One Lapp of Ohio 2022 – The Rally Tour’s Silver Anniversary

by Steve Johnson

photos by Aaron Krott and Paul Lewer

Two motorsports events with ties to Audi celebrated their 25th anniversaries this past October. First is Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta where Audi won nine consecutive races from 2000 to 2008. The second took place October 21-23 when Audi Club Ohio Valley ran the 25th annual One Lapp of Ohio on the twisty roads of southeast Ohio. Twenty-five consecutive years must mean it’s a successful event. So what’s the backstory behind this drive in the countryside?

In 1998, Phil and Dallas Smith, former SCCA rally competitors, organized the inaugural event. Originally named the Ohio Rally Tour, it was co-sponsored by Audi and MG club chapters with about 20 participating cars. Not a serious rally, more part rally/part fun run, it still covered 300+ miles of rural byways. At the outset, events were based in Coshocton but since 2006, the headquarters has been Salt Fork Lodge in the state park near Cambridge, Ohio. Using this scenic state park’s lodge as the RallyTour’s HQ allows participants to stay, eat, and meet all in the same facility.

2004 saw a change in event leadership to Audi Club Ohio’s Carl Lapp, father of current Rallymaster Jeff Lapp.  Jeff helped his dad by taking the route layout duties in 2005 while Carl handled the event’s administrative duties. Unfortunately Carl’s health declined so Jeff took on the entire event’s workload in 2006. In 2008, to honor Carl Lapp’s memory, the rally was given its truly fitting name, One Lapp of Ohio.

While the RallyTour has always been a light-hearted time-speed-distance competition, it evolved to ensure no one gets overly confused, AKA lost, and become more challenging. Mischievous route instructions common in the early years are now toned down to preclude teams getting too far off-course. To eliminate the tie scores that were occurring, from 2007 onward penalty points are assessed for each second (down from six seconds) that a team is early or late to a checkpoint. Also, during the RallyTour’s infancy, route instructions with identified checkpoint locations were given to teams the night before the start. Now they are handed to teams, in their cars with engines running, just one minute prior to their departure time; and checkpoint locations are a secret to be revealed by a small white sign along the roadside.

As if trying to nail six checkpoints over an all-day drive isn’t hard enough, to keep teams strictly following the route instructions, Rallymaster Jeff introduced “hidden checkpoints” in 2008. Ideally, one hidden checkpoint awaits in the morning and afternoon, but ultimately it depends on route design and the number of volunteers to man checkpoints. Luckily, the checkpoint worker’s job was made easier in 2020 (thank you COVID) when paper scorecards were replaced by taking time-stamped pictures of the cars as they pass the checkpoint signs.

Rallymaster Jeff’s tool of choice for route design is Google Maps. Years ago, he printed maps to lay out a route, but with improvements to Google Maps, using it off-line along with a good GPS phone app are now all that’s needed. Jeff’s 2021 route included a very challenging twist to both design and execution. He sent even numbered teams in one direction around a 33.8-mile loop and odd numbered teams in the opposite direction. This twist caused considerable angst among teams who thought they may be lost as they encountered fellow RallyTour competitors headed in the opposite direction. 

After all the teams’ efforts on Saturday, what accolades await the three podium place finishers at the Sunday morning awards breakfast? A little plastic trophy and a certificate affirming their accomplishment! After all, it’s not about the silverware, it’s about having fun. But the lucky winning team also receives the grand prize—a certificate good for Audifest, an annual high performance driver education event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course run by Audi Club Ohio Valley in July. 

But that’s not all; there are also special awards going back to the RallyTour’s earliest days. The one no team wants to receive is the Tow Strap Award. It’s literally just that and it’s awarded to the team that racked-up the most penalty points. They don’t get to keep the tow strap though, the driver and co-driver merely sign the package to mark their place in history. Because inconsistency must be celebrated, the Golden Calculator Award goes to the team with the largest standard deviation between their checkpoint scores. There’s also a Rookie of the Year Award that goes to the first-timers with the lowest penalty point total. In some years unique circumstances call for the presentation of impromptu special awards. This year, the Sherlock Holmes Award was given to brothers Rich and Dave Baytosh who “achieved super sleuth status by incurring the fewest penalty points at a hidden checkpoint”.

The silver anniversary One Lapp of Ohio was another success, experienced the best weather in years, and included a new curveball to challenge veteran teams. Over the past 15 years, three teams have won a total 13 times. So, to level the playing field for all, Rallymaster Jeff introduced a handicap system: 25 penalty points for each past victory. The new system gave the Baytosh brothers 100 points before even turning a wheel. It may not seem like a lot, but in their 2017 and 2020 victories they only recorded 87 and 78 penalty points, respectively.  The handicap may have only served to motivate them though as they triumphed yet again in 2022. Fittingly, their trophy reads, “First Place – What Handicap?”

Jeff envisions running One Lapp of Ohio for years to come. So as long as at least 15 teams sign up, Jeff will create a route sure to test your navigation and math skills. Please come to Ohio next year, October 20-22, and take a drive with us in the countryside!

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