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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Christians comments on the other thread got me thinking.

We know that Group F is a massively successful class for the clubman folk in Scandanavia. I would like to find out why and what we can do here. Are the cost structures different? Is it the transportaion costs? Is it the availability of rally parts? Is it the available sponsorship? Is it tow fund? Is it prize money? Is it community support? Is it the rally know how? Is it the plethora of barns?

What are we missing? Why can the average Group F guy really throw himslef into it over there? What are the conditions that we could simulate over here.

I have a hunch that there is more to the answer than rally = nascar over there. I think there might me more than that and I was hoping that any folks who really know the nuts and bolts and relative $$ behind Group F efforts over there could share and compare.
 

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what about pure size of the country

Finland 304,473 sq/km (68th largest country)
United States 9,161,923 sq/km (4th largest country)

California alone is 403,934 sq/km

right there is a huge difference in size, and therefore more towing.
i dunno though, just one idea


Shawn (the OTHER rally edstrom :))
 

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>Christians comments on the other thread got me thinking.
>We know that Group F is a massively successful class for the
>clubman folk in Scandanavia. I would like to find out why and
>what we can do here.

Wish I could answer all your questions here Jake -
You really owe it to yourself to go next year.
Our visit to Rally Finland this past year was great and eye opening.

First off 2wd = less cost (you knew that)
but even more so, they run 25-30 events a year in the Jyvaskyla area, most competitors drive the rally cars to/from the events.
Events are MUCH shorter, 1/2 day and 5-7 stages.

As crazy as some Fins are, most the group F guys knew the limits and did not try to win at every corner (that said, they also drove very well, no hanging about.)

There also seems to be a great love from the locals for this
(Pleeeeaaase run our roads...) - I'm sure there are exceptions to that , but perhaps the fact that roads are not tied up for a whole day, most corners do not get torn up AT ALL (the few that do get fixed NEXT DAY).

Basically the mindset between us/them is (unfortunetly) the biggest difference - Whereas here the homeowner does not find out/remember about it until .... then is pissed off about cars on HIS road... etc etc etc
 

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There are a lot of reason, probably top of the tree is just the critical mass of competitors.

In this case Nascar or some other dirt track organization is not a bad parallel, they have grassroots dirt oval racing in probably every state. They have many, many thousands of license holders and the support (parts, stores, knowledge, media coverage and so on) is all in place. In the Olympia-Seattle-Bellingham area there are 7 or 8 oval tracks that have 15 or 20 weekends of racing.

The ladder from running Modifieds at Monroe, Washington to Nextel cup is well defined and known to all.

The time commitment is not huge, turn up after lunch, done by midnight, good promotion, decent fan base and yeah, bums on seats helping to pay some of the bills.

Look at Finland if a country has 10-12000 license holders then the top 50 or 60 domestic 2WD guys are going to be quick, especially if you make it worth their while.

I really believe it?s a matter of numbers and the support that builds up around them.

Are there even 50 fast 2WD guys in the US who regularly compete? What do we have? Maybe 200-300 active cars (a number pulled out of my butt) spread out across the continent?

Dave
 

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I do not think size is an issue, Washington, Orergon and BC have many good rallys at very good venues that are well run, lower cost, fantastic roads all with in an area where you can leave after work on Friday rally all weekend and be back at the desk Monday.

DooWops is around $250 entry the two Candian events are about $350.

The longest tow is about 6 hrs in this program, about 4 hrs if you live in Seattle like I do.

Doowops
Mt Trails
Oregon Trails
Olympus (Dryad/Shitpolk)
Wild West
Pacific Forest
Mt Hood (sometimes)

I think we have more of a perception issue than a distance issue. I talk to a lot of people who do not belive they can rally. They like the video games, the TV covrage of the wrc (and other events) but everything they see is big budget teams. They do not understand they in a $5000 car for less than $5000/year (Full NW year) can be out there them selves. For better or worse our sacntioning bodies have not been focused on broad based participation at that level.

It could be we spend more of our income on big ticket items like houses and car payments then the nordics do? Leaving less expendable income for rally cars.

Also a number of people I talk to are just flat scared of the idea of driving at speed down a logging road. They have no idea how we could drive that fast near trees on gravel in manyways they see rally drivers as super human an image the WRC and SCCA promoted.

Derek
 

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Derek hit on a valid point. I try to explain rallying to my co-workers and they think I am nuts. I haven't been in a rally car for more than 20 years and then I was the co-driver. To others, I was crazy for putting my life in tha hands of someone else while traveling at speed in the forest.

Yet when I can get someone out to watch an event, they are amazed. Amazed by the cars, the roads and speeds and by the cost difference between the top cars and the entry level cars. I often hear them say " I could never do that because .......(take your pick).

It always seems to be out of reach for people. Cost is one factor but even those who can afford it say they could never do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
>Are there even 50 fast 2WD guys in the US who regularly
>compete?

Yes. They run regional rallies for the most part. The regionals are practically invisible. The winner in Group F almost always comes from the regional race, not the national.

What do we have? Maybe 200-300 active cars (a number
>pulled out of my butt) spread out across the continent?

