For more information, contact: John Dillon
Creativity in Action
P. O. Box 1231
Thousand Oaks, CA 91358-0231
Web site:

SCCA ProRally Licensing School

Ridgecrest, CA

On the 5th of February, 66 students, 7 instructors and numerous active rallyists converged on the Heritage Inn in Ridgecrest, California for an SCCA ProRally Licensing School. Organized by Ray Hocker, himself a rally fixture for over 20 years, with major support from Mike and Paula Gibeault, the program included classroom training, a foot rally to practice the mechanics of checkpoints and time cards, and in-car training for drivers and co-drivers (navigators) alike. In addition to Hocker and the Gibeaults, the instructor cadre including numerous National and Divisional champions. Doug and Sue Robinson, Mike Whitman, Carl Jardevall, Bruce Brown, Tony Chavez, and yours truly, as the SoPac ClubRally Steward, all assisted in teaching the eager students.

In-car training focused on individual specialties. Drivers took over the Desert Empire Fairgrounds for a series of exercises in the dirt. First they covered basic driving techniques on skid pad and figure eight courses. They learned the value of the late apex on a blind turn, why sliding sideways can be a faster way through a corner, and why braking on dirt is better than you might expect. As students progressed, they even learned advanced techniques like left foot braking and handbrake turns. Differences between front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive were also discussed and demonstrated.

Meanwhile, the co-drivers took to the roads of Ridgecrest. Paula Gibeault laid out three routes on public roads (no speeding of course). Gibeault, Sue Robinson, and yours truly each drove a car with a rally odometer ("odo") installed. The students took turns navigating the course with a route book while working the odo and calling instructions to the driver and counting down the corners. For example, "In 20, hairpin left, single caution; in 10 hairpin left, single caution; hairpin left now." Two of the courses were fairly slow, but the third put the students on a wide open stretch of highway with a 65 MPH speed limit. At higher speeds, the instructions come up a lot quicker but the students rose to the challenge. As drivers, we sometimes acted like "real" rally drivers. After being told about a left turn three or four times, we'd ask again, "which way?" then set up to go right. Nonplussed, the students kept their cool and kept us on course.

The curriculum is extensive enough that graduates of the school are eligible to receive a National ProRally competition license. Only one entrant, Jim LaTour of Colorado, opted for the advanced license. In fact, several people asked if they should consider the extra costs of the National ProRally (vs. a Divisional ClubRally) license. The answer is, "it depends." A ProRally license costs $120, not $60, but includes one set of graphics for your car. With a ProRally license you're eligible to compete for National points and you get a better starting position on the road. (Rally cars are released on one, two, or three minute intervals, not all at once.) In practically all cases, the Divisional rallyists get the same amount of seat time (hours upon hours per event) as the National guys. For most Divisional competitors, the difference in road position is not significant enough to justify the extra cost unless you are competing for a National title. (Note: you can actually earn a National ClubRally championship by finishing first or second in your Divisional series, then going to a run off-style championship event near the end of the year.)

The list of graduates includes veteran road racer Paul Dube and son Doug, SoPac ClubRally Safety Steward John Shults, several seasoned rally workers like Bill McDuffee, Mike and Tony Dicks, Brian Noonan, and Jay Deacon, and motorcycle champion Wayne Rainey and his wife Shae. Even active competitors like William and Julie Yates recognized the value of the program by attending. Other graduates included: Virgina, Gordon, and Carl Azevedo, Randy Ankeny, Bill Barfoot, Jimmy Bell, Shenandoah Bennett, Sonya and Robert Brinkhurst, Richard Byford, Eduardo and Andy Cardenas, Angus Chassels, Sandra Chavez, Dave Coleman, Mark Conte, Johan Ekstrom, Joel Gat, George Hambrecht, Josh Jacquot, Daman Johnson, Jason Lane, Janice Lilley, Andrea Lipman, Ricardo Lozada, Debbie and Marc Massey, Julian Masters, Bob Moe, Mark Montgomery, Miles Noe, Sean Otto, Shiv Pathak, Clay Payton, Sean Rigmaiden, Gonzalo Sanchez, Barbara Shabell, Kirk Sloan, Noel Staunton, David and Victoria Van Horn, Steve Vukas, Marshall Walker, Stephanie and Keith Wheeler, Doug Whited, Felix Wong, Eugene Wong, Ian Hudson, Daniel Nicholos, Eric Parsons, Brian Hudson, J. Whorton, Jim Latour, Jason Richards, and Ken Lazarus.

Several of the graduates stayed over Sunday for a RallyCross at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds to practice what they'd learned. A RallyCross is kind of like an autocross without asphalt, meaning that even street cars can compete. (In fact, street cars are encouraged; it's a great, inexpensive way to enjoy our sport.)

Each driver ran four runs (two in each direction) and could take passengers with them if they wished. For some, an instructor in the car was just the ticket to go faster. For others, their passenger was a family or crew member so they could share the excitement of the sport. Everyone left with big smiles and few took away trophies as well. Tony Chavez demonstrated to everyone why he's a master instructor by finishing first overall in an Open 4WD-classed Mitsubishi Galant VR-4. Carl Jardevall drove his Volvo 740T to a Group 2/5 win, while Josh Jacquot demonstrated the strength of a Mazda 323 with a 4WD Street Stock victory. Other class winners included Leon Styles (Mazda RX-7) in Performance Stock, Ian Hudson (Toyota Corolla) in Street Stock and Joel Gat (Pontiac Sunfire--yes, a rental car!) in 2WD Street Modified.

The courses, each about a half mile long, were challenging, but as with all racing, smoothness was rewarded. Kengo Takahashi showed that smooth driving works even in monster trucks as he put his turbo diesel Dodge Ram through its paces. The afternoon stage was especially challenging in the back corner. In fact, the layout was changed slightly to better avoid Horse Dung Mountain. Happily, everyone got through the course okay, though a few of the cones are still quivering from their near-squash experience!

