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© 1999 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

"It looks promising" is brain candy for the unwittingly insane.

Frederick, Md. to Gettysburg, Penn.

Road Rally: Sunday, January 24, 1999

It wasn't raining a little. It was pouring. There was an inch of water in the parking lot's low spots. Josh II and I sat in the Paradise Garage Firebird, wondering whether anyone else would show up in this weather for the Beginning Of the Year Bash & Rally.

Mid-Atlantic F-Body Organization did not disappoint. Before long the cars were streaming in. Several of them found joy in the rain by heading to the farther corners of the lot -- touch the brakes -- yank the wheel -- mash the gas -- whoooooosh out goes the rear, whipping around like a dog chasing his tail.

"Those guys are nuts," Josh II opined.

"Yeah, and we'd be doing it too, if you weren't sucking on an open can of Sprite," I replied.

Mid-Atlantic F-Body Organization: Posers Need Not Apply.

MAFB is an organization of Firebird and Camaro racers who decend en masse on various tracks in the Mid-Atlantic. This BOYB Rally didn't involve a track; it was a "gimmick rally" from Frederick, Md. to Gettysburg, Penn. It was my first encounter with MAFB. I knew right away that I'd like these guys.

Sixteen teams showed up. After a group photo, we gathered under the meager shelter provided by a sea of umbrellas while the organizers explained the rules and answered questions.

This is how it worked: to deter reckless driving, the Rally did not include a timed component. Each team was provided with a list of 29 clues for which the answers could be found along the route. For example, the answer for "This place does 7-Eleven two better" was 6-Twelve, a convenience store along the route. The route was carefully described between clues. You knew you blew by a clue when you reached the next part of the route before finding it.

Scoring was determined by a combination of correct answers and mileage. Each clue was worth five points and each 0.1 mile error from the predetermined and unannounced "actual" mileage cost a one-point penalty. Therefore, if you missed a clue, you not only had to go back and find it, you also had to keep track of the mileage you wasted in your search and subtract it from your rally mileage.

It's almost our turn to run the rally.
Teams were given the clue sheet only moments before departure. They spaced the cars by about two minutes.

We did quite well for the first eight clues. But then we made our fatal flaw: took a turn one intersection too soon. We didn't catch on until two clues later, because we saw something which looked like an answer for the first clue.

When we discovered our error, mild profanity and a thank-you to the Rally Gods that the event was not timed echoed in the Firebird as we hightailed it back to the route. On the way we passed a fellow rallyist in a green Camaro who undoubtedly would shortly have a few choice words of his own.

For the remainder of the trip we managed to stay on course but it felt like we were constantly yielding for other rallyists who were making much better time than us. Of course, most of them had done this before. And we kept reminding each other that it didn't matter if they passed us; it wasn't a timed event. Still, I hate being passed in a race.

In the end, of course, it made no difference how many times we were passed. At The Pub & Restaurant in Gettysburg, we filled half the upstairs dining area and listened in rapt attention as the answers to clues were read.

We missed two -- one of which we deserved (counting four clovers instead of twelve clover leaves) and one of which may be a matter of some debate (the clue was that a lot of pricks hang out here; the answer, Cactus Joe's; our answer, the State Highway Administration). We also miscalculated our mileage by 3 tenths, leaving us with a final score of 132/145. That worked out to....

Fifth place!

Suddenly our $6 chicken sandwiches tasted much better.