Last weekend was the Rallye des Neiges in Bromont, Quebec and hosted by the Sport Motor Car Club (SMCC) of Montreal. This is Canada’s oldest rally with a history going back to 1937. I have been wanting to take part in this legendary winter rally for years and this year it finally happened. In addition, this year the Rallye des Neiges is the third event in the WINTR Series that I am involved in. For this event once again I was navigating for Frank Beyer in his Subaru Forester.
As Frank lives near Syracuse, New York and I am in Massachusetts our travel plans did not match for this rally and we drove up to Bromont separately. I had a lovely trip up to Quebec. Saturday was a bright sunny day with just the right amount of snow. The drive up through New Hampshire was particularly pleasant. The following pictures show just how nice the trip was.
A great day for a drive through New Hampshire!
The roads were dry despite the overall snow cover
An interesting thing happened to me in northern Vermont. I stopped at the last exit from Interstate 91 to fill up on cheap(er) American gas before entering Canada. I stopped at a Shell gas station, paid for the gas at an outside pump, and then grabbed my travel mug to fill up on coffee inside the variety store that was part of the gas station. I filled my mug up and walked to the cashier’s counter and set my mug on the counter. The cashier said: “Kerosene?” I said: “It looked like coffee to me!” She then apologized for the confusion, saying that she thought that I was the person who had just bought $94.00 worth of kerosene. I paid for the coffee and went out to my car.
I noticed that beside the gas pumps was a Pemex kerosene pump. I was confused by several things:
- What was a Pemex pump doing at a Shell station? As many of you know, Pemex is the Mexican fuel company that you see all over Mexico, but I have never seen a Pemex gas station in America.
- I always thought that you bought kerosene by the gallon can in a hardware store.
- Who the hell needs $94.00 worth of kerosene?
- Are there large numbers of vehicles out there that are powered by kerosene?
I got to Bromont and was pleased to see that the terrain was hilly and that the roads were snow covered. These bode well for a good winter rally. Bromont is an active downhill ski area, just to give you an idea of the local terrain.
A Road Just South of Bromont
I got to the rally site in good time as I wanted to take part in the rally school for novices that was being held before the rally started. As I had never taken part in a Quebec time-speed-distance rally before, I wanted to understand how these rallies were conducted that was different from the SCCA time-speed-distance rallies which I am more familiar with. There are lots of differences between the two rally styles.
The rally was a lot more fast-paced than SCCA rallies. And I’m not necessarily referring to the rally speeds. The route instructions are handed out one minute before your out time to start the rally. Therefore there is no opportunity to load up a lap top with all of the mileages and speeds prior to starting the rally. And at most checkpoints, the out time is at the bottom of the next minute after your control in time. For example, if your in time to a control was 8:46:12 then your out time would be 8:47:00, for a total dead time of 48 seconds. In that 48 seconds, the driver must get the car safely stopped, take the scoresheet back to the control car, get the times written on the card, get back to the car, give the scoresheet to the navigator, and get belted up. The navigator only has a few seconds to get the navigation equipment reset. Many times when we left a control we were behind already.
Frank & I were having an “OK” rally until Control 22, during which we got sucked into a ditch by getting a wheel caught in an overplow. We were in the ditch for a considerable time waiting for the Sweep Truck, but a sympathetic competitor eventually pulled us out. The evening of the rally our announced finishing position was terrible, in two official languages. But wait! It turns out that there was a general timing problem with that control and the results for that control were scrubbed. As a result our official finishing position was 4th Overall. That was much better than was announced at the rally.
There were a total of 29 cars that started the rally. The scores for those classified as Experts are summarized below:
|1||Mario Collin / Olivier Collin||0||1|
|5||Mark Everett / Marc Goldfarb||1.6||2|
|2||Ian Pavelko / David Wood||3.8||3|
|4||Frank Beyer / Steve McKelvie||4.5||4|
|6||Dean Campbell / Nick Narini||5.5||5|
|7||Harold Forester / Jason Forester||7.7||6|
|10||François Leclerc / Serge Bonin||8.3||7|
|3||Dave Guertin / Neil Guertin||18.5||8|
|11||Patrick Thivierge / Michel Thivierge||20.7||9|
|9||Cezary Maciocha / Jason Krukowski||22.5||10|
|8||Éric Deschenes / Tony Tremblay||124.1||11|
|13||Michael Stoller / Harry Opolsky||322.2||12|
|12||Chris Rowlandson / Evan Steele||458.4||13|
Mario and Oliver Collin obviously had a great rally. I am very impressed that they were able to “zero” the rally. Mark Everett and Marc Goldfarb had an excellent score! Frank & I are happy not to be way down the list, as we originally thought. Dean Campbell and Nick Narini had a good score as well.
We followed the Guertins in their BMW for many miles. They seemed to be doing quite well, but we saw them stopped on the side of the road. They took a 10 minute penalty on that Control which greatly affected their score. I don’t know what their problem was on that control.
In summary, Frank & I had a great time at the Rallye des Neiges and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take part in a challenging winter rally. This event is a true WINTR rally!