North Central Regional VP Tim Beechuk, who has been working with Sandlapper Chapter’s Tom Lappin on the Shell TSD Rally for Oktoberfest 2019, has now gone over the top when it comes to volunteer service: In order to properly measure the route, he agreed to fly to San Diego to drive cross-country with rally steward Satch Carlson. “Satch already has his car wired for a rally computer,” says Beechuk, “but he forgotten to tell me that I’d have to do most of the driving.”
The Shell TSD Rally is scheduled for Wednesday, October 16—and this year it’s an afternoon rally. “We thought people might enjoy a more leisurely approach,” says Beechuk. “Instead of rising at dawn in order to start a rally when you’re half awake, why not enjoy the Shell morning, have a nice lunch, and then hit the road through some of South Carolina’s most scenic countryside?”
Recent years have seen an increased interest in the Oktoberfest TSD rally, perhaps because of the Shell fuel cards that are awarded to the top three finishers in each rally class—or perhaps because more drivers are discovering the fun and challenge of time-speed-distance rallying. Beechuk, who has years of sports-car rallying in his career, has taken a personal interest in the Shell TSD Rally this year. “It’s the 50th anniversary of the BMW CCA,” he says, “and we want to make sure everybody has a great time.”
Beechuk and Carlson hit the road as soon as the RVP landed in San Diego—although it took some time for the pair to actually find Interstate 8 and leave town. “I blame Waze,” says Carlson, referring to the popular navigation app.
“All I know is that Carlson drove us to Coronado Island,” says Beechuk, who recognized the locale from his years in the Navy. “But then, he’s only lived in the area since 2007. It takes a while to get familiar.”
In fact, Beechuk’s memories of the San Diego vicinity eventually served to get the pair headed east, where new adventures were sure to await them. “The Tecate Mountains are pretty spectacular,” says Beechuk, who also marveled at the Southern California desert sand dunes.
With a schedule that called for some long days of driving in order to have a week in South Carolina to fine-tune the rally, the pair chose the fastest route. “We like an orderly ascension,” says Beechuk. “We start on I-8, then move to I-10, and then I-20.” That route takes them across Texas, and requires some long days at the wheel.
Carlson’s well-known range anxiety did kick in as the pair crossed Texas. “He pretty much has Shell stations staked out in advance,” says Beechuk. “But he was kind of panicky as we left Midland without seeing a Shell sign, so we gave in and stopped at a Phillips 66 station—where the best they had was 90 octane. Of course, we passed a Shell station about five miles after that.”
By the time the two had burned through that gas, however, order was restored to the universe. Not only were Shell stations more abundant in the eastern part of the country, they were now dispensing 93-octane Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium fuel.
By the time they crossed the Mississippi River, the voyage had settled into a set routine: drive, sleep, eat: repeat. And the 93 Octane standard seemed to be consistent in the eastern states, to Carlson’s relief. However, one Mississippi Shell station is definitely out of the Friday Fill-Up competition: