With a history dating back to 1971, the Rally of the Tall Pines is one of the most historic events on the North American rally scene. The list of past winners includes names like John Buffum, Rod Millen, Taisto Heinonen and Frank Sprongl. The entry list for 2010 reads like a who’s who of modern rally stars: Pat Richard, Antoine L’Estage, Peter Thomson, Bruno Carre and Crazy Leo Urlichich are all guaranteed to excite the fans.
Tall Pines has always been a fan favorite, but in recent years organizers have worked hard to turn it into a world class event. There are proper, safe, spectator areas, concessions and even a pair of VIP spectator options. While spectating at Pines is free, the deal of the event has to be the VIP package. For $145, fans get shuttled to and from all of the spectator stages, enjoy heated hospitality tents while at the stages, keep their belly fueled with lunch, snacks and dinner and take home some great Tall Pines swag to remember the event.
New this year is the Super VIP, which is limited to just 7 fans. Aimed at the rabid rally fan or as a reward/incentive type of package, the $750 Super VIP package has got to be the ULTIMATE rally experience. Super VIP fans are treated to all of the following:
Friday, November 19th
A ride with a top competitor during our Shakedown program between 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. (for those of you who will be in Bancroft by then)
Saturday, November 20th
Arrive at Rally Headquarters at the Dungannon Recreation Centre to get registered and pick up a package of special Tall Pines goodies just for you (A Tall Pines t-shirt commemorating our 40th Edition of Tall Pines this year and a 2011 Rally of the Tall Pines calendar). Next snuggle into your new Tall Pines winter jacket that we are giving you and then quickly head out in style to spectate at locations in stages “where no man has gone before”. Your host and driver will be Jen Horsey, an active competitor in rallying and who has been featured on TV coverage of the high-profile X games, Targa Newfoundland and the Canadian Rally Championship. Jen will be the perfect host as she’s been busy commentating for ESPN and was a former host and producer of the Canadian Rally Championship for SportsNet and A Channel in 2004, 2006 and 2007. She has been an active competitor, as both a driver and co-driver in the Ontario Regional, Canadian and Rally America Championship series since 2004. She will have put together a route with our Clerk of the Course and designated special spots where she will take you to watch the cars race by and then you will be ready to move quickly on the heels of our Sweep trucks to your next location.
Lunch will be provided for you on the go and we’ll squeak in some time for you to pop into the service area where you can see the service crews in action, fine-tuning, tweaking or perhaps heaven forbid doing some major repairs to get a car back into the competition.
Around 5:00 p.m. Jen will take you to the Tim Horton’s sponsored Golton Spectator Stage where you will join the regular VIPs in a heated tent to watch ths spectacular nightime stage in action from a viewpoint near our new jump this year.
After the second running of this stage, you’ll be whisked off to have a wonderful dinner at the new Granite Restaurant in Bancroft complete with hors d’oeuvres and wine with dinner. Then back to the Dunganon Recreation Centre for the finish of the rally and the Champagne spray victory podium for the Regional and National winners of the event.
I must be honest that I am more than a little jealous of the VIP and Super VIP fans. As a photographer, I may be closer to the action, but you folks have heat and food. Oh yes, let’s not forget about the opportunity to hang out with Jen Horsey all day!
Speaking of heat, one of the most important things to remember about enjoying your time watching the rally is that you have to dress for the weather. Late November in Northern Ontario is a funny time. It could be rainy and 10 degrees celsius. In 2008, when I left the hostel in the morning it was minus 19!
Working with event organizers, our friends at Inside Track Communications have once again put together the Tall Pines program. Everything you need to know about the competitors and how (and when) to get to the spectator areas is included. I would recommend printing this at home so you have directions and then grabbing a nice glossy copy while you are there!
The Garage will be at Tall Pines both days. Look for a big red 2011 Chevy Silverado with our banner on it in the Bancroft Rally Headquarters on Friday afternoon and evening and be sure to say hi. On Saturday Jay Tomchuk and I will be moving around the stages, bringing our readers some great photos which we’ll post more or less live!