How To Go Rallying

“It’s an extreme sport. When you’re going 200 kilometres an hour on a dirt road between trees and over crests, it’s pretty intense.”— multi-time Canadian and North American rally driver champion Antoine L’Estage speaking to

Some OSCC members are performance rally drivers like Antoine, but we are also event organizers, stewards, course-car drivers and stage marshals. We are drivers, co-drivers, and senior rallyists with the regional and national frameworks.

What is rallying? It’s everything from using your daily driver for navigational rallies at road-legal speeds or to race on a dedicated rallycross track, to racing a specially built car at rally sprint or a stage rally, both of which are held on closed roads.

What you choose depends on your pocketbook, your time, and your preference. The one constant is the road surface, which is gravel in summer, snow and ice in winter. Rally events never stop for the weather!

Different types of rally events

navigational rally is an excellent way to begin. Use your daily driver and find a friend who’s good with instructions. Instructions for these events focus on Time, Speed and Distance (TSD) and reward precision timing. Teams drive at no more than road-legal speeds with the goal of staying on route and arriving at the hidden checkpoints at the correct time. The team with the fewest penalty points wins. The RSO website has information on TSD events put on by all affiliated Ontario clubs. 

OSCC’s Lanark Highlands Tour is an example of a fun navigational rally on scenic roads in the Lanark Highlands, west of Ottawa. It’s a great way to introduce yourself and a friend to our sport!

Rallycross events are fun for all. You can use your daily driver or a dedicated car on a course that could be sand and gravel, or snow and ice. As long as it’s mechanically sound, no other modifications are needed. The course runs on a closed lot, which means that older, non-licensed cars can also be used. Four RSO-affiliated clubs are currently running rallycross series.

New this year is the Ontario Rally Sprint Championship (ORSC) series. Three events have been planned, with a maximum of 15 cars per event. Rally sprint cars are close in preparation to performance cars but, due to lower speeds and fewer stage kilometres, car preparation does not have the same rigorous standards. The sprints require a special licence.

The fastest events involve stage or performance rallying. Teams drive as quickly as possible down closed stage roads, guided by the co-driver’s notes. Competitors must obtain a competition licence from the Canadian Association of Rally Sport (CARS) and rally cars are examined for compliance with strict safety requirements and then issued a logbook. The Ontario Performance Rally Championship (OPRC) consists of five to seven events in two provinces. The closest to us is the Lanark Highlands Performance Rally about an hour west of Ottawa.

“Rally purists consider the category to be the last pure form of car racing for one simple reason: it’s the only style of motorsport today that sees cars go from point A to point B on public roads, just like the rest of us do, only the roads are closed and the cars go a lot faster,” according to

Getting started

Volunteering and competing at entry-level events are the best ways to get started. While you’re waiting for our first navigational rally, the Lanark Highlands Tour, consider entering one of the Rallycross winter events held in areas around the province. 

Whether you need club membership for your CARS licence or just want to get started in this amazing sport, you can join OSCC by going to

The Lanark Highlands Tour, held in late summer or early fall on the beautiful roads of the Lanark Highlands, is the primary OSCC navigational rally each year. The event is preceded by an instructional session to introduce newcomers to the sport. The Tour is designed for beginners to moderately experienced teams and requires no special equipment other than a calculator, pen and paper. We provide a routebook with the route directions needed to successfully complete the event.

Interested in working at closed-road stage rallies? Come out to the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally (LHFR) in May  with headquarters at McDonald’s Corners (cancelled for 2020), a few minutes northwest of Perth, Ontario. LHFR is part of a regional (OPRC) series that requires specially built rally cars and licensed drivers. Events are sanctioned by Rally Sport Ontario.

LHFR represents an amazing opportunity for volunteers to get up close and personal with performance rally cars and their talented drivers. The Subaru Performance Drivers’ Association is the organizing club. The roads are amazing and we get a healthy complement of cars from not only Ontario and Quebec, but from Nova Scotia and some U.S. states. Yes, the roads are that good! 

There are eight events at the national (CARS) level. Those closest to Ottawa are the Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft each November, Rallye Perce Neige in Maniwaki each February, and Rallye Défi Ste-Agathe in September. It’s a fun experience to work these events and volunteers are always welcome! 

RallySport Ontario and the Canadian Association of Rally Sport 

Our regional home is within RallySport Ontario (RSO), where we are one of eight RSO-affiliated clubs. RSO itself is one of five regions across Canada that is part of the Canadian Association of Rally Sport (CARS). We compete in and volunteer at each other’s events and support one another. 

The Rally Sport Ontario website has information for beginners, event calendars, and even The Car Zero Report, which keeps us informed of the latest events in a timely manner. To learn about joining a club, all the types of rallies and rallycrosses and where they are held, please visit

CARS typically holds eight national events, each of which has a regional component. Check out national event schedules, rules and regulations on the CARS website at Take a moment to enjoy photos of the top teams in action. Better still, come and join us!

For further information, please contact Rally Chair Jean MacGillivray at

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