On April 19, the Kirkland-area Rainier Auto Sports Club (RASC) is hosting its annual Raindrop Rally, a time-speed-distance (TSD) rally that’s open to everyone. Not only does the trip come with some scenic sights of Washington State, but also comes with car-community enthusiasts.

“What I’m looking forward to most is finding out if people enjoyed the event,” said Jim Breazeale, Rallymaster of the 2015 Raindrop Rally. “I love to see people laughing about their experiences and talking to folks they’ve just met.”

For less than $40 and a tank of gas, one could find themselves in a truly legal road race. There’s no speeding and the mileages are given for every turn of the route, from the Kit Carson Restaurant in Chehalis through all 140 miles of paved roads.

“This year’s rally will start and end at the Kit Carson Restaurant in Chehalis, with the lunch break in Mossyrock, same as last year,” said Breazeale. “What we did this time was to basically just turn last year’s rally around and run it backwards. Mostly.”

TSD rallies are meant to be a navigational and time-sensitive endeavor. Normally, the navigator must determine the speed for the distance needed to be the closest entrant to the scheduled end time; hence ‘time-speed-distance’.

“Some rallies have tricks and traps in them to get you to make mistakes. We don’t think that’s the best way to introduce people to a new activity,” Breazeale said. “We look for roads that are fun to drive on, these are usually twisty back roads in less-populated areas.”

Raindrop Rally is meant to be a laid back drive, a touring rally, so it’s ideal for the beginning Rally-entrant. There won’t be any traps to catch early participants and the miles are given to the navigator, meaning they only have to concentrate on precise timekeeping, and thus the driver’s speed, in order to score in the event.

“These last few days, three crews from Rainier Auto Sports Club have gone out and driven the course, double-checking everything from the mileages to the spellings of the road names and the signs, and all the checkpoint locations,” said Breazeale. “We like to have our checkpoints crews hidden so that you don’t see them before you drive by, and sometimes not even then.”

Scoring points is bad, drive too fast and arrive too soon, or drive too slow and arrive late, and points are accrued. The goal being a lowest score as possible, lowest winning the rally. With checkpoints along the way for teams to check-in at and log times. Oh, and don’t think you can just speed all the way to the end and chill for a bit, as there’s checkpoints along the way.

Checkpoints and scoring aside, rallies are not only about races, but also about getting together with a group of people that share the common bond of cars and cruising. The community being more important than the competition.

Ed Rachner, the 2014 Raindrop Rally rallymaster, who passed away in June 2014.
Ed Rachner, the 2014 Raindrop Rally rallymaster, who passed away in June 2014.

“The biggest payoff goes back to seeing folks having a good time,” said Breazeale. “We’re dedicating [this year’s Raindrop] to Ed Rachner, last year’s Rallymaster, who was too ill to be there the day of the event and died a few months later.

As the community gathers to give Rachner one big hurrah, it’s also a great way for newcomers to get involved. Though, a working car is a must.

The vehicle requirements are minimal: Does it legally drive? Did you pay the registration fees? Did you read the instruction manual for drivers and navigators? If so, you’re pretty set. If not, you’ve got some work to do.

Raindrop rally dates back to 1982, when the first was hosted by the RASC, however, RASC has been hosting rallies on and off since the 1960’s. TSD’s differ from other rallies, such as the fast-paced, high-action Stage rallies or the small gimmick rallies, like the Friday Nighter’s held once a month.

RASC hosts, organizes or promotes many rallies a year, including two day TSD ‘No Alibi’ and the ‘ALCAN 5000’, which starts in Kirkland and runs 5,000 miles into Alaska. No Alibi runs June 6-7, while the ALCAN 500 is scheduled for Feb. 25 through Mar. 4 of 2016, a winter rally through Alaska.
Raindrop, however, is much less intimidating and is good for all levels of drivers, though there’s an example of the basic instructions, from the 2012 Raindrop, at this link.

“I can tell you that if you come out, you’ll have a good time; and we hope to see you there,” Breazeale said.

RASC also hosts monthly meetings at Café Veloce, located at 12514 12th Ave. NE in Kirkland, on the second Monday of each month. For more information about Raindrop Rally, please visit Rainier Auto Sports Club’s website at www.rainierautosports.com.