Iron Butt Rally
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Iron Butt Rally Rules Iron Butt Logo

© 2016, Iron Butt Association, Chicago, Illinois  Please respect our intellectual property rights. Do not distribute this document, or portions therein, without the written permission of the Iron Butt Association.




[Copyright 1999, Iron Butt Association, Chicago, Illinois]

Association of the World's Toughest Motorcycle Competitors, Dedicated to the Sport of Safe Long Distance Endurance Riding

Please respect our intellectual property rights. Do not distribute this document, or portions thereof, without the written permission of the Iron Butt Association.


Michael Kneebone, President
Iron Butt Association
6326 W. Grace Street
Chicago IL 60634
June 14, 1999



The Iron Butt rally is an eleven-day endurance motorcycle event, broken into four sections (or legs), traversing a large section of North America. It is not a race. No benefits, actual or implied, accrue to the rider who finishes a section (or the entire rally) in the shortest amount of time. Finishing positions will be determined solely by the points obtained by the riders during the entirety of the event.

The following rules, tips, and miscellaneous information are designed to provide the rider with the minimum amount of background material necessary to commence the event. Information contained in Section II (Rules) is deemed to be crucial. Prior to the commencement of the event, each rider will sign a certification to the effect that said rules have been read and understood. No deviation from them will be permitted. No individual other than the president of the Iron Butt Association or his designated representative has the power to waive, modify, countermand, or otherwise interpret said rules.

Footnotes are provided in aid to understanding the basic rules. They will be construed to carry the weight and force of the referenced rule itself.

Information contained in Sections III (Tips) and IV (Miscellaneous Information) is deemed to be parenthetical commentary, designed to assist the rider insofar as accuracy permits.


A. Equipment

1. Rider: Each rider shall have in his or her possession or within his or her immediate control at all applicable times the following items:

a. A valid driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement (if required by the issuing agency of the rider's domicile);

b. Current registration for the motorcycle;

c. Proof of liability insurance in the minimum amount of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) per person, three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000 per accident) in United States currency; and

d. Appropriate riding clothing, including a motorcycle helmet.

2. Motorcycle: Each motorcycle ridden in this event must be equipped at all applicable times with the following items:

a. A valid license plate;1

b. An odometer in working order;2

c. A muffler in legal working order;3 and

d. Fuel capacity nominally not to exceed seven (7.00) U. S. gallons. If fuel in excess of said limit is carried, the fuel container(s) must meet each and every one of the following conditions:

(1) The total fuel capacity of the motorcycle may not exceed eleven (11.00) U. S. gallons (15.00 gallons sidecar class);

(2) Said additional fuel must be carried in one or more of the following containers or combination thereof:

(a) Stock (OEM) equipment; or

(b) Expansion of stock (OEM) equipment, provided that such expansion be of similar material, gauge, and construction as that of the stock container; or

(c) NASCAR, IHRA, or NHRA fuel cells, or

(d) Other aftermarket or homemade container(s), whose approval rests at the sole discretion of the rallymaster;4

(3) Any auxiliary tank(s) must be mounted in a secure manner so as to preclude movement thereof (however, seat mounted fuel cells, by their vary nature, are allowed some minor movement due to foam compression);5

(4) All fuel lines must be routed so as not to interfere with the operation of the motorcycle;

(5) An electric fuel pump, if used, must be properly wired and fused; and

(6) The auxiliary tank(s) must be properly vented for pressure buildup and overflow.

B. Conduct

1. Sportsmanship: The rider will act in a sportsmanlike manner at all times. Any attempt at cheating, even to the degree that the rules are alleged not to be understood, can result in immediate disqualification of the rider. These rules apply to conduct prior to the start of the rally, during the rally, and after the rally without any limitation as to time.

2. Execution of Documents:

a. Acknowledgements: Each rider will execute a signed acknowledgement prior to the commencement of the rally that the rider (1) understands these rules and (2) is aware of the risks inherent in participating in the rally.

b. Impoundment of vehicle: Each rider will execute a signed agreement to permit the Iron Butt Association to impound the rider's motorcycle at the end of the rally for up to twelve (12) hours to determine that fuel restrictions have been met.

c. Release: Each rider will execute a release to permit the video and/or audio recording of the rider's participation in the event at any appropriate stage thereof.

    1. Assistance:

a. Riders will not receive undue assistance during the event. In determining what constitutes "undue assistance," the rallymaster's determination shall be final. Close questions in the interpretation of this section shall be construed against the contestant.



C. Scoring

1. Points awarded at individual checkpoints: Riders may obtain points at individual checkpoints in three categories: arrival, gas, and bonus location. In each case the rider must (1) appear at the checkpoint and (2) submit to the scorer prior to the time that the checkpoint closes any and all documents that support the rider's claim for the requested points. Acceptable documentation in each of these categories consists of:

a. Arrival: A completed Answer and Scoring Sheet. Points will be awarded at each checkpoint to any rider who qualifies in this category.

b. Gas: A completed Answer and Scoring Sheet, in addition to a gas log and supporting receipts for the purchase of all gasoline during that leg.6 Five hundred (500) points will be awarded at each checkpoint to any rider who qualifies in this category.

c. Bonus locations: A completed Answer and Scoring Sheet, in addition to receipts, photographs, and/or other specified documentation that evidence the rider's having ridden to one or more bonus locations during that leg within the confines of any and all parameters established for said bonus location(s). Points awarded for bonus locations are variable.

