Gimmick Rallye Descriptions

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This page is created to hold brief descriptions of what a gimmick car rallye is or what it is like. One of these descriptions usually appears on a rallye flyer and announcement webpage. Some RMs apparently feel that the flyer is for those who know what a rallye is. (Flyers also give other advice, such as

  • No experience is necessary.
  • First-time rallyists are encouraged and will receive extra help.
  • Any type of car is welcome.

But these aren't the topic of this page.)

Some RMs want to stress that it is a logic puzzle or a challenge, not "a drive in the country."

Many people describe a rallye as a form of scavenger hunt, though people have different ideas about what that is like.

Many RMs want to stress that a rallye is nothing like a race. People often ask if time is a factor or a criterion, suggesting that they have some concerns about hurrying.

People often want to know how the rallye is scored.

Typical "Mixed Metaphor" Descriptions

These descriptions confuse a puzzle and a board game.

  • A rallye is not a race, but a puzzle where the game piece is your car and the roads are your game board.
  • It’s a slow logic and observation puzzle—your car is your game piece and roads form the game board.

Board Game Metaphors

The following was on TRC's "What's A Rallye?" page (in mid 2014):

  • A car rallye has been described as an extremely large board game: public streets are the board, and your car is your playing piece, and every intersection offers you choices. In each car, the driver and navigator(s) carefully follow instructions that direct them along a given course. There is a friendly competition at the finish to see which teams followed the course most accurately. Rallyes come in various shapes and sizes, but they are all non-racing events held on open public roads. Rallye teams include friends, couples, and entire families, and any type of car can be used.

Logic Puzzle

  • A gimmick rallye is a fun puzzle you solve while driving carefully, looking for special signs and decoding tricky route instructions for points. Join us for pizza at the finish.

This was lifted from one of Darin's flyers:

  • A gimmick rallye is not a race, but a fun puzzle that tests your logic and observation as you drive carefully along a predetermined course.

This was lifted from an ESCA April Fools rallye (and the capitalization is theirs):


Scavenger Hunt

This is similar to what Dean has posted to Zvents, which strictly limits an event description length.

  • Not a race, a big puzzle / competition (like a scavenger hunt): you'll drive your car—slowly—on streets with little traffic, carefully reading signs and determining which instructions are valid. Total drive: about 15 miles.

Dean has concerns that people may not all have the the same idea of what a scavenger hunt is.


This was lifted from Don Bess' recent flyer:

  • A rallye is not a race, but a fun test of your ability to follow instructions on a road course.

This was from an old Jeff Trimble rallye:

  • Remember a rallye is not a race! It is a test of your deductive skills in interpreting instructions.

From an old Bob Schott rallye:

  • A Road Rallye is not a race but a test of your ability to follow instructions over a pre-determined route. By catching the "tricks" and "gimmicks," you'll find coursemarkers. The more good coursemarkers you find; the better your score.

Other Descriptions

The following comes from TRC's handout (that may be used by RMs when people ask questions when they see CMs going up), based on the Bay Area Backroads article about rallyes:

  • A Car Rallye is a car competition in which teams vie for points by deciphering clues and following directions that lead them through a specific route. The directions can be very tricky, and participants need to be very focused. Rallyeist Adam Riggs says, “It’s an odd sort of mental challenge, really. It’s combining scavenger hunt and logic puzzles.” His teammate Brian Underwood adds, “It feels like driving through a crossword, almost.”

Gimmick Rallye Guide Introduction

The following comes from TRC's Gimmick Rallye Guide (version 3.2 of August, 2012).

  • The dictionary defines “gimmick” as a trick, device, a quirky feature, or a clev­er ploy. A gimmick car rallye is a car rallye competition full of tricky instruc­tions, entertaining details, deceptions, and puzzles. It is up to you, the rallye team, to follow instructions and figure out the various gimmicks in a particular rallye. Gimmicks include tricky wordings and easily misinterpreted definitions. This is a little like playing “Simon Says”: the master is attempting to mislead you, and you are attempting to do what is correct and not be misled.

It continues with a board game metaphor:

  • A gimmick car rallye is nothing like a race, though it does involve driving a car. It is more like playing a large board game: your car is your “playing piece” and the roads form the board. You have lots of choices: turn left, turn right, or continue straight. What you write on your score sheet will allow the rallye mas­ter to determine what key choices you made and will result in your score.

Sample Gimmicks

Many people find that explaining a sample gimmick is the best way to give the right idea.

From a Rallye Article

The following is a paragraph in Krider's article about an EDTC rallye. It doesn't claim to be an introduction to rallyes, but could serve.

  • The rallye is designed to trick teams into going along a certain route, while the "correct" route would offer more points. An example of a gimmick during the rallye was in the General Instructions it said "wood" would not appear on any signs. The Route Instructions told the teams to turn right at "Shadowood." Since the sequence "wood" didn't exist, the sign actually read "Shado" and didn't meet the requirements for the instruction to turn right. Teams that didn't turn on "Shadowood (or Shado)" would be rewarded with a coursemarker up the road which would earn them 10 points.

Dean's Introduction

Dean likes to tell people something like the following:

  • A rallye's top priority might be "Obey the law, drive slowly and safely, and don't take any chances." But by the end of the rallye, you might be told to "Turn left at the third chance." But to be correct you should not turn at the third chance, because that would be "taking chances."

This stresses that speeding is not at all part of the rallye.

Verbs for What Rallyists do for Instructions

Some of us were discussing what rallyists do (to instructions, esp. route instructions) while rallying. For example, a description may include, "decoding tricky route instructions."

These are options and some commentary about such verbs. (Here, the -ing form is used for all.)

something that makes no sense needs to be understood
something clear needs to be obeyed
get right
suggests an arbitrariness or unlikeliness?
someone needs something explained to them
thinking deeply about something puzzling
puzzling over
implies the potential of frustration or failure
thinking out (or over)
contemplation is needed
working out
contemplation is needed, success is likely; may imply challenge

See Also

Gimmick Rallye Slogans