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
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.
Well to be a traveling beard you have to do as the name implies, travel. As of late though my mode of transportation has been less than reliable from week to week. While battling problems with the Honda I’ve had to rely heavily upon the Fiat to fill in the gaps. However it has had it’s own problems too. We drove it up to watch the Rally races at the end of February in Salem, Rolla, Steelville area and she drove like a dream the whole way up. We even got pulled over for speeding by the highpo. Speeding in a car with 50 horsepower, it can be done. The second day though while we were winding our way into the back woods it started to cut out and bog down. This is not a good development on a one lane dirt road that curves unexpectedly, crosses rivers and the altitude climbs and drops dramatically while being followed by scores of other cars on their way to the spectator points. Fortunately it held out enough to make it into and out of the first stage of the day, but on our way to the next stage and after having more problems we decided to cut our loses and head home. We didn’t feel like taking the risk of getting stuck in the way of spectators and rally cars alike in the back woods of central Missouri. Good call. About 5-10 minutes outside of Rolla the Fiat rolled to a halt. Nothing we could do could coax her back to life. Dad and I walked a few miles up to a gas station and called home. Between calling and being picked a few hours later up we ran into Henry. Let me tell you Henry is a good guy to run into if your car is on the fritz. He helped tow the car back up to the gas station and even helped us do enough preliminary troubleshooting to get the car running again, albeit roughly. And then even after he left Henry was still on the job checking car manuals and the local parts stores to try and help us out. You couldn’t ask for a better person to cross paths with. The next day we came back up and towed her home. I then spent the next 5 hours working with the distributor, coil and timing to try and resurrect life into this fallen beauty…nothing. Well I can’t say nothing, there was a whole lot of frustration and confusion(and probably swearing) about what was the true root of the issue. A week later with a clear head and a fresh outlook I got everything set back to its proper state and even drove around town without a problem. Then about the time the automatic choke warmed all the way up though(that’s the closest I can figure) the car started behaving poorly again. I limped her back home and later on in the week went to remove the carburetor to order a rebuild kit and while taking it off the intake manifold I noticed a few loose jet screws on the top of the carb. After tightening these back down whoa black betty bam-a-lam and everything is back in working order. Strangly though the exhaust expansion chamber in the meantime has developed quite the embarrassing rattle, bad enough to try running without a muffler for a little while. While sounding super cool it is just a bit too loud for even me to handle so back on it went. At least she’s running though…for now. Then finally today my honda woes are at an end. After replacing basically all the front end suspension components, motor mounts and then having Honda re-replace the axle shafts that a local shop had done already then voila no more violent shaking car.
I don’t know what I’ll do now that I have two fully functional cars again. Hopefully stop dropping cash into a bottomless bucket long enough to get the land that I’ve been looking at purchased and a home build started. I say home, but the term I favor is Harage. That’s a house collapsed and merged together with a garage. Work areas that flow together with and are an unseparated part of the rest the house. In my mind this is a way to merge relaxation space with project space allowing use of the whole house with minimal disruption to flow, maximum use of resources across spaces, a warm shop area to work in, the ability for people that don’t care to get their hands dirty with a project to still come over and hang out in comfort, and enjoy the media benefits in the home while working on a project. It also facilitates a constant reminder and opportunity to work on your current project because it is basically sitting in your front room. 20 acres, a harage and a slew of Fiats to work on. Is there a better dream? Well there probably is, but for now this is the goal ahead of me.