(1) In cases of bonus locations requiring documentation of the rider's visit by photograph, the photographic image must:

(a) Be sufficiently clear to depict that which it purports to depict;

(b) Not be from a digital camera; and

(c) Show either the rider or the rider's identification towel in close proximity to the referenced landmark.7

2. Finisher's points: A rider who arrives at four or more checkpoints prior to the closing of each said checkpoint will receive a total of ten thousand (10,000) points and will be considered a finisher of the rally.

3. Penalties

a. Disqualification: The rider may be disqualified for any of the following acts or omissions:

(1) Failing to render aid to a rally participant or to the public under emergency or life-threatening conditions;

(2) Acting in a manner that may tend to bring discredit upon the Iron Butt rally or the Iron Butt Association, including abuse of any individual sponsor(s) with whom the rider may be affiliated prior to the start of the rally, during the rally, and after the rally without any limitation as to time.

(3) Acting in a manner that may endanger the general public, spectators, or rally participants, which acts include, but are not limited to, the receipt of an excessive number of traffic citations, a charge of reckless driving, or other gross misconduct;

(4) Acting discourteously to checkpoint workers, staff, or rally participants;

(5) Defacing, altering, damaging, or otherwise tampering with any item that is used in aid of identifying either a rider or a location that a rider might visit;

(6) Failing to notify the rallymaster or the checkpoint within two (2) hours of the checkpoint's closing that the rider will be unable to arrive at the checkpoint;9

(7) Soliciting or receiving unauthorized assistance; 10

(8) Carrying more than eleven (11.00) U. S. gallons of fuel at any time during the rally (sidecars 15.00 gallons); or

(9) Aiding, abetting, or committing any other act of unsportsmanlike conduct not mentioned above.

b. Deductions

(1) Point-per-minute penalty: A rider who fails to arrive at a checkpoint before the time he or she is due in will be penalized, unless otherwise specified, five (5) points per minute, rounded to the next higher minute, until such time as the checkpoint closes.11

(2) Time-barred penalty: A rider who fails to arrive at a checkpoint before said checkpoint closes is considered to be time-barred and will receive zero (0) points for both that leg and the subsequent leg of the event.

(3) Replacement of motorcycle: A rider who fails to complete the rally on the motorcycle with which he or she began the event will be penalized ten thousand (10,000) points.12



A. Checkpoints

Your first priority at the start of each leg of the event is to arrive at the next checkpoint before it closes. In terms of your score on the rally, being time-barred is the worst thing that can happen to you. You lose every point you might otherwise have gained for two legs --- the one that you are on and the following one. If you miss two checkpoints, you might as well not have entered the event at all: you are a non-finisher, period.

Only after you can assure yourself that you are in no danger of being time-barred on a leg should you consider riding even two minutes out of your way to pick up a bonus, no matter how may valuable it may seem to you at the time. No bonus can ever be worth the risk of missing a checkpoint.

You may, and should, arrive at every checkpoint two hours before it opens. In that way you avoid both penalties for being time-barred and being late. At five points per minute and up, it doesn't take a lot of lateness to wipe out the bonus you strove so hard to obtain.

When you arrive at a checkpoint, fill out your Answer and Score Sheet and take it, along with any required receipts and photographs, to the scorer. Your time of arrival will be automatically entered by the scoring computer based upon its internal clock.

If you have read about earlier Iron Butt rallies you may have noted that missing a checkpoint meant being disqualified from the rally. In recognition of the many riders who had good rides but suffered a mechanical or other breakdown resulting in a missed checkpoint, we modified the rules in 1991.

Remember that if you get so far behind that you do miss a checkpoint, you need to concentrate on finishing the rally instead of continued bonus hunting. By eliminating bonus points on the next leg, we give you an opportunity to regroup and head straight to the next checkpoint. The penalty, while severe, should also encourage your conservative side to think twice before heading for a 3,000 point bonus in Tok, Alaska.

B. Bonus locations

If you do nothing more than show up at checkpoints on time and produce receipts for the purchase of gasoline, your final score, principally because of the attrition of other riders, will probably place you somewhere in the middle of the pack. If you are interested in moving somewhat higher up the scoring ladder, there is only one way to do it: go to bonus locations.

In general, the closer a bonus location is to a straight-line route from checkpoint to checkpoint, the less its value. The more displaced the bonus location from the beaten path, the greater its worth. Iron Butt rallymasters historically have put considerable thought into the selection and valuation of such bonus locations. You should do so as well, given the limited amount of time with which you have to analyze the various problems you will face. It will always be a matter of balancing miles and time.

1. The basic guidelines:

Prior to the start of the rally, and at each subsequent checkpoint, you will be given a packet containing a list of bonus locations that may be visited by you during the next leg of the event. Your task is to decide which, if any, of the listed locations is attainable by you during the running of that leg. Some of the locations might contain restrictions as to the date or time of your visit or require that you produce photographic proof of your visit. If there are such conditions, you must abide by them.

You may pick up bonuses in any order you want. The listing of bonus locations that you receive is usually sorted to make finding cities and/or towns easier. You decide which items to get and in what order.

On that note please be aware that you may only pick up bonus items on the leg of the rally that you are currently running. For planning purposes, you should think of the rally as five separate events. Bonus locations referenced on, for example, the first leg of the event are of no concern to you on any subsequent leg, even if you happen to ride within twenty feet of the site.

