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RallyVenture Navigational Challenge

Posted in Events on March 30, 2015
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Photographers: Ted Feg

When is a race not really a race? When it is a RallyVenture! This event is the brainchild of promoter Jeff Knoll, one of the founders of the King of the Hammers. A few years ago Jeff and his family moved from Southern California to Reno, and they instantly fell in love with the area. Instead of being selfish and keeping the rugged trails and beautiful views a secret, Jeff wanted to share them with the 4-wheel community. He invited 22 friends and industry players to be guinea pigs as a proof of concept for the RallyVenture model. Guys like Mel Wade from Off-Road Evolution and Tony Pelligrino of GenRight Off Road brought their LS-powered JKs out to see what Jeff had put together. We were lucky enough to get invited as well.

Harry Wagner teamed up with Nate Jensen from Nate's Precision for the RallyVenture in Raymond, our former Cheap Truck F-150. Jensen has an V-8-powered LJ, but we thought that it would be fun to put the big truck through its paces and drive something a little different from everyone else. With no written rules provided ahead of time beyond having a licensed and insured street-legal vehicle, our goal was just to have fun and finish the event.

The night before the RallyVenture, Jeff Knoll gathered everyone together at the Nugget Casino to explain how the adventure would work. Eight stages were laid out but were unknown to the competitors ahead of time. At the beginning of each stage you would be given directions along with the number of miles in the stage and a target time. Whoever came closest to the target time without going over would win the stage. Finishing under the target time would result in severe penalties, discouraging speeding or reckless behavior. As an added twist, at the end of each stage would be a special event for bonus points.

When the RallyVenture began at 6 o'clock the following morning, there was mass confusion. Teams were trying to follow rally notes to get to their location, but the learning curve for deciphering the notes was steep. The more navigators and drivers rushed, the more lost they became. This was a valuable lesson about who would excel in the RallyVenture. Patience was key. After learning the hard way, Nate and Harry read the directions in their entirety for each stage before starting, highlighting items that would earn bonus points. These included tasks such as taking a photo of wildlife or getting more "likes" on Facebook than other competitors.

Nate Jensen piloted Raymond while grown-up Eagle Scout Harry Wagner navigated. Several of the stages used "tulip charts," which are common to rally raid events like the Dakar Rally. An accurate odometer is critical to following these charts.

Eventually everyone made it out to the first checkpoint, where Axial had set up an RC crawling course. The second stage required the use of a compass to follow headings for a certain distance. Distance was key in each stage, and keeping track of your mileage was critical. As the day went on we followed written directions, used GPS coordinates, and spent more time with tulip charts to find our way across nearly 300 miles of Nevada and California in mountains, trees, and deserts.

The format was such that you did not know anything about a given stage until you found your way to the starting point. If you became hopelessly lost on a stage, there came a time when it made more sense to cut your losses and try to find the finish rather than worry about earning points on that specific stage. This allowed Knoll to keep track of the competitors, all while building interest in his event. The move was genius, and the proof of concept was a success.

Knoll has even more tricks up his sleeve for RallyVenture in the future, so check out rallyventure.com to learn how you can join in on the adventure or just follow along.

When is a race not really a race? When it is a RallyVenture! This event is the brainchild of promoter Jeff Knoll, one of the founders of the King of the Hammers. A few years ago Jeff and his family moved from Southern California to Reno, and they instantly fell in love with the area. Instead of being selfish and keeping the rugged trails and beautiful views a secret, Jeff wanted to share them with the 4-wheel community. He invited 22 friends and industry players

Axial had RC crawling courses set up at the end of the first stage. The fastest time went to Jake Hallenbeck, who earned 2 points. Finishing the RC course got you 1 point, but if you rolled you did not receive any points. Each stage ended in a similar fashion, with a sponsor hosting a special stage.

You didn't need 41.5-inch-tall Pit Bull Rockers to participate in RallyVenture since the bulk of the event took place on dirt roads, but Raymond was built that way so we stuck with them. Jeff Knoll laid out all of the courses in his stock JK Rubicon to ensure that the trails would be passable for all of the participants.

The second stage involved using a compass to take a bearing and then driving an allotted distance in that direction before turning onto the next heading. Patience was key to all of the navigation, since making a mistake required you to return to your last known point and start from there.

Chris Garrison of Billet Rifle Systems hosted a special stage where a member of each team had the opportunity to shoot a custom suppressed AR-15. Nate Jensen did an excellent job and had the best score until Matt Pillsbury knocked us out of the top spot.

Wait. What just happened? We were able to pull off a Third Place finish at the RallyVenture! While Raymond was not the fastest vehicle in the field, closely following all of the instructions for each stage helped us earn valuable points.

Tony Pellegrino brought his 650hp Terremoto out to Reno for the RallyVenture. The four-door JK had enough room for the whole Pellegrino family.

Our 1977 F-150 definitely had the fewest 12-volt outlets in the RallyVenture. A power splitter purchased ahead of time allowed us to charge multiple accessories at once. We would have had a dead smartphone halfway through the event without this simple charging device.

We brought an ancient Garmin eTrex GPS, but it did not do us much good. Because it lacked a touchscreen, loading coordinates was far too time consuming. Instead, the Waze app on our smartphone was much more useful.

We purchased a cellphone booster years ago when we first started going to King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley. The booster came in handy when posting to social media in remote locations during the RallyVenture.

Top 10 RallyVenture Accessories

  • Accurate odometer
  • Smartphone
  • Facebook and Instagram accounts
  • Phone charger
  • On-road GPS (TomTom or similar)
  • Off-road GPS (Lowrance or similar)
  • Compass
  • Cellphone signal booster
  • Highlighter pen
  • Patience

5 Things You Don't Need for RallyVenture

  • Tube buggy
  • Gobs of horsepower
  • 40-inch-tall tires
  • Bypass shocks
  • Gobs of money

RallyVenture Navigation Challenges

  • Tulip charts (rally notes)
  • Compass heading and distance
  • GPS coordinates

RallyVenture Bonus Stages

  • Axial RC Rockcrawling
  • PRP Seats trivia at the Genoa Saloon
  • Billet Rifle Systems target shooting

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