60 MAY 2020 scca.comINSIDE SCCA
For the last few years, RoadRally teams interested in running Neohio Region’s OhioWinter Rally had no place to go. For about
50 years, that event ran from late twilightinto late evening with then rally master GregLester explaining that they always hopedfor snow to make the rally what it was. Thenthe event went on hiatus for a few years.
Luckily, Lester and Ken Swarm acted as rallymasters while Jeff Arendas took over as rallychairman, and like that, the event was back.
The pre-Groundhog Day event(Feb. 1, 2020) started and ended at theRedhawk Grille in Painesville, Ohio. Just
10 miles or so from Lake Erie, the famouslake-effect snow did its part to helpbring the rally back to its former self.
Arendas repeated much of this historicrally in Northeast Ohio using roads withnames like Cascade, Harpersfield, Mill Creek,Doyle, Kirk, Warner Hollow, Sweet West,Nurse, Swine Creek, Hayes, plus a few others.
“[The rally was] possibly the least
memorable Ohio Winter Rally ever,” said
Arendas, explaining that “[No] competitors
dropped their right wheels into a ditch hidden
under the snow, only to have the next two
teams follow them into the same ditch.” Nor,
he explained, did the event include the team
that “entered a stage rally-prepared car
shod with gravel rubber, and boasted about
their imminent victory, only to run out of
traction part way up the first icy hill, while
those who had the good sense to mount tires
with the Hakkapeliitta trademark molded
into the sidewalls waved as they drove by.
“Ohio Winter Rally has enjoyed a long
history of support from the local amateur
radio community, a tradition started by former
rallymaster Tom Kimball, KA8BZB,” Arendas
emphasized. “This year, Pat Karl, N8ONI,
and his associates set up a temporary radio
‘net’ covering the entire course. ‘Hams’ also
performed course-opening and sweep duties.”
All contestants used the Richta GPS
Checkpoint app timing system. Developed by
former RoadRally Board chair Rich Baireta,
the app uses a GPS signal from your smart
phone and records the time the rally car
passed a checkpoint. Contestants immediately
receive their leg time and leg score at each
checkpoint without a checkpoint crew.
The tongue-in-cheek claim of it being
the “least memorable” doesn’t hold up, as it
attracted 25 teams to enter with 24 starting
and finishing the course. Of those teams, there
were two each of Class E and Class L cars,
and 10 of the 20 Class S cars were novices.
Rob Moran navigating for Ron
Johnstonbaugh driving a 2015 VW
GTI took first in Class E and first overall
with 21. 7 points for the 43 scored legs.
Savera D’Souza navigating for Satish
Gopalkrishnan, also driving a 2015 GTI,
took first in Class L with 50. 3 points.
This was Gopalkrishnan’s first time rallying
using this scoring system. For him, “Even
though workerless controls take away the
thrill of seeing a checkpoint around a fast
corner, the challenge of staying on time,
all the time, made up for it.” He thinks the
system bodes well for the future of our sport.
Leading the 20 cars and 10 novice
teams in Class S and Class N (novice) was
Antonio Acierno navigating for Derek
Dreslinski driving a 2008 Mercedes Benz
E350 4matic with a score of 345.9 points.
Indeed, this was a memorable event,
and Neohio Region truly made a successful
renewal of a great SCCA RoadRally. Let
it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
LET IT SNOW
Neohio Region’s Winter RoadRally returned, and the weather
didn’t disappoint | WORDS Rick Beattie | IMAGE Jason Pokines
WINTER CHALLENGENeohio Region’s WinterRally returned, and theresults were everythingyou could hope for.