If there are time or date restrictions on a bonus, it is your responsibility to ensure that the time on the receipt you obtain for proof is correct and within the guidelines given. Unless the bonus listing says otherwise, we will allow a reasonable variance (5 minutes in most cases) with the time.

Always make sure that the date on each receipt is legible. All gas receipts that are submitted as a bonus item must be dated. Fuel log receipts are an important exception to this rule; it is acceptable to submit a fuel log receipt without the date imprinted. However, since nearly every gas outlet in the United States issues computer-generated receipts, we would immediately be suspect should you turn in a great many receipts that bear no date stamps.

The Iron Butt rally may remind you of a scavenger hunt. It isn't. If we tell you to pick up a gaming chip from Las Vegas, our intent is that you ride to Las Vegas and pick one up. Do not stop at the California border and ask returning gamblers if they might have a souvenir chip to sell you. That will not get you any points, but it will get you disqualified from the rally.

2. What you should expect

Be prepared for anything: bonus locations are held in a variety of settings. In the past we have sent riders to police stations, morgues, museums, private homes, caves, the tops of mountains, and the ashes of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. Riders have watched graphic films of people being killed in accidents. If you are easily shocked, stay at home.

There may be a short hike required to collect some bonuses. If that represents a potential problem for you, please contact us as soon as possible.

You should carry a flashlight for bonuses that you may be required to visit after dark or in conditions without good lighting, natural or artificial.

At a checkpoint you might see a wall map with bonus locations marked for the upcoming leg. The map is a promotional item for spectators. Feel free to look at it, but the intent of the map is to give others an idea of where riders may go. Don't make it the basis of your riding plan. We do not guarantee the map's accuracy.

When choosing which bonuses to go for, don't forget to allow time to rest and sleep. Remember that every bonus, even a gas stop, takes time, usually a minimum of ten minutes.

Don't forget to account for the weather when planning your route. Should you reject a ride across the hot desert in favor of bonuses located in the mountains, you will be responsible should bad weather move in and block your path. We remind you that the Iron Butt is the World's Toughest Motorcycle Competition and no latitude is given for bad weather.

When route directions are given, please consider them advisory only. While much care has been taken to make directions accurate, we cannot guarantee them. Directions are included to save you time searching for hard-to-find bonus places. We may have mistyped a direction or turn. Use common sense. If a route direction temporarily sends you in the "wrong" direction (e.g., we tell you to go south when you know you should go north), the instructions will invariably warn you.

3. When things go wrong

There are no "tricks" on the Iron Butt rally. If you cannot find each bonus on a map (or the nearest city from which detailed instructions to a bonus location are given), either we made a mistake or you are doing something wrong. Contact the rallymaster immediately!

Before leaving a checkpoint, ensure that the description of the location of each bonus matches your map (e.g., is Chicago really near Interstate 90 in northeast Illinois?) If it does not, ask a checkpoint worker and/or the rallymaster for assistance. An Iron Butt Association official will be available at each checkpoint for at least two hours after the checkpoint's closing time to field questions. That is why you should understand the approximate location of each bonus you might potentially visit and have a route planned for the entire leg before leaving a checkpoint.

If you get to a bonus destination only to find that it is unavailable for any reason --- closed, moved, burned to the ground, etc. --- do your best to obtain a replacement item. For example, if the bonus instructs you to have breakfast at Joe's Cafe but the cafe has been recently relocated to an adjoining state by a tornado, go to another restaurant. If there are no other restaurants in town, get a gas or business receipt in the nearby area. If these options are not available locally, ride to the nearest town and get a receipt. Similarly, if you are told to buy a Coke at Mom's Grocery but Mom is out of Coke, buy a Pepsi. She won't care and neither will we.

Road construction during the summer can easily interfere with our best plans and yours. If you tried to visit a bonus location at the southern tip of Bryce Canyon National Park and found that the only access road to it was closed due to construction, you would go to the "Road Closed" sign and take a picture (see, 'III.C below for information on photographic documentation) to record that obstacle. You will receive credit for the bonus.

Where multiple paved access roads exist, however, you will be responsible for taking an alternate route to the bonus location. For example, there are three access roads into Badlands National Park. If an instruction required that you pick up a souvenir in the park but you discovered that one of the entrance roads closed, it would be your responsibility to try the others, taking a picture at each obstruction to your route.

These comments are nothing more than a recitation of common sense. We are dealing with some 150 bonus locations that are spread across the length and breadth of North America. We have several people visit each site in the weeks prior to the rally, but no matter how carefully we try to ensure the accuracy of our instructions, things are going to go awry. Where possible, the rally will make adjustments as needed. We have done our best; we expect that you will do yours as well.

4. Yielding to temptation

Because bonus location points at the higher levels of competition can mean the difference between winning the event or finishing in second place, you would not be surprised to learn that over the years riders have sought a variety of ways to obtain points without having satisfied the requirements for a particular bonus location. While such an approach might be seen to be nothing more than maximizing a competitive edge, we take a dimmer view of such tactics: we call that cheating.

The rally utilizes a computerized scoring system at checkpoints which, with the stroke of a single key, will provide a detailed, statistical analysis of the leg that you have just completed within two seconds of your check-in. Suffice it to say that if you attempt to claim bonus location points without having satisfied the requirements for visiting that location, the chances of your escaping the notice of our flagging and backtracking algorithms are non-existent. You would be far more successful challenging the computers at the Internal Revenue Service.

