By Victor Prinzim
There’s a joke we have about RallyCross, you either need a $200 car or a $20,000 car. The truth is you only really need to know Jim Perrin*. Another joke, but, in this case half true. RallyX, for short, is just like autocross, only on dirt, and in our regions case, a lot less cones.** It’s about car control, finding the best line, and most importantly, consistency. But, who are we kidding here; we love RallyX for the dirt, the speed, and sliding sideways around corners. I know what you’re saying, this sounds awesome! Here are a few pointers to get you started.
THE COURSE. RallyX is usually run on dirt, gravel, or a combination of dirt/gravel and tarmac depending on the site. The Finger Lakes Region’s course is all dirt in an empty farmer’s field we know as Perry’s Park in Leicester, NY (BIG THANK YOU to Bruce Perry). The course set up runs between 5 and 9 tenths of a mile - pretty long for a 10 acre plot of land. The course is also on a hill, which means there are elevation changes, which you rarely see in AutoX, and adds to the challenge. Our Championship Series runs from June to February. Yup, we play in the snow! We also run rain or shine or snow, as long as it’s not a detriment to our course. Over the last few years our course has been smoothing out. After last season’s championship though, it’s a little worse for wear. Being dirt though, it’s bumpy, gets rutted up, and when it rains, it gets muddy and smooths back out. We love Perry’s Park and are grateful to have it, but we’re always looking for new locations to run. So if you have 10+ acres of fairly open land and don’t mind a bunch of cars kicking up dust (and mud on occasion) drop our RallyX chairman Tony Zanni an email.
SCORING. Just like a performance rally, all times are combined to determine the winner. There’s a fancy word for it like cumulative or something but I’m not good at Scrabble. Consistency is the key. Fastest time of day (FTD) doesn’t mean a thing (ok, there are bragging rights involved, but it doesn’t determine the winner). Penalties will be handed out for any cone hit, or and off course excursions you might have. Better to hit a cone than miss it and go off course. Cone penalties are 6 seconds, where the penalty for going off course is 3 minutes.
THE CARS. If you have a lowered car and try to run at any speed, you will likely tear off both of your bumpers. Our course is in a field with a few bumps here and there. This is where the joke comes in, a lot of people will get an old $500 Subaru, or Honda, and go beat the hell out of it driving RallyX. Others will build rally spec cars, cages, upgraded suspension, tires the works. Some show up with a bone stock daily driver. Any way you decide to go is fine. (Trucks can be allowed, but require prior approval of the RallyX Chair).
For those that want to use your daily driver, or are new to the sport, some tips. AIR PRESSURE. AIR PRESSURE.
AIR PRESSURE. You will not pass tech inspection without a minimum of 40 lbs. of pressure in all four tires. Rolling a bead due to low pressure can result in terrible things. Roll-overs, while very uncommon, can happen, and in almost all cases, they involve a tire debeading. They can easily be avoided though with Air Pressure, and sensible driving.
TIRES. TIRES. TIRES. Snow tires work best. The favorite among our drivers are Firestone Winterforce tires. They have a good aggressive tread that bites into the dirt. Hancook iPikes work great too. But any tire with a good aggressive tread on it will work. All-season tires will work on dry summer days, but in the wet and or mud they are useless and won’t get you past tech. Mostly because we don’t want to spend all day towing you out of the field.
OTHER IMPORTANT BITS. Similar to AutoX, all loose items have to be removed from the car prior to your first run. The car must be in good working order, good shocks, springs, struts, what have you. Ball joints, wheel bearings, steering, and brakes should be in good working order. Your car shouldn’t be leaking any fluids. Windows are a requirement. The battery must be securely bolted into the car. Some people will bolt on skid plates to protect the oil pan from rocks or sticks, although not a requirement it is a good idea to install one if you plan to run a lot of events.
THE DRIVERS/WORKERS. Be prepared to get dirty. RallyCross events are Run/Work. When you’re not driving you’re working the course. This can be anything from timing start and finish to working a safety station shagging cones. Good shoes, gloves, a dust mask, rain gear, sunscreen, and bug spray are all good ideas. Most importantly, water. Stay hydrated.
KEEP YOUR NOGGIN SAFE. Straight from the SCCA rule book. All helmets meeting the latest or two immediately preceding Snell Foundation standards (SA2010, SAH2010, SA2005, SA2000, M2010, M2005, M2000, K2010, K2005, K98), SFI standards 31.1, 41.1, 31.1A, 31.2A, 41.1A, 41.2A or British spec BS6658-85 type A/FR are acceptable. Loaners meeting above requirements are available the day of the event.
OTHER THINGS THAT WE KNOW THAT YOU MIGHT NOT. Bring a tarp to unload all your tools, spare tires, jacks, whatever you might have in your car. Make sure it’s a good size tarp in case it rains; you can just cover all your gear with the same one and keep it all nice and dry. Bring rain gear; even if it says it’s not going to rain, my experience, it’s a rally, anything can happen. Gloves, dust mask, water, tools, a jack whatever you think you need to go racing, excuse me rallying. We run in all sorts of weather but in the dry summer heat it gets dusty. If you don’t like your lungs filled with dirt bring a bandana or dust mask to help with it.
RALLYX BOARD. If this sounds like a good weekend to you, we suggest getting more involved. Jim Perrin and Tony Zanni are a two-man show running this series. We get help at events from the regulars, but it’s still a lot of work. We’d love to have your help. We always need Safety Stewards, and help running registration, as well astiming and scoring chiefs, worker manager, lunch chef, tech inspectors, course designers, media planners, cone cleaners (kidding). Like I said, it takes a lot to put one of these on; we’d love to have you helping us out.
SIMPLE, RIGHT? Hopefully this helps you understand what to expect at a RallyCross. I did however leave out the best part. We have a good group of guys that run every month. We help each other out when thing go haywire. We’re all a little wacky. We have fun. And best of all with a paid entry fee we feed you hot dogs and hamburgers every event. And at the end of the year we have the best trophies, as long as we know 3-4 people with blown up engines we can steal pistons from. See you on course.
NEWBIE BASICS, GET OUT AND HAVE FUN. Let’s make this as simple as possible. Show up to the event by 9 a.m. Clean out your car, register, driver’s meeting is at 10:00. We do a parade lap for everyone to see the course. Then we split into 2 groups, 1 works while the other runs. Do X number of runs (usually between 4 and 6), and then report for your work assignment so the other group can do their runs. Break for lunch for about 45 minutes. Then, back out on course for another repeat of the morning (with hopefully more runs!). At the end, clean up a little, and hang around for results. We are usually done by 4 p.m.
- Don’t have a car? That’s ok, contact Jim Perrin!*
- Don’t know how to drive? That’s also ok! We have instructors that you can ride with, and will ride along with you. All you have to do is ask!
- Don’t have a helmet? We have loaners available!
- Not an SCCA Member? It’s ok, membership isn’t required!
- Your car isn’t modified for RallyX? Nonsense! FTD is routinely set by a bone-stock Subaru Outback Sport with 200k miles on it…or in some cases…a stock FWD car!!!
- So now that you have no excuse, we’ll see you at our first event June 29.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Tony Zanni. For official rules, visit scca.com.
* Jim Perrin graciously makes available a car or two for people to drive at minimal expense (a few bucks for gas is all that’s asked). They are available on a first come, first serve basis, so contact him as soon as you know you are coming to the event – email@example.com. ** RallyCross in our sense of the sport is like Solo, one car on the course at a time, or at one minute intervals. Global RallyX is a series with fully prepared Rally Cars, with full safety features including roll cages five-point harnesses, etc… where there are multiple cars on track at the same time.