I want to rally as a navigator!

I want to rally as a navigator!

Wow, are you in luck! Here's why:

  1. Codriving is a lot cheaper than driving!
  2. There are lots of drivers that need codrivers!
  3. You'll get to sign just as many autographs as a driver.

Step 1: Go to a rally
You should go to some rallies! The closest to North Carolina is
Sandblast in Cheraw, SC. Also, check out NASA and Rally America. These are both sanctioning bodies that provide rules, structure, and insurance to the event. Go spectate, or even better, if you volunteer to help! Here are some typical jobs that you could be assigned to:

  • Control volunteer: You would check in each car as they arrived at the beginning of the stage, and record their time. In this case, you would get to talk to each team as they arrived.
  • Course marshal: Roads that connect to the course need to be blocked off. You would hang out in the woods, getting to watch the action from places that spectators can't get to.

Most folks spectate their first rally. Then they learn they get closer to the action by working and marshalling. Since volunteers often get a free lunch and get in to the awards ceremony, I'd recommend volunteering!

Contact the rally organizer and find out if you can sit-in on the Novice Competitor Orientation. This is a 2-3 hour classroom-style school that takes place the day before the rally. A typical small rally might easily cover 600 square miles of territory. Understanding how the cars traverse this and how the timing and services are all coordinated is critical to your future success.

Step 2: Find a local rally team
Get involved with one of the local teams. There are several in the area that are preparing for the next event, or next season, right now! They could use people for their crew, or perhaps even a co-driver! These are the people that are going to be recommending you to other drivers, so it pays to find out who's around. Codriving is a complicated task, with many nuances, so you'll do well to talk about it with some experienced competitors.

Step 3: Go to a TSD rally
First, do a little reading about TSD rallies. Then, realize that much of your job as a stage rally codriver you will also experience as a TSD rally codriver. There's probably about 60% overlap. So, going to three TSD rallies, which might have an entry fee of maybe $30 each, will get you as much experience as two stage rallies where the entry fee is $700 each. So on the experience versus cost scale, TSD rally is a no-brainer.

Here are some of the topics you'll learn about at a TSD that are directly compatible to stage rally navigation:

  • supp regs
  • schedules
  • odo legs
  • controls
  • timing
  • route books
  • rally computers
  • driver-navigator communication

Step 4: Get everything ready

  • Read the rule books. They are online and you can read them there, but I recommend you print it out and spend a LOT of time reading the whole thing.

    Generally you will end up using one or the other, depending on what geographic part of the country you are in. This is where Step 2 comes in handy, talk to your local people.

  • Get all your personal gear settled. This means a current, approved racing (not motorcycle) helmet, and an approved fireproof suit. Helmets are currently required to be SA2000 or SA2005. Suits are SFI 5. These items are always expensive, and have to fit. You don't want to find out the day before the race that they don't fit, because odds are you will have to ship them across the country to exchange them.

    You'll need to get an intercom (Terratrip or Peltor) for your helmet. Generally, lower budget teams run Terratrip and those with more money run Peltor. You'll need to coordinate with your driver as far as what you need.

Step 5: Go rally!

  • Find an driver who needs a codriver and sign up. Check the event calendars at NASA Rally Sport and Rally America. Make sure you find the Supplemental Regulations for the event and read them carefully!
  • Get to the event and buy a membership and racing license at registration. Then attend the mandatory Novice Competitor Orientation session. It's usually the night before the event.
  • Take the car through scrutineering and make sure that it and all your gear are ready to rally.
  • Roll up to the start line and go for it!