Your participation in the Iron Butt rally will be one of the truly memorable events in your motorcycling career. You might even achieve a certain degree of fame. All other things being equal, you should care more about being remembered as a finisher of the rally rather than as a cheater who was caught, exposed, and disqualified.

C. Photo bonuses

Many of the bonus locations in the 1999 Iron Butt rally will require documentation by a camera, occasionally one equipped with a flash. Although not required, a Polaroid camera, capable of producing photos on the spot, is the only practical device to use during the rally. Should you decide to not use a Polaroid, you will be handicapped by having to find a quick-print studio capable of producing your print pictures in time to hand in when you arrive at each checkpoint. This would be nearly impossible to do. Furthermore, without being able to examine your photos to ensure they meet the rules for clarity, you might well go crazy hoping that the pictures turn out.

Each rider will be issued a printed identification flag that must appear in each photo bonus picture. Should you desire to earn photo bonuses, the value of keeping your identification flag throughout the rally cannot be stressed enough.

If you lose your identification flag, you may still collect photo bonuses by placing yourself so that you may be readily be identified next to the object you are photographing. Once you do that, however, you may not later revert to using your flag.

The following is an example of a photo bonus that appeared in the 1995 Iron Butt rally:

816 POINTS: Take a picture of the fish or entrance sign at the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. This bonus is located in northwest Wisconsin near the town of Hayward, approximately 66 miles southeast of Duluth, Minnesota on US 63. The fish and signs are available 24 hours. This is a large fish. You won't have trouble finding it!



In this case there are two options: take a picture of your flag on the landmark or take a picture of yourself standing next to it. Obviously, the easier choice is to hang the identification flag on the podium in front of the fish and take a picture, waiting long enough to ensure that both the fish and the face of the identification flag are clearly visible. If you lose your flag, you will either have to take a picture of yourself beside the landmark, using a self-timer, or wait for someone to come along and take your posed picture.

Like any piece of equipment, your Polaroid is subject to breakage and/or loss and you may need to spend valuable rally time repairing or replacing it. On an emergency basis and on one occasion only per rider (not including the final checkpoint), we will accept a roll of undeveloped film from a backup camera. Should you require this emergency service, the roll of film must be turned over to the rallymaster or his designated representative, along with enough cash to cover processing. A receipt for the roll of film will be issued. Please note that, assuming you have otherwise met the rules for photo documentation, you will not receive any bonus points until the roll is printed (which may not happen for up to two days after the checkpoint closes). Although we will do our best to handle your film with care, should the photo lab ruin or lose your film, the rally will not be responsible for such loss. It is highly recommended that should your Polaroid break or malfunction, you simply replace it.

D. Insurance:

Please be advised we will be checking your vehicle identification number (VIN) against the policy number.

Many states now require that if you are stopped on a traffic charge, you produce proof of insurance with a minimum liability limit of $15,000. If your insurance company does not provide you with a proof of insurance card, we recommend carrying a certified photocopy of your original policy along with your registration.

In past rallies some riders objected to our $100,000/$300,000 requirement. In today's litigious society, that is a trivial amount. Good liability insurance is worth every penny it costs.

E. First aid kid:

First aid kits are designed to treat minor abrasions and wounds. It is highly recommended that you carry one during the Iron Butt Rally. In the event of a serious accident, leave medical treatment to professionals. A minimum recommendation for a first aid kit for use on the Iron Butt rally consists of the following items:

1. One pair of disposable protective gloves;

2. A pair of scissors or a knife;

3. Three 2-1/4" square adhesive wound dressings;

4. One 3' x 3' x 4' triangular bandage (you may substitute an old bed sheet);

5. One 22" x 30" sterile dressing;

6. Two 3" x 4" sterile compress dressings (you may substitute two sanitary napkins);

7. One 2-1/2" by 3' combination elastic/adhesive bandage;

8. One roll of first-aid quality adhesive tape;

9. Five small self-adhesive bandages; and

10. A tube of topical antibiotic ointment.

You may choose to build such a kit from scratch. If you wish to purchase a kit, there are two good ones available:

BMW First Aid Kit: At approximately $22 at most BMW dealers, this kit is so nice that we have noticed a tendency for shops to charge above retail price for it. It requires a tube of topical antibiotic ointment to be pass the requirements of the Iron Butt rally.

JFF Enterprises Tour Kit: No modifications to the kit are necessary. It sells for $41.80 plus $4.50 shipping and handling in the continental U.S. This kit is by far one of the best on the market, with first aid items too numerous to list. It is very compact, measuring just 3.5" x 6" x 8". We highly recommend this kit. To order call toll free 800-583-2206 or 512-756-1149. JFF takes Mastercard and Visa credit cards. Please note: you must mention that you are an Iron Butt rally entrant to receive this discounted price. We ask that you also thank them for offering the discount to riders. This is prime riding season and they can be hard to reach, but they will call you back if need be.

F. Fuel

1. Documents:

As noted in 'II.C.1.b above, if you want to earn 500 points per leg for a gasoline bonus, you must present receipts for the purchase of all fuel. Additionally, if your motorcycle carries in excess of seven gallons of gas, you must maintain a fuel log during the course of the event.

