By Rob Potter
BEACH LAKE, PA A recent car rally raised some needed funds for a local fire department.
A total of 40 cars of various makes and models participated in the rally on Friday, May 1, Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3. The rally was conducted by the Northeast Rally Club, which is based in Millsboro, Del.
The rally raised a total of $5,000 for the Beach Lake (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Department and the department’s Auxiliary.
The rally was what organizers refer to as a “run what you brung” type of event, meaning there are no limits on what kind of car a driver uses other than it must be street legal, insured and registered.
Joe Roche of Tyler Hill, Pa. is involved with the Northeast Rally Club. He and his daughter, Courtney, spent Saturday, May 2 driving along the course and taking dozens of photos of the drivers and their cars as they competed in the event.
Joe Roche explained that the task is to navigate a set of instructions and arrive at checkpoints at a pre-determined time.
“It sounds easy, but it is tricky to do well,” he said. “Some people just go to take a nice ride, some are serious about getting their ‘Aces’ legs with zero penalty.
“Here’s the general idea,” Roche continued. “You have a set of instructions, a clock and a speedometer in your car. You’re driving down a random road at 50 mph looking for a curve warning sign. When you see the sign, you are to change your average speed to 45 mph for 36 seconds, then accelerate back to 50. Then turn right and change your speed to 35 mph. The trick is you can’t instantly change your speed you need time to slow down and speed up, and you need to account for that time. It’s a precision driving/navigating exercise. For each second you are early or late, you receive a one-point penalty. The low score wins. There are literally hundreds of instructions to follow over the three-day rally, and as many as 20 checkpoints along the way.”
He explained that competitors do not know beforehand where the checkpoints are or what time they are supposed to be there.
The drivers must also deal with the normal, everyday traffic on the roads.
“Maybe a farmer is moving a baling wagon to a different field, or there’s traffic coming when you need to make your turn,” Roche said. “The interaction with regular people out living their lives makes this a fun and challenging time.
“It is also a rolling car show, featuring classic Jags, prewar convertibles and speedsters, muscle cars, sports cars and modern rides mixed in as well.”
Drivers must also attend “school” before the event to go over safety procedures and to train the rookies how to do it.
In the three-day race, the drivers crossed the Delaware River a total of eight times and visited several places, including Barryville, Callicoon, Damascus, Pa., Equinunk, Pa., Hankins, Hancock, Honesdale, Pa., Lackawaxen, Pa., Milanville, Pa., Milford, Pa., Narrowsburg, Port Jervis and White Mills, Pa.
At the end of the race on Sunday, the winner was John Hudson, who had his grandson riding along in the passenger seat of his 1940 Chevy Master. Their winning time was 39.6 seconds.
As evidence of just how close the race was, the second through fourth place cars all finished within a second of each other.
Jim and Johanne Rutledge of Tyler Hill, Pa. are members of the Northeast Rally Club and members of the Beach Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the Beach Lake Fire Department Auxiliary, respectively. They have participated in similar club rallies in Delaware, New Jersey and other states.
“This is the first one we have had in Beach Lake,” Johanne Rutledge said. “It was a lot of fun having the cars here. It was a terrific success.”