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.
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