With the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship still undecided, and with almost-daily announcements coming from Formula One (the latest being Mercedes-Benz purchasing the Brawn F1 team), the attention of most motorsport observers has continued to be fixed on auto racing.
Which is too bad, because on Friday and Saturday in Bancroft, the annual Rally of the Tall Pines is scheduled and the winner of the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship will be determined.
Last year’s national champions, Pat Richard of Squamish, B.C., and co-driver Alan Ockwell of Toronto, must win the Tall Pines in order to hold onto their title. Meantime, Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard of Ste-Jean-sur-Richeleu, Que., can win the crown by either winning or finishing second in Bancroft.
Although out of the running for the Canadian championship, Andrew Comrie-Picard of Toronto and Jeremy Wimpey of State College, Pa., hope to put a lock on the North American Rally Cup with a good finish in the Tall Pines.
According to organizers, more than 50 teams have entered, including 10 teams from the U.S. Other Canadians hoping to do well include brothers Frank and Dan Sprongl of Georgetown, Zbigniew Szewczyk and Tomasz Karzynski of Calgary and Martin Walter of North Gower and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff of Ottawa.
For the uninitiated, rallying is not like it was years ago when navigators tried to figure out how to go from checkpoint to checkpoint, and at what speed, and so-on. Modern-day rallying, in which competitors bomb around in cars like Subarus, Mitsubishis and Nissans, is really rally racing with speed (and staying on the road) the deciding factors.
The Canadian Rally Championship is made up of six events starting in Quebec in February. Competitors then head west for events in the Rockies and along the Pacific coast before returning east to Ontario where the series will wrap up this weekend.
Although November has been somewhat mild in the Bancroft area, temperatures are dropping below freezing after dark so it’s possible – possible – that one of the Tall Pines’s major attractions, roads covered in snow and ice, will be a reality by the weekend.
Rally cars slide around anyway but the introduction of ice or snow might add a little slippin’ to the mix, which will just spice things up.
For more information – schedules, accommodation and so-on – please see www.tallpinesrally.com