Wednesday, May 10, 2006

TSD Rally Stock Class Navigation

Georgia Sports Car Club Spring Rally

This past weekend, my usual rally partner Robert was rallymaster for a GSCC event. Lucky for me, Fred Holliger the Stock class champ was looking for a driver.

I have always been fascinated with road rally navigation ever since I discovered this sport at Tennessee Tech University. My roommate Jeff and I created all sorts of calculator and computer programs to aid our navigation. We also discovered early on that if we wanted to win, Jeff needed to be the navigator.

Our ultimate accomplishment after years of work was the CompuRally computer software that allows a standard (DOS) computer to be used as a rally computer. We used this software to take two national TSD rally wins and numerous local and regional trophies. Our software is now being used successfully in Silver Streak challenge type events out west

But this weekend, I saw something completely different. Fred, armed with nothing more that a book of rally tables and a simple four function calculator, demonstrated his navigational skills. He gave me feedback that was very very close to as good a my rally computer.

Every six to ten seconds he called "Mark" and I looked at my odo to see if I was early or late. A simple adjustment of the throttle put us back on time.

And he did not look overworked like I have been when I tried stock navigation. In fact, we were able to carry on a conversation punctuated by "mark" being called mid story.

His method is deceptively simple. He just adds .1 mile worth of time to the display register on his calculator and calls out when the time matches his clock.

It took me a few legs to get the hang of reading my Jeep Cherokee odometer to the hundredth mile but by the end of the day we were getting scores of 1 or 2 per leg. The computer guys were getting ones and zeros.

I always enjoy experiencing new things and seeing this skill in action was great fun to watch. Had I known this method of navigation 20 years ago I might never have written my own software and learned so much about computer controls.

The first place Stock Class trophy fits nicely with all the Equipped Class trophies on the shelf.

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