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I am not here anymore
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been doing research on the competition history on my vintage Formula Ford, so I have been reading a lot of old SCCA publications (primarily San Francisco Region's The Wheel) from the 70s and early-mid 80s. While looking for research material, I also picked up a program and route book for the 1990 running of Rim.

I have only been involved with rally since 2001. From what I have been reading, US rally used to have a series sponsor, generally good prize funds, and what seems like a better media following. Is this accurate or am I not getting a complete picture?

An interesting bit from the 1990 Rim program was a discussion of how rally is not a spectator-friendly sport and is more suited for television.

How did rally get from what it was in the mid-80s to where it is now?

alan
 

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you might be interested to track the fortunes of general aviation during a similar time period. (actually, pick it up in the early/mid 70s)
 

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codriveur
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>How did rally get from what it was in the mid-80s to where it
>is now?
>
>alan
>

I mean this as well as possible, Can this be discussed any more than it has this off season?

All the recent crap about dust minutes, and 2wd recognition, and Us vs. Them, Anarchist rally sites, Corp. infultration & and the endless whining by people for the "good old days" Jeez get over it.

To paraphrase the long legged whench Ann Coulter, Shut up and drive. (Shut up and navigate?) :)

BTW, I get your point and somewhat agree, but silly season cannot be over soon enough.

Bernie
 

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I am not here anymore
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
>>How did rally get from what it was in the mid-80s to where
>it
>>is now?
>>
>>alan
>>
>
>I mean this as well as possible, Can this be discussed any
>more than it has this off season?
>
>All the recent crap about dust minutes, and 2wd recognition,
>and Us vs. Them, Anarchist rally sites, Corp. infultration &
>and the endless whining by people for the "good old days" Jeez
>get over it.
>
>To paraphrase the long legged whench Ann Coulter, Shut up and
>drive. (Shut up and navigate?) :)
>
>BTW, I get your point and somewhat agree, but silly season
>cannot be over soon enough.

The thing is that I am having a crisis of faith in the future of rally. I am disillusioned to see that things that I thought had not been tried before and I thought would help rally had, in fact, been tried and didn't seem to work.

Since I walked into this movie in 2001, I am not sure how my views could be described as "whining by people for the 'good old days'". My "good old days" in rally are the last couple of years of Spitzner.

I just want to know how we got from where we were to where we are. I could tell you about the things that I have been watching closely for the last 20 years (Lotus cars, UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems, F1), but I don't have that same long-term view on rally. What happened to Audi? What happened to Bridgestone and Michelin as series sponsors? What happened to prize funds? I just want to find out enough about why all this stuff went away to learn something.

As far as shutting up and co-driving, I am taking this year off to give back to the rally community, mostly by helping the local organizers as much as I can.

alan
 

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Hi Alan,

Don't think that there used to be big prize funds; most of the time there was none, or the total was $1,000-2,000 and paid only to a few places. That level of $$ did not pay for an event entry, tow, etc, just as it would not today. If you want to look at costs that have eliminated prize funds, look to the fact that insurance has gone up somewhat, that sanctioning fees have gone up, we now pay for stage notes prep, sometimes travel and others fees for certain event personnel, etc. There may or may not be higher road use fees, depending on the event. These higher costs come to us in the form of higher entry fees and little in terms of $$ prizes. But, I would not look to the prize fund issue as a big change simply because the prize funds in the past were rarely that substantial anyway (if ever). If you want details on prize fund levels in th past, I can dig into the archives here.

Other changes? Major series sponsors...the last one we had was under the early Spitzner regime (Michelin, was it?); I guess the current Subaru support does not count as a series sponsorship. I think this got off track because of the idea that this was to become a BIG series under SCCA. Did the price of a series sponsorship go up? I would not be surprised, and maybe that drove them off. But we have had a number of short lived series sponsorships in the past: Wonder Muffler and Lancia come to mind; Monroe shocks sponsored the Divisonal Pro Rally Series runoffs for a couple of years. BFG was involved for about 5-6 years, and even made 13" and 14" Mud-Terrain tires for rally cars. But all these went away after only acouple of years. I would bet that they did not see the return on their advertising dollars.

I would also bet that being under SCCA gave them an organization to work with that potential sponsors recognized as having a large total member base; that had to be a more appealing place to spend advertising dollars in the form of sponsorship. We're pretty small groups now, with NASA maybe having a bit more broad base potential, but still not as big as SCCA.

