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"Flying Low", The Rally
July 14, 2002
by Barney Gaylord (with a nice assist from Elliot)
For years Iíve been saying that Iíve never been in a British car rally where there wasnít some kind of error in the route instructions. Well, I canít say that any more, as this is impossible to happen when there are no route instructions. But it was jolly good fun all the same.
Rallymaster David Lieb gave us all an "official" Illinois state highway map and we were told to open it to the Chicago and Vicinity map. On this area map there are 19 airports marked with tiny little airplane symbols, and these places were to be the checkpouints for the rally. To keep us out of the worst of the BIG city area we were to ignore OíHare, Meigs, Midway, and Gary Municipal, but the other 15 were fair game. The idea was to visit as many airports as possible during the rally, and of course there was no way to hit them all in the time and distance allowed. For the scoreable checkpoints there were 15 color pictures of signs with a part of the sign blocked out, and it was required to fill in the obscured words on the sign to show that we had been there.
The initial intent was to allow 175 miles in 5 hours, but since the weather was particularly hot the allowance was reduced to 140 miles in 4 hours. For an average speed of 35 mph there should be no need for speeding, so this should be more of a minimum distance problem than a time problem. Scoring points were assigned to the checkpoints with the most distant ones giving the highest score. Scores were to be reduced by one point for each opponent rally car reaching the same checkpoint, so there was some advantage to guessing which checkpoints might be the least visited while also visiting points the others might chose (to reduce the deductions). Final scores would also be reduced by one point for every five miles traveled beyond the distance limit, and by one point for every five minutes over the time limit. Let the game begin!
Starting from I-290 and Higgins Rd (IL-72) in Schaumburg, approximately in the center of the map, our first stop was Schaumburg Airpark (via short expressways please with one eye on the clock). We then headed southwest on the thoroughfares to hit DuPage County Airport in West Chicago, and farther southwest to Aurora Municipal Airport, which was barely on the left edge of the map. We then had a nice 24 mile jaunt mostly in the country due south on IL-47 to Morris Municipal Airport, which was just hanging onto the lower left corner of the map. Going back just a little north and then east we passed through Minooka where we took a shot stop for cold sodas.
From there we took a short bit of I-80 east and a few miles up I-55 to US-52 to catch Joliet Park District Airport. Then a few miles east and south through Joliet to catch I-80 east again, but off at US-30 and south a smidgen to catch New Lenox-Howell Airport. The next one was easier, four miles due east to Frankfort Airport. By this time we were pretty far south and also east of the finish with a long way to go and running tight on time, but with just two more planned stops on the return leg.
Heading north we tried to cross I-80 and ran smack into a construction zone traffic jam. After five minutes to move a few hundred feet we managed to take an entrance loop onto I-80 west for a quick change of plans. Getting off at US-30 west we then took the first main road north and shuffled sort of north west to IL-7 in Lockport where we could cross the shipping canal, then north on IL-53 to catch a checkpoint at Lewis University Airport. Due to the earlier construction delay and re-route, unplanned city traffic had been abusing our time some, but by now the final route was committed, so we could only hope for the best on traffic flow for the rest of the trip.
Proceeding up IL-53 we had plans to take Naperville Road and angle northwest to visit Clow Airport in Bolingbrook, but we missed the elusive side street. By the time we figured that out we were only a mile past it, but also doing a fast value judgement. The required side trip would be several miles through moderately slow city traffic, this one was only worth 5 points, and we already knew we would be over the limit for both mileage and time, so we opted to skip it and make a beeline north.
We continued up IL-53 to I-55 towards Chicago, then immediately north on I-355 and I-290 back to Schaumburg for more than 25 miles of expressway. This surely was a pleasant cruise in the breeze compared to doing traffic in the heat around the Joliet area. The last bit was just a few miles travel west on Golf Road to our ending point restaurant and the check in.
Final tally was 176 miles in 4 hours 15 minutes. Well thatís a tad over 41 mph average (including some very short stops), so weíll leave it anyone who dares to figure out how we did with the speed limits. We saw lots of cops along the way, and none of them bothered to hassle us, so we must have been conforming well enough (yeah, sure). In the end we were nicked for 8 penalty points for excess distance and 3 points for excess time. We had actually planned on exceeding the mileage allowance from the very beginning, as we had perceived that the rallymaster had possibly made a small tactical oversight. As it turned out, some of the most distant checkpoints were not too far apart and were worth more scoring points than the penalty for the extra miles. Near as I can count we were on multi-lane expressways 11 times and went through four toll booths during the rally (and yes, the I-Pass was a helpful touch).
I really like this rally format, and hope we can do it again sometime. No route instructions, so no problem missing answers if you happen to get off course. Most of our route decisions were made on the basis of least traffic or best traffic flow, so we were moving right along most of the time and got to drive some enjoyable roads out of the city. Hoist one for the rallymaster, and yíall come out for the next one, ya hear?
1st place with 176 miles, 4 hours and 15 minutes, and 8 checkpoints for a total of 51 points went to the team of Barney and Elliot Gaylord.
2nd place with 125 miles, 4 hours, and 6 checkpoints for a total of 41 points went to the team of David and Sandra Ransom (with a very noisy water pump).
3rd place with 126 miles, 3 hours and 50 minutes, and 4 checkpoints for a total of 21 points went to the team of Mike Olsen and Chris Ostermann.