You’re going to swing by your friend’s vehicle repair equipment shop in Midvale, Utah. There’s nothing wrong with your car. You usually take it down there for the regular maintenance. You never let anyone touch your car except your friend. But this time around, there’s a more serious and intense reason for taking it to the shop. You are having it evaluated in terms of its capability and what custom features could be made to your car.
You’re planning to join your first rally race. Your friend thinks that you’re a pretty good driver. The two of you would sometimes rent out a track or go somewhere secluded and drive fast. You had discussed it a couple of times with him. Now you’re making the initial steps to become a rally race car driver. What else do you need to do?
An Overview of Rallying
Rally racing falls under the broad category of motorsport. Unlike other motor races where the track forms a circuit, rally racing is done through special stages or control points wherefrom racers start—one at a time—at these set points with regular intervals. The track can be dirt or a closed road. There is a co-driver or a navigator. You win based on how fast you get from one point to the next in each of the stages.
Learning Is Everything
An interesting fact about rally racing is that usually, there is no prize money, whether it’s in the USA or elsewhere. The community of rally organizers and racers is not centered on prize money. It is more of a hobby. Drivers and co-drivers, however, are paid to race. Here are a few more things to take note of as you prepare for the race.
- In da club. No. Not the 50 Cent song. You need to become a member of a car club. Knowing the people in the racing community is an essential step in joining a race. Many race car drivers started this way. It also doesn’t matter whether you want to become a driver or an engineer at the track. Time spent “in da club” would be worthwhile.
- Master and student. Almost all endeavors require a teacher. Look for a mentor who can show you the ropes. Someone who can tell you not only how to race in a rally but how everything is organized within the rally community. Also, enroll in a rally school.
- Mental preparation. What’s hard about racing in a rally is that technically, you are racing against yourself. Since cars start at intervals and not at the same time, you really won’t know if you’re running the course faster or slower than your competitor. So you need to be focused and mentally prepared in pursuing your strategy, like which part of the course do you need to be more aggressive?
- Drive. Drive. Drive. The surfaces are different in a rally. There are no closed stadium tracks where you can practice. Anytime you can hit the road, any road, do it! That’s your practice time. Become familiar with the terrain and study and recall your responses, when, for example, you’re negotiating a hairpin curve on a dirt road with bumps on the road.
- Invest in safety. You might not be able to get all the necessary safety gear immediately, but plan for getting all the things that are required.
You, of course, need to be physically fit as well. This is a shortlist of five points to help you prepare for your first rally race, but it should be enough to kick-start your process.