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So a couple of weeks ago (mid January) I finally got around to doing something that had been on the list for a while: doing a training day at Rally Ready Driving School and getting to hang out afterward with chief rally master Dave Carapetyan and his crew.

I first met Dave in the summer of 2018 as part of the extensive preparation for me to spend a month in the Nyae Nyae area of Namibia. Four wheel skills are a must in Namibia, and the roads are a mix of gravel and sand, very close to the surface at Rally Ready. So I called up the school and was able to get a few hours of personal instruction from Dave, which gave me EXACTLY what I needed for the trip.

We had to traverse a 300km section called the White Road, which is one of the most dangerous roads in the country and many deadly accidents happen along that stretch, mostly because people “drift” into the silty areas at the edge of the ever-changing road and flip their vehicles. Yeah. I know. So this is why it was essential to get real training from someone with expertise in this kind of surface (slippery and unpredictable) so that I could do my share of driving on the trip as needed, and be able to handle it if we had to do an emergency transport to a hospital (which in the end, ended up being me, ironically).

At that time, Dave invited me to come back and do some regular rally training and get to know his school and crew. It took a while due to COVID and all, of course, for me to get back out there. I finally did it and wow! Rally driving is HARD. It’s also very counter intuitive since it asks you to do pretty much the exact opposite of what you do in regular street driving.

In order to be a good rally driver, you essentially keep the gas floored and control the trajectory of the vehicle with braking and very tight, minimal steering moves. Whereas in street driving, you control with the wheel and are fluid on your gas pedal, both of which will end up sliding you either off the track or into a complete spinning circle in a rally car. (Yeah, that happened.)

I’d like to do more training out here – one more one-day and then graduating into a two-day. Rally cars are loud, hot, super powered, and I love them. Can’t wait to see these guys again.

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