Vintage Shammrock 2024
Vintage Shammrock 2024

May 9th 2024

Last Day Lineup

Day 4: Westport-Temple House Loop

The starts for the day were in reverse order of rankings, giving some cars, including Jeff and Chris in the 1939 green MG, a later start. With the starter issue - they needed it!

They headed out early to the car park, and it's good they did. While Jim and Tim in the 1949 red MG successfully started their car with a hearty run and push (no starter, but a healthy ignition), Jeff and Chris tried to start their car, only to have the ignition fail once again. A quick review with Skippy showed the problem. The coil he had installed the night before was too large; it had damaged the points, not allowing them to connect and spark the engine.

Off this skilled mechanic went to find an appropriate replacement coil. Andy Inskip is one of the most talented, capable and creative mechanics ever, and when there is a problem with a car, there is no one else you want by your side. Jeff and Chris prepped the engine repair area, and soon Skippy was back with a replacement coil and points.

Once installed, the ignition fired up, and the 1949 MG was ready for the final day of the 2024 Vintage Shamrock.

Tim and Jim had already received their route book for the day. Jim was deeply ensconced in studying the instructions, while Tim stowed gear, cleaned windshields, and otherwise prepared the car. Their start looming, it was another push start, and they were off for the day, ready or not.

For a little insight into how cryptic the route books can be, Tim and Jim shared these examples from the past few days.

"Once we were told to travel 6/10 of a mile, and turn left at the boulder," Tim says. "Another time," Jim relates, "The directions said to take a right at the gorse bush." That assumes, of course, that one knows what a gorse bush looks like, and that a single boulder rests on the shoulder of a roadway. Is it any wonder navigators can get the directions confused? Those time/distance clocks are key, as is careful attention to detail.

As most rally routes are on twisty gravel, dirt and narrow out-of-the way roads, navigating is a huge challenge, as is driving in control, in often harrowing conditions. Our Bodacious Racing team all reported the roads traveled on Day 4 were the narrowest yet. The MGs are fairly small, narrow cars, yet in some places the road was barely wider than the car. Plus - they were two-way roads, causing an oncoming car to back up to a passing spot to allow each vehicle to proceed. Some of this driving was accomplished in the Connemara Mountains with steep drop offs on one side of the road. Rallying is not for the faint of heart!

Jeff and Chris enjoyed their later start time, and while they were pleased the car started with its new ignition system, they were worried about the accuracy of the Brantz timer, and unsure if the car would start throughout the day. As they set out in the open MG, the sun broke through the clouds for the first time since the rally began, helping to allay some anxiety. They buckled down to the task at hand.

What a day for the conclusion of the rally! The route took them up through the north of County Mayo, with drives on mountain roads. While the elevations couldn't compare with the steepness of mountains driven by the team in Peru or Chile, Cambodia or Laos, they were still a challenge. Tight turns and narrow borders added to the adventure.

They proceed towards the ocean, driving part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a scenic overview of offshore island, craggy bluffs, and the roaring Atlantic Ocean.

Regularities and Time Trials punctuated this last day. Stops for lunch and coffee carried the familiar themes of fish and chips, ham and cheese toasties, and scones "the size of your head." The friendliness of the locals was everywhere evident, despite the accent sometimes confusing our American team!

The last Time Trial of the rally was held in a gravel parking lot immediately across from the finish arch. Cones were set up, with the route book giving precise directions on how to travel around them. Some competitors roared down the road, beginning to turn towards the finish arch, only to be flagged down by rally marshalls and direction to the obstacle course. With churned-up dust creating clouds, each car in turn made its way around the cones with various degrees of speed and success. Then navigators received a quick sign-off, and drivers maneuvered the final yards to through the finish arch.

With Jim and Tim through the finish arch, Tim carefully parked where he knew he would have plenty of room for the push start needed for the final run back to the hotel. Beth and Gaye had retrieved beers for the guys, and handed off a Guinness for Jim and a lager for Tim, before meeting Jeff and Chris in the queue for the cone course. A few sips of lager lubricated their way to the finish!

Jeff showed his car racing experience as he expertly drove through the cones, Chris directing him at each turn. Plumes of dust and gravel obscured the view of many of the turns from those gathered to watch. After driving through the finish arch, those cold beers were welcomed.

