As those of you who have been following our reports know, we’ve been in Keystone, CO following the Porsche Parade courtesy of Mobil1. Today’s Mobil 1 TSD Rally, which drew a hearty number of participants in various Porsche models (and even a couple of reporters in a signal-green GT3 masquerading as a Ford Focus), was our reason for attending the parade. We had eagerly anticipated joining other Porsche lovers on their scenic adventure.
For those of you unfamiliar with this type of event, a TSD rally is a Time-Speed-Distance contest where two participants -- a pilot and co-pilot -- draw a pre-determined start time. Using this time, cars report to a check-in location where they are given a packet containing ultra-secret route instructions. Cars then drive to the secret start location, where they wait 30 minutes after their start-time to begin the actual event. Participants must follow the route and prescribed speed limits closely. The event includes several checkpoints which cars must clear, having completed the segments as closely to the “perfect” time as possible, with penalties doled out for going too slow/fast.
Before the event, participants had the opportunity to attend a "Rally School" to familiarize themselves with the event rules and language of the route instructions. It’s a good thing, too, because the instructions generally read like this:
Right at STOP -- CAST 18 – SL40 CAST 39 – Left after “Red Cliff,” CAST 14 – etc.
We reported at check-in, a parking structure in Lionshead, and were glad to meet Lee Sammons, who is a "rallymaster" and was in charge of developing the route. Using our favorite line, “we're journalists with FlatSixes.com,” we secured a few route details from Lee, who pointed out scenic areas and places where we might get lost. Good thing, too, because even after the rally school we were not exactly sure we would know how to follow the route directions.
We hopped back in the GT3/Ford, reset the odometer, and were off on the route. Aside from the gorgeous Colorado scenery, following a variety of Porsches was a definite highlight for us. Perhaps tipped off by the camera dangerously held out the passenger’s window as our fearless Motorsport Editor drove as if on a race track, drivers soon realized that we were there to photograph their cars. They played to the camera: some smiled, some waved, we got thumbs-up signs, and even a peek at a Ferdy Bear who was riding with a couple in a Guards Red C4S.
Aside from those who were there to enjoy, there were a few participants who were clearly taking the TSD Rally very seriously. Cathy and Mike Martin, driving a yellow ‘03 996 with black racing stripes, told us they had participated in the Targa Newfoundland Rally and that we could interview them later because they “were here to win on Mobil 1”! While most drivers and copilots smiled whilst driving, there were a few whose focus was palpable. I met a woman at the Mt Massive Golf Course (site of our second checkpoint) who exhaled, wiped sweat off her brow, and said, “this is stressful!”
At every checkpoint, friendly PCA volunteers worked seamlessly to enhance the participants’ experience. The first volunteer would call out the arriving car’s number, and the car would be registered. The remaining volunteers would hand the car a slip and send it on its way to the next segment. At the first checkpoint, volunteer Sean Cridland approached us and said, “are you from Porsche Purist? I want a case of Mobil Oil!” We were happy to take his contact information and continue on our way (congratulations Sean for finding Valerie and Christian and winning a case of Mobil1).
More scenic roads lead us to Leadville, CO, which reportedly has one of the coldest, snowiest winters in the country, often 9 months of snow! That was not the case today, where sunshine and perfect temps in the 70s greeted us. After taking a brief break there and enjoying several cars which we’d been following waving as they came by, we resumed our adventure through the mountains.
The Mobil 1 Rally finished at the epicenter of the Porsche Parade, the Keystone Conference Center. As cars came by, smiles were the norm, and Porsche owners fresh off their 3 ½ hour adventures through the Colorado roads crowded the parking lot. As we were ready to call it a day, Tim Drummer approached us and asked for a case of Mobil 1 oil for his Cayman S, becoming our second and final winner. The perfect end to an adventurous day!
Even though we didn’t have our Porsches with us, we truly enjoyed being a part of this event, a visual feast of nature and cars shared with friendly people. We’re already looking forward to next year!
Just a quick note of gratitude to FlatSixes.com's Valerie Roedenbeck and Christian Maloof for the great coverage and photos. Of course, thank you as well to Mobil1 for supplying the oil for FlatSixes.com to give away and sending Valerie and Christian out to report and attend.
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Updates and Pictures from the Porsche PCA Parade 2009
Free Mobil1 Oil for your Porsche
Free Mobil1 Oil, The PCA Parade and Driving PDK at Barber Motorsport Park