It is a great event. Smooth (very fast) roads (thought not particularly well suited to a slower 35-year old RWD Datsun!). When the weather cooperates and dust is down but it's not too wet, it's blazingly fast. Besides the speed and fast roads, it's also a long endurance event since it's all compressed into one 14-16 hour, non-stop period.
Why are the entries low? I've heard various rumors or individual theories, and I don't know that any are correct or shared by more than a few who would have normally entered. Some of the reasons that I have heard or read include the following:
1. Since its Pro only (at least for now), there's no rush for Seed 0 thru 3 to apply early (all guaranteed starting slots).
2. The entry fees ain't cheap.
3. The Sawmill situation is very local and very raw. I don't think there are any teams entered from our friends at the Irish Motor Club.
4. Some people got burned on cancellation fees in years past.
5. There may be some attrition in 2003 in the Pro ranks.
6. Some Pro teams were making sure their cars are in competition form after other recent US and Canadian events.
7. Disillusionment with the NWO and the people running the SCCA and PRB.
Other potential reasons anyone? I bet you'll see the numbers come up by the seeded draw. If they don't reach their maximum number of entries (90), I hope they will accept Club entries again.
I believe there are a number of factors at work here:
1) The new Seed 5 requirement. Loss of 2 starters and all alternates from last year.
2) Higher entry fees. Loss of perhaps as many as 10 entries who would rather run 3 Club rallies(not any more) or Canadian events for the same entry money.
3) Draconian and totally unjustified withdrawal fees. People will wait until the last possible moment to enter. Putting off the late entry deadline only causes people to wait longer to enter. I wouldn't be surprised to see 30-40 entries arrive in the last 2 days before the cutoff. This is usually the case with Sno*Drift and, I'm sure, with other events.
4) Probably a few will stay away in protest over one imagined injustice or another. some folks' capacity for self punishment amazes me.
Add everything up, and you get the current situation. I really think there will be 65-70 cars by the (new) early entry deadline. Someone has reserved all those rooms.
Well spectators like me prolly have a good bit of the rooms. But I may turn worker so I can have some decent views of the cars and can help out the rally in light of what happened since Sawmill which I spectated at.
Although, I do hope that more entries show up or just watch Bill in his Datsun and Phil in his MGB toss it old skool for us. Either way, still sounds like a great weekend to me.
>7. Disillusionment with the NWO and the people running the
>SCCA and PRB.
IMHO, by skipping the event for that reason, you're hurting the organizers more than you're making a statement to the SCCA and NWO. And you're losing an important opportunity to get precious seat time and use your investment, particularily here on the east coast.
>Sound just about what rallying used to be about, endurance
> (don't call me Jens). I also rally for enjoyment,
>satisfaction, and, I guess fun.
Is that you do not wish to be addressed with the appellation of Jens or you don't want Jens addressing you?:7
We have received quite a few entries that were incomplete and were returned to sender for more information and documentation. Last year we almost drove the registrar to fits. Imagine last year we had 120 "entries", with about 50 data elements and 5-6 pieces of documentation per team. That's a lot of information to crunch. And, when it comes in in dribs and drabs it's a nightmare. So this year we simply asked that teams take the responsibility to make sure their entries were complete, current, and legible when they were submitted. So, a lot of entries have been returned for the rest of the information.
Since this turned out to be such a formidable task, we extended both the entry deadline and the early entry fee an extra week. Keep in mind that we did NOT pass along any entry fee increase based on the increase in insurance this year. Our fees are the same as last year. Likewise, we made PayPal available as a payment option and we are eating the cost of that, instead of passing it along to the entrant.
There are at least 20 entries somewhere in the postal service loop, and we are receiving more each day.
We do apologize for the "technical difficulties" which delayed posting of the entry list for so long. I guess next year I won't go on vacation around the opening of entries date. The list was updated today and we will continue to do so as often as we have meaningful information to share.
We thank those of you who had nice things to say about the event. We look forward to seeing many of you in just 2 weeks.