Cars & Collegians: Rallying higher education

Cars & Collegians: Rallying higher education

Cars & Collegians: Rallying higher education Photo by Dan Comden | Courtesy Photo

For many, the sport of rallying conjures images of narrow, tree-lined roads filled with mud and cars sliding off into the forest. However, that’s not the only kind of rallying in the region, and the Rainier Auto Sports Club is hoping to inspire the next generation of gearheads to road trips and adventures.

The club officially formed in 1967 and has coordinated many stage rallies, Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) rallies, rallycross, and more, all with the goal of bringing people and their cars together with other interested parties.

Other kinds of rallying include the narrow-road stage rallies, which are much harsher on the cars and the drivers; rallycross, which is a mix of dirt roads and tarmac; and long-haul TSD rallies.

The most common kind of rallying at Rainier is TSD, which can be run on normal streets or on gravel back roads. It takes precision in speed, navigation, and timing. TSD is held within the confines of the speed limit and requires that you navigate properly through the course in your given time slot. The goals are not to get lost and to get a good time.

“I enjoy the challenge of driving and being perfect,” said Eric Horst, secretary of Rainier Auto Sports Club and UW IT software engineer. “And the satisfaction of winning. Overcoming the road, overcoming the competitors, and then it’s also fun to have a little adversity, to get lost, to have the car have a challenge and do the heroic effort of debugging [the car].”

There are upcoming rallies that allow newcomers the chance to get involved during the winter months, and many Rainier members will be going as competitors and as volunteers (they could always use more volunteers), such as at BC Rally’s Totem and Thunderbird races in British Columbia.

Come spring, there may even be an opportunity for students at the UW and other area colleges to compete in their own class, rather than against the veteran drivers. According to Marvin Crippen, club president and a UW IT support specialist, the more interest there is in the college class, the more likely it will happen.

In late April, the Raindrop Rally will wind its way from Issaquah to Eatonville (less than 100 miles) on regular roads. This is a TSD rally, and the goal is to reach the finish line without getting lost.

“I’m looking for people to have a lot of fun, and I’m looking to get half of the turnout to be novices,” Ed Rachner, club member and organizer for the Raindrop Rally. “My idea is to get as many novices [as possible] to come out to the event and get them to the finish so they might come out to another event.”

The next event in June, the No Alibi rally, runs 500 miles in two days and explores much of Eastern Washington. The gravel roads will be a bit harsher on cars than the paved roads of Raindrop.

One of the other major projects this year is the Alcan 5000. One of the last great road trips, the Alcan 5000 is coordinated, run, and staffed by members of Rainier every two to three years. The trip starts in Kirkland and finishes in Anchorage about a week later, sometimes in the summer and sometimes in the winter. This year, it’s a summer rally.

“A lot of what defines Alcan is adventure, it’s this huge trip,” Crippen said. “That’s the defining factor, is getting to these places that a lot of people never heard of, in Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.”

For those interested in learning more about the club and how to get involved, the group is hosting its monthly meeting Monday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m. at Cafe Veloce in Kirkland.

Reach columnist Deanna Isaacs at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @Deanna_Isaacs

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