Roads closing for Cog Rally

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— The Routt County Commissioners have authorized the temporary closure of certain rural county roads, making a road rally race more feasible this September.

"Event organizers have really addressed all issues and concerns we had," said County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak during a meeting Monday.

The roads being closed for the "Performance Rally" are located in west and northwest Routt County, with the race starting and ending at the Hayden Speedway. The race is scheduled for Sept. 15, and the roads will be closed in sections, with most being closed for less than two hours.

The Performance Rally will be like nothing Routt County has ever seen.

The race is sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America and is being organized by professional racers Jim Gill and Mark Cox, both from Routt County.

Performance rallies are very popular in Europe, garnering more spectators than even soccer.

The race is run on dirt or gravel roads, the worse the better, said organizer Jim Gill with the locally-based High Country Rally Group Inc.

The racers, a team of two, are actually racing against the clock and aren't racing head-to-head. The team with the best time wins.

One of the few property owners that complained about the event was afraid of the "rutting" that might occur to the already poor road conditions.

Gill assured the commissioners that the roads will be regraded in any problem areas.

Since many of the roads are in rural, agricultural areas, Gill also said insurance will pay for any damage to livestock, fences etc.

The High Country Rally Group is also paying for ambulance and fire services, as well as having two county deputies on duty.

The deputies will be used to ensure that racers obey the laws in the "transit" part of the race. Transit roads are used to get from one "stage" to another, and traffic laws must be obeyed. Drivers are eliminated if caught breaking the law.

The stage portions of the race consists of rugged or gravel roads, where many pitfalls may await the driver.

The driving team has one person driving and the other person navigating with a special book. The racers aren't allowed on the course and can't see the book until the race begins. The book is full of symbols and diagrams that direct the car over unknown roads.

In the case of the Routt County race, wildlife and livestock will certainly be mentioned as a pitfall to be watched for in the race, Gill said.

While Gill doesn't expect many spectators at first, his club will be making maps with times and locations of the best spots for public viewing.

Gill said if all goes well, the race could be the first step in what could eventually become a pro-level race with national television coverage.

The race could even expand into Moffat County, which has shown great interest in hosting the Performance Rally.

The rally group has given details to neighbors who might be affected by the road rally, asking for input.

"We don't want this to interfere with people," Gill said.

"We want to hear from them."

The group also plans to contact the property owners after the race to register any complaints or comments about the rally.

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