Overall participation is down after a big spurt in growth (even accouting for the 2 series). I think some of this downturn is pretty normal as some folks try it, and find that the cost+effort-to-benefit ratio is not there for them. I have read with interest some recent posts from folks who started a few years back are now thinking of the sport more in terms of enjoying the action and having fun, more than being the hottest thing on the stage. IMO, if one wants to learn something about this sport in the US as it still exists, recognizing that we are still mostly a group of hobby competitors, not pro teams, is one thing to recognize. This may not match one's personal dream or stroke any egos, but it's reality.

You mentioned Audi. Again, that is a car company that spent dough on rallying world wide for some years, then switched to track racing. This is nothing unique. The lesson may be that having crowds at races draws sponsors too. But what are we going to do with rallying to change that? With liability concerns forcing tighter management of spectating, I can't see what one can readily change.

Well, I have not revealed anything new, Alan, or answered any questions. To find out why Michelin left, I bet you have to ask Michelin or whoeve was negotiating with them. I am left guessing a bit as to what you think we had before that we do not have now. It's been up and down for all the 29 years that I have been involved, with a very gradual rate of average growth in numbers of events and competitors. My position has been to carry on rallying when and as much as I can, and I suspect that is what most of us do (competitors AND organizers), despite any changes.

Regards,
Mark B.
 

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>...IMO, if one wants to learn
>something about this sport in the US as it still exists,
>recognizing that we are still mostly a group of hobby
>competitors, not pro teams, is one thing to recognize. This
>may not match one's personal dream or stroke any egos, but
>it's reality.


What worries me is that both series are no longer club and are now corporate. Unless I missed something, I haven't read anything from Rally America or NASA that says what they will do if/when they bail out of the business of rally.

SCCA sucked, but at least we were their unloved step children and they didn't dump us until Spitzner and his cheerleaders drove rally into the ground.

Alan, I'll take a stab at answering your question "how did we get here?" We got here, because people got greedy and because others were blinded with stars in their eyes. Rally (real rally) has not and will never be a spectator sport. People forgot that when they were told they were going to be on TV.
 

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>
>What worries me is that both series are no longer club and are
>now corporate. Unless I missed something, I haven't read
>anything from Rally America or NASA that says what they will
>do if/when they bail out of the business of rally.
>
>SCCA sucked, but at least we were their unloved step children
>and they didn't dump us until Spitzner and his cheerleaders
>drove rally into the ground.
>
Hey Jens,

The good thing about what we have now is that R-A and NASA Rallysport are run by dedicated ralliers. So, while it may be 'corporate' in a way, these folks will make repeated personal investments to make things happen. Our organizers are pretty much in the same mode.

THAT was what got lost with SCCA at the end; they looked at it purely as biz (and not a sport) when they got hard pressed with some other costly problems. From that view, it (sadly) made all the sense in the world to jettison stage rallying. IMO, we traded some advantages in SCCA for some advantages with our present sanctioning structure. As long as we are not drawing big attention and sponsors, we can't exist in a purely business environment. (And yes, I should be selling my biz services, not typing on SSForum, but I'll make the excuse that I am working the evening shift on an installation this week...!)

Regards,
Mark B.
 

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- Go to Ed Brennan's www.rallyracingnews.com and read through old rally reports. That'll give you little taste of "what if"...
- Like these winners purses: Golden West $ 10 000, Reno International $ 10 000 and Frontier Las Vegas $ 6000.
- B.F.Goodrich was the first big sponsor. Also, $ 100 000+ a year was given away regulary by Peugeot, GM, Volvo, Toyota, Mazda, etc.
- Rally was shown on ESPN and we got mailed "Rally Flyer" after every rally
- A trip to Memory Lane (Reno):

***The gala rally was a true happening with start and finish in the lights and glitter of downtown Reno, a stage in the parking lot of the MGM Grand hotel , parties at nearly every casino in Reno and Sparks, and an elephant waving a checkered flag at the Nugget Hotel and Casino as the cars arrived.
At the victory banquet at Harrahs, the winners were treated to a bag filled with a thousand silver dollars and the balance of their prize money in one thousand dollar bills. A fitting climax to a season which saw more than 800 entrants at 13 events win an estimated $200,000 in prize and contingency monies.***

- In "California Rally Series" we regulary had "80% of the entry fee goes to prize money" advertisement by the organizers. The winners of each class bagged about $ 300, second $ 200 and 3rd $ 100. Not bad in those days when everything was cheap...
- I've no solution how to grow rally in the US.
- I only know what'd bring me back: To have a fancy international rally on good roads. Like Olympus WRC or 1981 Reno International Rally. I don't care for prize money. I care for a BIG PARTY, good and fast roads, 100+ competitors and International atmosphere.
- So, as you see, I'm not Jens; who likes to be in the deepest forest with his two club buddies performing for three squirrels...
 

