4 hour Monte Carlo style navigational road rally

February 5, 2005

Report from Car Zero



This rally had to be written 3 times. The first 2 courses were wiped out by the rains. Several of the roads have yet to be repaired. On our home page at you can click on "What rallyemasters deal with" to see what I'm talking about.

Oddly, however, the course got tougher, from the standpoint of navigational challenge, with each succeeding version. What contestants got on Feb. 5 was actually a very tough rally for first timers, but it showed what the real meat of this game is all about. We had a fantastic turnout of 44 cars, and 42 made it to the finish, so I think we got the level of difficulty just right.

Leg 1 illustrated the first level of difficulty for finding a Checkpoint. The Checkpoint road was identified in the Route Instructions as being Little Tujunga Canyon Rd/Sand Canyon Rd. At Start/Standoff 1 Beginners and Novices received a handout telling them how many miles up the road it was located. However, it was not a straight drive in. You had to find the 5 freeway out of Start, then not miss the 118 east or go the wrong way on the 210. Once off the 210 onto Foothill Bl you had to get to Little Tujunga, but, in true Monte Carlo rally style, you had to turn onto OSBORNE to get to LITTLE TUJUNGA. An insert map, 1B, was included help you name these roads and know that Osborne was the needed turn.

Also in true Monte Carlo rally style, Little Tujunga Canyon is a tough road on which to make up time, even under ideal circumstances. The road was slimy with mud and sand, so it was hardly ideal. But it was timed at 35 mph or less, so normal rally driving should have made it in plenty of time. Since the Passage Control sign was a milemarker, on approach to the Checkpoint, you could pace yourselves in. Also, the Checkpoint was visible several times as you came down the opposite wall of the canyon towards it. These elements were intended to minimize the need for long, slow creeps right on top of the hose.

Experts and Regulars were only told the road name, but not the direction of entry. They were expected to determine based on time that it had to be entered from the south.

After Checkpoint 1 you should have had a nice sunset drive along Soledad Canyon Rd into Standoff 2. Leg 2 was an example of the 2nd level of difficulty for finding the Checkpoint - the loop. Standoff was right on top of the Checkpoint, barely 100 yards away, but there was a 10 minute loop up Aliso Canyon and back over to reach it. If you had looked taking the 14 back west to Aqua Dulce to Soledad to the south end of Crown Valley, you should have realized it was at least 8 minutes too far that way.

Leg 3 was for Expert/Regular only. It was intended to challenge them to find the south end of Santiago Rd. using Map 1D. Then there was an intended trap on which sign was the actual Passage Control sign, but it proved to be a bad choice on my part. In the end, most crews wrote down the letters from both of the possible signs, so the leg was excluded from scoring.

Legs 4 and 5 constituted the first maze on the rally. This represents the next level of difficulty. There were 2 possible ways to reach the Standoff for 4 and 5. Both involved driving on the Checkpoint roads. Since there must be a way to reach the Standoff, you had to deduce that 4 had to be on the northmost section of Angeles Forest Hwy, and that 5 had to be on the eastmost section of Mt. Emma Rd./Littlerock Cutoff. Out of Checkpoint 2 (or 3, for Expert/Regular) you therefore had to take Sierra to Pearblossom to Barrel Springs to 47th St. E. to Mt. Emma to Angeles Forest, then south to the Standoff road at the top of Mill Creek Summit.

Standoff featured a great light for 4 and a handout for Novice/Beginner for 5. From Standoff you went north to Checkpoint 4, and then repeated the Standoff route back to Mt. Emma, but went left there instead this time. Novices and Beginners had been told that 5 was to be a Passage Control, and had only to find the indicated Milemarker sign.

Regulars and Experts had been told to look for the sign anywhere, not just on the right, and a letter had been placed on the identical Milemarker on the opposite side of the road. However, we were a little disappointed that not one of them found both letters. No penalty was assessed for missing the additional letter.

Legs 6 and 7 made up the next maze. This was a half step up the ladder of difficulty, since both 6 and 7 were on the same road, Longview, and you had to use Longview to get to Standoff. Novices and Beginners were told that the section of Longview south of Pallet Creek Rd. was safe, i.e., it had no checkpoint. Expert/Regular was not told this, but could deduce it since, once again, there must be a safe way into Standoff.

The intended route was to take Ft. Tejon Rd all the way to Pallet Creek, then back to Longview and into Standoff 6,7,8. On your way, at the corner of Pallet Creek and Longview, you passed Checkpoint 6 and its flashing light about 100 yards off on your right, although you may not have known whether it was 6 or 7 until you got to Standoff.

However, you should have known that it was 6, since it was on a road shown on Map 1E. Leg 6 listed 1E, but Leg 7 did not. Map 1E showed all portions of Longview south of CA 138, so 7 had to be on the portion of Longview between E Ave T and Palmdale Bl. At Standoff 6,7,8 everyone was shown the flashing light for Checkpoint 6, but only Beginner and Novice got the handout for Leg 7. Experts and Regulars were not even told what directon to enter 7. The key was Course Control 2, on E 165th ST. at Ave S. Since it was to be entered and left heading north, there was not enough time on 7 to go all the way up to Palmdale Bl and use 170th to get back to Ave T to the south end of Longview. 7 had to be entered southbound, via Palmdale Bl.

By the way, working this Standoff, I got to see something I hadn't seen in a long time - the lights of 2 lines of creeping cars, one at 6 and one at 7, at the same time.

Leg 8 represented one of the highest levels of difficulty for finding a Checkpoint - a search. You were given an area and told the direction of entry was southbound. There were 6 or 7 different possible roads. Once you figured out Leg 7, you could rule out the northern half of the search area based on time.

At Standoff you were shown the flashing red lights of two radio antennae. Novices and Beginners were given a handout explaining the most logical search pattern, which was to take 90th St. E north from Ave T after leaving Checkpoint 7. 90th was defined as a safe road, and was the eastern boundry of the search area. Since you could see the flashing red lights all the way up 90th, all you had to do was wait until you passed them directly on your left, i.e. to the west. The routes had explained that the Checkpoint was 0.5 miles due east of the lights. When the lights were square on your left, you knew the Checkpoint was exactly between you and the lights. Then you took the next left, E Ave K, which put you on the north side of the lights, and you had to enter the Checkpoint headed south. You went east until you got almost to the lights and turned left on 70th St. E to reach the Checkpoint.

It was a great party at the Finish. The large field was scored 50 minutes after the last car reached Finish. Thanks to all of you who stayed for the results. Even the Bakers Square people were happy. Many thanks to all of you who participated in this event, especially the workers who made it all possible: Marvin Castillo for all his extra work promoting our special brand of insanity online, Tim Errington for his world-class job setting up a new scoring system, Nathan Harris for his endless hours out driving around with me coming up with all this, plus John and Suzie Searight, Greg Keller and Lori Deets for working the event, and to Nathan, Marvin, Tim, Donna Singmaster, Chad Cheung and Dave Budlong for their help running checkout.