Conor Watkins’ Ozark Mountain Experience
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The Trespassers Wil/100 Acre Wood Rally Race – Extreme Auto Racing In The Great Outdoors
By Conor Watkins

The Trespassers Wil/100 Acre Wood Rally Race
-Extreme Auto Racing In The Great Outdoors


A rally car kicks up dust as it races along a gravel road at breakneck speeds.

On Feb 25 & 26, 2003, the Trespassers Wil and 100 Acre Wood ClubRally (TW/100AW) race will be held near Salem, MO.  This race was restarted on Feb 23, 2002 after a 19 year hiatus and ran again in Feb 2003 and 2004.  It is generally an enjoyable experience for all who attend and has become more popular with each passing year.

Rally racing tests the endurance of each driver and their car to the limit.  Rally racing is unique for several reasons.  Unlike stock car racing, NASCAR, Formula One, and others, rally racing involves racing on a track of an unknown type, often in extreme conditions.  Such courses often consist of rough roads or off-road tracks with sand, gravel, mud, water, and/or snow.  No two courses are the same.  Drivers know nothing about the track but all cars have a co-driver who essentially serves as a navigator.  The co-driver is given a map with simple course instructions and mileages before the race starts.  Turns are given at their specific mileages with the direction of change (left or right) and rated on a scale of 1 (extreme) to 10 (mild).  This is all the information that contestants know at the beginning of the race.

There is no standard length for a rally course.  Races can take place on short local tracks or take four or more days.  Rally races do have one thing in common.  They all take place with real cars on real roads.  Due to the rough conditions experienced in the races, auto manufactures tend to showcase cars that succeed in the races.  In addition, rally races are completely free to watch, as sponsors make the races possible.  Spectators are generally friendly and very down to earth.  One is likely strike up conversations with nearby viewers.

There are three main types of rally racing.  These are ProRally, ClubRally, and RallyCross.  RallyCross events feature obstacle courses on rough terrain with obstacles ranging from cones to trees and rocks.  Such courses are generally short.  ProRally and ClubRally are very similar and feature races up to several hundred miles taking place over a period of many days.  ProRally races are very competitive and cars must follow established specifications in order to enter.  Such races are held all over the world and often receive extensive media coverage.  ClubRally races are more of an entry level form of race with some restrictions relaxed.  These races are further subdivided into three classes of events, coefficient 1 (C1), coefficient 2 (C2), and coefficient (C3).  C1 races are generally short sprints, C2 races can have 65 stage miles, and C3 races can have 100 stage miles.  Rally races are held in stages with breaks in between in order to allow the drivers to rest, refuel, and repair their cars.  Although the TW/100AW race fits into the entry-level ClubRally category, this does not mean the race is any less exciting to watch.

Rally cars are often highly modified to enhance performance, safety, and durability.  Cars are usually required to have a roll cage and other safety features not included on most passenger cars due to the unpredictable and inherently risky nature of the races.  Stock drive train components may be switched for those of a higher performance or ruggedness.  Suspension is generally changed to improve handling and durability under rough conditions.

Both the cars and their driver must be able to handle rough conditions on an unknown track.  As with most races, the object of a rally race is to drive as fast as possible.  When skilled drivers come to curves, they often drift, or slide their car sideways through the curve for maximum performance, a technique that is thrilling for spectators to watch.


Subaru WRX in the process of sliding around a corner.

Videos: A Ford Mustang "6.3 liter" power slides around a corner.
Mitsubishi Evolution slides off road and then gets going again.



Two cars slide around a corner at the Feb 2003 race.

There are 5 classes of cars in rally racing.  Two of these rules apply to production based cars and trucks, while the other three apply to highly modified or custom built vehicles.  Rally cars are generally compact sedans such as the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Evolution, Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon/Plymouth Laser, and VW Beetle (new and old).  All wheel drive for improved traction and turbocharged/supercharged engines to provide extra power are a plus.  Some of the popular cars included in the races are also rear wheel drive.  These include BMWs (mainly the 3 series), Mazda RX7s, and other cars.  While most rally cars are compact sedans, other vehicles are allowed as long as they conform to certain standards.  Previous TW/100AW races have featured muscle cars such as the Ford Mustang and Chevy Nova, pickup trucks, and SUVs.  The higher center of gravity of these vehicles tends to be a disadvantage in such a race as cornering ability is often reduced.