Riders with motorcycles that carry fewer than seven U.S. gallons of fuel will automatically be awarded gas points for maintaining a fuel log, even if no such log is kept during the rally. Our intention here is clear: riders carrying fewer than seven U.S. gallons of gasoline are going to be at a disadvantage during the rally in terms of the number of fuel stops they will need to make. Since they will be collecting more fuel receipts than riders with auxiliary fuel systems, we are removing the paperwork burden of a fuel log from them.

2. Auxiliary fuel:

Note that the Iron Butt rally does not encourage the use of auxiliary fuel systems. The rally has been laid out with fueling provisions in mind. However, carrying additional fuel does allow a rider the ability to travel more miles between stops, which obviously leads to a competitive advantage for those riders so equipped. The longest known stretch without fuel is 163 miles. Your motorcycle should be capable of running at least that distance without the necessity of refueling.

Fuel capacity may be measured at any time as deemed necessary by the rallymaster. However, capacity inspection is usually made prior to the start of the rally or immediately after the rally concludes. All motorcycles that finish the rally may be impounded immediately after the rider checks in at the final checkpoint. They may not be removed from the impoundment area without the written permission of the rallymaster.

3. Inquiries regarding auxiliary fuel may be directed to the following firms, each of whom has provided systems that have met inspection standards for the rally in the past:

Champion Industries: 903-566-6001

JAZ Products: 805-525-8800 (Santa Paula, CA)

Summit Racing Equipment: 216-630-3030

Tulsa Enterprises: 714-841-1767 or 888-824-6566


Harwood Industries (903/566-6001)

Other manufacturer's cells may also be acceptable. Please call us with the details and we will try and get them certified for use as quickly as possible.



A. Sponsorship

Riders are not prohibited from obtaining private and/or corporate sponsorship for a variety of motorcycle-related items. While no written standard has yet been adopted by the Iron Butt Association, the rallymaster reserves the right to determine whether such sponsorship gives a competitor an unfair advantage. It is recommended that sponsorships be disclosed for rallymaster approval before the event in order to avoid any potential problems.

Obtaining sponsorship can be handled in many ways. We recommend a personal letter to potential sponsors (with an enclosed photograph of yourself), phone calls, and personal visits. Some riders have campaigned on Internet mail lists or set up world wide web pages devoted to their rides. Please remember that any time you accept a product from a sponsor, you are representing not only the sponsoring organization but the Iron Butt rally. All rider conduct rules apply equally to treatment of your sponsors. If you abuse a sponsor, it can be grounds for disqualification. You may also be disqualified for accepting product and representing that you used said product during the rally but did not do so.

B. Speed

Excessive speed kills. Remember, while on the Iron Butt rally you are representing motorcycling. The Iron Butt is a rally, not a race. It is not necessary for you to ride at an excessive rate to win the event. We will not tolerate it if you do. Please keep in mind that you can be disqualified from the Iron Butt rally for reckless riding or excessive speed.

During the Iron Butt rally, our statistician claims that you will encounter approximately 600 law-enforcement officers looking for traffic violations. If you plan on coming to the Iron Butt to ride high speeds, re-think your game plan now. There are too many police and too many miles to cover to get away with high speed riding. It takes only one accident or one highway patrolman to end your chance to finish the Iron Butt rally.

In many states, especially those east of the Mississippi river, riding in excess of 20 miles per hour above the speed limit will also get you charged with reckless driving. Reckless driving is a serious charge, a dead-bang license revoker in any jurisdiction. In many cases your motorcycle can be impounded and you will be required to return to court for a personal appearance at a hearing, irrespective of the distance you have to travel to appear or the hardship that it might entail. Few experiences in motorcycling are more memorable than an appearance in traffic court, particularly if your license hangs on the outcome.

Finally, should we discover even years after the fact any acts you may have committed during the event that in our judgment compromise the integrity of the rally, we reserve the right to change rally results, remove the offending rider's name and data from our corporate records, and redact, rewrite, or otherwise amend any and all published stories about that rider's participation on the Iron Butt rally that are still within our control.

C. Mexico and Canada

No bonus location during the 1999 Iron Butt rally will be in Mexico. Although there may be times where a shortcut through Mexico may seem advantageous, the hassles of border crossings and insurance make entry into Mexico not worth the effort on the competitor's part. In that light, we make no attempt to place bonuses that might tempt you to cross into Mexico.

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for the Iron Butt rally to locate bonuses in Canada and/or Alaska (which would require riding in Canada). If you are serious about winning the Iron Butt rally, you should be prepared to enter Canada during the event.

Canada has some rules that you should be familiar with, but the most pressing item you must know is that you should carry a "Canada Card," available from your insurance agent. This card is evidence that you have valid insurance while riding in Canada. If your agents claim that they are not familiar with it, call the home and/or corporate office of your insurer and work with them. These cards are usually limited to certain dates. Obviously, we recommend that you include the dates that the rally is in progress when declaring the dates you need the card to be valid.

Be further cautioned that Canada does not allow firearms to be carried into the country.

D. National parks

The Iron Butt has traditionally visited national parks, monuments, and recreation areas around the United States. If you plan on collecting bonuses, we highly recommend that you purchase a Golden Eagle Pass which will allow you unlimited access to the parks. The pass costs $50 and is good for one year from the date of purchase. It is available at the entrance to any national park.

