by Douglas Hagerman

The Touring Club of New England (TCNE) sponsored a Sunday afternoon club rally this past weekend. The route covered about 50 miles of North Shore suburban Boston, mostly in the towns of Andover and Boxford.

This is one of a planned series of TCNE events that are specifically set up to be friendly to beginners. By publicizing these events through local car clubs that might not otherwise find out about road rally events, it is hoped that more newcomers can be encouraged to support the very active and experienced teams.

This rally was designed so that only paved roads were used; this is based on the observation that some car owners don't want to take the risk of paint damage by driving on gravel surfaces.

In addition, the overall mileage to every route instruction was included in the route sheet, which made the navigation considerably easier. Speeds were low and there was nothing tricky along the way. Numbered route instructions (NRIs) were used, and almost every speed limit sign was an NRI with an associated change in average speed (CAS). This actually made it harder for the slightly more experienced teams, because with a mileage and an associated speed change coming up two or three per mile, the time for calculating times was extremely tight.

It was a beautiful day, which was particularly appreciated by the two teams running convertibles--a BMW Z3 and a brand new Miata six speed. I rode as navigator in the BMW, and because of the frequent CAS changes I finally got so far behind that it was hopeless. I switched into "enjoy the scenery" mode for the latter part of the event, which was actually quite pleasant.

This experience reinforced my earlier theory that it's a lot harder to navigate than drive, at least at my level of skill.

I lost track of the names of the winning team, but everybody had a good time. Sunday afternoon low pressure events like this are important for keeping people active.

Thanks to Rallymaster Scott Beliveau and the usual supporting cast of TCNE workers...

(Click here for results)