Getting Started Co-Driving Tips
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Thread: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

  1. #1

    Default Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    Hi everyone,my name is Vartan Davtian,I'm new in the forum and in co-driving too. I'll be co-driving in CRS this year..I'm looking anyone to give me any tips or any help please. I did attend Ridgcrest school in february, but I need more help from some well experienced co-drivers or drivers. Please feel free to contact me: My e-mail is [email protected]
    Go Rally

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  3. #2
    Administrator Emeritus Jim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999

    Default RE: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    I pinned this topic, please use it to ask questions about getting started and everyone feel free to share tips and advice. This will make it easier for a beginner to find information.

  4. #3
    Administrator Emeritus Ben's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Portland, OR, USA.

    Default RE: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    >Hi everyone,my name is Vartan Davtian,I'm new in the forum
    >and in co-driving too. I'll be co-driving in CRS this
    >year..I'm looking anyone to give me any tips or any help
    >please. I did attend Ridgcrest school in february, but I need
    >more help from some well experienced co-drivers or drivers.
    >Please feel free to contact me: My e-mail is
    >[email protected]

    I think that there are two fundamental things that you should do.

    1. If you know you want to compete, but don't have an exact timeline as to when, volunteer to work at events. This will give you experience about how time controls work, so it will be second-nature when you actually run an event, rather than learning it for the first time. Plus, organizers can always use help. And, while you are on that one...

    2. Just talk to drivers and co-drivers. Rally folks are a friendly lot. Don't be bashful, walk up and start asking questions. But be mindful of when you do this; if a team is in service and has a lot of work to do in a short period of time, much as they would like to talk to you, they have other more pressing concerns. Usually social time after a rally is a good time for talking to folks.

    Do you have some specific questions that you would like answered, or are you just looking for general information?

    Sometimes Co-Driver
    Sometimes Organizer

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  6. #4

    Default RE: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    It's been about a year since I've co-driven, but I have some of my tips on my web page:

    "Rally Navigation" by Martin Holmes is a popular recommended read, but I think it's a little overrated and it didn't do much for me other than being an interesting rally read (lots of war stories.) A book I liked better is "Rally Co-driving" by Phil Short, a little out-of-date in places (1992) but still surprisingly useful.

    Ideally you should work a few rallies and maybe crew once or twice before co-driving, but then again, I co-drove on the second rally I ever attended (the only previous experience was spectating 2 stages at Maine and watching the Oquossoc service.) Look for shorter (60-70 miles or less) rallies to cut your teeth. It will be a less intense, lower pressure experience all around.

    Prepare as much as you can. Pack heavy for the service van and light for the rally car, and don't try to replicate everything that your driver/mechanic is supposed to already have. Read up as much as you can find on the internet and books about all the tricks of the top co-drivers, but remember that you will forget it all as soon as the countdown starts and you'll probably already be lost after a couple turns -- I know I was :) The only thing to really worry about on your first rally is staying on time and on course on the transits, a driver shouldn't expect any more on a navie's first time out.

    Communicate with your driver! That's probably the most important tip of all. If there is even the smallest possibility that you think you're lost, tell him. At least then he won't be getting bad info from you and can "drive the road." Ask him for feedback, and ignore him whenever he raises his voice :)

    Relax, have fun! It'll be a while before you move into the competitive ranks, and there will be plenty of stress then ;)

    JP Rowland jeremyrowland -at-

  7. #5
    100 K right 2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Bellingham, WA, USA.

    Default RE: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    I agree with the comments above. I would sugest that you and your driver try a TSD type rally before trying a performance rally. This is especially true if you can find a "Brisk" TSD rally like the Coast to Coast Rally on Vancouver Island which was on gravel.

    There a several reasons I say this.

    1. The environment less intense and more forgiving. The speed you are traveling at is more controlled and if you miss an instruction the driver should not wrap the car around a tree. This is probably the main reason and has a big influence on all of the other reasons listed below.

    2. It will allow you to get comfortable with using the computer in your car.

    3. It will give you a chance to work with your driver and the dialogue that he wants or needs.

    4. It will get you familiar with route books, including using them on the road(the instruction will be different than "stage" notes) and maintaining you position in the book while bouncing down the road. It will also help you develop the skills that go along with reading the instructions like looking for instruction reference points and if your stomach will handle the bouncing around while reading.

    5. It will get you familiar with event check in procedures, Tech and registration.

    6. It will give you a chance to experience working with the rally clock and timing of arrivals/departure at check points and service.

    7. If you are unfortunate to have a tire go flat it will allow you to work with the driver to get the task done as quickly as possible. It may even reveal that you do not have the equipment required to make a tire change on stage.

