Success At The 49th Covered Bridge Rally

This past weekend the 49th Covered Bridge Rally was held in Fairlee, Vermont.  Ted Goddard who has been the rally master at every Covered Bridge Rally and was once again for this running of the Covered Bridge Rally, was not feeling very well and regrettably had to miss being there on the day of the rally.  The Covered Bridge Rally is one of the more popular time-speed-distance rallies in the northeast USA.

I did not want to miss this rally and I was going to navigate for Gary Hamilton.  On Thursday before the rally Gary contacted me and said that due to health issues he was unable to take part in the rally, but that a fellow at his work, Scott Curtin, always wanted to take part in a rally and that he would be interested in entering the Covered Bridge Rally to see what a rally would be like.  As I wanted to take part in the Covered Bridge Rally, I readily agreed to enter this rally with Scott.

Filled In pool at our motel

A Rather Pathetic Image Of A Filled-In Pool With A Security Fence And Chairs To Watch The Grass Grow

I met up with Scott in White River Junction, Vermont on Friday night thereby eliminating the long drive early to the start of this rally on Saturday morning.  At our motel they had filled in the swimming pool as some time in the past, but left all of the swimming pool accoutrements in place.  The diving board was replaced by a barbeque.  This was a strange sight.

On-site rally registration opened at 7:00AM at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont.  More than 30 cars started the rally.  Due to our late registration, Scott and I were Car #28.  The first car was off at 8:30AM plus car number.

The weather was a little overcast, but reasonable for early November in Vermont.  Ted has always scheduled the Covered Bridge Rally in that short time window that is after the fall weekend leaf-peepers have left and before the hunting season begins.  During this window road traffic is down, there is more motel/hotel room availability, and fewer people out in the woods with guns.

Lake Morey From Rally Start

A View Of Lake Morey From The Covered Bridge Rally Start

There were several interesting cars entered in the rally.  As we had a late start in the rally, I had an opportunity to watch some of these cars as they let the Lake Morey Resort to begin the odometer check for the rally.

Datsun 240Z (2)

This Datsun 240Z Looked Great

A few years ago I owned a Merkur XR4Ti and I was pleased to see that one of the rally competitors was driving one of these cars.  I was even more surprised to see another Merkur XR4Ti for sale on the side of the road during the rally.  I rarely see even one Merkur, never mind seeing two in the same day!

Late Model Merkur XR4Ti (1)

One Of The Best Cars I’ve Owned – A Merkur XR4Ti

The Corvette shown below was a very impressive car.  On Interstate 91 on the way to the rally, I got a glimpse of the speed capability of this car.



While the weather was a little overcast, it did not deter the guys in the Mazda Miata from dropping the top and enjoying the fall New England weather.  Through a combination of circumstances, we spent much of the first half of the rally either following this car or they were following us.

Mazda Miata (1)

These Fellows Dropped The Top On This Mazda Miata

Before we started the rally I went over the general outline of a car rally with Scott and what we could expect to face during the day.  Scott is land surveyor and I think that this gave him a good background to understand all of the issues related to odometers and road distance.

Waiting At End of Odo Check (2)

Rally Cars Lined Up After The Odometer Check

As we were competing in the Stock Class, we could not use a calibratible rally odometer, but we had to rely on the standard odometer that came with Scott’s Chevrolet Tahoe.  The odometer check revealed that the Chevrolet’s odometer read a little long and I estimated that our odometer factor was about 0.992.

Control Pic (1)

Cars At A Check Point

The rally was a little tricky at times, which made it interesting.  During the rally we did not have too many problems, but many cars did.  During the day we saw rally cars heading in various directions.  Scott Curtin, competing in his first rally, quickly understood the concept of the rally  and we worked together quite well.

For this rally there was an interesting instruction in the General Instructions that made the course following a little more challenging:

“When on a paved road, unpaved roads do not exist, unless the NRI you are seeking to execute contains the word unpaved.  Ex: Right at T on unpaved.  Or   Right on unpaved at T.  Or  Right at T.  Unpaved.   From the intersection, if you can see that it’s unpaved, it’s unpaved. When on an unpaved road, paved roads don’t exist unless the NRI contains the word paved; short lengths of pavement in and around intersections should be ignored.  You will always be told when the road surface changes; except that short lengths of pavement on the road you are traveling, with no opportunity to turn, will not be instructed.”

There was another General Instruction that has been in the General Instructions for every Covered Bridge Rally that I have competed:

“Automatic Pause:  Pause 0.30 minutes [18 seconds] within 0.3 mi each time you travel through a covered bridge. This special automatic pause continues a Covered Bridge tradition. [If you do not know what the tradition is, ask someone who has been on Covered Bridge before.]  This pause is in addition to any other pause, transit zone or odometer check times.”

If you want to know what this tradition is, then you will have come to Vermont next year for the running of the 50th Covered Bridge Rally.

There was one problem that impacted about half of the rally teams.  In the morning some workers were removing a very large tree along the road.  After approximately 50 percent of the rally cars had passed the tree, the workers dropped the tree across the road blocking all traffic.  Obviously this resulted in a big delay to the rally cars.

Scott was well prepared for this delay.  We had dined at an Italian restaurant on Friday night and Scott had a couple of pieces of left-over pizza with him that had been chilled in the car in the cool Vermont night air.  As we waited for the blocked road to open, Scott used the time to eat the pizza.

Cars Waiting Due To Tree Fall (2)

Rally Cars Waiting For Block Road To Open

Eventually the tree was removed sufficiently to allow the rally cars to pass by.  We had to take a big Time Allowance for that blockage.

Tree Blocks Route (2)

Road Opening After Most Of The Tree Is Removed

The rally route returned to the Lake Morey Resort for final scoring, adult beverages, tall tales, and awards.  The Overall winners of the 49th Covered Bridge Rally was the Beattie father and son team who had an excellent score.  They had also traveled all the way from the Pittsburg area to take part in the rally.  Father Rick Beattie is a very enthusiastic and competent rally participant. Father Rick also frequently writes on rallying issues in “Sportscar”, the monthly magazine of the Sports Car Club of America.

Rick Beattie & Son Won Overall

Class A And Overall Winners Paul Beattie And His Father, Rick

The Stock Class, in which Scott and I competed in, was won by Dave and Dianne Guertin of Vermont in their all-wheel drive BMW.  Dave & Dianne are always very competitive in the Stock Class.

Guertins Won Stock Class in BMW

Dave & Dianne Guertin Won The Stock Class In Their BMW

I was very pleased that Scott and I won the third place trophy in the Stock Class in a field of 12 cars in our class.  This was a remarkable result considering that this was Scott’s first ever rally!  This is why I titled this post “Success At The 49th Covered Bridge Rally”.  This is a much better result than I had anticipated.

Scott Curtin & I Third Stock Class

First-Timer Scott Curtin & I Finished Third In The Stock Class!

I enjoyed the 49th Covered Bridge Rally and I look forward to competing in the 50th Covered Bridge Rally in November 2016.

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