Frequently asked questions (updated 1-25-2004)
* How are starting numbers assigned? Enter early and you'll
get an earlier number. As usual, however, past winners always start
first, regular entrants have priority, and factory teams will be spread
out somewhat. Final car numbers will be assigned around February
* What are the risks? Statistically the winter Alcan is much safer than summer, but potential consequences are still high. We've never had an injury accident in winter, but a few cars have been badly damaged. With 25 entries and staff this involves 120,000 vehicle miles in serious winter conditions, and cautious driving is expected of everyone.
* How much help can I expect? Our first concern is everyone's personal safety, worrying about equipment is a distant second. What this means in practice is that radios, planning, a "buddy system", capable teams, and experienced official crews make speedy response to any problem the rule, but we may not have enough resources at any given time & location to spend a lot of hours helping with a broken or badly "stuffed" vehicle. At a minimum, you should expect transport to the nearest warm place where commercial help is available. We will also do our best to help with vehicle repair or extraction, but not if this would in itself be a hazard or limit resources needed to insure the safety of others. (For an example of this in practice, see the end of Mary Lowry's article from 1998).
* Can you carry some gear for us if we have 3 people in an Impreza? We'd like to avoid this, but see the need in such cases. Here's the solution: officials will not carry your parts, tires, or safety equipment, but will transport one bag of personal items per "small" vehicle (just be sure it's not mandatory items for your overnight comfort, an official vehicle could be hours behind assisting someone else...).
* What kind of vehicle do you recommend? You'd likely have the most fun in something like an Audi Quattro or Subaru Turbo (I've done 3 winter Alcans in 100,000+ mile Quattros), and find the easiest drive and most reserve capability in something like a newer F150 +cab 4x4 (trucks are also much cheaper than a comparable SUV...). We'll tend to use SUV's and trucks for official vehicles, so if we have to leave someone's car at the bottom of a gully we can cite safety reasons rather than lack of capability and planning ;>) My own concept of a great winter vehicle is an Ford SuperDuty 4x4 with the PowerStroke diesel - it's amazingly fast and economical (too bad I can't afford one). Another big factor is fuel range, either pick a vehicle that will do 300 miles or plan a safe way to carry extra (yes our sweep vehicles carry extra cans, but you'll quickly get tired of worrying or waiting...). Did I mention a Power Stroke might go 600 miles on a tank?
PS: We have had teams in rental vehicles. We can't recommend it, but this isn't a race and as long as the contract clearly shows you can drive in Canada we'd probably accept the vehicle.
* What kind of vehicle if I'm really serious about winning? Well, you won't win any ice races in a full size truck, so a safe compromise is probably a solid midsize SUV. This will give you space, reasonable handling, and reserve capability if the weather turns ugly. An AWD sedan is also nice, but they haven't proven much faster in ice races.
* What kind do you NOT recommend? Well, I wouldn't use a 2wd unless you're pretty talented and need the challenge. Same story for a short-wheelbase SUV or truck: a long wheelbase is much more stable, short is nimble and "tossable" but demands skill and attention (show up with a 5" lift kit too and we'll just send you home - nobody is that talented...). Also be wary of any 4x4 with automatic hubs (replace them with Warn manual hubs and you'll probably be fine). We've never had a Ford Ranger or Explorer finish the winter Alcan with it's 4wd system still functioning. The '95 Ranger +cab I bought for the '96 Alcan Winter Rally had a front hub fail about 1,700 miles into the event, and in 1990 Siegfried Lucka (a Paris-Dakar veteran who bought a new Ranger for Alcan) swore he'd have driven his Caravan if he knew he'd be in 2wd for 3,500 miles...
* What's an "ice race"? It's simply an autocross on ice or snow, with snowbanks instead of pylons. These are run 1 car at a time, and our venues have included 1/4 mile oval tracks, snowmobile courses on frozen lakes or rivers, and the Anchorage Sports Car Club's road course on Big Lake, near Wasilla. (We've also called these "Solo II" in the past, but only some of these have been "official" SCCA Solo II's and we don't want to misuse their name).
* When is the next Alcan? The next Alcan Winter Rally will be in February 2008. The next summer Alcan will be in August 2004 to celebrate our 20th anniversary!: There are already 20 "Adventure Touring" entries in the new motorcycle class, and we expect 30+ total entries.
* Why is your web site so basic? We're trying to make information quickly and easily available, not impress with html tricks. Based on responses we see, many web browsers out there still doesn't support frames, so we'll stick with the basics for now. (OK if you have bandwidth to spare, here's some music to read by (or would you prefer Bach or "North to Alaska"?).