Rally Appalachia

Motoring With A Meaning

Story Larry Jewitt - June 20, 2011 09:00 AM


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It started with an e-mail from Levi Elza, who will be taking part in it with his 1998 Trans Am. It’s called “Rally Appalachia,” and if you’re an auto enthusiast, it sounds like fun. (Levi is “Team Mullet, #217).

The entry list for the 2011 Rally Appalachia was filled up long ago. Even the waiting list was filled four months before the event.

Rally Appalachia will run July 19-21, starting in Winchester, Virginia, ending up at Charleston, South Carolina. It was developed by Rally North America, which conducted a Route 66 rally last year. This year, the action stays in the Eastern Time Zone, but the emphasis is again on the scenery.

“We go in different directions and focus on what we think would be scenic,” said Tony Intrieri of Rally North America. “This year, we’ll be going on the Skyline Parkway and through the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

A total of 80 teams will start off that Tuesday morning, but this is not a high-speed, “get there at all costs” competition. “It’s like a rolling car show. We’ve contacted every town along the way and worked with visitors’ bureaus and chambers of commerce. It is a time/speed/ distance competition, but most of the teams are doing it for fun and to help a worthy cause.”

The cause is the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides financial assistance to families of U.S. military personnel lost in performance of their duties, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recent improvements in benefits have allowed the fund to turn its attention to wounded warriors as well. A portion of the entry fee from each of the rally participants has been earmarked to the cause. There will be other efforts to benefit Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

Participants will be disqualified if they incur a traffic citation or are observed operating their vehicle in a careless or endangering manner. “We’re going to be visiting landmarks along the route,” said Intrieri. “We want to make them aware that they represent the organization and charity and act accordingly.”

There will be end-of-the-day activities, including police-escorted parades. Racers with the need for speed can air it out with race track stops planned at Shenandoah Speedway, Motor Mile Raceway and Darlington Raceway.

The event, which was planned by Intrieri and Scott Spielman more than a year before the starting date, is drawing participants from all over the U.S. and Canada. Some of the participants are “competing” in vehicles that may not be best suited for rally action. No matter. It’s all designed to allow each participant to take as much from the experience as they wish. It is expected to test both driver and navigator throughout the three days, while giving everyone a chance to see a portion of the country they may not otherwise visit. It will also strengthen the car community because being surrounded by enthusiasts can’t do anything but build up the hobby.

It’s the type of activity where you want to get involved. Expect an unmarked rental car to pop up on the course when July rolls around. I want to have some fun, too.