Miscellaneous Thoughts As The Trans America Rally Recce Reaches Halfway

Fred Gallagher and I have reached nearly halfway in our recce for the 2018 Trans America Challenge.  It has been very interesting and there is still more to go.  I think that the participants will enjoy the various sights and experiences that exist throughout this very large country.

I have previously shown some of the cotton fields that we passed by, but the further south that we traveled, then we more often saw the field of sugar cane along the road.

A Sugar Cane Field

We scouted out a nice break location along the coast of the Gulf Of Mexico.  This will be a place where the participants will be able to stretch their legs and relax, while enjoying the sun, shade, and breeze along the Gulf Coast.  One word of caution – there was a recent sign warning of an alligator sighting in this area.

Potential Break Location Along The Gulf Of Mexico

The drive along the Gulf Cost is quite nice.  As you can see from the photo below, the water, the beach and the road all seem to come together.

Road Along The Gulf Of Mexico

To get into Galveston, Texas, the participants will have to take the ferry across the mouth of Galveston Bay.  When Fred and I took this ferry we were escorted by a school of dolphins.  There is considerable shipping traffic in this area.

Dolphins Escort Us Into Galveston,Texas

The rally hotel in Austin, Texas is the spectacular Hotel Granduca.  This Spanish-themed hotel is quite elegant.  I am sure that the rally participants will enjoy it.

The Rally Will Overnight In The Hotel Granduca In Austin, Texas

Yesterday we traveled through Texas hill country as be made our way from Austin to Wichita Falls, Texas.  The further north that we traveled, then the more wide open the sights became.  As you can see from the dust and dirt on our recce car we have been exploring many interesting rally roads that will become part of the 2018 Trans America Challenge.

Deep In The Heart Of Texas

Today we will be traveling from Wichita Falls to Amarillo, Texas.  This should be another interesting day.  I have been enjoying my time with Fred Gallagher and it is enlightening to see how the Endurance Rally Association sets up such great rallies.  It is satisfying being a part of the planning for the 2018 Trans America Challenge.

If you have any comments or questions about this post or the 2018 Trans America Challenge, then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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Trans America Challenge Recce Rest Day In New Orleans

We are in New Orleans today taking a rest day on our recce tour for the 2018 Trans America Challenge.  So far it has been a great trip and it bodes well for a great rally.    We found some great rally roads through the Appalachians, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Natchez Trace Roadway.  The recent severe storm threw some downed trees, downed power lines, and completely closed roads in our path, but all of these will be resolved by rally time.

Sample Of A Great 2018 Trans America Challenge Rally Road

In addition to great roads, we have established approval to use several private facilities.  One of these is a classic rural “bull ring” dirt track where future and “wanna be” NASCAR racers develop their skills.  These should be fun for the competitors to “stretch their legs on” and the distance from hard walls will ensure that no major incidents will occur.  This should be fun!

A “Grass Roots Bull Ring” Dirt Track To Test The Rally Cars

In a similar fashion we stopped by an off-road facility and are looking at also including a completely off-road test conducted on grass.  This will be truly a “down south” rural test.

Lots Of Room For An Interesting Test On The Grass

During our recce tour we have travelled on many rural southern USA back roads.  Many of these roads are lined by cotton fields.  This was the first opportunity that I had to directly enter a cotton field.  The cotton balls are amazing to see in their natural state!

A Cotton Field Is A Common Site

We travelled along the Mississippi River, but the river is lined with levees and can be difficult to see.  However ,we were able to drive along the top of a levee to get an understanding of the size and length of these levees.  These were designed to prevent flooding of the farm land from the Mississippi River.

Travelling Along A Road On The Top Of A Levee

The rally participants will be stopping at the site of some mysterious ancient Indian Mounds.  The origin of these prehistoric mounds is not well-known and it is thought that they were once similar to the pyramids.  This will be an interesting stop.