I'll bet we could come up with 20 alone in the central region who are very quick and 10 more who are on their way and will be there within a year of racing, if they can afford to stick around.
 

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If you live in central Sweden, you can run a single-venue (<50 miles) rally event, every other weekend of the year, within 100 miles of your house. Once a month, you can tow less than 200 miles, and go run a multiple-stage rally.

That's one thing. I think that's the only thing, really.

Swedes have much less disposable income than Americans.
Cars are much more expensive.
Safety equipment is much more expensive.
Gasoline is 2.5 times the price it is here.
Tires are so expensive most clubmen runs retreads.

So, if you want to grow rallying, put on 25 single-venue events per year, somewhere in your home region. Just use 5 different roads, 5 times each.

- Christian

Bjorn Christian Edstrom
www.christianedstrom.com
 

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More one day events?

Yeah... Why do we as competitors and organisers always want to put on two day events? As long as it's less than a 200 mile tow I think I'd be down for a short one day event.

Entry $200
One night hotel $100
Gas $100
Food $50
Misc (tires?) $200

Total $650


Not bad...
 

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RE: More one day events?

Yes, single venue events have been very popular in Italy, for the past 5 years now. It's the way to go here and would save lots of headaches to organizers as well.
Maine Winter Rally, coming up in couple weeks, is going to be a single venue event with a stage road repeated several times and in opposite directions. A stage that was very fun at MFR this summer.

alexgelsomino.com
 

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RE: More one day events?

Nice website - clean, easy to navigate and plenty of content. Style looks rather like your own... coincidence?

Ian. :)
 

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>>Are there even 50 fast 2WD guys in the US who regularly
>>compete?
>I'll bet we could come up with 20 alone in the central region
>who are very quick and 10 more who are on their way and will
>be there within a year of racing, if they can afford to stick
>around.
>


Nine guys. I'm your first of ten.
}(
 

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I have to agree with a few people here. Particularly with what Derek said. I think most people, even the fans that watch rally on TV in the US, have no idea that you can get into rally with an affordable car (edit: unless they have been to an event in person).

Just a couple of days ago I was having a discussion with a co-worker that is into bracket drag racing. He had sent a clip of a full driving simulator that he said costs $20,000 and said something like "at least it's cheaper than a rally car". Huh???

Unfortunately that's the impression that most people have. Yes, few people would consider doing this, but of those that would, most believe it would not be within their means. Contrast with NASCAR - I would venture to say that most people who are fans probably also know that they could do it for fairly cheap at a local circle track. I've never watched a NASCAR race, so don't know how much they make of the fact that their drivers started at local circle tracks, or what kind of promotion/mention of smaller classes they make.

Also agree with Dave on numbers, and with Christian on lots of single venue events.
 

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RE: More one day events?

>Yeah... Why do we as competitors and organisers always want
>to put on two day events? As long as it's less than a 200 mile
>tow I think I'd be down for a short one day event.
>
>Entry $200
>One night hotel $100
>Gas $100
>Food $50
>Misc (tires?) $200
>
>Total $650
>
>
>Not bad...

The problem is that you won't draw a lot of competitors from further away to a one day event, so your event has to be self sufficient with only the competitors from your local area. The longer-distance competitors will look at the fact that they still have to spend the same on hotels/tow etc. for less stage miles, so they will look for more cost-effective (from their point of view) events. If you can put on a single day event close enough to a critical mass of competitors (so that enough will enter to allow the event to break even) and interesting enough that they will keep coming back, you probably have a winner. Especially if you can arrange it so the majority of them can drive there in the morning, register, tech, run the rally, and drive home in the evening.

There was a discussion on the Mexico forum a couple of years ago about recce at the various Mexican rallies that also has a bearing on this. The comment was that the events were all sufficiently close to the competitor base that they could do recce the weekend before the event (i.e. they could drive to the event location on two successive weekends without having to take any vacation).

If you can get a model that works like local dirt-track racing, you probably have a way of building the competitor base. As it stands, I doubt if there are very many areas on this continent where there is a sufficiently concentrated competitor base and a sufficiently close venue to make this work.

Adrian
 

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Lotsa good points (and counterpoints) so far, so lemme chime in with another angle.

In Scandinavia Volvos, Saabs, Escorts, Startlets, etc.... are pony cars to some extent. They hold a soft spot in the heart of the people as the hot car of yesteryear. Not only are people interested in the driving, they want to see the cars. In America, Volvos, Saabs, Startlets, etc... are usually associated with fruity professors, europhiles, snobs, and general uncoolness. The vast majority of Americans has no feelings whatsoever (except perhaps negative) towards a 1982 Volvo.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch the Dukes of Hazzard movie. In it they basically run a rally, on rally roads, with rally driving, but using 70's era muscle cars. The viewer is treated to mustangs, camaros, and chargers slidely wildly around corners and chucking dirt in every direction. Everyone walks out of the theater and goes, "That was awesome!" Had they been using Startlets, the driving would have still been great, but no one would identify with it, and no one would have cared.

My point? If GrF (and perhaps rally in general) were comprised of older RWD american iron, it would probably be wildly popular. Until he nuked the motor, I bet Utecht's Mustang was the most popular car at the spectator points this weekend, even though he certainly wasn't the fastest.

