Club News

Rallying is the oldest form of motorsport, dating back to the London-to-Brighton run of 1896. While today’s time-speed-distance sports-car rallies may not celebrate the repeal of a law that requires a man to carry a red flag well ahead of your car, as that first Brighton run did, but they do celebrate driving skill and navigational accuracy. The BMW CCA’s Oktoberfest celebrations have long enjoyed a variety of rallies, and this year’s Shell TSD rally features even greater incentives to play the rally game: $1,500 in Shell fuel cards to be awarded among the top three finishing teams in three classes of competition.

Any model can be a great rally car. This Z4 has been equipped with a TimeWise rally computer for accurate computation.

“We haven’t forgotten that rallying is a team effort,” says BMW CCA marketing guru Kyle van Hoften. “So Shell is awarding a $125 card to the winning driver and another $125 card to the navigator in each class. Second place gets two $75 cards, and third wins two $50 cards.” That’s $500 in fuel cards for each rally class.

The Shell fuel-card prizes are the same for Class C rallyists, who are usually the least experienced, casual players, as for the intensely OCD Class A competitors, who often install sophisticated rally computers designed to give a constant readout of the perfect time that a team should be at any given point—as well as instantly calculating whether they’re early, late, or exactly on time. “One of the basic equations of physics is V=D/T,” says van Hoften. “V stands for velocity, which is the same as speed, so we could write it S=D/T. But that formula is usually rearranged algebraically for rallyists; they want to know what time they should be somewhere, so they solve for time: T=D/S, or Time equals Distance divided by Speed; if you drive 100 miles at 50 miles an hour, it should take exactly two hours to get there.”

Since they are restricted in the equipment they may use, Class C rallyists work out the numbers using calculators or the car’s built-in computer functions. Class B competitors may up their game by using laptop computers or tablets; they may also install aftermarket odometers which read to a hundredth—or even a thousandth—of a mile. The “rally geek” Class A computers can calculate time and distance and return early-or-late data to a thousandth of a minute behind or ahead of perfect time—at every point on a route.

However, despite all that sophisticated equipment, Class A rallyists have occasionally found themselves finishing lower in the overall standings than dedicated Class B or even Class C teams. But at least they take home a class trophy—and this year, they’ll have fuel cards to use on their way home.