ZONE 1 SPRING RALLY 2011
By Jeff McFadyen, Pictures By Akemi & Murray Kane
Just about 2 months after the long process of restoring our 1957 356a Coupe was declared finished, Margie and I planned to attend and compete in both the rally and concours at the annual Zone 1 Spring event. We were anticipating the event during the beautiful spring weather the first week in May, but then as we got into the 7 day weather forecast window for the May 14 – 15 weekend, things got a little scary for taking a newly restored show car on the road. We prefer to drive to events and we had no plan “B” for bad weather other than aborting the trip. We bit the bullet and left Hope, NJ for the 132 mile trip to Southbury, CT on Friday afternoon. We booked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel at about 7:45pm. There were no Porsches in the parking lot, but a bunch of folks running around in cowboy hats and boots. It turns out there was a Lions Club outing at the Hotel, and Friday was their Cowboy Day. While we were having dinner in the lounge we noticed a few people with Porsche patches on their jackets and shirts showing up. By then the weather forecast for Saturday was pretty good.
Saturday morning we headed out to the rally start scheduled for 9am at the Heritage Inn Hotel just down the road. We attended the 8:30 driver’s meeting where we got official time of day, learned that all Checkpoints would be marked with signs and orange cones (Interpretation – All Checkpoints would be open), and route instruction would be handed out one minute before the start time. 14 cars lined up in the appointed area of the Heritage Inn parking lot to receive route instructions and to start the rally. NNJR was well represented with 4 teams entering. Ann Foos and Marti Kalko, John Bleimaier & Marina Pushkareva, Murray & Akemi Kane, and Margie & I made up the NNJR rally contingent. Two classes were offered: Experienced/Equipped and Novice/Unequipped. There were no Equipped entrants, so everyone was in one class.
The Rally was billed as “fun filled with something for everyone – beautiful scenery, paved roads with some great turns …” It did not disappoint. The roads were fun to drive, the lake homes around Lake Waramaug, are spectacular (but who had time to look), the Connecticut back road scenery is beautiful (but who had time to look), and the little towns along the way are quaint (Margie stop looking! What is the next instruction?).
We started out and followed the carefully prepared route instructions, and at the same time trying to spot landmarks that would answer questions asked by the rally master. We knew that the rally was going to be scored 1 point for each minute late and 2 points for each point early at each checkpoint, but we had no idea how the written quiz was going to play into the final outcome. We reached the first checkpoint as we approached Lake Waramaug with no route difficulty, and felt we were pretty much on time. We handed in our score sheet, the checkpoint workers entered our arrival time, admonished us to take it slow around the lake, and check out all of the spectacular lake houses (but who has time to look). We asked “what is our time out for the second leg”; no answer was forthcoming, and the space on the score sheet was blank. After some typical heated Driver/Navigator discussion about whether we should assign our own time out or use our time in to the checkpoint, there was no conclusion, but declared truce. In the end there were less than 30 seconds difference in the two options.
We proceeded on with leg two and eventually caught up with Ann and Marty who should have been 4 minutes ahead of us. We felt we were on course and within 30 seconds of being on time. We held position and came into the second checkpoint just behind Ann and Marty where we were scheduled for a 20 minute break and had run out of instructions. We picked up our time in and, this time were assigned, a time out by the checkpoint workers. We needed a snack and a pit stop. Margie went for the pit stop first and then grabbed a snack which she finished in the car after our start of leg 3. I opted for the snack first and had to forgo the pit stop. As we were climbing back into the car, the checkpoint crew was telling us to hurry up. By the time we got organized and collected our leg 3 route instructions, we ended up almost 2 minutes late starting a leg with an assigned average speed of 43 mph. Making up two minutes on back roads with that average speed proved to be a challenge.
In the middle of leg 3, we had our first difficulty following the route instructions. We were directed onto South Street but could not find a “South Street” sign. There did not seem to be an option so we made a right turn. Things seemed to be working out, but then we were directed to turn left on North Street. Again we could not find a sign, but turned left at a stop sign which was our only option. Mileage was spot on. The next instruction was straight on South Street again we could not find the sign. By then we were sure we were lost, and turned around to go back. We were then saved by a reliable NNJR Rally team, John and Marina who came by and seemed to be driving with the confidence of being on course. We turned around again, and followed them loosing another 4 minutes in the process. A little farther down the road we passed the, fairgrounds, one of the question answer landmarks and breathed a sigh of relief because we were on course. Our troubles were not over. We were at least 6 minutes late trying to maintain 43 mph in an extended 30 mph speed zone area. With only 12.3 miles to the final checkpoint. All we had to do was average over 66 mph for the next 11.5 minutes (not on Connecticut back roads even in a souped up 356a Coupe).
I guess most everyone had some problems. Chuck and Joyce Gladle got first place with four points, Margie and I came in second with 9 Points (6 on the 3rd leg where we were 6 minutes late). There was a three way tie for third place TSD score, but John Bleimaier and Marina Pushkareva got the award because they got 100% on the written exam. So now we know how the questions we tried to answer were used for scoring. Murray and Akemi did not score well because they were rallying in their “Stealth” GMC Yukon Tow Vehicle and did not get timed into two of the checkpoints. Ann Foos and Marti Kalko got off course in the 3rd leg and could not make up enough time at the regulation 43 mph to score well. At dinner Saturday night we all agreed the rallymaster had done a great job setting up a rally that went through beautiful country and provided a good challenge.