"Gary goes to `Thunderbird Rally' in British Columbia"

February, 1996

This month I went to a two-day, 1000-mile T.S.D. rally event, totally unsure of what was going to happen. The first thing I noticed at registration was that the committee of organizers was young! I'm guessing, but out of the four in charge, the average age was around twenty-four. I remember when I was twenty-four and put on rallies.

Next, everyone was talking about tires and studding and roads and weather. There wasn't one conversation about rules or generals. I asked about T.A. `s, and the reply was, "What are they? Why do we need one? This is a motorsport rally." I was told that unless the organizer made a big mistake in the route, you make it up! The first choice is always to make it up.

The route book had both written and tulip instructions and mileages to 100's in miles and kilometers. The route directions were very clear. However, what wasn't in the book were cautions for cliffs, drop-offs, vistas, glazed ice sections, etc. I asked a few competitors about this, and they basically said to drive what you see, get a tow strap out, and keep a shovel handy!

In timing and mileage, all the controls had Alfa clocks and mileages were done timewise by computers. All the controls are timed to seconds, and you have plus or minus one for zero. Basically, one late or one early zero.

The course ran from noon to 10 P.M. on Saturday and from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. on Sunday, then awards in approx. an hour. There were no protests, twenty-six starting cars, two lead cars, two sweep trucks, and four control cars.

I ran in a BMW ix 4x4 with 225 H.P. from Seattle BMW with Timewise. My co-pilot was Satch Carison from Alaska. At the end of day one we had seventeen points and were 3 o/a. Ten cars had less than thirty points for sixteen controls. We had twelve zeroes, but we were late on glare ice roads.

Day two was different. The rally went up to a high mountain pass that was twenty-five miles long and had eight to ten inches and unplowed snow with two controls. We zeroed both, and the closest score was thirty-seven late. At the next section a local truck was stuck on ice in the middle of a hill with a horse trailer jack-knifed across the road. On the average, cars lost three minutes to get by. We were 340 late, and we zeroed the next control. No one in the rally even got back to their minute. I was surprised.

The cars running included two Subaru turbo 4x4's, two Mazda GTX 4x4's, three small 4x4 pick-ups, five Toyota Celica turbo 4x4's, and tow Plymouth Laser turbo 4x4's. At the finish, everyone was surprised by my time on both sections and how I passed other cars in one-lane roads. I tried to explain about me being twenty-four years old and running a rally called "Tri-State 24hr Winter Rally" and going to Quebec and running.a rally called "Peige Niege" (a pro rally held on icy roads;in February) when I was thirty-four. So, running 45;mph on eight inches of snow wasn't something new at forty-four

Again good news. I'd estimate that there were eighty people at this event, and the average age was probably thirty, and this was a B.C. Rally Championship Event. At an S.C.C.A.National Touring event, the average age is probahly fifty. the cost of running this top-notch event is peanuts. The entry fee was $65, and the two motels were $50 a night. Gas was approx. $2.50 a gallon. So, the total cost was approx. $400 (Canadian) or $300 (US) to run a real notorsport event, a British Columbia T.S.D. road rally.

I' d like to get a three-car team to run next year (Feb. 1997), one in-each-class. If you think you can drive a rally 40-45 mph on 700 miles of snow and ice and not have a rally lawyer for a co-pilot, drop me a note. I'm not going to miss a chance to be young again!

Yours in Our Sport,
Gary L. Webb
P.O. Box 16
Mechanic-Falls, ME 04256

Thunder Bird Rally: Tony Latham--(604) 263-1971

Return to Webbsite
RRN Index