I promise to improve the event and take into account all of the constructive criticism to make it better. I might even expand it to a two-day event since I received several requests to do so. I’m thinking day two might be called the “West to Weston” Rally, which you will have to check back as we get closer to the end of the year to the KCRSCCA website for updates. So there it is, the absolute blur from beginning to end in a span of just three months of the inaugural “Rubber Meets the Road” Rally.
|2||Greg Cheney||Doug Patterson||184|
|3||Brendon Kennedy||Kyle Rhode||205|
|1||Jeremy Utterback||Eva Santillan||268|
|5||John Rutledge||Gary Steward||274|
|7||Frank Biondo||Olivia Biondo||281|
|17||Doug Lau||David Hicks||330|
|12||Rick Jennings||Ian Jennings||364|
|10||Peter Monshizadeh||Lindsay Pruitt||436|
|20||Tara Young||Austin Weber||468|
|16||Brandt Vircks||Gabrielle Tillitson||470|
|15||Roy Lopshire||Charlie Clark||477|
|8||Ian Anderson||Lori Anderson||508|
|11||Chrisk Kern||James Cahill||541|
|22||Rick Noller||Bryan Noller||654|
|13||Josh Holsworth||Molly Hotle||731|
|9||Gene White||Becky White||758|
|19||Charlie Austin||Buzz Fisher||935|
|4||Dean Blakely||Hudson Blakely||1020|
|18||Dan McConnel||Diana Hine||1079|
|14||Steven Bright||Mike Hawkins||1137|
|21||Doug Ditto||Chris Riley||1500|
Full results including stage results are here: Download Full Results
You can view more photos from the rally on our KCRSCCA Facebook Page.