E. Credit cards

Since you will be traveling around the country in a very short time frame, we highly recommend that you carry at least three major credit cards with you. Many credit card issuers will track routine spending patterns; when your card begins to be used in several states in one day, the company may temporarily put a hold on your credit line. To protect yourself, we recommend that you first contact your card issuers at least one week before the rally and notify them that you will be on a road trip and such usage should be allowed. We highly recommend also that you keep one card tucked away in a secure location as back up, should you lose your wallet.

F. Charities

Although the Iron Butt rally once made participation with the rally's "official" charity mandatory, we no longer do so. We do encourage riders so inclined to consider supporting a charity. Before many of you skip to the next section, we would like to appeal to your competitive side for just a moment. Riding for a charity can be just the edge you need to convince a police officer to lean a little in your favor.

The Iron Butt Association is closely allied with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the United States, the organization that puts on the Ride for Kids. A donation kit may be obtained by calling [800-253-6530.

The foundation is non-profit and, unlike many charities, almost every dollar raised goes directly to research to try and end brain tumors in children --- the most deadly of all childhood cancers. If you ever have a chance, stop by a Ride for Kids event and meet some of the children affected with this deadly disease. It will forever change your life.

In addition, special recognition will be given to the rider who raises the most funds for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

G. Electronic warfare

Computers, GPS devices and cellular phones have become small enough to be practical for motorcycle use. While we would prefer to keep high-buck efforts out of the Iron Butt rally, the suggestion that we outlaw computers and other electronic aids is not viable. If we have no realistic method of enforcing a rule, we should not create it in the first place.

1 Mapping programs

In 1991 a computer program called Automap was introduced for IBM- compatible computers. Automap allows you to enter a beginning city, four "via" cities, and your destination. The program then quickly calculates a proposed route with directions, average travel times, and overall mileage. Since then, several competitors offering similar features have entered the market. For this discussion, we will limit ourselves to Automap.

The downside is that until recently you have had to carry an expensive lap-top computer (at least a $1,000 investment) that takes up valuable packing space. While laptops are pretty rugged, the computer screens are subject to cracking from shock and vibration.

Alternatives to a laptop computer are available from Hewlett-Packard and Psion. Each has the capability to run Automap.

Computer mapping programs are not perfect: occasionally they will send you down a non-existent road. Early versions could locate the tiniest village (like Wagontire OR with a population of two people), but could not find places like Ventura CA or Washington PA, the latter being at the junction of two interstate highways. In our testing during the 1991, 1993, and 1995 Iron Butt rallies, the program rarely matched actual mileages, ranging from 9% low to 7% high. Mapping programs are readily available in most local computer stores.


If you feel as though you need the aid of a computer but cannot afford a laptop or do not want the hassles of carrying one, we recommend that you have telephone access to a trusted friend with a computer and mapping software. You can call that person after you receive your bonus listing and have the mileage tables produced for you.

2. GPS units

Global Positioning Satellite devices are now low cost and can prove to be very valuable. By reading signals from satellites located thousands of miles from earth, GPS units can accurately tell you within in a few feet where you are located at any position on earth. The trick is not finding a GPS unit, but finding one that contains good maps as part of the unit. Should you decide to purchase a GPS unit, it is very important to look at the internal maps. One of the better units as of June 1999, is Garmans GPS III+ which sells for less than $400 in many places.

3 Cellular phones

They're small and cheap. Cellular service providers subsidize the purchase of the phone (you can get a small hand-held Motorola for $1 in some markets when you sign up for four months of cellular service). If you break down in an area covered by a cellular service provider, assistance is right at your fingertips. However, roaming charges (the practice of being charged anywhere from $4 to $10 per call as a local access charge when away from your home service company) can be staggering. Newer plans are better, for example, AT&T’s One Rate program offers no roaming charges anywhere in the United States.

For on-the-road use, IBA members claim a citizen's band radio is more useful than a cellular phone. Cellular phones do not work everywhere --- you'll only be in range of a service provider approximately 65% of the time.

If you decide to purchase a cellular phone, buy one with a 12-volt adapter (you probably won't have time to recharge the batteries during the rally) that can be used with your motorcycle's accessory plug

4 Radar detectors

While we do not encourage speeding, the current system of traffic tickets is clearly designed for revenue, not to protect the driving public. As evidence, we offer a $90 ticket that an IBA member received in 1991 on the New York Thruway for riding 57 mph in a 55 mph zone at five in the morning.

Should you choose to use a radar detector, pick one that offers an ear jack plug. This will allow you to attach an amplifier so that you may hear the audible alarm.

5 Radar jammers

There are two kinds of radar jammers: passive and active. Passive jammers are sold under various names and are widely available. Although popular with many riders in the long distance community, our tests conducted with real police radar have conclusively proved that passive jammers do not work. Save your money.

Active jammers are illegal in the United States. They are extremely expensive and almost always come in kit form. Usually you have to plug two devices together to make the unit. Given the illegal nature of these devices, we highly recommend against their use.

6 "Bear trackers"

Another popular device is commonly called a Bear Tracker ("bear" is American slang for highway patrolmen). These devices are a combination scanner and receiver that are pre-programmed with the frequencies used by most highway patrol vehicles in the United States.

The idea is fairly simple. Police usually are talking to other police, or at least to their home base. If you are able to detect these transmissions within a small radius (three miles in most cases), then you can be made aware that patrol cars or observation planes are present. Top of the line units combine an audio alarm, a warning light, and a scanner (so you can listen in on the conversation). You are also usually able to access the local weather band.


