Presidents Update, April 2021

It’s been quite a while since the last president’s report and understandably nothing has been happening with rally events much this year. PMSC and MCO did have some success mounting rallycross and snowcross events but travel and other covid restrictions limited the number of events and the people who could attend.

A slew of events have been cancelled. We haven’t had a navigational since Presidents Prize last October and there weren’t any performance events in Ontario last year nor were there any RallySprints. So far this year events missed include Pierce Neige, January Jaunt, Frostbite, Polar Bear, Spring Runoff, Lanark Highlands, a couple of SNATRs  and a bunch of rallycrosses. Blossom on May 8 is postponed, as is Rocky Mountain rally in Alberta on May 29. New dates may be announced later.

Looking ahead, in Ontario we have the current restrictions in place until at least May 20 and I would assume we will have some form of ongoing curtailment after that. My best guess is we will be OK to run events about mid-July while still using some covid protocols. That is only a guess. I didn’t really imagine a year ago we’d still be in this position. 

If I’m correct that means the PMSC, MLRC and KWRC rallycrosses scheduled for May and June won’t be able to run. Rallye Baie des Chaleurs has committed to doing their best to run at the end of June but I judge that as iffy at best. None of those events have cancelled yet so keep an eye open in case they can run. I know you are all anxious to get back out there again. Navigational and rallycross can gear up with a couple of weeks’ notice so if conditions change quickly the organizers can respond.

As you know, performance events have longer lead times for organizing. Specifically, permits for road use from ministries and municipalities take time and if you can’t get them in place about six weeks before an event they will have to cancel.  That gives a degree of uncertainty for Black Bear scheduled for August 7, but I have more confidence that the rallysprint series starting on August 21 will go ahead.

So much for prognostication. Here is some other news from the first third of 2021.

The RSO AGM was held on March 20 via Webex. I was elected president for two years with 100% of the votes. There were no other candidates. Brandon Pace is the new VP of performance replacing Alan Ockwell who is stepping down to work on an advanced degree. I thank Alan for a stellar job over the past years and know you will all support Brandon in assuming his new role. Bruce Leonard was appointed as a new trustee replacing Dennis Wharton whose term had expired. Dennis was the first RSO president when the group was formed in the early 1990’s. The other board members have stayed with the team either by reelection or as their two year term was not up this year.  

I still hope we can make RSO championships this year. If we can get five or six ORRCs in that will be enough; we may have to turn some SNATR’s into ORRC’s or some such scheme. We have the excellent sponsorship for the performance rally series from Ontario Motor Sales, Clarington Hyundai and Enercare Home Services/Martin Air Heating. 

The rallysprint championship will be great. There is an enthusiastic and dedicated committee doing its best to make it all happen. 

RSO is holding an online Co-Drivers course on  Sunday July 18, 2021 at 2:00PM. The course is presented by one of Canada’s top co-drivers, Alan Ockwell. The course is primarily aimed at people new to the sport and specifically for people entered in the rallysprint series. Both drivers and co-drivers in that series should consider attending.

The course is limited to 50 people and priority will be given to people registered in the rallysprint series if we have more than 50 registered.  There is no charge for attending. A Webex link to the course will be sent to approved attendees a few days ahead of the course.  

Use this link to a google form to sign up for the course.

In other news Bruce Leonard is now president of MLRC and Jane is the treasurer. As you probably know Bruce is also the coordinator for the Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines and other events. Jane is also the reviewer of books for RSO. Lots of rally jobs in that family.

MLRC also announced it would be running its rallycrosses at Free Flow Motorsport Park near Belleville from now on. This is the same place PMSC uses but they have a combination of potential courses. 

There is a competitor led initiative to start an interclub rallycross championship in 2022. There would be four stand alone events, one from each of MLRC, PMSC, MCO and KWRC. All the clubs have tentatively agreed to the idea and a small committee is working out the proposed plan. The proposal came from Matt Tregunno and Kirk Blackadar and the committee includes Matt, Ian Wright, Eric Vanderwal, Brandon Pace, Vasu Nyapati and me.

We want to let the clubs organize the events however works best for them but keep a common set of rules for classes and scoring for the championship. There will be more on this later in the year.

As I write this on April 26 insurance is in a state of flux. The old insurance was set to expire on April 1 and the carrier did not want to write motorsport insurance any longer. CARS also looked into getting a new broker but the best candidate was the existing one, Stoneridge Insurance. The existing D&O insurance was extended by a month for a $50 payment from each club and a new carrier has been found. It’s unclear if the new carrier will be ready for May 1 but if not the old agreement could be extended again.  CARS is working on the file and will let us know as soon as they have something. 

With a new carrier there is the possibility of increased rates and new waivers & procedures. We’ll just have to see what develops in the coming days. It is one bright side to not having any events running at this time that we are not looking for event insurance. The new ASN Canada does not wish to look after insurance like the old ASN did so CARS has thankfully picked up the job. 

Update April 27: CARS has just released the new Directors and Officers insurance due on May 1. It will cost clubs $626.25 for coverage from May 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. If it was a full year that would be $683.00 which is about a 50% increase over 2020. CARS is just passing on their costs but it is quite a jump. Details on event insurance costs are not available yet but I expect we will see similar increases.  I’ve asked what the impact is on multi-discipline clubs  who may get their insurance through CASC-OR and they can buy the D&O insurance from them and still get rally event insurance from CARS.

CARS has been updating the rule book and has updated the sections on rallycross and rallysprint. You can read the draft proposal here

I sent CARS some suggested updates for rallycross but we will have to pay attention to the requirement that all helmets used in rallycross will need to be SNELL 2005 or higher rated. It used to be SNELL 2000 so check the sticker in your helmet. An SA or M rating is acceptable. When the new regulations are adopted UTVs (side by sides) will also be eligible if clubs want to include them. 

While we are in this competition hiatus it might be a good time for clubs and organizers to update their paperwork. All events require a permit from CARS through Warren and most events require a safety plan; in the case of rallycross that can be filed once per season per venue. If you are not sure of the date of your upcoming event at least the safety plan and an editable draft of the sup regs can be in place. When we are ready to compete again things will get busy quite quickly so you can help Warren, CARS and yourself by doing as much as possible now.

I’ve really missed interacting with all the people over the last several months and want to get back to whatever normal will be. However, in the grand scheme of life this is just another bump along the road. So many have suffered in physical, mental and financial health over the course of the pandemic the importance of rally kind of fades into the background. That’s not heresy, it’s the people that are important first and foremost. Here endeth the second lesson.