By David Love
Where was I, oh yes, three weeks until the rally and starting on the Goodie Bags. The Stage Commanders meeting would be held on the following Sunday so on the Wednesday night I got together with Chris Walker and Les Bellingham to make up the stage packs containing over 300 arrows, 400 plastic signs, 350 tabards and 12 kilometres of safety tape between seven stages. We make a list of the equipment going to each stage so that the S C’s know what they’re getting even if they don’t collect the equipment at the meeting.
Friday the 13th was the first closing date for entries with the 20th being the closing date for late entries. If any rally organiser is honest he will admit to accepting entries up to close of scrutineering as very few rallies are getting maximum entries. After the first closing date for entries we have a better idea of entry numbers for each event and can decide the highest competitor number in each event and if I’ve guessed correctly I’ll have ordered enough rally plates, numbers, etc, if not mild panic will ensue. Although most people talk about the Pirelli International Rally we do run five separate rallies each with its own competition number range. The International Rally starts at 1, the Tour of Cumbria, which runs behind the International, starts at 51 followed by the Land Rover Rally at 91. The Historic Rally starts at 101 with the Challenge Rally at 201. To complicate things further the International uses WRC type door plates and large hi-vis numbers and the other rallies which run under a National Permit use the larger traditional door plates and smaller hi-vis numbers.
The Stage Commanders meeting is essential as it gives the organisers an opportunity to tell the SC’s what we would like them to do and they can tell us what they need to do it. Hopefully we’ve anticipated everything but if not we have still got almost two weeks to sort it out. I’d like to have all the equipment I’ve ordered delivered by this weekend but it usually arrives on the Tuesday. That’s when Bev can start sticking numbers on plates then putting the door plates, rear plates, hi-vis numbers and associate sponsor decals in a bag and sticking it on the back of the door plates. That’s 3 nights of her life she won’t get back. Meanwhile I’ll be printing several hundred or maybe thousands of bits of paper. These include Safety Leaflets for the forest car parks, Time Control Checksheets, Radio Checksheets and Marshal’s Instruction. Does any Marshal read them? I know I don’t but then if I arrived in stage earlier I might have time to.
As the rally was starting from the City centre this year I met Fred Walker, the council man responsible for the pedestrian area. I needed to know how much space we could use, not as much as I hoped was the answer. By the time you allow for the outdoor cafes and the unmarked fire lanes there’s not a lot of space for 50 to 60 cars, the Pirelli spider and simulator. I said to Fred I’d have to plan where to put everything and he said ‘No! If you don’t have a plan it can’t go wrong, just make it up on the day’.
That takes us up to Friday, one week before the event and I start to remember all the things I should have done by now and think ‘Too bad, it’s only a rally!’ even after thinking that I know I’ll be up until after midnight for the next week making sure every thing is done. This is also the final date for late entries so by the end of the day I’ll know if I’ve ordered enough competition numbers for each rally, unless we get a late late entry. On Saturday I went through to Gretna to put together the signs for the Start, Service Area, Scrutineering, Remote Services and spare equipment to be carried in the first two course cars. In the evening I received a list of the Radio, Recovery & Rescue crews and in which Stage they would initially be deployed. Although Edwin had already boxed up Goody Bags they were only based on anticipated marshal numbers now he had to add the R,R & R ones plus any spare. Calculating Goody Bag distribution is a worry as I don’t want anyone to miss out on getting one but even the Stage Commanders aren’t sure of Marshal numbers until the day. I spent Sunday catching up on things I should have done but had forgotten about. Guess what? I’ve forgotten what they were, so that means I’ll be in the same boat the Sunday before next years rally.
On Tuesday night I finished work until the following Tuesday so it was rally 24 hours a day from then. We had our final meeting before the rally that night and quickly went through a checklist to make sure everything was done and we were ready to run. We then put together paperwork for the Stewards, Clerks of the Course and other officials. Well I didn’t get involved in that, I had a worse job. Derek Ternent and I checked through all the Time Cards page by page to make sure there were no pages missing or in the wrong order. Wednesday was the last day I had to get everything ready for the event as the rally starts for us on Thursday which is when we take over the racecourse and get it set up. I spent a good part of Wednesday with help from Chris Walker putting together the Stage Commanders paperwork, getting together all the equipment I needed to take to the racecourse and drinking several cups of coffee. Late afternoon I went through to Gretna to check that all the Goody Bags were packed and ready to go and to pick up any remaining equipment I’d need to take to the racecourse.
The good news is that this is the end of this instalment, the bad news is I’ll be back with more, I still haven’t got to the start of the rally yet. The rate I’m going the 2013 event will be over before I finish writing about the 2012 one.