Then another rally was over, with just the prize-giving dinner remaining in the schedule. The dinner was held at the Knockranny House Hotel in a lovely event space. The photos and video displayed showed the highlights of this rally, and special awards were handed out to crews for best navigator on time trials; an against all odds winner for a team that had shipped their car from Southeast Asia only to find they needed to replace the transmission three days before the Irish rally began; the best team of three cars; and fun awards for various mistakes made, and personal foibles observed over the course of the rally.

Of course, there were serious prizes handed out, too. The most important one, for our purposes, is the Second in Class award earned by Chris and Jeff! They don't pay a great deal of attention to results each day, and after having multiple issues on Wednesday, they were pleasantly surprised to earn this award. Chris has decided he really liked the approach of this rally to handing out details to the route just 45-minutes before the start. "On other rallies I worry about the navigation details every night. This one I was forced to process quickly, and it helped with the worry." Makes sense!

Beth, Jan, Peg and Gaye had a good day riding the Irish Rail train from Dublin to Westport. They arrived in plenty of time at Westport House to see the finish, and enjoy seeing the group of Rally the Globe competitors, staff and volunteers.

Now off to Adare Manor near Limerick, for a little post-rally recovery in the Irish countryside. With no road rally booked for the near future, our next adventure will be when we gather in August at Gaye and Jeff's house in Jamestown, RI to celebrate Chris and Beth's wedding. But no blog for that-we'll see what the future brings!

May 8th 2024

Jim in the MG

Day 3: Westport-Temple House-Westport

Wednesday had our Bodacious Racing team dealing with multiple issues involving cars, directions, and traffic. Results had a good shaking up - and we managed to get some good pictures from Jim. But, as Chris said, "The cars are so tight I can't get my hand in my pocket to pull out my phone to take pictures!" Take our word for it - amazing scenery of the lushly green island of Ireland.

As is customary for this rally, the instructions and route were handed to navigators a mere 45 minutes before each car started. Processing the complicated directions takes time, and the regularity charts where time / speed breaks are listed can be difficult to interpret.

The level of detail of these daily instructions is well-illustrated by the rally refreshment break / time control. Crews had to arrive exactly at their preordained time. Each car had exactly 16 minutes, 11 seconds to choose, order and eat before checking out and getting back on the road. Now that's precision!

Precision can be difficult to adhere to on public roads, shared with daily traffic. Jeff and Chris, on the way to a regularity, found themselves on a single-lane road behind a slow-moving truck. Unable to pass, they lost valuable time, as did drivers piled up behind them. With a late start on the regularity, they lost more than 30 seconds, guaranteeing a drop in position.

Tim and Jim were faring better in the red 1949 MG. With Tuesday's short planning time under his belt, Jim had devised a better system to process the complicated directions. That work showed in times at regularity after regularity. Tim coaxed the car along with push starts after every stop, and they finished the day moving up in the rankings, satisfied with their performance.

The day's route took them 165 miles in a meandering loop from, and back to, Westport. They drove a recessed, slippery lane through the grounds of Annaghmore House; ascended Ireland's highest stand-alone mountain, Nephin, (at 800 meters), and enjoyed chicken and leek pie with chips and plenty of tea and scones throughout the day.

Jeff and Chris had been experiencing some issues with the Brantz timer, but things came to a head at the last time control of the day. Arriving back at the green 1939 MG, Jeff couldn't start the car. There was plenty of electricity from the battery, but no spark for ignition. They traced the problem, and decided it was just a bad starter. They hot-wired the car to start it, and were able to make their way to the day's finish.

Of course, that meant working on the car instead of relaxing after the difficult day. With help from the rally mechanics, they were able to get the hot-wiring secure enough to think it would last through the final day on Thursday.

While Chris was talking to Tim and Jim about the issues he was having with his timer, Tim offered him the spare Monit he had in his bag. They decided to remove the Brantz and install the Monit. But when Jeff then attempted to start the car again, no go. Had they scrambled the hot-wired ignition in the installation? Was the Monit incompatible with the ignition? Was there yet another electric glitch that had damaged the electronic ignition in the first place?

Back to the mechanics for advice. This time Andy installed a breaker point ignition system, where aligned points inside the distributor cap fire a coil that in turn fires the engine. Finally, around 11 PM, the Bodacious Racing team was able to turn in, grateful that tomorrow would have a later start.

In Dublin, Jan, Peg, Beth and Gaye enjoyed a day of walking around various streets and parks, capped off with a traditional tea at the hotel. Calling that dinner, they retired early, with a car scheduled to pick them up at 6:30 AM Thursday morning, to catch the Irish Rail out to Westport for the end of the Vintage Shamrock.

