It’s something that car enthusiasts wait for all year. It’s the Cochrane Winter Rally, the first performance stage event of the year and 2017 won’t disappoint. Set north of the picturesque Bow River Valley, the upcoming rally is a qualifying round and Round 1 for all local championships of significant in the Calgary area and there are just 30 spots available in the 2017 edition. The Rally is set for March 12, 2017.
Subsequent events on the Western Canada Rally Championship include the Rocky Mountain Rally, the Pacific Forest, Kananaskis and Big White Rallies. It’s organized by the Calgary Sports Car Club but staged out of Cochrane.
There are strictly enforced rules for the types of vehicles allowed to enter the rally and the specifications regarding tires, chains, fire extinguishers and so on. Vehicles are inspected prior to being allowed into the rally. Drivers will be given course maps and time cards. Drivers must also be licensed to participate in the rally. Information on these requirements are also listed on the website. The entry fees are $750 prior to February 26 and $900 after. A complete schedule is on the website.
The Cochrane Winter Rally takes place along the forestry roads and oil service roads north west of the Town of Cochrane in the popular Fallen Timber forestry district. Although it’s a Winter Rally, the roads will be unpredictable due to prevailing Chinook winds and Southern Alberta’s notorious freeze/thaw cycles. Participants will need to be prepared for lots of gravel, snow conditions and they can count on plenty of ice.
Advance teams go out the day prior to the Rally and scout out the condition of the course. The location of hazards and adverse conditions will help teams decide which tires are appropriate. This reconnaissance work makes the rally faster as well as safer for drivers.
The Staging Area
This year the service park along with the banquet for volunteers will be located at Camp Kindle just west of Water Valley, north of Cochrane. Camp Kindle is a children’s facility which is owned and operated by Kid’s Cancer Care and is available to rent by groups of all kinds. The fee charged by the charity covers the costs of operating the camp, making it more sustainable and affordable for cancer families to use in the summer.
For those traveling from Calgary or other points in Southern Alberta, there will be overnight accommodations available at Camp Kindle. Participants and guests must bring their own bedding and washroom facilities are shared. The price is $65 a person per night and includes breakfast.
There are viewing areas set up along the course throughout the Forest Reserve. Information about each stage for spectators will be on the website closer to the event date of March 12.
Be a Volunteer
Those interested in learning more about rallying in Alberta may like to consider becoming a volunteer at the event. Knowledge about cars and the sport aren’t necessary and what you do need to know will be taught to you. Volunteers are required to register participants as they arrive, timing and crowd control and marshaling, hosting media and sponsors and road security. Those who are familiar with automobiles may like to assist with technical inspection, or those with other more specialized skills can come work the radio or assist in the medical tent. Training for all areas will happen in the days leading up to the rally.
Registration is now open. The rally will start on March 12 at approximately 11:00 am and starts off from Camp Kindle. There are two service areas throughout the course with the rally expected to conclude at 6:30 pm, just before dark. The day will conclude with trophy presentations at 10:00 pm.