Learning What You Think You Know
The first full day at the Great Race was spent reacquainting ourselves with the tools, the language, and techniques we’ll be using for the next 10 days. But most important – and the most fun – is reacquainting with all the old friends from previous rallys! It really is like a family reunion! Helen and Alan were just where we knew we would find them the minute we got checked in at the Hyatt the night before, and it was great seeing our buddies from around the country and hoisting a few pints together.
We found the Ranchero in it’s spot in the garage adjacent to the hotel, among a great array of spectacular vehicles from just about every automotive era of the first 70 years of 20th century. (And some really interesting entries! Yes, Jake and Elwood are in the house!)
After attending “Rookie School” led by our mentor Bill Croker (who couldn’t use a refresher!) we set out to calibrate the speedometer on the measured course laid out by the rallymaster. This is where we try to adjust the Ranchero’s speedometer to be as close to the official timing as determined in the rally instructions. But what it is really is an exercise in basic arithmetic and the ensuing frustration that subject has always held for yours truly! I was never a wizard at multiplication and long division!
To set your speedometer correctly you must follow the course at the precise speed stated (50 mph) and determine the difference in time between the official time and the time it actually takes you to complete the course. Then you need to calculate the “factor” to adjust your speedometer (a 4 digit number that you enter in the back of the device.) To do this, you must convert the times to seconds, determine the differential, divide the actual time by the correct time and then multiply the result by the current factor to get the new factor. (Actual Time / Correct Time) X Current Factor = New Factor. If you’re early. If you’re slower than the correct time, reverse the dividend and divisor! This is all done with no calculator, just pen and paper! (There is an easier method, but it is less accurate and still requires some tricky multiplication.)
After 3 runs, I think we’ve gotten the number right. It’s hard to get a consistent reading since the the temperature has been so high, the air pressure in the tires changes their diameter enough to cause significant variance. It was also very draining on the driver and navigator since there is no air conditioning! We’ll take one more run in the morning!
After the calibration runs we got the Ranchero officially registered, inspected, and outfitted with the car number and sponsor stickers.
Friday morning is the mandatory meeting for the race participants, support teams, officials, and sponsors. Then it’s on to the Hagerty Trophy Run, the 4 hour warmup rally before the main event on Saturday. While called a “warmup” for the main event, doing well in the Trophy Run is highly prized (It’s a real competitive bunch,) so no slacking! This run is also used as a tie breaker in the unlikely event of a tie in the official rally (which actually happened last year!)