May 7th 2024

popular statue

Day 2: Johnstown Estate to Westport

Private estates with walled grounds; a lighthouse; open moors; farm tracks; woodland; and an industrial gravel yard: Day 2 of the Vintage Shamrock rally offered quite a variety!

It also provided plenty of opportunities to get lost! With the map books being distributed only 45 minutes before each start, navigators struggled to correctly map the route. Even some professional navigators hired to guide their drivers on the rally had problems. Jim struggled to process the directions given, and felt he just didn't have enough time to make sense of all the twists and turns. He and Tim had a lot of fun in the 1949 red MG, but they often found themselves backtracking to get to the route for the day.

Chris, on the other hand, thrived on the last minute approach. He and Jeff, in the 1939 green MG, were one of the few crews who never found themselves turned around as they drove the 182 miles across Ireland. And the results for the day reflected that success as they moved into 10th place overall.

Tim and Jim have given up on their starter, with the manual start trick becoming too fiddly to safely accomplish as the start wire gets more stretched and bent. So a jump start it is, getting the car moving to fire up the engine on a run.

This posed a particular problem when they discovered a flat tire as they queued up for a regularity. With the rough surfaces they were driving through - farm tracks with mud and rocks, gravel, and branch strewn woodland trails - it's no wonder they had a flat. They were able to pull to the side, but didn't want to turn the car off to change the tire. And since it was a back tire, Tim was working to change the tire right next to the hot exhaust pipe. He threw his coat over the pipe to protect his arm while switching out the flat and installing the spare. When he completed the task and he picked up his coat, he found he had burned the coat. But better the coat than his arm!

The last regularity of the day was in a gravel pit, with the drivers required to drive multiple figure eights around mounds of gravel. Fast turns in the gravel churned up plenty of dusk, and each run created holes and divots in the gravel track. Fortunately, a bulldozer was on standby to smooth out the track after each run, in order to level the playing field for each car.

It was a short run from there to the next rally hotel outside of the town of Westport. The rally will base there for the next two days, driving to enjoy Connemara National Park and its amazing scenery.

Other than the photo of Chris in the gravel yard, we have no rally pictures today. So Beth provided some shots she took of some of the scenes in Dublin - where Peg, Jan, Beth and Gaye are enjoying sight seeing, shopping, and lots and lots of walking!

May 6th 2024

Day 1: Outside Dublin, the Johnstown-Swainstown Loop

When you're driving vintage cars, there is always drama.

The few days leading up to Rally the Globe's Vintage Shamrock Rally in Ireland certainly brought that drama.

Bodacious Racing's 1939 MG TC-B, to be driven by Jeff and navigated by Chris; and 1949 MG TC-C, to be driven by Tim and navigated by Jim; were shipped from England. They were loaded on a truck at RPS in Witney, and driven the five hours from there to the ferry dock at Holyhead. Once driven onto the ferry, the truck holding the MGs rode across the Irish Sea to Dublin. Once on Irish soil, the truck drove to The Johnstown Estate west of Dublin, where the cars were unloaded and where our team re-met the vintage MGs.

The team arrived at the Estate directly from Dublin's airport early Saturday, and soon headed out to the cars. The MGs are beautiful, zippy vehicles. Not having driven them since the 2023 Flying Scotsman, everyone was eager to get the cars started, sort gear, and prep for the rally's Monday start.

And so the drama began! Everything checked out great on the 1939, as Jeff started the car right up and he and Chris took it for a spin around the parking lot. But Tim and Jim had a different experience. With its red paint gleaming brightly, Tim coaxed the 1949, opening the choke, babying the clutch as it coughed towards ignition. Successful! Then nothing. Again, and again the car struggled to life, then died, only to finally refuse to turn over at all. With Jim and Chris pushing the car out of its space, Tim maneuvered into the driving lane of the car park. A good strong run and push, and the engine fired to life. Gasping and coughing, the car's engine kept running, with Tim driving a few circuits around the lot, until returning to the parking space. That sorted, both teams secured timers and race clocks on dashboards, including installing new rally instruments for both cars.

Once again parked, the gear checks continued, along with a run through the functional items on the scrutineering sheet: headlights, turn signals, brake lights, horn, etc. Everything looked great. Having traveled to Ireland over Friday night, the team was looking for an early night, and soon put the car covers on and returned to the hotel for a quick dinner and on to bed.

