The 2015 Winter Challenge Rally Is Next Weekend

Next weekend the Winter Challenge will be held in Barre, Vermont.  The rally will start at around 3:00PM on Saturday afternoon and likely end about 2:00 – 3:00AM Sunday morning.  Given the large amount of snow that we’ve recently had here in the northeast United States, there is no doubt that this will be a full-on winter rally.

2015 WC pre-run

Photo Of Somewhere Along The Route Taken During A Check Of The Rally Route In Late January.

The Winter Challenge is aptly named.  It is definitely a challenge and novices are not allowed to enter this rally.  The conditions of roads in the winter and the brisk nature of the speeds make this a rally that challenges both the drivers and the navigators.

The rally is divided into three sections.  The first section is a lightly trapped rally where the teams have to pay close attention to follow the route and be on time.  There are route instructions that appear to be straightforward, but often contain things that will trick the unwary.  The second section is a significant map section where the route is presented on a map with some supplemental instructions provided on sheets as well.  This requires great concentration by the navigator to determine the route, take into account all of the speed changes, and timing information from all the sources of instructions.  A portion of the mapped route from Section 2 of the 2014 Winter Challenge is shown below.

2014 WC Map 3

Portion Of The Map Instructions From 2014

The route to be followed is shown in red.  The map is to scale, but the scale is not to any of the normal scales that are provided with the commercial rally pottis.  I have been able to modify my potti so that I can add my own scale to suit any map scale.  This has worked out very well.  The numbers on the map relate to additional instructions that are included on a separate sheet of paper.

The third section of the rally is simpler from the point of view of course following.  Mileages are given to all turns and to significant curves in the road where caution needs to be used.  The required average speeds require the driver’s complete attention and the navigator has to describe the course in a concise and timely manner in addition to keeping up with required average speed changes and transit zones.  Quiet Zones are used in more developed areas and rally lights must be dimmed where the light would be cast on houses.

The entries for this year’s running and the starting order as of about a week ago are presented below.

Preliminary List Of Entries And Starting Order For the 2015 Winter Challenge Rally

Car # Class Driver Navigator Make 4WD
1 A Scott Beliveau Chris Regan Toyota Yes
2 A John Cassidy IV John Cassidy V Subaru Yes
3 A Michael Beliveau Kaitlyn Murdough Subaru Yes
4 A L. Mark Stone Marc Goldfarb Subaru Yes
5 A Lance Smith Ralph Beckman Subaru Yes
6 A Adam Rutkiewicz Robert Mlynarski Ford No
7 A Dave Siesicki Steve McKelvie Honda No
10 S Dan Fouquette Jake Burtchell Subaru Yes
11 S Casey LaCourse Matt Bergholm Subaru Yes
12 S Chris Prescott Kim Prescott Chevrolet Yes
13 S Benjamin Preston Theodore Goneos Subaru Yes
14 S Albert Yin Alison Maxwell BMW No
15 S Ryan Baldi Eve Ames Subaru Yes
16 S Kathy Moody Samara Coble Subaru Yes
17 S Alex Kuhner Peter Monim Subaru Yes
18 S Kadence Verge Keith Verge Subaru Yes
19 S David Alspaugh Andrew Bennett Audi Yes
20 S Jon Fogg Steve Allison Subaru Yes
21 S Erin LeMasters Ashley Follett Subaru Yes
22 S Dmitry Beliaev Ben Knight Mini No
23 S John Hart, Jr Matt Kennedy Audi Yes
24 S Daniel Praetorius Colin Roddy Subaru Yes

The Class A cars that start at the front of the rally can use any type of rally navigation equipment, but there is a gentlemen’s agreement not to use a GPS device for course following.  I know almost everyone in Class A and they are all gentlemen.  We all enjoy the challenge of this rally and those who chase zeroes at all costs are welcome to stay at home.

Note that most of the entries are Subaru cars.  The Subaru WRX cars are the weapon of choice for this event.  With abundant power and four-wheel drive they are excellent cars for this event.  I will be navigating for Dave Siesicki in a two-wheel drive Honda Civic.  We will be one of the few two-wheel drive cars in the field.  However Dave is a very good driver and last year we had the second best score in the brisk Section 3 of the rally despite having much less power than the Subaru WRX cars and two less driven wheels.  Dave and I did a number of stage rallies together, so we are comfortable working together.

2015 WC Pre-Run (2)

Rallymaster John Buffum Measuring The Route

The rallymaster for this event is multitime USA rally champion John Buffum.  In addition, as I have recently been following the Historique Monte Carlo Rally, it is interesting to note that John along with navigator Ralph Beckman have twice finished second in the Historique Monte Carlo Rally.   As can be seen from the entry list, Ralph Beckman will be competing in this rally as the navigator for Lance Smith.  Lance is the head of Vermont Sports Cars, who prepare the cars for the Subaru USA Rally Team.  The teams ahead of us are all very competent rally teams with both significant stage and navigational rally experience or former event winners or have won regional championships.  But Dave and I not worried as we have won this event before ourselves.

This event generates a lot of interest in the northeast USA and I always enjoy taking part in this event.  I would not want to miss it.  For more information about this rally check out the event website at

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2 Responses to The 2015 Winter Challenge Rally Is Next Weekend

  1. Mike Mazoway says:

    It hurts to have to miss this one this year. Always a great event.

    • Hi Mike,
      I was hoping that you guys would be able to make it to the Winter Challenge. It would be great to see you and you guys always do well. Hopefully I’ll catch up with you later this year!
      Steve McKelvie

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