Dennis Martin
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Dennis. You should see the Sportsman class in the CHCA.

To point. There are quite a few things many of which have been mentioned. The tow. The closest event for a Colorado competitor will cost ~$700 in just gas to get there and back. The cost. Most don't realize you can race and have fun in a low hp 2WD car. Maybe a newcomer segment on the RA show would be cool to let people know about the starting costs for a car. Take a Seed 8 driver in a bought car and talk to him. Events entry fees have hugely increased. More and more are "National Championship" events. This increases the entry fee more. Need more regional events. Rally Sprints, and single stage coeff 2 events. Sure the "endurance" aspect is gone. But guess what. Endurance costs money. Longer days. More time off work. More broken parts. More cost to organizer = higher entry fees. Etc. With lower cost events comes the opportunity to give money back. The Colorado Cog is the only event in the state that rally competitors can't win money and prizes. It's also the most high profile, highest cost by far, and most endurance (excluding PPIHC). Doesn't that seem a little backwards?

Edit to add: In Mexico the entry fees are lower for non-pro guys. The novice drivers have even lower entry. The upcoming Rally Acapulco has 155 stage miles over 3 days and Pro entry is ~$700, Club ~$500, and Novice Club ~$350.
 

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Edited in a lame attempt to fix spelling & typos

Are the cost structures different? Is
>it the transportaion costs? Is it the availability of rally
>parts? Is it the available sponsorship? Is it tow fund? Is
>it prize money? Is it community support? Is it the rally
>know how? Is it the plethora of barns?
>
>What are we missing? Why can the average Group F guy really
>throw himslef into it over there? What are the conditions
>that we could simulate over here.
>
Great topic Jake, and good discussion, but no one has really answered your (important) questions yet. Here's what I'd like to know (I think the answers are relavent to all US classes, not just GF).

How much do average Finnish clubmen spend on an average season out of their own pocket? Total budget, not just entry and travel, I'm talking belts, helmets, fire systems, tires, service tools, tranny rebuilds, body work, lic fees, insurance, recce, ... all of it. Now how about the low end and top end GF budgets?

Are the Finnish GF drivers (that we see really driving hard in good cars) of low, average or high income? You see where I'm going with this... does it take a big dollar effort to get noticed in GF in Finnland (just like in the US)?

What percentage of his/her annual income does the rally spending represent for the average GF Finn? How about the "top spec car" folks?

What percentage of Finnish GF cars are driven hard?

What percentage of Finnish GF cars built to a top spec?

What percentage of Finnish clubman cars are 2WD?

Given that there are soooo many license holders in Finnland, I wonder if maybe percentage wise, we in the US aren't that different when it comes to how many good-spec club cars are here and how many of our drivers are floggin them without mercy.

Do Finns just do this for fun, or is some of the time/money being spent in hopes of "making it big" someday or landing some level of sponsorship (like US Motocross or NASCAR feeder systems here)?


Just for fun:

What percentage of all US cars do you think are built to a good spec that is equivalent to the Finnish GF builds (is it safe to consider us all clubman in the US?)? What about just the US 2WD cars?

In 2WD, Malik and Bottles have pretty good cars, are there others built to that spec level? So if there are ~100 2WD cars running in the US right now, maybe ~2% are top spec builds? Does this compare to the Finns?


What do you think it REALLY cost the average US rallyist to build a car that is up to Finnish GF standards (assuming the person doesn't happen to own a prep shop and needs to pay for at least some labor)? ~$20K? Add this to the costs of the average Regional season (~$5K), then you need to spend ~$25K in you first year of serious US GF action. That probably ~50% of the average US rallyist's income? Does a flying Finn spend 50% of the family income to rally?

What percentage of US cars do you think are driven really hard (as hard as a pro would, who didn't have to worry about fixing or replacing the car)? 2-5 drivers per rally? In our fields of ~50 cars, thats ~4-8% people really flogging the equioment. Is that different from Finnland?

Sorry for the ramble,


Jim Cox
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I know I am not GF, but...

>>What percentage of US cars do you think are driven really hard (as hard as a pro would, who did worry about fixing or replacing the car)?<<

Herein lies my exact problem. This is what I am wrestling with right this minute.

JC
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RE: I know I am not GF, but...

Go to the classifieds on www.ralli.net Most of the cars there for sale are built to pretty competitive spec. From my observations scouring Swedish and Finnish sites and looking at pictures, most are built to or near top spec. Can't believe how many Starlets and Volvos I've seen running Ohlins! In the US there are few NA 2WD cars that are built properly that I have seen. One other thing that I have heard and observed is that there is more of a sense of community. People helping people. Trading labor and such. Lastly, I think it comes down to commitment to what they are doing. Drive flat out. Wad the car and get right to work on the next one. With a few exceptions, in US rally, a big crash means at least a year off to rebuild. We have car payments, huge insurance costs, huge house payments, etc. It's ringing these in that will really make or break your ability and budget for a club level Fer. Do you really need an SUV or could you get by with an 83 Festiva?
 
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