50 SEPTEMBER 2020 scca.comFEATURE
For as long as rallying has been part of the SCCA, the process of organizing a rallyhas followed a familiar pattern:Someone volunteers to organizean event. He or she chooses adate – hopefully far enough awayto avoid a time crunch as theappointed day nears – preparesa budget for his or her Region, aschedule for all the administrativetasks necessary to ensure asuccessful event, and a route thatrally teams will hopefully enjoy. Inaddition, for the rallymaster (or therally committee), there are workersto recruit, rules to write, routeinstructions and routes to checkand recheck, packets to stuff,workers to train, and schedulesand travel instructions for thoseworkers to use, so that, on rallyday, they arrive where they’resupposed to be – when they’resupposed to be there – equippedand ready to do their job.
After organizing RoadRallies innortheast Kansas for more than adecade, Rich Bireta, past RoadRallyBoard chair and 2020 recipientof SCCA’s Member of ExcellenceAward, explains he learned“firsthand the hassles of recruitingand training checkpoint workersand planning their movement fromcontrol to control on rally day.”
How Rich Bireta helped solve along-time RoadRally problem, andthe roads that solution have led
WORDS James Heine | MAIN IMAGE James Heine
Then, too, he adds, there wasthe post-event stress “of tryingto score 30 cars through ninecheckpoints.” Often, he recalls,it took him an hour (or more) tocompute and post scores. Theunintended result: Competitors,finished with socializing andready to go home, would getupset with the delays and hewould get stressed out.
His experience is notunique – but his answer to it was.
SOLVING A PROBLEM
A career IT professional (morethan three decades with IBM),there had to be an easier wayto deal with these issues, Biretaconcluded – something that,among other things, was scalableand would reduce organizerstress. A few years ago, he setout to do something about it.
The result: the Richta GPSCheckpoint suite of rally appsfor cellphones and tablets.
“I had been writing RoadRallyapps since 2005,” recalls Bireta,whose involvement in the sportdates to his college years inMichigan and the FIA-era of Presson Regardless. “Originally onPalm Pilots and now on Appleand Android phones, I had asuite of rally apps: Calculator,Odometer, Clock, and Computer.
In 2016, I was approached byJohn Broughhall of the MSA.
[The MSA is the equivalent of
the SCCA in the UK. Today, it is
rebranded Motorsports UK.] John
is a regularity-rally organizer,
and he was facing the challenge
of getting enough marshals
[workers] for their events.”
Broughhall, Bireta continues,
had designed a system for British
rallies that would not only time
cars at checkpoints but also
monitor compliance with speed
limits and ensure competitors did
not travel through banned areas.
His design, Bireta notes, had atime-of-day clock, stopwatches,
(ABOVE) TraditionalRoadRally checkpointsinvolve a decent number ofworkers. Now there’s a wayaround that. ( TOP LEFT) Richand David Bireta have beenon plenty of Road Rallies,with the father-son duoulimtately developing asuite of mobile apps tohelp make the sport moreaccessible and enjoyable.