You need to drive a road rally as soon as possible. I don’t care what vehicle you’ve got or what you have or haven’t done to it. Go drive a rally. Do you want to have a great time? Join a rally. If you want to meet other crazies like you – car lovers – go to a rally. If you’d like to meet the owners of some of the sickest rides in your town, sign up for a road rally. I’ve never been more sure of anything as I am of this after sampling of my first road rally event.
The Targa Trophy rally from Los Angelas, CA to Las Vegas, Nevada just went down, so of course we were there to capture the sights and sounds for you. Despite my better judgment, an alarm was set for precisely early o’clock on a Saturday (a Saturday!), and my sorry butt was dragged to Red Bull’s North American headquarters in Santa Monica. We wanted to see the rally event kickoff and meet the organizers of this ever-more popular form of auto event. What did we learn? That every self-described piston head needs to go do a rally. I’m serious here.
These timed road rallies are all over the place now, and you can find events for every budget, time duration, distance, and breed of car. It’s about as amateur a motorsport as you are likely to come across; this is classic “run what a brung” territory. In most instances, teams of two – a driver and a navigator – pilot their stead along a designated and checkpointed route. Points are lost for ever second you are over a target time. Crucially, points are also deducted for every second under the benchmark as well.
This is not a race. Because these events are held on open and public roads, they are not a dangerous drag race from point A to B, they are an exercise in maintaining a certain average speed that is within the speed limit. Things get interesting and challenging when traffic and unscheduled pit stops crop up. At that point, you are left to your own devices on how many points you’d like to loose. And while competitors are always encouraged to play within the rules of law, in the words of Targa founder Jason Overell, “fun is had where it can be had.”
This iteration of the Targa Trophy kicked off about a mile inland from the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles and took a snaking route to the city of sin itself, Las Vegas. The route was kept secret (and will not be repeated here) in an effort to keep Johnny law from spoiling all the fun, and also to keep non-registered participants from joining halfway through and generally causing havoc while behaving poorly. These events are highly self-regulated and policed through an internal culture of respect and personal responsibility.
The Targa Trophy team did a great job coordinating this drive, both in the quality of vehicles and in the quality of people. Everyone was friendly, owners were happy to talk about their wheels, and all present were bonded by their mutual appreciation of sweet rides. From the heavily-modded Corolla to the stock Ferrari 458, everyone was welcomed with a big smile. The pervasive feeling at the event: These are our people. And that is exactly what these events bring. Despite the big sponsorships, ever-present DJs, and trophies, these drives are really just a collection of car people going on a long drive together. Which is excellent.
We’ve attached an absolutely massive gallery for your perusal below. If the big smiles and wide range of cars on showcase here don’t convince you to join your nearest event, I don’t know what will.