Comparing SCCA Rally Results Versus Great Race Rally Results At The Coker Tire Challenge

In September of this year the Coker Tire Challenge was held in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area.  This rally, put on by the Coker Tire folks, typically has been a Time-Speed rally with many experienced “Great Race” competitors.  This year the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) decided to hold their premier rally event, the United States Road Rally Championship, in association with the Coker Tire Challenge.  The combined event would be run over the same course, using the same instructions, and the same timing controls and methods.  This provides as unique opportunity to compare the results and skills of the two groups.

When the combined event was being planned, it was decided to start the SCCA rally field behind the Great Race rally field to prevent the Great Race field from “hacking” off the SCCA competitors.  Hacking is a rally method whereby a trailing competitor will observe a competitor ahead of them and then adjust their time to be at the same location 1 minute later than the competitor who is running ahead of them.  As the cars usually start 1 minute apart, hacking, when possible, is sometimes used as a desperation method if the following car has messed up their timing.  Hacking is the antithesis to the old rally axiom – “Run your own rally.”

Before the rally started there was the belief that the SCCA competitors, all being able to use odometers and many using rally computers, would be able to run closer to the perfect times than the Great Race competitors who are limited to a one analog time-of-day clock, one stopwatch, and a calibratable speedometer.  In addition, many of the Great Race are competing in antique cars.  The actual results produced the opposite results as the top Great Race competitors outshone the top SCCA competitors.

The table below shows the results of the SCCA competitors.  The vast majority of the competitors are among the top SCCA competitors who compete in “national” events.  Class E competitors can use sophisticated rally computers, while Class S competitors are restricted to using standard vehicle odometers and hand-held calculators.

Coker Challenge Scan10001

Results Of The SCCA Competitors In The 2014 Coker Tire Challenge

Note that the two top SCCA teams had a total time penalty of 36 seconds for the three days.  There is a noticeable drop off with the third and fourth place teams having a total scores of about  1 minute 30 seconds.

Below are the results of the Great Race competitors.

Coker Challenge Scan10002

Results Of The Great Race Competitors In The 2014 Coker Tire Challenge

Looking at the Great Race results, the top five competitors had total timing errors (compare the “Total” column in the Great Race results with the “Score” column in the SCCA results) better than the winning SCCA teams.  The third place SCCA team would have placed 13th in the Great Race field!

Howard Sharp Coker Tire Winner 2014

Howard & Doug Sharp On Their Way To Winning The 2014 Coker Tire Challenge In A 1916 Hudson (1)

Given the widespread better performance from the Great Race competitors, using inferior rally equipment and much older cars, as compared to the SCCA competitors, in a head-to-head competition at the Coker Tire Challenge, it seems that the Great Race competitors have very high rally skills.

(1) Photo by Tommy Lee Byrd

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3 Responses to Comparing SCCA Rally Results Versus Great Race Rally Results At The Coker Tire Challenge

  1. Jay Nemeth-Johannes says:

    This was a frequent topic of conversation at the St Louis nationals this weekend (asside: a most enjoyable, well executed event with far too few contestants).
    I wouldn’t take anything away from either group. Both are very skilled at what they do. The major issue was that this was an entirely new experience for all of the SCCA competitors. It took some time to learn the subtleties of Great Race timing and route format.
    One needs to look at the three individual day results and how they improved each day. On day 3, the three top SCCA teams would have finished 1-3 in raw scores and 1, 3 and 4 for time adjusted.
    I think you can safely say that if SCCA sanctions this again next year (under discussion), you will see quite different results.

    • Hi Jay,
      Perhaps if the same combined event is held next year, then someone should hold a rally school before the event to explain some of the differences to SCCA competitors who are not familiar with these type of instructions.
      Steve McKelvie

  2. Jay Nemeth-Johannes says:

    Probably not worth a lot of public discussion. Ferris and Sears have actually won Great Race in previous years, so it was not so much how they did stuff as it was how the rules related to modern cars and equipment.
    I was supposedly the liaison from SCCA for a few months. As such I asked a number of questions during the sanctioning process about details. The answers tended to be delayed and rather sparse. Eventually they moved liaison responsibilities to a RRB member who was also on the Coker committee. Generals for SCCA arrived very late and didn’t really give a feel for the event. There was no SCCA precheck.
    Basically, I feel this year was a learning experience. most of the people who went enjoyed themselves and will return. I just expect they will surprise you next year, now that they better know what to expect. Note, I am not complaining, only commenting on a post that implied that our competitors weren’t up to the challenge.

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