H. Motorcycle services

1 Get out of jail cards

If you do not have a "bond" card, now might be a good time to pick one up. If you are stopped, most local, county and states will accept a bond card in lieu of cash payment of a ticket. That will give you time to deal with the problem when you get back home. Check with the following organizations:

American Automobile Association (AAA): Although it varies state to state, AAA membership usually includes two $500 bond cards. AAA will not tow a motorcycle (some Iron Butt Association members have managed to get a free tow, so check before you buy), though membership includes all the free, excellent quality domestic maps you could ever want.

Amoco Motor Club: Like AAA, Amoco includes two bond cards ($500 or $1000 limit, depending on the state). Their automotive towing program is excellent, but they will decline to tow motorcycles.

2 Towing services

If you do not have a good roadside assistance program, we recommend you get one. Although most will not cover the full cost of a tow, merely arranging a tow for you justifies its cost.

While we cannot recommend one of these services over another, you may wish to contact the following: a. Motorcycle Touring Services (MTS), [3430 E. Flamingo, #348, Las Vegas, NV 89121, 702-451-2887 or 800-999-7064. MTS handles only 1975 and later model motorcycles. They have an 800-234-1353 emergency number. It is not listed, so carry the number with you. MTS pays $100 per tow to the nearest motorcycle dealer, not to the nearest dealer of your marque, so your BMW could end up at a Harley shop. Fees run $49 for one year, $85 for two years. The MTS program has some interesting strings attached, but seems otherwise solid..

b. Cross Country Motor Club: [800-225-1575. This is the company that BMW uses for their motorcycles. We've heard both good and bad comments from BMW owners.



Questions and Answers on rule changes that will be formalized before the start of the 1999 Iron Butt Rally (from February 1999 letter to entrants):

During the running of the 1997 Iron Butt, a few people had "support crews" aiding them at checkpoints. While the actual wording of new rules to cover this is being put in place (including penalties associated with the new rules), here is some correspondence on the issue that pretty much should tell you where the rules committee is heading. My answers are in italics:

Are riders allowed to have a pit crew at the check points to go over the bike for you? The reason is that the XYZ Owners Association is setting up for support for the XYZ riders.

If you are talking about a couple of people out in the parking lot helping you and not taking up a lot of room, then it is O.K. with us. However, if they are going to be bringing in, say a trailer, or lift, oil change pans, or items like that, then you will have to move the effort off-site. Additionally, you will not be allowed to have support crews tie up facilities with tools, computers, or phone lines. Phone lines at checkpoints are for the host-business or important personal communication, not for long, drawn-out conversations.

Can my wife/friend/local-motorcycle-shop follow me and offer support if I get stuck on the road?

No! A couple of people have done this in the past, but it will not be allowed in 1999. There have been some arguments made that the person following could not really keep up anyway, however, we are still not allowing this in 1999. If you need help at checkpoints, purchase cheap plane tickets now (which is much cheaper than driving anyway) - don’t have a friend drive checkpoint to checkpoint.

In mid-October on the Ldrider Internet mail list, there was debate about legality of allowing people to help you plan a route during the Iron Butt Rally...

As noted, one of the goals of the rally has been to try and keep Iron Butt an individual effort as possible. However, we also try and balance what is enforceable and what is not. There is no way to control a rider faxing, copying, etc route sheets and sending them to someone for advice, or carrying computers. So one of the strategies I actively encourage is to at least think about phoning a trusted riding friend and ask for help. On the other hand, one rider last year had many people showing up, taking up checkpoint facility space with computers and printers. This will not be allowed in 1999 (we can at least control that). If you want to use a copier, fax, phone lines (for working out routes at least), you will be on your own. To the degree that I can control checkpoints, this will not be happening at them.

There is a downside to using someone else's planning help. You still have to ride the miles and no one can juggle the impact on your route besides yourself. Sure, your trusted-friend might come up with a good game plan, but you will have spent more time doing the faxing, copying, talking game than just figuring out the route yourself.

On that note, when planning your route, I highly suggest you find a way to isolate yourself from other riders. Someday, I'll sit down and write some pretty funny stories from 86, 87, 91 and 93 from riders that got caught up in route planning after hearing what other riders were doing. You would not believe the route a person would plan sitting in a quiet room vs. the route planning when everyone is together and the egos get rolling. You want to plan a good route, go hide from the crowd.

Appendix B Muffler Policy:

Consistent with the Iron Butt Association's interest sponsoring events that will not generate opposition from law enforcement agencies or the general public, participation in the 1999 Iron Butt Rally will be limited to motorcycles capable of meeting reasonable limits on exhaust noise levels. As described below, the exhaust noise standard that will apply during the 1999 Iron Butt Rally will be 105 dBA based on the SAE J1287 test procedure. Except for riders with motorcycles granted a written exemption, motorcycles that exceed this level will not be allowed to be used in the rally.

Motorcycles with original equipment exhaust systems in good repair will be exempt from testing unless, in the opinion of a designated Iron Butt Association official, they appear to be excessively loud. Motorcycles with non-original equipment exhaust systems, or without a written exemption from the rally chairman, will be required to pass the noise test described below.