One Of The Mysterious Indian Mounds Today

We arrived in New Orleans yesterday afternoon.  The rally hotel is just steps away from the famous, or is it infamous, Bourbon Street.  It is a site to see!  It is a totally raucous street party.  Last night I took in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band show on St. Peter Street.  I have not been there in years; the players have changed, but the music is still something special.  Sure it’s too small, too hot, too dirty, and too crowded, but in my opinion it is too good to miss if you want to hear authentic New Orleans music.  I capped the evening off with a cool Hurricane while walking along a crowded Bourbon Street.  This afternoon I returned to Bourbon Street to listen to some more jazz music and enjoy a couple of adult beverages in a more subdued setting.

Tomorrow we are back on the recce tour again for the 2018 Trans America Challenge as we head to the Galveston, Texas area.  This will continue to be a great adventure and promises to be a great rally.

If you have any comments or questions about this post or the 2018 Trans America Challenge, then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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Jens Gandrup Jorgensen Is Not Providing Rallye Monte Carlo Historique Road Books This Year

In the past I have referred to using road books for the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique that were prepared by the A-team.dk, a Danish group headed by Jens Gandrup Jorgensen.  Recently I got an email from Jens saying that it appears unlikely that he will be providing road books for this year’s Rallye Monte Carlo Historique.

Jens’ friend and partner in preparing the road books, Torben Arp, is in the middle trying to sell his secondary home in Denmark, while building a new secondary home in Denmark.  All of this while selling his appartment in Cannes and trying to find a new one for rent in the Cannes area.  As you can see, Torben has a lot on his plate at this time.

In addition, Jens wrote that he will not be participating in the 2018 Rallye Monte Carlo Historique either.

As Torben and Jens are the producers of the road books it is decided that A-team.dk will not make road books for the 2018 Rally Monte Carlo Historique.  Jens is hopeful that some of the other Danes who will participate in the 2018 Rallye Monte Carlo Historique, will be able to make road books or something similar available.

If you have any comments or questions about this post or the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique, then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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Trans America Challenge Day 3 Recce Enjoys Sunnier Skies

Day 3 of our recce for the 2018 Trans America Challenge took place under somewhat better skies.  We had some sunny skies, but also we did have considerable overcast skies with periods of rain.  Despite the spotty weather, we have been able to find some great roads for the 2018 Trans America Challenge.

Scene From Day 3 Morning Rally Route

Western North Carolina has some excellent mountain roads and we have been able to make them part of the rally.  I enjoyed working with Fred Gallagher, Rally Director of the Endurance Rally Association.  Fred has a good eye for rally roads using the very capable modern mapping and navigation tools..

Start Of The Cherohala Skyway

Today we started in Highlands, North Carolina, which is a very interesting town full of interesting shops and eating facilities.  Our day ended in Nashville, Tennessee after covering many kilometers of roads in between.

We have rented a Ford Escape that currently has about 10,000 miles on it for three weeks to do the rally recce, but after only three days the Ford’s dashboard has told us that we have to change the oil.  We will be discussing this with the rental company tomorrow.

View Of The Appalachian Mountains From The Rally Route

During the rally, the participants will be able to spent a rest day, but tomorrow Fred and I will be going from Nashville to Memphis.  Hopefully all of the bad weather is behind us.

If you have any questions or comments about this post or the 2018 Trans America Challenge, then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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Trans America Challenge Recce Tour Off To A Wet Start

The recce tour for the 2018 Trans America Challenge has started.  We are in Charlotte, North Carolina today after a revised recce from Charleston, South Carolina yesterday.  The plan was for me to meet Fred Gallagher in Charleston and we would start the rally recce today in Charleston.  Due to weather concerns as a result of Hurricane Irma, Fred started yesterday from Charleston to do that portion of the recce and I joined him last night in Charlotte.  Tomorrow morning we will set out from Charlotte for the second day of the recce.

For today we are sorting some things out concerning the rally and making some arrangements for having the rally participants visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Hyatt House On East Trade Street In Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is a major city in North Carolina, but today things are fairly quiet, possibly due to many people just staying at home to avoid any impact from Hurricane Irma.  Fortunately for us, the Trans America Challenge will be held May and June 2018, which are not hurricane months.

