Rally America 2013 100 Acre Woods Rally

This is my first attempt to provide a Rally Guide for spectators of the 100 Acre Woods Rally. I hope this information can be used to help plan your trip, set your expectations and familiarize you with the area.

This event happens around the third weekend in February and is part of the national Rally America circuit. People come from as far away as Michigan, New York and Texas just to be a spectator for this event. Big names like Ken Block and Travis Pastrana regularly show up for this woodland adventure. Newer Subarus, Mitsubishi, and Fords make up the front of the pack, but it also attracts some older vintage cars; Volvo 242s, late 60s VW Bugs, Saab 96, and Datsun 510s. Potosi hosts the super special in the park which is a short track preview of what can be seen out in the woods. The Parc Expose in Salem on Saturday morning will be the perfect chance to see all the cars up close and possibly get some autographs signed. Weather for this event is varied. We’ve seen snow covered roads, years with so much rain that some stages are washed out or canceled, and in 2012 extremely dusty conditions. About the only thing that remains constant is the cold…and it can get cold. Stages are run during the day and up until about 8 or 9 at night. One of the highlights for me has always been the Polish fans that come down to support the Art Logistics drivers. They’re always very animated and help liven up the stages by waving Polish flags and singing. Essential to enjoying these events is coming ready to have fun and all of our Polish fans are well aware of this.

Spectator Points
There are multiple spectator points Friday and Saturday. Generally though you won’t be able to see every point and it’s a good idea to pick out two for Friday and possibly three for Saturday.  It takes between 30-45 minutes to travel between some of these stages and depending on when the start times are it can be tough to make it between consecutive stages. Many of the spectator points are run twice over the course of the weekend and it looks like  they’ve tried to stagger the stage times a bit  to allow spectators to travel between different locations. Just don’t get caught trying to squeeze it all in and miss the stages altogether.  After you’ve arrived it is essential that your cars are only parked along one side of the road. This will help make room for emergency vehicles. You’ll want to drive in and turn your car around so you can make a quick exit after it’s over. These are smaller country roads and are almost entirely dirt and gravel. If it rains the ditches can be quite soft; don’t get stuck. Be prepared to walk quite a ways up to the spectating area. How early you arrive will determine how close you can park.

At the spectator point the road marshals will have caution tape setup to specify where you can and can’t go. They’ll indicate whether you can cross the road and at what times. If the crowd gets out of hand or unruly it is within the marshal’s power to cancel the stage. Double Zero and Zero cars will precede the racers down the track to alert everyone that the stage is about to start. Before these cars arrive make sure you’re in the spot that you want to be. You will not be allowed to cross the road after these cars go by. Show up early for the stages and you’ll get a great spot. If the area is filling up respectfully ask if it would be possible to extend the caution tape further to allow for more front row viewing. Getting nasty gets you no where.

Items to bring
1. Noisemakers!!! When those cars come screaming around the corner its great to cheer them on by making some noise. Air horns, cow bells, shofars, and anything else you’ve got that makes noise will work.
2. A small cooler is perfect because you’ll be out in the woods for a couple hours at a time. Stash away food and drink. We’ve seen one or two stages where local school booster clubs will be selling hot dogs and drinks, but it’s never a guarantee.
3. Lawn chairs and stools come in handy while you’re sitting in the woods. I’ve even seen short step ladders used to help give photographers a better view of the race.
4. Cameras are great to help you capture these amazing cars emerging from the woods and flying by you at break neck speed. Make sure your camera settings are dialed in for outdoor lighting and fast moving objects. Cameras that can take multiple shots in quick succession come in very handy. If you have a zoom lens then break it out. However, be aware that lots of dust and rock can be kicked up by these cars.
5. Warm clothes are very important; especially after dark when the temperatures begin to drop rapidly. You’ll thank yourself for dressing in wool socks and windproof garments.
6. TP…just in case. A few points will have porta-johns, but I’d be prepared all the same.

