Rallying for a Cause: Rally Dixie 2012 motorsports customization auto articles car culture
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Preview: Rally Dixie 2012

Article and photos by Michael Schlee

The night before the Rally Dixie 2012 was to officially get underway, 70-plus vehicles littered the hotel parking lot where the pre-rally driver’s meeting was about to take place. As is customary for most participants, an obligatory wander around the hotel is required to check out who brought what vehicle to this year’s rally. As I rounded the final corner of the building, I found a group of five vehicles that best demonstrated the diversity Rally North America (RNA) strives for with their events. A smart fortwo, a Subaru WRX, a Dodge Viper, a BMW 328i and a 700-hp Ford F-150 Lightning were all sharing the same asphalt and would soon be rallying together for a great cause. From now on when someone asks me who can participate in a Rally North America event, I’m just going to show them a picture of these cars.

Rallying for a Cause: Rally Dixie 2012 motorsports customization auto articles car culture
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From June 19th through the 21st, the CJ Pony Parts 2012 Rally Dixie took place, starting in Nobelsville, IN, making dozens of stops along the way to the final destination of Fort Walton Beach, FL. The event was put together by the non-profit organization Rally North America Charities. As with their past events, Rally Dixie 2012 was to benefit a great cause; this year, the beneficiary was the Accelerated Cure Project, which aims to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

With over 70 vehicles and 140-plus people, the Rally Dixie was a large operation that was greeted with open arms in every city we stopped in along the way. After all, raising $51,000 for charity and promoting the notion that this car rally is not about reckless speeding or endangering the general public can go a long way to endearing yourself to the all those you meet along the way.

Rallying for a Cause: Rally Dixie 2012 motorsports customization auto articles car culture
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See, these events are more like car scavenger hunts than reckless recreation of the Cannonball Run movie variety. Everyday, each team is given a route card of ‘checkpoints’ to find along the way to a final destination hundreds of kilometres away. There could be upwards of 13 checkpoints in a day and the locations are usually presented to the teams as merely a photograph or a location name. It is then up to the teams to find their way from checkpoint to checkpoint and arrive at the final destination as soon as possible. If you go too fast during the day (there is a minimum time), get any kind of traffic ticket or get photographed by another team driving recklessly, you are disqualified.

The beauty of an event like this is that there is usually a three-way split of what the teams want to do on the rally. The first group of vehicles goes for the win and will try to find all the checkpoints as soon as possible; food and restrooms breaks are seldom, if taken at all. The second group will check what stops are planned for the day, pick and choose a few, take their time at these stops, and then drive to the final destination for the evening. These two groups usually arrive on time at the final destination and are well into the evening’s festivities before group three shows up.

Rallying for a Cause: Rally Dixie 2012 motorsports customization auto articles car culture
Click image to enlarge

And that brings up to the third group; the group I always fall into. This group is determined to see every checkpoint along the route, including a few of their own they discover along the way. See a giant pink elephant at the side of the road? Pull over, photo op time! People in this group tend to arrive at the final destination hours behind the rest of the rally. Case in point, the only other all-Canadian teams on this rally showed up well into the night at the end of days 1 and 2. As RNA organizer Tony Intrieri always states during the pre-rally drivers meeting, “This is YOUR rally, you will get out of this rally what you make of it”

So how was the rally, and what exactly did we see? Well, read on to find out.




About Mike

Mike Schlee is the Social Editor at Autos.ca and autoTRADER.ca. He began his professional automotive writing career in 2011 and has always had a passion for all things automotive, working in the industry since 2000.