The rally’s night stop hotel is located directly beside the Spectrum Center where the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets play.

The Hyatt House Is Beside The Spectrum Center; Home of the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Hornets

I am looking forward to tomorrow as we get on the road towards the scenic Great Smoky Mountains and Highlands, North Carolina.  This should be a nice drive and hopefully be drier.

If you have any comments or questions about this post or the Trans America Challenge, then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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Maurice Gatsonides’ Report On The 1956 Great American Mountain Rally

Thanks to Fred Gallagher, Rally Director of the Endurance Rally Association, I have been able to obtain more information about the Great American Mountain Rally.  The Great American Mountain Rally was one of the early major rallies in the USA, attracting some international attention.  The Great American Mountain Rally was first run in 1953.  Today I’m posting the account of the 1956 running of the rally as published in the December 7, 1956 issue of the British magazine “Autosport”.  This account was written by Maurice Gatsonides, a famous rally driver from as far back as the 1930s and frequently identified as the first professional rally driver.  Gatsonides took part in this rally in a Triumph TR3, with Stewart Blodgett, a well-known American rallyist of that era, finishing 7th Overall.  Below is his report.

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Page 5 (see middle of page)

The victory by the Saab team at the Great American Mountain Rally was considered a big deal by Saab management.  The win was used to promote Saab in the USA and is frequently referred to as a turning point in written accounts of Saab in the 1950s.  Saab began to get more actively involved in rallying at that time.  Erik Carlsson rose to prominence in rallying after 1956 with the Saab team.

Those of us who are rally navigators might notice that the 9th place car was a MG consisting of the team of Robert Yount driving with Captain H.E. Thomas doing the navigating.  Thomas was the inventor of the “Tommy Box” one of the first automated rally “computers”.

A “Tommy Box” (Photo by Ralph Beckman)

I am still looking for more information on this rally.  If you have any information on this rally or know where I can obtain more information, then please let me know.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this post or the Great American Mountain Rally, then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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The Challenge In The Trans America Challenge Is Starting Already

As some might know, on Sunday I will be leaving for Charleston, South Carolina to begin the recce survey for the 2018 Trans America Challenge.  For this recce survey, I will be joined by Fred Gallagher, Rally Director for the Endurance Rally Association.  The first challenge that we will have is the looming threat of Hurricane Irma.  Nobody knows for sure where the path of Hurricane Irma will lead, but the South Carolina area looks like a likely target.  A recent estimate of Hurricane Irma’s path is shown below.

Potential Hurricane Irma Path

Our “Plan A” was to start the recce survey on Monday morning in Charleston, SC .  Fred and I have been working on “Plans B & C”.  Our plans will keep us on schedule for the recce, but with some modification.  We first thought that the biggest challenge for the recce survey would be the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey, as the proposed rally route will take us south of Beaumont, Texas and through Galveston, Texas.  This Hurricane Harvey challenge remains along with whatever Hurricane Irma has in store for us.

I am looking forward to the recce survey as the route for the rally will take the participants on interesting roads and to interesting places.  Some places the participants will see are as follows:

  • NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • The famous “Tail Of The Dragon” road
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • The Mississippi River
  • Real southern blues in Memphis and Jackson
  • New Orleans and all that jazz
  • The Gulf of Mexico
  • The Circuit of the Americas
  • Get back to basics of life in Luckenbach, Texas
  • The Cadillac Ranch
  • Sante Fe Style
  • Pikes Peak
  • Upscale Aspen
  • The Rocky Mountains
  • The Bonneville Salt Flats
  • High mountain roads
  • The forests of the Pacific Northwest
  • Overlooks of the Pacific Ocean

As you can see, the Trans America Challenge should be great deal of fun in addition to being a great rally.  We will have more details after the recce survey.

If you want to learn more about the Trans America Challenge check out the website of the Endurance Rally Association at the following location:

http://www.endurorally.com/pages/trans-america-2018

I am planning on posting some stories from our recce survey while on the road.

If you have any questions or comments about this post then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

 

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