The Monte Shelton NW Classic: My First TSD

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I asked SCM IT Specialist Brian Baker to represent us on this weekend’s Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally. Brian is a true gearhead with an appreciation for all things old and automotive, but his particular area of interest is modified Japanese cars. (His daily driver is a lowered Honda CRX, and he is in the process of restoring a 280Z.) This would be his first ever TSD, and he would pilot the GTV. Here is what he experienced. — Keith Martin

When Keith asked me to participate in the Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally, I immediately said yes. I had heard of the event and knew that it was important, but I did not know what it entailed. But when I tried to pry more information from Keith, he just told me to Google “TSD rally.” A few clicks around the Internet, and I was fully educated on the nuances of the Time Speed Distance. It looked pretty easy.

Boy, was I wrong.

On Thursday night, my navigator, Glen Eggleston, and I arrived at the check-in and received our bag of freebees and rally information. When I opened up the route book, I found more unfamiliar acronyms, and I realized that much of the time/distance information would not be provided. I looked at Glen and told him, “This might be harder than we thought.”

After the announcements and general welcoming, the organizers gave a quick crash course in TSD rallying. Rally Master Simon Levear started out by saying that if this was our first experience, we shouldn’t worry about times and should just focus on not getting lost. I wanted to try and do better than that. Looking back, I wish I had taken the opportunity to ask some questions, but at this point I had no idea of what to expect.

My alarm failed to wake me on Friday morning because, well, I forgot to set it. I woke up three minutes before Glen arrived. We rushed down to the starting line and parked in the order in which we were to leave. Neither of us had taken the time the night before to prepare for today’s event, so both of us were nervous as we waited in line. At 8:28 a.m. we were off, frantically trying to understand the abbreviated directions.

But 15 minutes in, the nervousness left us, and we were masters of the road.

We arrived at a school parking lot and waited to begin our first regularity section. The day became a blur: take a left here; drive 2.1 miles; speed limit 34 mph; etc. At 3:30 p.m. we arrived at Oregon Garden Resort, concluding day one of rallying. We were so tired from the hot sun and racing around in Keith’s Alfa that we went straight to our room for naps.

At the banquet dinner we received that day’s results. We didn’t do as badly as we thought, but we also weren’t winning any awards. Glen and I racked up seven minutes of penalty time from hitting checkpoints either early or late. Wanting to do better the next day, we headed back to our room to see if there was an easy way to make the calculations for tomorrow’s adventures. I tried making a formula in Excel, but converting time into to decimal-friendly format and back again proved a challenge. I ended up getting a formula that was close, but not completely accurate. My plans to cheat were foiled.

5-Lunch-stop-on-the-Northwest-Classic-RallySaturday’s adventures started off at 8:56 a.m. Glen and I felt confident that we would do better this day. This would have been true if we hadn’t gotten lost on the second regularity section. The day was filled with harder instructions and other cars on the road slowing us down. I wish we had known that the transit sections were not timed, because that would have saved us some mental anguish. We ended the day somewhat confident in our score, but we incurred three penalty minutes on one of the timed sections.

Everyone we talked to was nice and helpful. Since we were one of two teams of young people participating, we were often mistaken for the other youthful pair. There was one instance where an older lady mistook 30-year-old Glen for another driver’s son who couldn’t have been much older than 14. At least we weren’t asked for our I.D.’s when they served margaritas in the parking lot.

In the end, we took 53rd place in an event with over 60 cars.

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In fact, the three cars that started in front of us and the three that came after us did worse than we did. That made us feel better about ourselves. If I have the chance to participate in this event again or another TSD, I will spend more time preparing. Armed with our Excel spreadsheet (we Millenials need every unfair advantage we can get), Glen and I will be unstoppable. As long as we don’t get lost.

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