Rally Appalachia 2011
Rally Appalachia 2011. Click image to enlarge
 

Article and photos by Michael Schlee

Photo Gallery:
Rally Appalachia, 2011

They say the best laid plans go awry, and this is true in the world of navigational rallying. Heading into the Rally North America CJ Pony Parts Rally Appalachia 2011 we thought we had it all planned out. We had pre-rally research, GPS, smart phones and of course an alliance with 12 other competitors. The outcome from all this meticulous planning was our group getting horribly lost before the first checkpoint of the rally. Ten minutes in and we were already at the back of the back. With 11 more checkpoints to go, things did not bode well for the rest of the day. In the end, we did bounce back to finish mid pack.

The CJ Pony Parts Rally Appalachia 2011 began the morning of Tuesday July 19 in Winchester, VA. Over 70 cars consisting of 135 participants roared to life on the pedestrian pathway at 8AM in the historic downtown area.

Getting over a hundred people to sign up for anything these days is a tough enough task. Asking them to drive 6-8 hours a day, for 3 straight days, at the posted speed limit while blindly being told where to go seems like an impossible task. However, make the backdrop of the rally scenic roads like Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway and you start to peak people’s interest. Throw in a few racetracks and make the event all for a terrific cause such as this years Charity, The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and you will have to turn people away.

Rally Appalachia 2011
Rally Appalachia 2011. Click image to enlarge

For those new to navigational rallying, it is as much about the people in the rally getting to hang out with fellow car enthusiasts as it is about the daily events themselves. Co-Rally Organizer Tony Intrieri sums it up best: “A rally is only going to be as successful as the people that are in it.”

During these events people tend to travel together in groups and share in the camaraderie. This year that tradition continued. At times today the Autos.ca/Autotrader.ca team travelled with a wide array of vehicles: a Shelby Mustang, Saleen Mustang, Mini Cooper, Sierra, M6, M3, Mitsubishi Evo, Bentley Continental, Corvair Corsa, Camaro, Scion tC, Corvette and of course, a rented Ford Escape.

Our car for the rally was the same as last year’s entry, a 2010 WRX. Although it may lack the absolute power and performance of some of the more custom machines, having a nice comfortable car with ice cold air conditioning was more then appreciated during today’s 32+ degree day. Even with the heavily enforced speed limits along Skyline Drive, the WRX was still a lot of fun to pilot up and down the twisting road. The combination of all-wheel drive and turbocharged power meant you were never missing a little get up and go when the situation called for it.

Rally Appalachia 2011
Rally Appalachia 2011. Click image to enlarge

The highlight of the day for the gearhead in all of us was a few hot laps around Shenandoah Speedway, a short track oval course. However, most would say the sights of the Skyline Drive were the real highlight today with its breath taking sights.

The attrition level so far this yeah has been low. Only one Ford Mustang GT is temporarily going on the sidelines with a blown throw out bearing. Thanks to fellow ralliers, a replacement clutch is being shipped over night to the hotel where it will be installed first thing in the morning. The team should rejoin the rest of us by tomorrow night. That is what navigational rallying is all about.

Connect with Autos.ca