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.
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.
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 & 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