A 2015 Renee Dryfus Rally Experience

Most veteran NNJR club members know the history of the Dreyfus Rally and the associated prestige of winning the Dreyfus Cup. But as default winners of the first place Trophy in the 2015 Dreyfus Rally (to be explained later), our intent in this article is to try to convey to prospective NNJR-PCA rallyists, the total rally experience and that placing number 1 (or placing anywhere for that matter) is just a single component of the total experience of participating in a rally. An additional and major contributing factor that keeps NNJR members returning to each monthly meeting, each social event or each rally the club sponsors throughout the year, is the sense of friendship, camaraderie and family that being an NNJR club member affords you. Let us not overlook that the fun of driving your Porsche along well chosen rally routes is also a great motivator. Rallies present significant challenges and require concentration, cooperation between driver and navigator, and definitely some very good and quick peripheral vision. Luck also helps!
Now for some rally details. The 2015 Renee Dreyfus Memorial Rally was held on November 19 this year and was not a TSD (time, speed, distance) rally, but rather a gimmick rally. A gimmick rally indicates a specific route to be followed, questions to be answered by observing something on the route and a point scoring method for total mileage traveled. Points are added for incorrect answers to questions and excessive mileage. Lowest score wins. It is a fun rally, not a speed test. The meeting place for this year’s gimmick rally was at High Marques Motor Cars on Washington Street in Morristown, New Jersey. The day began as a beautifully bright and sunny autumn morning and we were on our way to join the other NNJR members participating in this last rally for 2015. The event began at 10am and was hosted by the owner of High Marques Motor Cars, John Vogt, who was the Rally Master. As we entered the glass doors of the dealership, a long table had been set up in front of it attended by the ever reliable and efficient volunteer club members who were scurrying to register individuals, assign car numbers and insure that waivers had been signed by each participant. Waivers are required to allow you to participate in the competition. Youngsters sometime accompany their parents and also require a release to be signed by their parents. After the paperwork is completed the young ladies attending the desk, always with a smile, direct you to the breakfast area of the dealership where a most generous quantity of varied breakfast items had been arranged on the tables. Between the selection of bagels, salmon, doughnuts, pastries, fruit, juices and coffee, if you were not fully fueled to begin the rally at noon, no one could be blamed but yourself. A really fun part of waiting for the rally to begin, for us, is looking at all the exotic and historic cars on the floor of the dealership while you munch on your bagel and coffee. Seeing all those gorgeous machines makes you wish you had many more bays in your garage and a wallet to match. It is also great to see and talk with your fellow club members who are usually discussing some kind of Porsche issue, like finding a replacement part or restoring this or that, or some other weird situation they encountered with their automobiles. It is always interesting to listen to and sometimes chime in with a “Hey yeah, me too!” Well, it is nearing noon and time for the cars to begin departing. Rally Master, John Vogt is a very tall, soft spoken but very authoritative guy with a twisted sense of humor. He briefs the crowd on rally basics before cars are sent out. Instructions are handed out at the door as car numbers are called out. For some individuals this is their first rally. Still being novices ourselves, it is a bit nerve rattling looking at the list of 22 questions and lines of instruction and it leads you to silently wonder what am I doing here? Do I really want to do this? After the questions, John also reminds you that his answers are the correct answers and that he has photographs of the answer to each clue in case of any challenges. OK, so now it is time to bite the bullet, hop in your Porsche and start driving.
Many hours are spent by John establishing these routes. Sometimes with a helper and sometimes with clipboard on lap while driving the route. Yikes! This year’s Renee Dreyfus rally route led us through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen in New Jersey. The autumn leaves were the brightest and most unusual combinations of colors, sometimes on the same tree. The drive took us past spectacular trees accentuating rolling hills of horse farms, tall wispy forests of colorful birch trees, through exclusive residential areas of mansions with well-manicured lawns and up into the wooded roads around Swartswood Lake. The scenery was so spectacular that it was difficult to keep your eyes focused on looking for answers! All the eyes wanted to do was grasp a fleeting peek of every scene around you. But!! Some of the questions are really tricky and diligence and concentration are a must. Before you turn out of the meeting place parking lot you could have missed something! Then, sometimes you think you have seen the question before and with a false sense of security, conclude you know the answer. But alas! You are incorrect! A quick example. The question was, “What color is the fire gong?” Well, having seen this question before and knowing the last fire gong was red, one concludes (incorrectly of course) that the answer to this question must be red. Ha! Good thing I always use pencil on my answer sheet! As we passed the fire gong on this route, it was not red. It was silver. Lesson: you would have lost this round of the gong show! Never assume anything! Then another tricky but clever question posed by the Rally Master. “Objects in the mirror are ________”. Well, the first impulse is to look around the countryside for something glass or mirror like. But this time I was on the rally master’s frequency. Being the navigator of our team, I have seen that phrase so often when looking into the side view mirror to check if my driver’s right side is clear to pull out of his turn, that I just started to laugh and blurted out the answer to my partner. How could you miss that one? Very shrewd John. Well, rallies are a lot of fun but you also have to be on your toes and stay alert.
Finally as the day waned, we found ourselves at the end point restaurant, the Boat House at Swartswood Lake. As we approached, we saw that the parking lot was already filled with beautiful Porsches and when we finally parked and walked in to sit and have some food, we looked at each other and said, gee whiz, it looks like we are the last ones to roll in again. How did everyone else get here so fast? Oh well, let’s see where we placed on the list. The rally winners are determined by the driver and navigator with the lowest amount of points scored. You begin with a score of zero and every clue missed or wrong turn add points to your score which count against you. The food and service at the restaurant was excellent and the ambiance was perfect for a rally end. There was laughing, wine and beer glasses all around and everyone walking back to their table with very full plates. As we squeezed into a table that just had two close seats left, the scores and team positions began to be revealed. We thought we at least did fairly well, we only missed one answer that I knew of. So team after team scores were announced and we kept waiting to hear our score. As the 7th place team was announced, we looked at each other and my driver asked me, are you sure you turned in our answer sheet? Then finally John reached the number 1 team who he said totally blew everyone else’s score out the window. We just sat there and resigned ourselves to the fact that we needed a lot more practice. Then the mystery was revealed!  Peter Lorrilard and Robert Bartaus had placed first in the rally, but as regulations had it, the first place winners, unfortunately did not qualify to receive the prestigious trophy because, although rallies can be run in any vehicle you choose, the winners of the Rene Dreyfus rally must be driving a Porsche and both must be NNJR-PCA members. Therefore, by default, the 2nd place team was awarded the Dreyfus Trophy and the 2nd place prize as well. Then we heard our names. Team Samter placed 2nd. To Tilo and me this came as a total surprise. We looked at each other stunned and did not know what to say. We were happy to accept the Dreyfus trophy and we really treasured the stunning metal model car of the Carrera GT with a little number 2 stuck on it. Most appropriately, it had an orange paint job reflecting the fall season and was provided by High Marques Motors. We were winners of the trophy by default, but we were major winners because we had an exciting rally experience, a gorgeous fall day and we shared the fun with the rest of our NNJR club members.