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>- So, as you see, I'm not Jens; who likes
>to be......performing for three squirrels...


Hey! Those 3 squirrels are MY fans. Now and then a bear joins them. Don't make fun of them.
 

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We will get back when someone (not a club, or a commitee) takes us there. Topi is waxing on about for a large part John Nagle's work.

Funny thing is, rally is much better known today thanks to video games etc then it was then.

Derek
 

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www.christianedstrom.com
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>- In "California Rally Series" we regulary had "80% of the
>entry fee goes to prize money" advertisement by the
>organizers.

This is one thing I don't want to see return. When entry fees are used to make up the purse, the net effect is that slow (read: poor) teams give money to fast (read: better-funded) teams.

If an organizer is using entry fee money to fund the purse, they should just give it back to the original owner. If you're going to have a purse, it should be funded by an outside entity (read: sponsor).

- Christian
 

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just another old phart
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Christian,

I think it's just a matter of semantics. The organizers were not charging entrants five times the cost of putting on the events just so that they could give back four fifths of it as prize money. It was the presence of meaningful sponsorship dollars contributing to the cost of the events that allowed those events to pay a prize fund.

Kent Gardam
 

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hi alan,

i hear you... as one of many who have invested everything of myself for a few years, i dont want to say i'm disillusioned because it implies an admission of defeat or betrayal of confidence, but it's close to it. and i know how hard you have worked in the past to cultivate your own rally projects.

my opinion is, north american rally has always seen a cyclical process of highs ad lows... right now, i'd say we're coming out of the post-scca dumping of rally, thanks to doug havir, who was there to pick up whatever was leftover. unfortunately, the nasa-john shirley group had hoped to take over the reins as well, but i suppose in the end lost out to doug. the result of which has been the current irl-cart syndrome, which has certainly at best diluted or at worst, weakened the whole scene.

there is certainly plenty of potential. just as quickly as michelin departed as series sponsor, another may appear. i dont know what kind of money michelin brought, but i suspect it wasnt huge anyway. the problems we are facing as far as cost seem to be rising insurance, road fees, and note production. the cost of rallying, or any other racing is not going to go down, thats just life. i will say, coming from road racing (1990-1998) to rally was a real eye-opener as far as costs and logistics. i could run a two-day formula ford race meeting by myself, for less than $1000. in the near future i would find myself spending $5000 on a rally weekend, and thats doing all the build and prep on my own, running a very basic car on used tires.

with road racing, its fair to say i became , and there's that word again, disenchanted with getting protested and torn down all the time by angry rich guys who were spending big bucks on fancy engines only to be whipped by some punk in an old zink Z-10. i was getting small sponsorships which nearly paid my expenses, but i thought there was a chance I could be a professional driver. i was looking for more.

about the same time, i had found a vw golf for my brother that already had a rollcage in it, hoping he was going to go to drivers school and then go road racing with me and my gang.

as fate would have it, chris called me one day and said those fateful words, 'i'm building a rally car'

chris and me happen to have an english mother, so at an early age we knew about minis and all the great things about rallying. when other kids were playing baseball, we were sliding sideways our mothers car around the family friends farm at early ages, dorking around with rusty (really rusty) cooper esses, and the like, so it was pretty natural.

in time, i began to see the light. i started helping my brother out on rallies, and pretty soon, the deal was done to put prorally on speedvision. my brother and i both ran the mount washinton hillclimb, and both got good coverage on tv. i saw that road racing offered nothing like it, and so began to believe rally was the way to go. here was a forum where the emphasis was on driving, which i was pretty good at, and not on how much speed you could buy for the straightaway. we had some good results overall with my old 2wd RX7.

bla bla bla.

after three years giving everything of myself physically and monetarily, and that includes quitting my work to concentrate completely on getting sponsorship, guess what! it didnt work.
it cost me my time, my money, and possibly my marriage, which ended in the middle of it all.

but while i'm close to it, i refuse to be disillusioned about the future of rally. i just tend to be a bit more realistic.

there is plenty of potential, but first things first. we've got to somehow all work together, i.e. competitors, organisers and sanctioning bodies, schedules, etc. as i've said before, and most important, we need to be sensible in how we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to the international community. when you try to portray a sporting event as something bigger than it is to a worldwide audience, the only one youre bullshitting is yourself.

so, dont be discouraged alan, just be realistic. keep working on your rally projects, as i will. there will always be another rally, and we will be there...

...even if we have to go to england or ireland or asia, so be it.

...and if we have to go thrash some formula fords around in between?

so be it.
 
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