A little background on “TULIPS” used in rallying

Recently during one of my rally schools, I was asked, “what is a tulip rally?”

Let’s start with what a TULIP is:

A tulip is a graphical portrayal of a Route Instruction (RI), generally needing no accompanying text. A sign or landmark may be incorporated in a tulip if needed, and of course a CAST (Change Average Speed To) if used in a Time Speed Distance (TSD) Road Rally.  Tulips are often used on the popular TOURING and ENDURANCE and Brisk Gravel TSD Rallies in the NorthWest.  They are a staple of STAGE RALLIES where PACE NOTES are not used.

At a quick glance and with a little bit of imagination, the ball is a root, the road you are on is a stem, and the arrow at the end is a flower, i.e. a “tulip”.  (see last couple of diagrams shown above….)

To interpret the tulip, visualize approaching an intersection, The direction you are coming from has a ball at the bottom. The direction you are to turn to has an arrow on that end.  The rest depicts the roads and side roads that you do not take (no arrow on the end…)

Tulips are a good way of doing Route Instructions for complex intersections, and are used in STAGE RALLY route books because they can be interpreted by a navigator very quickly.  There’s little need for a detailed explanation of the difference between “turn”, “bear”, “press on” and other common RI terminology. Using the event’s main road rule, go until you come to an in intersection that looks like the one in the Route Intructions or you are at that mileage.

Back in the day, I think our standard format was a 3×4 grid allowing 12 Route Instructions per page. As usual, the RIs are numbered, but may not be in order (basic trap). Of course, nefarious Rallymasters don’t necessarily place the ball at the bottom of the diagram….   More on TRAPS and TRAP RALLIES a bit later…

So a TULIP RALLY is one that relies on these GRAPHICAL portrayals to guide you instead of or in addition to a written description like:  “bear LEFT at second opportunity”