An all wheel drive Subaru WRX races along the course.

More Pictures
-Mitsubishi truck takes on acorner
-A Saab comes around the corner
-A Mazda 323 racing
-A Mitsubishi Eclipse (DSM) racing
-Another DSM
-A New VW Beetle races

-Author watches as Toyota MR2 comes around corner
-Author watches as DSM comes around corner
-OOPS!  This guy went off the road!


A DSM (Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon/Plymouth Laser class car) rips around
a corner in the 100AW Rally Race.

Spectator safety is an important part of rally racing.  One should avoid getting too close to the track, especially near corners.  As cars slide around corners there is a chance that a car might lose control and crash, so stay to the inside of corners.  Also, as cars come around corners, gravel is often thrown at high speeds towards the outside of the curve.  These rocks could easily cause injury if they hit a sensitive location, such as the eyes.  Shatter resistant glasses are a good idea for spectators.  Crossing the course is also dangerous, as cars are moving fast and can appear from nowhere.  Drivers are not likely to be expecting people on the course, and this will be a distraction to them and the race in general.  Crossing an active course is also a direct violation of spectator rules.  There are people working the race along the course to insure driver and spectator safety.  Always be aware of and follow instructions these workers may give.  Always look for a way out, such as a stout tree to jump behind, in case something was to go wrong.

The Trespassers Wil/100 Acre Wood rally is a national event sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).  Drivers from all over the country will enter the race and experience the racing on rugged Ozark roads.  These events have brought cars not yet sold in the United States.  European spec Mitsubishi Evos have been imported specifically to participate in rally races.

The history of the 100 Acre Wood race is somewhat obscure as detailed documentation was not always kept.  The concept for the race started back in 1976 when a group of rally enthusiasts took over a McDonnell-Douglas race that had been held for years in Hermann, MO and introduced multiple stages to the race.  In 1977, the race was relocated to Rolla, MO and named the “Race in the 100 Acre Wood” (later shortened to “100 Acre Wood”) to go along with the group’s theme, Winnie The Pooh.  For the next seven years, the race would take place on various roads in the Mark Twain National Forest.  In 1980, the headquarters of the event was officially moved to Salem, as the more useable roads were in this area.  The course was so rough in 1977 that only seven cars finished!  By 1979, the 100 Acre Wood had become a nationally respected race.  Around 1983, the rally group grew older, started families, and lost interest in organizing the race.  Other reasons for the hiatus are rumored but those are not mentioned here.

In 2002, the old rally enthusiasts had sent their kids off and figured they could run a race once again.  Those who were around the earlier races in the Salem and Ellington areas remembered the funs times and rallied (no pun intended) for the race to return.  The 2002 race featured 55 entrants and was well received by local residents and spectators even though a serious accident cut the race short.

This year’s race promises to be bigger and better than ever.  An additional race, “Trespassers Wil…” was added to the Friday schedule in 2003.  The symbol of this race is typical of a sign warning people to keep off land only the last portion of the sign is missing.  Since such a sign appeared in Winnie The Pooh, the organizers of the race are keeping with the original theme.  So, it may mean “Trespassers Wil… be prosecuted or shot!” but that doesn’t matter for the race.  This race is a coefficient 2 (C2) race and is not as long as the C3 100AW race held the next day. It is scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. and end around 7:00 p.m.  This race will start in Ellington, and pass near the towns of Viburnum and Potosi.  The counties of Crawford, Iron, and Washington will be introduced to the race.  Local officials are happy have their counties and towns host the race, as it brings tourism to their rural areas.

