Skip to content

Gravel rally event is this weekend

Rally car display, local car show, music, concessions on Friday night in Stearns

By Eugenia Jones

McCreary County will host Kentucky’s first official stage gravel road rally this weekend as the McCrearyGravelRally event, sanctioned by  NASA Rally Sport , roars onto county backroads.  The event officially kicks off Friday (April 29) with a parc expose from 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. in the Depot parking lot at Stearns.  Friday night’s parc expose features a local car show (bring your car/motorcycle to participate) plus a special show area (from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. only) designated for the rally cars.  Rally car drivers and navigators will be present to answer questions and chat with those who attend.  There will also be music and concessions.

The gravel road rally begins bright and early on Saturday (April 30) and takes place on gravel roads in the Bell Farm and Little Rock Creek (Hayes Creek/Pine Knot) portions of the County.  Stage roads are not accessible during the stage events.  There are two official spectator areas.  Directions to the official spectator areas can be found on the McCrearyGravelRally website.  According to organizers of the rally, members of McCreary County’s amateur radio clubs have been very active in helping organize the event and will provide critical communication and safety services throughout the rally.

On Saturday, cars and crews will get busy at the Rally Headquarters and Rally Service Park located at the McCreary County Park and Fairgrounds.  A finale, with presentation of winners, will be held at the Stearns Depot after completion of Saturday’s final stage.  

The McCreary Gravel Rally is a stage road rally composed of twelve timed races (or stages) conducted on isolated gravel roads that are closed to the public during the rally car races.  In a stage rally, each rally car team begins (from standstill) approximately one minute after the next.  Passing of rally cars during stages is rare, and the competitive outcome depends primarily on the skill of the driver and quality of teamwork between the driver and co-driver (navigator.)  

The registered participants (teams) will be allowed to drive the roads on Friday prior to the event in what is known by rally enthusiasts as reconnaissance.  During reconnaissance, the driver has an extremely brief introduction to the roads as the co-driver (navigator) observes and takes notes regarding road conditions.  The navigator is then allowed to read the notes to his/her driver during each stage of the actual rally.  Reconnaissance allows the driver to anticipate the road in advance during the race. Teamwork between the navigator and driver during the race is a key component of the competition. 

In all, participants will race a total of 92.35 McCreary County miles to determine the winner.  The winner of the McCreary Gravel Rally will be the entrant with the lowest cumulative finish time after all twelve stages (races) are completed.  Entrants must follow all driving laws and regulations as they travel to and from various stages conducted in different parts of the county.

Safety is deemed as the top priority during rally events.  Organizers work closely with local amateur radio clubs, EMS, and police to ensure a safe event.  Knowledgeable volunteers serve as marshals to help ensure the safety of cars, spectators, etc.  

Vehicles competing in the race must be road licensed, tagged, and insured.  The race vehicles are modified allowing them to speed up properly and safely.  The vehicles have roll cages built to international standards.  Seats, seatbelts, racing suits, and helmets must be recognized as safe by industrial standards.  The vehicles also have safety fuel cells, special suspension systems, and special tires to maintain control and safe maneuvering.  Drivers must have spill kits and fire extinguishers on board.  

The sanctioning body for McCreary Gravel Rally is NASA Rally Sport which is one of two sanctioning bodies for the sport in the United States.  In addition to racers’ having their own insurance, the sanctioning body provides special insurance covering the county and community.  Additional partners for the McCrearyGravelRally include Backroads of Appalachia, Haltech, and McCreary County. 

Leave a Comment