Sunday morning brought a surprise: sunshine! With the town of Enfield, County Meath, less than 2 miles away, Jeff, Gaye, Jan, Jim and Beth decided to walk to town with a shopping list of various places incidentals in hand, while Tim, Peg and Chris stayed to work on the cars. Just when the walkers arrived at the first of three service station convenience stores, Jim received a text from Tim. Could he buy some jumper cables? It seems that, once again, the 1949 had failed to start.

Arriving back to the car park with jumper cables and other shopping in hand, the shoppers were surprised that Tim was not there. Chris and Peg explained they had borrowed jumper cables from a fellow competitor, but they were unable to get a charge to the battery. Tim decided he needed to do a bit of shopping of his own, to obtain a replacement battery. Seeing a taxi dropping guests off at the hotel, Chris was able to flag the driver down. Tim jumped in, and off he went.

Just when everyone was wondering exactly how far Tim needed to go to find a car battery, he arrived back with the item in hand. It was quickly installed, but no joy; the red MG would not start. Tracing the line in the pull starter, Chris and Jeff discovered the starter wire had slipped. The pull starter tightens a wire, bringing a gear into contact with the engine, sparking it into motion. Once the starter wire was secured, the car fired right up. And they all learned how to manually start the car by pulling on the wire directly, just in case the pull starter slipped again.

They ended the day with all spare parts and tools safely stowed. Just in case something in the red MG was draining the battery, they disconnected the battery for the night, and once again secured the canvas car covers.

All day Sunday, while the team was working in the car park, additional rally cars and their drivers were arriving. The Rally the Globe support vehicles also arrived. Greeting friends and acquaintances is part of the fun of the sport, so everyone ended the day in good humor.

Monday morning, the start of the rally was cloudy and 10 degrees colder than on Sunday. But by 9:30 Chris had the green 1939 MG in line for scrutineering. Unfortunately, the mechanics found a problem: no brake lights. Fortunately, head mechanic Andy Inskip had seen them work the day before, so he passed the car through, promising to help troubleshoot once all the cars had passed the inspection and equipment check.

Chris drove the car back to its parking spot. With Jeff working the brake pedal, Chris laying under the car, and Gaye standing behind the car, they began the identification of the problem with the brake lights. It seems the lights are activated by the tightening of a spring. But the spring had become loose with wear, and was no longer sufficient to do its job. Chris attempted to secure the spring with a zip tie, but with it needing nearly an incremental adjustment, he was only able to over tighten the spring, keeping the brake lights on. Eventually he decided to just wait for the rally mechanics to get a chance to lend a hand.

Meanwhile, all was well with the 1949 MG, and Tim and Jim successfully had their scrutineering card signed, too.

Next step was to head to registration, signing in and turning in their inspection cards for their lanyards and rally badges, and collecting their time card folders and route books.

The Vintage Shamrock, only a four day rally, is hardly an endurance rally. But it is a highly technical rally, run on a variety of roads, and presenting various challenges each day. So while they received general rally books, each day's detailed route directions will not be distributed until 45 minutes before each car's start time. This requires careful planning on the navigator's part, and gives an advantage to those who compete in frequent rallies and are thus better able to quickly digest the last minute information and plan accordingly. It will be a fun challenge to our teams, for sure!

With brake lights in order for the green MG, a working battery and starter for the red MG, car numbers and rally plates installed, and instruments calibrated and synced with the rally clock, cars began to take their positions for their starts. Jeff and Chris, in car 56, were assigned a start time of 15:04; Tim and Jim, in car 65, took off 10 minutes later.

Peg, Beth, Jan and Gaye were in position to wave the cars off. With last minute goodbyes, and calls of "See you in Westport on Thursday!", another rally began for the Bodacious Racing team.

While the ladies headed into Dublin for their own adventure, the guys followed their route books out into the Irish countryside. Despite having just under 72 miles to travel on this first rally day, they enjoyed various road surfaces offering different challenges, and enjoyed taking the zippy MGs on a time travel around a go-cart track.

The end of the day had Chris and Jeff reporting only a 30-second penalty, leaving them first in their class. Tim and Jim posted a bit more time, but nonetheless had a good showing.

Tuesday will find our drivers leaving County Meath, driving across the island towards the West coast of Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way. More Irish adventures ahead!

May 5th 2024

Day 0: Arrival in Ireland

The team arrived in Ireland yesterday, with the rally beginning tomorrow, Monday, May 6th.

Scrutineering will be in the morning, and the first 85 kilometers will be driven tomorrow afternoon.

CP Construction

Revenant Motorsports