The 100 Acre Wood will be held on its traditional day of Saturday.  Route maps are not yet out but it is suspected that the race will take place near the old course.  Information on the race will be available at its headquarters of Dent County Motors, a car dealership located at #2 South Main St. (Hwy 19 north) in Salem.  In order to make sure the guides are available, it might be best to call Dent County Motors at 573-729-3131 or 1-800-831-4305 before making the 30 or so mile trip to Salem.

In previous races, spectator points have varied in number between 3 and 7 designated viewing locations, all picked for their ease of viewing and reasonably safe position.  The locations are spaced out over a wide area of the Mark Twain National Forest so no one will be able to visit all of them due to the time required to travel between each spot.  One must pick and choose locations that are either close or on the way to another location.  The race can easily be viewed at multiple locations during the race.  In order to pick locations, it is best to have a course guide.  These are available at Dent County Motors and possibly other Salem businesses.

The 2002 race took place on a bright, sunny, and warm day in February and the weather was perfect for spectators to enjoy the race.  The 2003 race took place on a cold and rainy day while the 2004 race experienced weather similar to that of the 2002 race.   One might want to bring warm clothing with them just in case the weather is cold or changes for the worse during the race.


A Subaru WRX spins itself back onto the road.

Some of the race took place in very rural locations where restaurants and gas stations were far away.  One will need to plan ahead to avoid running out of gas or going hungry.  Leave with a full tank and pack a sandwich or other simple lunch.  Also bring water or something else to drink as the spectator points don’t offer running water.  Portable johns were available at most points so one won’t need to go in the woods when nature calls.

While driving around Salem and other towns of the central Ozarks, one will view some of the more spectacular and rugged scenery in the remote Ozarks of Missouri.  Driving to the various spectator points takes one on some more remote highways that are undeveloped and scenic.  Part of the race takes place between the Current and Black Rivers of the Ozarks.  This region consists of especially scenic and rugged hills, caves, springs, and streams.  Be sure to bring a camera for the race, as well as the scenery.  Rally racing is an excellent way to experience auto racing and meet great people in the great outdoors.

This year’s 100AW race will start at 11:00 a.m. and awards will be given at 11:00 p.m.  Cars will be viewable in downtown Salem at 10:00 a.m. before the race begins.


Cars are viewable in downtown Salem before the race.

To get to Salem, MO take Hwy 72 southeast out of Rolla for about 26 miles.  The highway will turn left at a T-junction.  Turn and follow Hwy 72 for around 2 miles to Salem.  To get to Dent County Motors, turn left (north) at Hwy 19 (Main St.).  A well known and highly visible landmark marks this intersection.  The landmark is the high-rise Tower Inn, a hotel that has been in the process of being torn down for several years.  It has been in its stripped condition for so long that Salem won’t seem the same once it is finally torn down.  After turning onto Hwy 19 north, Dent County Motors will be on the right after about one quarter mile.  It might also be wise not to exceed the speed limits on the way to and from the races.  Local law enforcement agencies are rumored to be out in force to earn some extra ticket revenue from visitors watching the race.

For those with a computer and broadband Internet access, excellent video footage of the 2004 race my be viewed at http://www.mfavp.com/videos/index.htm.  This 15 minute video is about 73 megabytes in size and features interviews with the drivers and footage of the race at two spectator points.

The organizers of the 100 Acre Wood Rally are still looking for volunteers to help with many of the things that have to be done.  They will need course marshals, among other things, as well as people to assist at the Paddock (repair area), etc.  Amateur Radio Operators are especially needed, but everyone will be put to work.  Anyone interested in helping can register at www.100aw.org or e-mail the organizers for more information.

Information from the Trespassers Wil/100 Acre Wood website (www.100aw.org) was used in the creation of this article.  For more information, view this site or stop by Dent County Motors in Salem.  The Sports Car Club of America website (http://www.scca.org/amateur/performance_rally/index.html) was also consulted for information.


Need a better view?
The author demonstrating one way to get an improved
view of the race.

(C) 2006 by Conor Watkins