The Magic Mile Rally is History, yet Rallying is Here to Stay!

Posted on April 7th, 2017

by Mark Johnson, Rallymaster

Rich and Nancy Alterman , from Alpharetta, Georgia, check in at the start of The Magic Mile Rally on Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Athens, Georgia. Under cloudless skies and 80 degree temperatures, 30 teams spent three hours wandering 100 miles of blacktop north of Athens in the first SCCA Atlanta Region road rally in more than two decades.

Rich and Nancy Alterman , from Alpharetta, Georgia, check in at the start of The Magic Mile Rally on Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Athens, Georgia. Under cloudless skies and 80 degree temperatures, 30 teams spent three hours wandering 100 miles of blacktop north of Athens in the first SCCA Atlanta Region road rally in more than two decades.

After what we think was a 25-year gap, SCCA rallying returned to the Atlanta Region on April 1. We started 30 cars, 28 finished (two had commitments they were worried about making later in the day) and no one got yelled at. We even had a local walk up to a checkpoint crew, ask what was going on and then offer to help.

With 30 mostly-inexperienced crews, this was more of a challenge than I think they were expecting. Course following was pretty easy so there weren’t too many excursions reported, but the clarity on how to use time allowances was lacking on my part, I suspect. Only four teams used them correctly, some more used them incorrectly and many just didn’t even try.

The questions, though … three of the 31 questions everyone got right, but one of them none got right. The overall average was 63% correct, much lower than I expected. As we went through the answers at the end, there were a lot of groans. (Did you know that squiggly-line black-on-yellow signs actually tell you which way the road will turn first so they aren’t all the same? And if you have to count them, you better count only the ones that match the pictogram in the question.)

When I talked with several competitors after the event, they said they glanced at the general instructions but didn’t read them thoroughly – even after I told everyone to read them carefully. The GIs specified what side of the road some types of signs needed to be on in order to exist and that government-erected signs needed to be associated with legal roads. Legal roads were defined elsewhere in the GIs as through, paved roads – so signs for unpaved roads didn’t exist, nor did signs for dead end roads.

Overall, I was thrilled with the turnout – 60-plus competitors for the first event in the region in 25 years was great. No one was mad at the end, everyone was laughing and all had a story to tell. When I asked if they would do it again, there was a pretty loud cheer.

Almost three-quarters of the participants were not SCCA members, so this was a great marketing tool for the region. And add in that the event turned a profit for the region and everyone should wander down the road happy.

This week, I’ll send a survey out to all the registrants to see what they liked and didn’t like, that will help me decide what comes next. I suspect it’ll be another GTA in the fall, maybe with a different timing model. (The Magic Mile was essentially a series of one mile long TSD segments interspersed along a 100 mile course. At seven points along the route, competitors were told to reset their odo, given a start time and a speed to follow for the next mile. Three of those segments had checkpoints on them, the rest of the scoring was done by answering the questions.)

Rallying has returned to Georgia … now I need to figure out the next event. I was amazed at how many typos on road signs I found, wonder what I can do with that …

For more information on how to get involved, contact me at rallygeorgia@gmail.com.

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