Two people (a driver and a navigator) in ordinary cars make up a rally team. A Road Rally is traversed over public roads within the legal speed limit. The challenge is to drive on time, arriving at points along the route neither early nor late (it's NOT a race). Each team needs a simple watch which can be synchronized to match official time, as well as something to write on and with. Interior lighting (map lights, a flashlight, etc) is also a good idea for night rallies.
After receiving and browsing the instructions,
cars start at one minute intervals. The first section, a short 10-15 mile route, is called the "Odometer Calibration Zone," and is used to calibrate the rally car's odometer to the official mileage used to measure the course by the rallymaster. After this section, the competition really begins, as you must follow the course using the route instructions, as well as the general instructions that govern the rally. Meanwhile, you must also stay on time, based on the average speeds given in the instructions at various points through the routes.
At various points, unknown to the competitors, timing controls (checkpoints) will be encountered. Since the rallymaster knows the exact distance and speeds you should have traveled to reach the checkpoint, the "perfect time" of arrival can be calculated. You are timed at the moment you reach the control, and will receive penalty points for arriving either early OR late. You are then given information about the last leg, as well as a time to start the next leg, and a clean start to challenge the clock. This is a contest of precision, not a race, and each leg is scored separately. If you are early or late at one control, you cannot make up for it by being late or early at the next. At the conclusion, scores for all legs are totaled, and the lowest score wins (just like golf). Sound easy? Well, just as in golf, it takes practice to get very good scores.
Regardless of how well you score, rallying is a lot of fun if you like to spend time in your car, see some scenery and spend time with congenial people. Rallies usually end at a location where munchies and beverages are available. You can join the rest of the crowd in discussing how the event went and how you did, while waiting for the final scores to be calculated and trophies to be awarded.