For no apparent reason I decided to enter the Lancer in a local car show last weekend. All my attempts at breaking the car at 100AW were unsuccessul, so for once I had a straight, shiny car and nothing to do with it. The car show was the World of Wheels, a national traveling show, and the weather outside was horrible, so this indoor event was well attended (5000+people). I had a nice display with some examples of notes, and a TV playing tapes of my incar from OFPR '02. For the benefit of those thinking of showing their cars, or mining for info for sponsor presentations, here are some observations from the weekend:
1. The general consensus of the showgoers was that I'm insane. Of course this fact is alreay well known in the rally world, but it's nice to have it independantly verified. Oh yeah, Kim (my codriver), you're insane too.
2. People like incar. Lotsa people walked past the car, but were stopped by the TV. I'd highly reccommend some good quality incar for any display.
3. Little kids REALLY, REALLY like incar. I witnessed kids (both boys and girls) with ADD so bad that they couldn't complete a sentence, much less look at a car for more than 3 seconds. These kids would be tearing down the aisles screaming only to be stopped in their tracks by the TV. They would then spend the next ten minutes staring in silence at the screen until their parents finally dragged them away. I'm not sure they knew what they were watching, but they liked it.
3. Regardless of what you read in Sport Compact Car, the sport compact movement is only about 3 things; lower, chrome, and big stereos. It was pathetic really. Out of maybe 15 sport compact cars, mine was the only car with any meaningful performance mods whatsoever. Not even a drag car! What a bunch of posers.
4. I was asked a number of times what it was like to compete in Europe. Many people are familiar with rally through Speedvision, but still have no clue that it is done in North America. These people figured I flew the car to Europe or Australia once a month to race. Wow, if only it were true...... This tells me that the SCCA and/or Speed Channel are not doing a good enuf job promoting the sport.
5. Everybody thinks rally is cool, but most still have no idea how it works. Many people expressed frustration about watching the TV coverage, but not having a clue what was going on. I had a little impromptu pacenote presentation worked up, and 10 or 15 people would gather around to hear how the notes worked. After my little 3 minute spiel, the lightbuld would switch on, and the people would leave with a much greater understanding and respect for the sport. This tells me that the Producers of the TV shows need to spend more time on explaining the sport. They should dedicate a couple minutes of each show to explaining the rules/notes/etc... Yeah, it would take away a few minutes of footage for the 1000 hard core rally fans that read SS, but it would mean a lot to Joe Nascar Fan sittin' at home with his kids and a beer.
6. Rally isn't any more expensive than any other racing. There were circle track cars there (ashpalt and clay), off road cars, etc... and I found out we were all spending the same amount of money. That amount is all your discretionary income, plus a bit more the wife doesn't know about. Oh yeah, we all have the same problems with not enuf sponsorships, unresponsive sanctioning bodies, pesky day jobs, not enuf help, etc.... The grass isn't greener on the other side folks.
7. All those other race car drivers all admitted that rally was pretty cool, and they wanted to try it. So maybe the grass is greener...ON OUR SIDE!
So, all in all it was pretty fun weekend. Didn't pick up any new sponsors, but I did pick up some prospective team members. The car gathered a lot of interest from showgoers. People are interested, but they need to be educated. So get your cars out and show them off!! Drive em around, enter them in shows, bring em to schools. The public wants rally cars, it's up to us to give em to them.