USA Time-Speed-Distance Rally Dash From 50 Years Ago

This past week Rick Beattie, a very experienced and capable American rally navigator sent me an image that was published in Car & Driver magazine in November 1962.  This was an article discussing the dash of a Saab that was campaigned by the rally team of Roger Bohl and Allan Kalb in time-speed-distance rallies in that era.  The setup shown below was as the team had used in a recently completed running of the 500 mile long Berkshire Mountain rally where they had a score of 18 seconds over this distance which had 20 checkpoints.

Old Time Saab Dash Rally Setup

Rally Dash From 50 Years Ago

The following is an identification of the equipment that they used:

  1. Digital time-of-day clock
  2. Driver’s odometer
  3. Wakmann chronograph
  4. Avion adjustable odometer
  5. Dual electric odometers
  6. Two band radio to pick up CHU and WWV time signals
  7. Controls for digital odometers
  8. Speed reducer
  9. Thomas Mark X rally computer
  10. Switches to operate many devices and lights
  11. Cable driving the Thomas rally computer
  12. Cable driving the two Avion electric odometers
  13. Electrified clipboard with two lights
  14. Curta calculator
  15. Helphos spot light

With all of this equipment, it  seems that it would be very difficult for the navigator to operate them and still provide route instructions to the driver.  This dash is a clear demonstration of the development of time-speed-distance rallies in the USA where the emphasis has been on precision timing.

This photo makes me think how lucky USA time-speed-distance navigators are these days when we have many of these functions combined into one piece of equipment.  Another thanks to Rick Beattie for sending me the image of this rally dash.  I am always interested in information about rally navigation equipment used in the past, so please forward to me any interesting rally navigation information that you might have.

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6 Responses to USA Time-Speed-Distance Rally Dash From 50 Years Ago

  1. says:

    Steven I think I have to redo the dash in my MG over the winter to get the real Rally look and feel ! Also a nite course over at the community college to catch up on my math skills. I never realized what is involved in being the navigator…… Also last Sunday went to New Canaan Caffeine and Carburetors, they have. 6 shows during the season. What a gathering of elite machinery due to the neighborhood of Stupid Money!!! Congrats on your trophy wins at the pumpkin rally despite all your setbacks. Yours truly. Kurt Kiefer

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hi Kurt,
      Rather than revise the MG or take the community college course, just contact me and I’ll do the navigating.
      In general, Connecticut seems to have a lot of high end collector cars. Good to hear from you!
      Steve McKelvie

  2. NOVA Curmudgeon says:

    Steve, Would never have guessed you could get that much in / on a Saab dash. Mine looks pristine in comparison. Enjoyed catching up with you and Harald last weekend, will contact you via email about some questions I have. Steve

    • Hi Steve,
      Harald and I enjoyed catching up with you and meeting Bill. We both benefitted from sitting with drivers who did a great job. Again give my congrats to Bill for a job well done. Please keep in touch.
      Steve McKelvie

  3. Mike Mazoway says:

    SAAB dash as was mentioned before. All equipment placed out of the way of the column shifter too!

  4. greg g says:

    So where would you mount the illuminated route instruction reader board???

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