Spectator Points A, C, D, E, & F

Overview

Rally America – 100 Acre Woods 2012

Dad and I spent Friday and Saturday watching the Rally in the woods up near Salem Missouri. Fortunately this year there weren’t torrential rains ahead of the rally and we were able to see stages on both days…and we also didn’t break down in the Fiat this year either so that was an added bonus. My respect for Ken Block continues to increase because of his willingness to participate in this rally whenever he gets the opportunity. He may not be the best WRC rally driver, but he’s out there putting forth the effort and it makes me proud to know he’s doing it with panache and style.

We’ve also been doing a ton of work out at the property lately which has been fun on all sorts of levels. And the other day I even got to drive a big truck while helping Sesha move. How neat is that.

WRC to Sufjan

If the WRC came to the US where would an epic location be for it to be hosted?
Grand Canyon? Tennessee/Kentucky hills? Death Valley? I feel like championing this cause, but if a bad location produces a poor turn out then that’s it. It’d be years before they even thought about trying it again. Could we even pull it off in the states? We already have so many spectator restrictions and low turn out(in comparison) for our Rally America that I can’t imagine we could produce a turn out for the international drivers that they’ve grown used to elsewhere. Kudos to Ken Block for sticking to a second season in the WRC too. He had a tough year, but is giving it another go. Why didn’t Travis Pastrana make the switch over? He’s shown the most potential and put in a number of years at the top of the pack, but instead of crossing over to the big leagues this year he choose to defect to NASCAR. I mean seriously Pastrana, NASCAR? That’s not quite the edgy type of motor sport that we’re used to seeing you compete in. Sure you would have been competing with the likes of Loeb, Latvala and Solberg, but the determination and drive that you use to push anything on two or four wheels to the limits may have proved a match. You were crucial to our hope for rally to have a resurgence in the states, but now you’ve thrown in the towel with a sport arguably more boring to watch than the PGA tour. Where’s your lust for thrill and excitement now?

But I digress, and probably into complete randomness.

Driving the Fiat has been quite an adventure. It snowed last week after I’d just outfitted new tires onto the old steel rims and so I’ve been driving it around through all of the snow and ice. It gets around amazingly well for such a little guy and minus a couple minor situations that I was able to rock myself out of it didn’t get stuck at all in the snow. If you were one of the lucky spectators you may have seen me sporting a rad blue motorcycle helmet and ski goggles drifting around town at speeds in excess of most 4×4 trucks and the occasional sporty Subaru.

Also last night I had a dream that I was in a large choral ensemble singing Vesuvius from Sufjan Steven’s latests album The Age of Adz(pronounced odds). It’s pretty ridiculous how great his new album is. If you think you knew what he was capable of before or if you’d drawn a box around Sufjan and marked it indie folksy hipster then get out your magic marker and cross out folksy and insert 80s tronic. Ok so not much of a stretch, but it’s quite a deviation from his previous work. I’ve been a fan since ’04 and was pretty used to his old material so you’d think the new album with its electro-synth experimentation would be lost on me. It fits quite well though and seeing his music mature and expand into new areas has been quite fulfilling even for the spectator. I went to see him at the Uptown Theater in KC a few months ago unsure of what would await me there. Three words, ‘Beards and Boots’. When the king of all hipsters calls a convention his followers turn out in droves to show their support. In tribute to his older material on the album Seven Swans he started out the show with a climactic banjo driven rock version of the title with the same name. It was incredible. You’d never be able to guess the the depth and room available to push and drive the song to such new heights. The concert then proceeded into another hour and a half of digital and analog give and take. From song to song he’d demonstrate his prowess to fill the expansive hall with such large tones and melody that you’d think the whole world had to be dancing along with you. Then the advancing tide would draw back to the sea and the intimacy of his music would convince you that he was playing just for you. With a build up from incredible MUTEMATH, Murder by Death and Phoenix shows earlier in the year this was a fitting Zenith for my 2010 musical thrill ride. It’ll be interesting to see what 2011 holds.

Via con Dios, I’m off to my spanish class at OTC.