• canaanmanley

6 Things I Learned on My First Road Rally

Recently I joined my first road rally. As much as I thought I had watched plenty or videos on what to expect, I still wasn’t prepared enough. The day I was slated to leave for the rally, which was the afternoon before it officially kicked off, I got out late. I had plans that were delayed, and it threw me off a bit. I did complete the first day of the rally, and took a different route home on day two. Was it worth it? Yes! But, these were the things I learned from the experience…

Learning Opportunity 1 – Better Clothes and Shoes

The rally was just two days long, which means I didn’t need a huge wardrobe. The weather was supposed to be cool, but not freezing or too hot. On some of the outlying towns the wind was pretty cold. I would put on a sweatshirt and beanie to stay warm standing outside, but forget to take it back off before getting back in the Corvette. In 20 minutes I was hot, and would have to stop to take the sweatshirt back off. I needed a better clothing choice, or to always remember to take the heavy sweatshirt back off before leaving the waypoints.

Shoes was another problem. I decided on day 1 to wear a nice set of Sketchers. They were always comfortable to wear while walking, but driving left me a little sore. The heel area in the shoes has a large seam, and that seam eventually bruised my right heel. By the end of day 1 I was sore from continually moving my foot between the gas pedal and brake pedal. I need to choose better driving shoes for a long day on the road.

Learning Opportunity 2 – Better Music

I didn’t prepare well for a long road trip concerning music. The Corvette Z06 has an aftermarket radio with CD player and can Bluetooth with another device. My phone was able to pair with my LG cell phone, so I could stream music stored on my phone. Half the time my phone would only allow the phone to Bluetooth to the radio, and not the media files. I thought to take my iPod along also, but I found out it had a dead battery on the day of leaving for the rally start. That left me with either FM radio or the CD player. I have a stubby antenna on the car, which means it doesn’t pick up the FM radio band very well. We were so far away from towns that I didn’t receive any signal. I also didn’t bring any CDs to listen to. The previous owner left a 38 Special: Greatest Hits from ’77 to ’88 CD in the radio when I bought the car, and I listened to it four times in 48 hours. I definitely need to do better at having music readily available and figure out why the phone and radio don’t always communicate. I have since tried to pair the iPod and radio, which didn’t work.

Learning Opportunity 3 – Determine Routes Before Leaving

The team that organized the rally did a nice job of determining the waypoints and publishing them ahead of time. I made the mistake of thinking I could just follow the leader with the rally group though. I didn’t know any of the drivers or their cars on the rally, so I was pretty much lost the whole time. I knew the stops on the rally, which means I could use GPS to try and navigate my way. That worked well until it didn’t. The rally went a specific scenic route, and GPS always tried to take the quickest path everywhere. I also had one point where the GPS couldn’t find a stop, and a second one where it knew where to go but couldn’t find a way to get there. It took some detective work to find a route to the next stop. I need to plot the route ahead of time and not assume I’ll always have someone to follow or GPS to rely on.

Learning Opportunity 4 – Better Tools Are Needed

After watching a few YouTube videos concerning rally prep, I had a plan for tools. That plan was great except I was rushed on the day I left to head to the starting point. I took a socket set, a cordless impact driver (with battery), a flashlight, and some paper towels. At one of the stops a rally car needed pliers to get a stuck gas cap open. Another car lost a coolant hose and needed something to cut with and a screwdriver. I didn’t have any of that. I also took a scan tool in case I had a check engine light show up. Everything I took was never (thankfully) needed, but things I meant to take were needed. The next rally I’ll be better prepared with the tools.

Learning Opportunity 5 – My Corvette Needs Some Work

The Z06 is a performance sports car first, and a touring vehicle second. I wanted the performance, but also wanted a quiet ride for long touring drives. Most of the time the car is great with road noise, but chip sealed roads are terrible for road noise. I found myself with ringing ears after both days of 8 hours in the Corvette. I already have Tinnitus from years in loud factories, and having a loud car isn’t a fun option anymore. One of my to-do items for this winter is to remove all the interior of the Corvette and add some sound deadening material. I’ve done it on every other project car, and I’ve always had a good result. I also need to replace the halogen headlight bulbs with LED bulbs similar to both Suburbans we have. It will help driving at night tremendously. I also need to bypass the 1 to 4 shift lockout in the car and the security system that tends to eventually fail. Simple fixes that have never been done in the car because the previous owner (who owned it 11 years) never drove it outside of town. He liked to drive it to work, which was 12 miles each way, and only in the nicer months in the Portland metro area.

Learning Opportunity 6 – How to Check Diagnostic Codes Without a Scan Tool

I mentioned that I took my scan tool with me that plugs into the OBD-II port under the dash. Saturday night on the rally I watched a YouTube video on how to use the display buttons to enter diagnostic mode without the scan tool. It’s simple with the right combination of buttons in the correct sequence. The video was quick, but left out some details. I made my own version that will be released on YouTube on the Basin Motorsports channel very soon.

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