On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
ON-BOARD TRIP computers have taken the fun out of cars. And maybe saved a few relationships.
I’m thinking of the competitive motorsport activity of time-speed-distance rallying, still practiced here and there by traditionalists and with cars of older vintage. For example, the Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally, out of Portland, Oregon, is a wonderful TSD event held annually, often in early August. (NWC 2018 is late July.)
By the way, such events are in contrast to the World Rally Championship taking place around the world. The idea of a traditional TSD rally is to follow a set of carefully, if devilishly, written instructions describing a route run at precise, and frequently changing, speeds. Along the way, checkpoints monitor progress, typically to the nearest second. Some of these checkpoints are readily recognized; others are hidden.
What with changing speeds, misreading directions, taking wrong turns, and regaining lost time, TSD navigation gets applied again and again. It’s at its most fun, that is, most highly chaotic, in an open sports car, with rally instructions as well as scribbled TSD calculations fluttering all about.
Traditionally, there are two classes of TSD rallying: light or heavy, depending on the calculation method. Light entry uses a stop watch and, for doing calculations, nothing more than a slide rule or its circular counterpart, a Stevens Rally Indicator.
Whichever class, heavy or light, (and I tip-toe through this next aspect) it has always been common knowledge that guys are better at math. Hence, you would think, pure logic would put the better math person in charge of the complex navigation. Driving, more or less, is the easy part. But common knowledge also has it that guys are better at driving fast.
Pause here for appropriate heckling.
This often leaves the wife/lady friend in the unenviable position of performing complex navigation in a car being driven too fast.
The basic formula for this activity is a simple one: speed = distance/time. Indeed, it’s the sort of thing that Sherlock Holmes performed entirely in his head: “We are going well,” said he, looking out of the window, and glancing at his watch. “Our rate at present is fifty-three and a half miles an hour…. The telegraph posts upon this line are sixty yards apart, and the calculation is a simple one.”
On the other hand, Holmes was sitting in the First Class compartment of an English train, not bouncing around in the passenger seat of a classic English roadster.
Here, I share rally heroics of a personal nature. Not mine, but Wife Dottie’s.
By way of background, the Morgan roadster’s doors are cut away low, ostensibly to give clearance for properly flaying elbows whilst countering slides. What’s more, Morgan door-latch hardware wouldn’t impress a homeowner’s security for a screen door. Added to this, Morgan chassis flex means that an errant bump in the road might, at least in theory, defeat the efficacy of door-latch alignment altogether.
This is why the passenger of an export-market (i.e., left-hand-drive) Moggie always feels more confident of the driver’s cornering hard to the right rather than hard to the left. Right-cornering dynamics tosses the passenger firmly against the driver, as opposed to trusting that cutaway door and its questionable latch.
It’s beside the point that such rally driver/navigator intimacy interferes with elbow flaying.
So there’s Wife Dottie as (my very capable) navigator, perhaps getting a bit queasy looking down at her calculations as I corner with gusto to the right and with relative prudence to the left.
“Pull over,” she said, “I’m going to be sick.”
“We can’t; there’s a checkpoint sign ahead,” I explained. (Stopping within sight of a checkpoint is prohibited.)
“I’m going to throw up,” she stressed. So, forgoing a potentially zero-error stage, I pulled off into a recess. And, indeed, Wife Dottie threw up, next to a parked tour bus of visiting Japanese.
Other wife/lady friend navigators react in different ways. As an example, rest stops along a rally route are, at best, rudimentary and, at worst, open-pitted insults to hygiene. Wife Dottie returned from a particularly rustic rest stop and reported hearing another woman saying brightly, “Oh, my goodness. My slide rule seems to have fallen down that hole….”
At the end of a day’s rallying, another navigator told Wife Dottie, “I’m going to our room and have an attitude adjustment before dinner.”
Yes, TSD rallies can be fun.
In retrospect, we’d have been better off with Wife Dottie at the wheel. And, come to think of it, doing the navigating as well. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanatisSays.com, 2017