By: Mark Valenti, photos: Amanda Ashley Photography, courtesy of the Sextant Group, Inc. an NV5 Company
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the q3_2019 issue of quattro Magazine.
Fifty-five people. Eighteen teams. Sixteen Audi vehicles. Eight finishers. Four rings. After fourteen years of sponsoring successful road rallies in Pittsburgh, The Sextant Group, Inc., brought the company’s annual tradition to Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun for the second year.
Hosted by Audi North Scottsdale, sponsored by The Sextant Group, Inc. and in partnership with Audi Club Arizona, The Rally in the Valley is a contest of precision. Road rally participants receive a series of instructions filled with riddles and puzzles that lead drivers and navigators on a specific route. The course is planned to be completed in a set time and distance, and the goal is to finish in as close to that precise time and mileage as possible. The “riddle rally” is not your typical race – it involves solving clues to decipher a route driven at legal speeds on public roads. Smartphones and GPS can be dangerous tools! The rally is deliberately designed so that the information found on a GPS or smartphone can be misleading.
On Saturday, April 20th, departing at 1:01 pm sharp, the first car led the way to what would turn out to be a fun and maddening day of friendly competition, confounding clues, and unbridled team spirit. Winding through saguaro-lined trails in Central Scottsdale, mountainous splendor in Pinnacle Peak, vast stretches of open roads in North Scottsdale, switchbacks from Cave Creek Road to Rio Verde Drive, buttes in Carefree, McDowell Mountain Ranch, Greasewood Flat and Reata Pass, drivers and their navigators got a taste of the varying degrees of flora and fauna and Southwest landscape that make the desert terrain so unique.
The Rally Master’s actual time and distance were 2:37:20 and 83.4 miles. Rally Winners Karen and Chris Rike and Rich and Jill Hoffecker, Team Traffic Law Guys, took 1st place with 249 points, a time of 4:08 and 89.3 miles. Ken and Deena Blasor, Team Choke took 2nd place with 540 points, a time of 4:18 and 94 miles. Hyer Solomon and Nichol Brown, Team Hyer Quality Detail took 3rd place with a total time of 4:17:00 and a total mileage of 113.2.
According to some, this year’s most perplexing clue was the first checkpoint. Many were grateful that the Black Angus were not part of the route (last year those cattle were hiding on Rally Day.)
Participants Dan and Claire Nelson were spotted in a Yellow 1974 Super Beetle that had been converted from gasoline to an all-electric vehicle.
Audi vehicles in the line-up included Rally Master Mark Valenti in a Tornado Gray 2016 Audi A7; Rick Pennell, Ron Beckwith, and Estevan Acevedo in a Mythos Black 2018 Audi S5; Nick Sebastian and Robb Mullican in a white 2010 Audi A6; Cody McDaniel and Nathan Spangler in a red 2018 Audi S3; Ken and Deena Blasor in a Samoa Orange 2013 Audi TTS; Vic and Missie Valliere and John Lee in a Florett Silver 2017 Audi A4; Hyer Solomon and Nichol Brown in a purple Shift 2013 Audi S5; Randy and Rose Nelson and George Gee and Wanda Royal in a Monsoon Gray 2018 Audi A5; Karen and Chris Rike and Rich and Jill Hoffecker in a Volcano Red 2013 Audi allroad; Rob and Heather Soncini and Anthony and Sarah Cappucci in a white 2012 Audi A4; Linda Plummer and Joan Mertens in a Sepang Blue 2015 Audi S5; Brandon and Sara Osborne in a white 2018 Audi S5; Jim and Chanda Herman in a white 2013 Audi A5; Paul Targosz and Tyler Aird in a Grey Matte 2018 Audi R8; Brian McCauley and Dan Klaudt in a black 2009 Audi R8 and Rally Gal Jeanna Zelin in a white 2019 Audi Q5.
Audi Club Arizona President, Paul Targosz, said, “Audi Club Arizona was pleased to be involved with the 2nd Annual Rally in the Valley. The Sextant Group, Inc. put together a great event, and our members genuinely enjoyed the friendly competition, challenge and comradery. We’re looking forward to next year’s rally.”
The 3rd Annual Rally in the Valley is slated for April 2020.