November 30, 2017
It amazes me how popular the Bancroft Tall Pines Rally is. It is the Championship rally – a favorite for drivers everywhere.
This is what the driver Zoltan Kovacs told me as we tested the first leg of the rally. He names another race in Finland that compares, but cannot think of any other.
The reason: it’s all about skill at Tall Pines. He says sidewalk racing is nothing compared to the wet and muddy track in the woods of Bancroft. Conditions can change at any time.
Right now they’re icy – that’s what the rally coordinator told me before I buckled into the co-driver’s seat of the 2003 Kovacs Mitsubishi Lancer ES – and we’re about to face them. in the dark. I hear echoes of my dad tripling verifying that I wanted to go on the rally’s VIP rides. I have to admit it doesn’t sound safe.
We arrive at the starting point of the scene. Kovacs takes this time to tell me that he was driving a Subaru but crashed on this track years ago.
That’s okay, the Lancer is slower and not quite the fancy of the Subarus, he explains. He says anyone looking to start the rally should start in something like the Lancer – which has been scraped to the bone and installed with a cage, but that’s about it. He says anyone who learns to drive in a fast car is doomed to an accident.
âAnd the roads are bad tonight, so we’re not going so fast,â he told me. A mile later I learned 140 kilometers an hour on gravel covered in ice and in the dark I didn’t qualify so quickly. But wow, what a rush!
âSeven seconds and you’re good to go,â said the race coordinator ahead of stage one.
Seven seconds later, we were flying down the road. I only saw the walls of trees. We dove towards them as Kovacs fought with his steering wheel – shaking and tilting back and forth. But then we turned around a corner at the last minute and headed for another wall. You might then ask “what’s going on? Well, for different drivers it might have different meanings, but at the end of the day it’s going sideways in a moving car and having to correct the steering wheel settings, if you click on the button. link, you can better understand what was going on as we drifted around the bends.
I write them down and Kovacs laughs, he says he knows where the bends are.
Kovacs said he liked the race because it had the most jumps. We flew twice in the three kilometer stage.
It was over in the blink of an eye, but I wanted to go back again and again. Usually a little nervous as a night driver, got out of the Dungannon Leisure Center parking lot that night.
If you haven’t had a chance to make it to the rally this year, next year’s event is scheduled for November 23-24.
If watching isn’t enough for you and you’re looking to get into the sport itself, you should check out the Maple Leaf Rally Club. It hosts rally races throughout the year. The race is open to anyone with a valid driver’s license.
The event’s website says the races offer “future rally stars” a chance to “get their feet wet.” He says it’s an âaffordable introductionâ to the sport of rallying with âminimalâ car preparation.
I don’t think I’ll be taking my XTrail rally anytime soon, but if I still had the drummer I was driving in high school, these rallies would be tempting. That being said, I’m not sure my loved ones can handle me riding around in a rally car. My head start could get me in trouble.