Today, our second full day, we got our first taste of what the competition will be like. The day started off at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds where the Minnesota Street Rod Association is hosting their Back to the 50s event. It’s a massive meeting of classic cars, mostly modified American classics, and it brought in around 12,000 cars this year.
That morning we went through a two-hour rally school to learn how the race works, and to pick up a few tips. This was important because the afternoon was going to consist of the Hagerty Trophy Run. This run would be our first timed event, and though it doesn’t actually count in the overall competition, in the event of a tie, this would be a tiebreaker. Once the class was completed we figured out our start time, and then we broke to get lunch and to get a quick look at the thousands of other cars on the grounds.
We regrouped around 12:30pm to get a few final preparations in before our start time of 12:58pm. This involved some review of directions, as well as getting our stopwatch synchronized to official clock. Then we set off.
The very first section of this leg, and each leg, was a speedometer calibration run. This is important because if the speedometer is off, we could end up coming through a section too quickly or too slowly. Following that was a stop to get gas, make adjustments, and use restrooms. Then came the timed section.
The overall goal of the rally is to reach a predetermined time for the course. To get as close as possible to this, we have to follow directions that tell us where to go, and what speeds we have to drive. When turns, stops, and assigned speed changes come up is where a bit of math and timing come in. And without any knowledge of where the checkpoints are, the only way we can get close is by following our directions and keeping consistent speeds.
Today, Tony DiValentin was our driver, and Nik Montagna was our primary navigator. Brian Martin and myself were in the backseat. As first timers, we did quite well. The first three sectors we came in pretty close with a best of one second off, and the second worst of 12 seconds. The fourth sector was unfortunately off by a minute, but for our first ever run, we did well. We didn’t quite do well enough to win, but we do congratulate the X-Cup winners.
The night closed out with a pretty remarkable downpour. If there was a textbook definition of “sheets of rain,” we experienced it firsthand. It was bad enough that we couldn’t see where we were going. So we waited out the worst of it at the fairgrounds. We eventually got back to the hotel safely.
So, with some experience under our belts, we’re feeling more prepared and ready for the rest of the event, and we’re looking forward to it.