A rally (which is often also spelled rallye) is a motorsports event requiring a driver and a navigator (aka a co-driver). There are actually two different flavors of rally in the U.S.:

A third type of event gaining popularity in the U.S. and related to both rally and autocross is RallyCross®. Check out "What is a RallyCross®?" for more information about these events.


RoadRallySM is the type that THSCC holds. These rallies require no special vehicles or equipment in order to participate and are held on open, public roads. Rally speeds (CAS-Change/Continue Average Speed) are at or below posted highway speeds. Most THSCC rallies are held on paved roads, but could incorporate some prestated dirt sections depending on the whim of the person constructing the rally (aka the rallymaster). A rally can be any length, but is usually from 50 to 250 miles long and can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours to complete, depending, of course, on the length - and how lost you get.

There are multiple versions of RoadRallySM and the type chosen is also at the whim of the rallymaster. Two types that THSCC might hold are:

  • TSD 
    The most widely known version of RoadRallySM is the TSD or Time/Speed/Distance. The object of a TSD rally is to leave point A at a preset time and arrive at point B in a predetermined amount of time. The catch is that you don't know the location of point B or the exact amount of time you should use to get there. Arriving late or early at point B gains you penalty points.At the designated rally start location and just prior to the start of the event, each team of driver and navigator is given a set of route instructions and assigned a specific time to leave the start location (aka your "out minute"). The team start times are assigned one minute apart, so there's no following the team in front of you (an unwise move anyway as they are likely to be as lost as you are). Each team must attempt to follow the route instructions which describe, in varying fashions, the places to turn and the speeds to travel along the route. There will usually be 4 or 5 undisclosed "checkpoints" along the route. Early/late penalty points are assessed at each checkpoint. The accumulated total of assessed points from each checkpoint is scored at the end of the event. So, the team that can best follow the route at the designated speeds will be the team with the lowest number of points, and thus, the winner.
  • Gimmick 
    As the names suggests, Gimmick Rallies incorporate - some type of gimmick. You may be asked to count the number of one or some particular objects along the entire rally route; or you may be asked to gather information along the rally route which will solve some sort of puzzle at the end; or you may be asked to fill in blanks on your route instructions based on things you see along the route; or you may be asked to do all or some combination of the above -- or something else entirely!There are countless ways to create a Gimmick Rally, but what they all have in common are a driver, a navigator, being lost and backtracking at some point during the rally, a lot of laughing, a little cursing, and a lot of fun.

THSCC usually ends our rallies at some dinner or party spot where lots of laughs and bench racing ensues. Since THSCC spends most of its time these days holding autocrosses, we are always looking for folks who would like to be a rallymaster. If putting on a rally sounds like something you'd like to try, please contact the THSCC Rally Resource who will help you do just that!

Stage Rally 

Stage rallying is an international motorsport. In other countries, it draws the largest number of spectators of any form of motorsports in the world. Though having been on the U.S. scene for many, many years, it has been largely an unknown motorsport in the U.S. until recently when the Internet and satellite TV began exposing the WRC (World Rally Championship) to this country. It is now said to be the fastest growing form of motorsport in the U.S.

Stage rallies require special equipment for the vehicles and the driver/co-driver teams themselves. The racing portions of these rallies are run on closed sections (aka stages or Special Stages) of roads. In the U.S., stages are mostly dirt and run through private, state, or national forests. However, since travel between stages (aka transits) is on open, public roads, vehicles must also be street-legal and licensed. Because of the complexity and expense involved with holding this type of rally, in the U.S., stage rallies are almost exclusively sanctioned by the SCCA® and are known as Performance RallySM , consisting of the ProRally® and ClubRally® series.

Special Stages are a series of timed races. The challenge is driving the road, not rubbing wheel-to-wheel with competitors. A stage is anywhere from 1 to 25 miles long. Each driver/co-driver team usually starts one minute after the next (the exception being the addition of a "dust minute" if visibility becomes extremely dangerous) and races through the stage as fast as possible. The transit portion works something like a TSD in that each team must follow the route instructions from the end of the previous stage to the start of the next, and must not be late or early checking into the next stage. A late or early check-in gains the team "road points". At the end of the rally, all actual stage times, plus any road points, are added together. As in TSD, the team with the lowest score is the winner.

Co-drivers provide their drivers with a mental picture of the road ahead through the use of route instructions. These route instructions may be in the form of "pace notes", "stage notes", or "tulips".

The use of "pace notes" and/or "stage notes" is now being implemented at more ProRally® events in order to more closely match WRC events. "Pace notes" and "stage notes" are a set of detailed information about the roads. "Pace notes" are created by team reconnaissance (aka recce) of the stages at a slow speed the day prior to the event. "Stage notes" are prepared for and provided to the teams by SCCA®. "Stage notes" are created with the aid of computer equipment so that the magnitude of the terminology will remain mostly constant (for example, each turn designated as a "3" will be about the same degree of tightness).

Prior to 2001 in ProRally® and still on the ClubRally® level, no U.S. stage rallies allowed teams to pre-run any of the stages. When "stage notes" or "pace notes" are not allowed, the co-driver is equipped only with a special odometer (aka a rally computer), accurate to .01 of a mile and a route book using directional arrows (called "tulips"), exclamation points, some hand-drawn features, and listing the distances between each instruction and over the entire stage. The co-driver uses the rally computer and the route book to alert the driver to upcoming turns and features as he/she races along the unknown terrain.

Successful stage rally teams usually consist of not only driver and co-driver, but also some number of valuable crew members who help keep the rally vehicle running during the event, as the great number of unknowns and rough road conditions can take a huge toll during just one event. Also necessities for a successful team are a service vehicle carrying supplies and spare parts for repairs, and a trailer to, in the worst case, tow home a dead rally vehicle.

Unlike RoadRallySM events which can be run with just a few workers, stage rallies are complex events requiring many organizers, course workers for timing and crowd control, HAM radio operators for communications in and among stages, and medical staff to assist in the event of injury from crashes.

While THSCC would not hold a stage rally, the club and the local area do have several folks participating.