In 1976, the first
PG rated movie my parents ever let me see at the theater was The Gumball Rally. This was
a hilarious story about a cross country race from New York to
Los Angeles. Those of you a little younger than me can probably
relate to a similar movie entitled Cannonball Run. When I first
heard about the “RAID NORTH GEORGIA” event (aka:
Raid), I had instant flashbacks to those films. Only the Raid would be even better. Rather than contestants
driving Ferrari’s, Lamborghinis, and other exotic sports
cars, teams entered in the Raid would be driving extreme off-road
vehicles – at least that’s what I thought.
It turned out
that the Raid North Georgia event is neither a race nor an
to extreme off-road vehicles. The Raid
is a contest that, according to their website at www.raidnorthgeorgia.com will
person and machine to their limits…navigating through miles
of trails, forest roads, leech infested swamps, and haunted forests;
sometimes in the dead of night, by compass, with longitude, latitude,
reckoning skills by vehicle , by bike, and on foot. Paddling
through crocigator [sic] infested lakes. And running up to a
dozen special events including: bridge building, paint ball obstacle
course, food challenges, etc.”
maybe the organizers embellished just a little on their website
the event was definitely a blast. The organizer
and brainchild of the Raid was Kyle Updegrove. You may have heard
of Kyle before. He is the owner of Kennesaw
Mountain Accessories Inc.
Not too long ago, there were a few different off-road rally events,
including the Tennessee Off Road Challenge, the Safari Triathlon,
and the Southern Off-Road Adventure Rally. Unfortunately, some
of these events were shut down while others simply disappeared.
Regardless, there were no off-road adventure rallies for folks
to participate in.
had been toying with the idea of organizing a new off -road
challenge was approached by members of the Nissan
Offroad Association of the Southeast.
Kyle had participated in several of the previous off-road challenges,
so he was already familiar with the event. In addition, as a
member of the Georgia Sports Car Club, Kyle has posted four wins
already this year. Kyle knows rallies - on and off-road.
In addition to being an experienced rally driver, Kyle has participated
in adventure racing. When he was designing the Raid he wanted
to create a hybrid event - an event that included both adventure
racing and rally events. He wanted to have an event where teams
would need to get out of their vehicle and be physical (without
having to train for months) and one where teams did not need
highly specialized, purpose-built vehicles. Almost any 4WD SUV
or truck could have successfully participated in the Raid.
With the idea of having
a hybrid event that would incorporate both rally racing and
adventure racing, Kyle chose to borrow
from Europeans, who use the term ‘Raid’ to describe
both types of events. Thus was born Raid North Georgia.
to the Raid…
For this, the first ever RAID NORTH GEORGIA event, 19 teams signed
up and paid the registration fee. Vehicles included 4 Jeeps,
5 Broncos, 4 Land Rovers, 2 Toyotas, 2 Nissans, 1 Chevy and
1 International Scout. Things started up Friday evening as
teams rolled onto town for sign-in. Eventually, everyone made
it to the Diamond Lure Campground which would be home-base
for the weekend. At about 10 pm there was a driver’s
meeting under the pavilion so the organizers could finalize
the ground rules and distribute the first set of TSD’s
(don’t worry…I’ll explain in a moment)
At the driver’s meeting it was readily apparent that many
of the teams had some experience with car rally’s. These
teams were right at home with the TSD that was handed out for
review. Other teams (myself included) didn’t even know
what TSD stood for. We quickly learned that it stands for Time/Speed/Distance.
A TSD is what I think of as a traditional rally event. The object/purpose
of a TSD event is to get from point A to point B in the proper
amount of time – don’t go too fast or you’ll
lose points…don’t go too slow or you’ll loose
points. The team that completes the course closest to the target
The catch is that no one knows were the destination is located.
The directions read something like this:
1) Travel north at 15
MPH for 1.7 miles
2) Turn west and travel .75 miles at 30 MPH
3) slow to 20 MPH and continue traveling for 8 minutes
8 minutes take the extreme right at the fork in the road. If
you go too fast or too slow you will surely miss a turn and end
up who knows where.
It was announced that
we would meet at 6:30 AM under the pavilion to begin the Raid.
Once the drivers’ meeting broke up, most
of the teams stuck around for a while - some to simply review the TSD
and others to discuss strategy. Teams grouped and bonded to help
each other out.
At 6:30 AM,
still dark outside, we met again under the pavilion. Organizers
teams their starting order and handed out the
first navigation sheet for the Raid’s first leg. A ‘nav-sheet’ is
nothing more than a list of landmarks with GPS coordinates. Each
landmark was given a point value. Start time was set for 6 AM
and teams were staggered with a five minute buffer.
to waste no time, teams scrambled back to their vehicles and
and started plotting waypoints into their GPS units.
The goal here was to locate and photograph (using a digital or
Polaroid camera) as many landmarks as possible within the time
limit. The ‘nav-sheet’ also gave teams the coordinates
for the beginning of Stage 2 – the canoeing stage. Teams
that did not check-in to Stage 2 within the time limit had points
deducted from their nav-sheet score.
were give 185 minutes to accumulate as many points as possible
from the ‘nav’ section, we had plenty
of time to make our way to the beginning of the canoeing stage.
One of the organizers and I had arrived at the beginning of Stage
2 in plenty of time to beat the competitors. Unfortunately, there
were no canoes to be found. Oops. The organizers had made arrangements
for canoes to be available. Unfortunately, the canoe
shop failed to bring the canoes to the event. Fortunately, the organizers
scrambled and were able to deliver canoes with minimal
Stage 2 was another navigating section but rather than driving
to the waypoints, teams had to get in a canoe and paddle out
and find the ‘markers’ on islands in the lake.
When we first arrived at the lake, a thick fog made it impossible
to see more than 100 yards. “This is going to be REALLY
tough.” I thought. The organizers agreed. They were
not expecting visibility to be this poor. Fortunately, by the time
the canoes arrived (with teams waiting) most of the
fog had burned off.
As teams arrived, they
checked-in their time as recorded for Stage 1. They parked
their vehicle, scrambled to grab a canoe,
life vests, and paddles and were given a sheet with two coordinates.
Once they received the coordinates, time started ticking for
Stage 2. Teams quickly plotted the waypoints into their GPS units
and made a mad dash for the water’s edge. It took teams
approximately 1 hour to complete Stage 2.
On to Stage 3 --->