At 9 a.m. Sunday morning a combination treasure hunt, weekend outing, and driving test will get underway from the water pump at the B-School. Approximately 60 miles later the hardier members of the Harvard Motor Sports Club should be relaxing at the Thompson raceway in Thompson, Conn. They will have completed their first rally of the year.
For the unitiated, a rally is not a race, but a test of driving skill. In simplest terms, a rally presents participants with the problem of driving from a starting course at an exact designated average speed.
Hidden check points are placed strategically along the route to penalize those who violate the assigned speed or who otherwise break the law. At the end, speedometers are checked and the car which has covered a distance nearest that of the specified course at a speed closest to the assigned speed is declared winner.
Since the driver usually has his hands full merely operating the car at a consistent velocity, he needs a "navigator" to do the calculating. Most navigators are recruited from the ranks of wives and girl friends, and theirs is a somewhat thankless task since they usually watch the blame if at the end of the day no everything but the scenery and receive trophy is forthcoming.
To make their job more nerve-wracking, rally planners have devised tortuous ways of indicating the routes. This Sunday, for example, the Motor Sports Club will provide each entrant with photographs depicting the various turn-offs.
Other such devices include the spectrum rally, which uses different colors to indicate right and left turns; the idiot's delight rally, which requires the driver to remove all his sparkplugs (or something similar), carry them around the car, and then replace them; the scoreboard rally, which demands a count of every supermarket, etc. on the right and every florist shop, etc. on the left; and the landmark rally, which requires a right (left) turn at every mail box or gas station, or whatever.
If further horrors are desired, a series of tests, known collectively as gymkhana, await those who reach the finish line.