Do you like standing in the woods while very loud Subarus throw rocks in your face? Hell yes you do! Here's how to prepare, from how to eat (bring a grill) to how to drive (you'll need a few maps). This guy's been at rallies since he was a kid working long-distance races in the Dubai desert, so listen to his advice. Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove
(Photo Courtesy: PhotoChasers.com)
The week before a Rally (STPR 2014 coming up May 30, 31st), no matter how big or small the event, a true fanatic's heart starts to race (no puns intended, and this is only the first sentence of my first post, what a start). The preparation of planning when to leave, what all to take, reconfirming the housing, studying the Spectator Guide Maps for the best access points, all the while coordinating on getting your group of new and old rally fans into town in time for them to be able to see some action, is a fun and exciting challenge that never gets old, year after year.
Being a rally spectator or a marshal has comparable challenges as faced by grassroots rally teams. The process of running the event from the lead up to lining up on the start line takes commitment to the cause just like it does for a spectator to get to the spectator point at 6 am or the marshal to be trained and in position for helping with timing or crowd control. The fire within has to burn brightly for us petrol-heads to do what we do for the love of the sport.
Getting back to the point of the Pre-Rally Prep for both spectator and marshal, below is a list of items needed for a going to a rally. Depending on whether you are spectating or marshaling, you can add or subtract items from this list for your own needs. This is just a guide that has gone through multiple iterations thanks to being tried and tested over 30 odd years of spectating and marshaling at rallies across the globe from the deserts of Dubai (Middle East Rally Championship) to the wintry Sno-Drift Rally in Michigan's UP (Rally America Championship), all the while making a pit stop at a few WRC events as well. Oh and by the way you can thank Uttara Desai, (my trusted sister, my voice of reason at rallies, and my future co-driver) for compiling this list. Her dedication to keeping a list of these items, which are now forever part of our Rally-Box, shows true commitment and passion that is needed to be a rally marshal or spectator.
List of things for rally
Sodas, Juice, etc.
Food - munchies
Safety vests (in case the organizers run out for the marshals)
Batteries (AAA, AA, etc)
Tarp (with rope to tie on trees)**
First Aid Kit
Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit
Emergency Survival Kit
* (Follow your rally rules, some events do not allow alcoholic beverages due to state and local laws. Also DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. Drunk spectators can cause potential hazards that can shut down events. BE SAFE, NOT SORRY.)
** For events that have the threat of Rain, Snow and Wind. And also to keep bugs out.
*** If staying in an AirBnB or VRBO rental and not a hotel.
Well, now that we have that out of the way, the next thing is to make sure and pack the right clothes. For an event such as STPR, which is held during the first weekend of June (this year it's the last weekend of May due to X-Games Austin the following weekend), what you pack for clothing can make or break your rally experience. Being held in Wellsboro, a quaint town right out of a postcard in picturesque Tioga County, the weather is not only bipolar, but can be quadri-polar (yep just made up a word, sorta my thing). You can go from having sunny 70 degree weather one minute, to an absolute hellish monsoon-like downpour, to hail, to a freeze spell, all the way back to sunny weather all within one day. Therefore packing the right kinds of outerwear, innerwear and footwear is ideal. Pack right and have a blast, be lazy in packing, and you are going to curse yourself. Don't forget to pack your favorite rally gear. Thats the most important as displayed by Uttara and I below.
(Photo Courtesy: Davendra Brijlall)
Well, that's all I have for this post. I hope I have been able to educate a few of you on what it takes to be a spectator or a marshal at a rally.
To all those heading to the stages this weekend, if you are competing, good luck, kick butt, don't forget to say hi, my sister and I will be out there marshaling. To all those spectating, be safe, listen to the marshals and what they have to say, they are trained to keep you safe, do not do any thing that would cause you or someone else harm, and be respectful of the local authorities. To all the fellow marshals, all I can say is, how cool is it to yell out 5-4-3-2-1-GOOOOOOOOOO……(See video from ESPR 2013 of me flagging off the Tag Rally Sport Impreza 2.5 RS of Rory Gardener and Steven Harrell)
See you all in Wellsboro.