    8. The final reason is to get you and the driver to feel comfortable in the car. The driver get some experience with the car in controlled conditions and you get to get comfortable with the way the driver handles the car. You also get to find out if the car has been preped properly for a performance type rally.

    After completing a TSD rally or two you will find differences between a TSD rally and a performance rally. However, the differences will be mainly in the route book instructions, and the procedures used at time controls. You will also need to learn how to interpret the instructions in a manner that is meaningful to your driver and make your notes so that they can be read quickly on stage.

    I am a somewhat a newbie in the right seat myself. I have been working with my son for a little over 1-1/2 years in rally. I have been co-driver for 3or 4 events now. After the C2C rally I found that I was a lot more comfortable in the right seat. I will find out how much this next weekend.

    Good luck.

  8. #6
    'is the engine bogging?' RobBohn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Indianapolis, IN, USA

    Default RE: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    Gotta agree with TSD as being a great place to learn the co-driver side. Slower pace, emphasis on accuracy and organization. Learn a computer, learn driver/co-driver interaction, learn what to have when.

    But those brisk gravel TSD rallies at night are especially good }(
    Rob Bohn

    "If you're in control, you're not driving fast enough." - Parnelli Jones
    "If you're in a control, don't go backwards." - anonymous
    Old Co-Driver's FAQ at / slideshow here

  9. #7

    Default RE: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    I would go out and navigate in a TSD first. This will be a good test to see how you interact with your driver and think while your moving. it is also a good way to test your ability to resist motion sickness. Either way, keep a decent sized zip lock bag in the car for those rare cases.

  10. #8

    Default RE: Getting Started Co-Driving Tips

    Gravol, Its all about gravol

    but dont eat too many before the event. we drivers dont need you falling asleep on us. ( as if thats even possible)

    some folks prefer gravol patches instead.

    you can never pull the car over fast enough to let the co-driver out.

    better safe than stinky!



  11. #9
    Vote Libertarian next time! human turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Vancouver, Washington, USA.


    Wow Vartan you have received some excellent advice. I think I can help fill in the cracks for some useful information for you.

    1. Your local TSD series is largely handled by the fine people at the Santa Monica Sports Car Club ( There are no gravel TSD events in your area, but if you're up for some adventure there are wonderful ones in western Canada, Washington state and one in northern California (just past).

    2. The single greatest piece of advice ever offered to me was from Bill Gutzmann, a legendary navigator and car builder. He said to me after my fourth or fifth rollover... "John, always navigate for someone who has more to lose than you do!" Haven't rolled since 1995 following that bit of advice. (Watch I just jinxed myself by putting that in cyberspace!)

    3. When the car does roll remember two things always... A) Your hand out the window will not hold the car up! B) Fold your arms over mummy style hugging the route book and grab your shoulder harnesses. A flying route book can hurt you while the car does its gymnastics.

    4. Go into your first event without worrying about car sickness. If you want keep a bottle of ginger root capsules in your co-driver bag, they work fast and cure motion sickness fast. They are available at any health food store or vitamin place at the mall. In the same vein try and avoid carbonated drinks before the event and at service, it can make you car sick if you're prone to it and more important, drivers hate belching noises though the terraphone.

    5. Drivers. Well good luck there. They're all different but one thing they have in common is most don't listen to you anyway.

    6. Your service crew knows nothing! At least assume that, as the navigator you are the one who is supposed to have your head on straight all weekend long. Keeping your service crew informed and educated on what to do will make the weekend much more pleasant for all involved. Go over everything with them, where to go, WHEN TO BE THERE!, what to do if you don't show up and are a DNF (wait for radio crew to instruct them how to retrieve you and not to move until they either have that information or you come in on a hook), and in the case of some events with service check in zones where they can and cannot touch the car.

    7. Find a friendly experienced navigator around you in the starting order and be sure to ask questions so you have a good couple of first events. A mentor a car or two in front or back of you can lower your anxiety levels quite a bit.

    Hope we all helped you just a little bit.
    John Elkin
    Vancouver, WA
    "Don't go where the road don't go."-Ringo Starr

  12. #10
    drive. I say where we go, ok? EastSideTurku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Casper, Wyoming, USA.


    I thought that Martin Holmes' Rally Navigation was a little more geared towards TSD rally, but it was still a good read when I was first getting into co-driving. It gives the basic tips on basic turns and problem solving if something drastic happens (i.e. getting lost in notes, working rally computers, marking notes, etc.) I believe the best way to improve co-driving skills is to ask the veteran co-drivers. I got some of my best advice from asking co-drivers like Christian and Rebecca Greek.
    Thats my .02... happy navigating!
    A. Hakala

    Rallying, leaving my carbon footprint
    all over the States since 2003.

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