With an outstanding school completed (and with beautiful weather to boot), and a RallyCross under their belts, a whole new pack of rallyists is ready to tackle the rough and tough roads of Rim of the World, the next full SoPac rally. Fortunately, they don't have to wait until May to race again. The Las Vegas Region is hosting a St. Patrick's Day RallySprint/Rallycross in Pahrump, March 18/19 and, for those willing to travel, there are a pair of events in Washington and Oregon in the next couple of months.

If you've never been to rally or rallycross, come on out. It's a ton of fun with an extra ton of excitement and friends. Rally on!

                        Ridgecrest RallyCross - Final Results
                                     Feb 6, 2000

         Driver            Car         Seconds   Place Class
    1 Tony Chavez       Galant VR-4     185.48    1 Open 4wd
    2 Lon Peterson      Subaru Impreza  188.57    2 Open 4wd
    3 Lincoln Woodard   Subaru Impreza  191.97    3 Open 4wd
    4 Shiv Pathak       Subaru Impreza  192.29    4 Open 4wd
    5 Anton Musev       Audi Quattro    192.34    5 Open 4wd
    6 Carl Jardevall    Volvo 740T      194.24    1 Group 2 / 5
    7 Bruce Brown       Mazda 323       195.51    6 Open 4wd
    8 Josh Jacquot      Mazda 323       197.67    1 4wd Street Stock
    9 Jonathan Ryther   Subaru Impreza  198.39    7 Open 4wd
   10 Ray Hocker        Galant VR-4     199.16    2 4wd Street Stock
   11 Matt Sweeney      Toyota Pickup   199.34    2 Group 2 / 5
   12 Leon Styles       Mazda RX-7      203.17    1 Performance Stock
   13 Jason Richards    Subaru Impreza  204.71    3 4wd Street Stock
   14 Doug Whited       VW Golf GTI     206.00    2 Performance Stock
   15 Topi Hynynen      Volvo 142       206.51    3 Performance Stock
   16 Angus Chassels    Subaru Impreza  207.28    4 4wd Street Stock
   17 John Moore        Toyota Celica   208.18    3 Group 2 / 5
   18 Bill McDuffee     Toyota Celica   208.32    5 4wd Street Stock
   19 Ian Hudson        Toyota Corolla  208.75    1 Street Stock
   20 Richard Byford    BMW 2002        209.32    4 Group 2 / 5
   21 Robert Brinkhust  Subaru Impreza  209.62    6 4wd Street Stock
   22 Dennis Sheean     Mazda RX-7      210.19    4 Performance Stock
   23 Noel Staunton     Volvo 740T      211.05    5 Group 2 / 5
   24 Gary English      Alpha Romeo     211.06    5 Performance Stock
   25 Johan Ekstrom     Volvo 740T      211.20    6 Group 2 / 5
   26 Jim Bell          Subaru Impreza  211.30    7 4wd Street Stock
   27 Mark Conte        Toyota Celica   211.65    7 Group 2 / 5
   28 Lucinda Strub     Toyota Pickup   213.00    8 Group 2 / 5
   29 Joel Gat          Sunfire         213.27    1 2wd Street Modified
   30 Colin Deere       Subaru Impreza  213.33    8 4wd Street Stock
   31 Thomas Ryther     Subaru Impreza  213.86    9 4wd Street Stock
   32 John Shults       Stratos         214.63    2 2wd Street Modified
   33 Brian Noonan      VW Golf GTI     215.58    6 Performance Stock
   34 Jay Deacon        Datsun 510      216.56    3 2wd Street Modified
   35 Dave VanHorn      Legacy          216.72    4 2wd Street Modified
   36 Steve Vukas       Daihatsu        217.20    2 Street Stock
   37 Levi Cox          Honda Civic     217.65    3 Street Stock
   38 Roger Allison     Alpha Romeo     219.81    7 Performance Stock
   39 Robert Wigley     Toyota Pickup   219.85    8 Performance Stock
   40 Victoria VanHorn  Legacy          220.35    5 2wd Street Modified
   41 Rey Laureano      Toyota Celica   220.56    9 Performance Stock
   42 Eric Parsons      Daihatsu        220.82    4 Street Stock
   43 Dean Danganan     Plymouth Neon   221.39    5 Street Stock
   44 Bill Barfoot      Toyota Corolla  222.90    6 Street Stock
   45 Tony Dela Cuesta  Toyota Corolla  222.98   10 Performance Stock
   46 Dave Coleman      Datsun 510      224.47    9 Group 2 / 5
   47 Sean Rigmander    Scirocco        226.45    6 2wd Street Modified
   48 Clayton Payton    Scirocco        229.91    7 2wd Street Modified
   49 Hakan Okcuoglu    Fiat            230.37    7 Street Stock
   50 Murat Okcuoglu    Conquest        231.13   10 Group 2 / 5
   51 Ihsan Balat       Fiat            231.43    8 Street Stock
   52 Don Shreyer       Honda Civic     232.30   11 Performance Stock
   53 Kengo Takahashi   Dodge Ram       233.45    8 2wd Street Modified
   54 Shenandoah Bennett Nissan Sentra  235.08    9 Street Stock
   55 Keith Wheeler     Mazda RX-7      244.79    9 2wd Street Modified
   56 Stephanie Wheeler Mazda RX-7      262.31   10 2wd Street Modified
   57 Sean Otto         Mazda             DNF    10 Street Stock
   58 William Yates     Toyota MR-2       DNF    11 Group 2 / 5

Copyright © 2000 John Dillon
Last Updated: 20 February 2000

SCCA Press Release Index
RRN Index