Detailed Discussion of the Test Procedure and Standard:

Noise standards that apply to OEM motorcycles are based on a test procedure developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) that measures vehicle noise levels during acceleration at a distance of 50 feet. Although this is the most representative test procedure available, detailed requirements for the test course make this test impractical without a test track. In recognition of the practical problems of running the drive-by test, SAE has developed a much simpler procedure suitable for use at the roadside or in a parking lot. This test, SAE J1287, involves measuring the exhaust volume of a stationary motorcycle running at 50% of its maximum allowable engine speed while in neutral. To limit the influence of other noise sources in the vicinity, the procedure specifies measuring the noise level at a distance of only 20 inches to the rear of the exhaust outlet. Because of the short distance between the exhaust outlet and the sound level meter, the absolute noise levels measured with the J1287 procedure are higher than on the drive-by test; however, the ranking of vehicles is similar.

The standard that will apply to entrants in the 1999 Iron Butt Rally is 105 dBA (decibels, A-scale). This standard is based on the highest noise level recorded using the J1287 procedure from a broad range of motorcycles with original equipment exhaust systems. Most motorcycles equipped with original equipment exhaust systems meet this standard by a wide margin. For example, late-model Honda Gold Wings have been measured at only 85 dBA on this test. Most late-model BMWs score between 90-94 dBA. In contrast, some Harley-Davidson models with OEM exhausts are as high as 105 dBA, which is the basis for the standard.

Because the decibel scale is logarithmic, a level of 105 dB sounds twice as loud as 95 dB and four times as loud as 85 dB. As a result, there is likely to be a four-to-one range in noise levels for motorcycles participating in the Iron Butt Rally. However, most people will not consider motorcycles at the loud end of this spectrum objectionable.

Some aftermarket exhaust systems will meet the 105 dBA standard. The "touring" versions of the Staintune and BMP systems for BMWs have been measured below 105 dBA. For comparison purposes, tests of motorcycles with straight pipes (no muffler) have produced noise levels of approximately 125 dBA on the J1287 test. This is four times louder than the standard and painfully loud to individuals in close proximity. Certain aftermarket exhaust systems using mufflers with limited baffling will also fail the test. For example a BMW equipped with a Staintune with a sport baffle and several popular aftermarket systems for Harley-Davidsons have been measured at about 115 dBA.

Final noise testing will be performed at the beginning of the Iron Butt Rally along with other required inspections. To minimize the risk of last minute disqualification, entrants with non-OEM systems should obtain a noise test as early as possible. The noise meters used for the official testing will be certified to meet certain industry standards. Do not rely on test results performed using just any meter (for example, recent comparisons with a popular Radio Shack model showed error rates approaching two dBA). Official noise testing will be available at the annual Pizza Party next March near Daytona Beach on March 5, 1999. (The Pizza Party announcement with location and attendance information is attached).

If you have questions about this policy, or need additional information, please contact Rally Chairman Michael Kneebone days at (312) 744-3418 or via e-mail at


Sample packing list


Please note that for the most part, items on this list are not required to be carried during the event. Indeed, we don't even feel as though it would be possible to carry everything included here. The list is offered for those riders who may want a general list as a basic reference point.


Wallet, documents, and reminders:

Are bills paid?

Towing information (e.g., MTS, AAA)


Traveler's checks

Credit cards

Advise credit card company of travel plans

License (required for rally)

Registration (required for rally)

Insurance papers (required for rally)

Canada card (Canadian proof of insurance)

Extra pens

Small spiral-bound notebook

Multi-colored highlighters for maps

Address book or list (for emergencies)

Contact information for rally check-in

General list:

Extra pair of glasses or contact lenses


Ear plugs x 11 sets (replace daily)

Radar detector

Bungee net or cords

Towel for windshield

Windshield cleaner

Small mag flashlight

Golden Eagle Pass (for national parks)

Tape deck for notes

Cassette tapes

Polaroid camera

Polaroid film (for Gold Medal, 70 shots)

Flash (built-in with newer Polaroid cameras)

Backup point-and-shoot camera with flash

35mm film


Rain boots

Balaclava (a silk face mask)

Lawn/garden bags (protection, laundry)

Cellular phone with A.C. adapter

Sun hat (for hikes)

Water bottle

Screaming Meanie alarm/timer


Power supply for computer


Tooth brush

Tooth paste


Chap lip protection



Sun tan lotion

Hand/body lotion

Hair brush


Shave cream

Disposable razors




Visine or eye moisturizing product

Nail clippers


Riding outfit

Light jacket

Jeans (1 to wear, 1 to pack)

Socks x11 pair

Underwear x11

Shirts x5

Heavy shirt


Electric vest and cord

Electric gloves and cord

Warm weather gloves

Beach or bath towel

Riding boots

Tools (in addition to stock tool kit):

Pocket multimeter

Large tie wraps

Small tie wraps

Tire irons

Flat repair kit (is glue fresh?)

CO2 cartridges

Hand air pump

Tubes for tires

Electrical tape

Wire strippers

8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19mm sockets

8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19mm wrenches

4, 6, 8, 10mm Allen wrenches


Ratchet extension

Duct tape


Needle nose pliers

150mm adjustable wrench

Flat screwdriver

Phillips screwdriver

Vise grips, small and large

Stainless steel wire

Motorcycle preparation:

Service and/or replace battery

Change fuel filter

Change air filter

Check accessory plug

Replace hydraulic fluid

New tires

New chain and sprockets

Tune up

Cables (tape in place along side other cables)

Headlight & taillight bulbs

Assorted fuses

Medical supplies:

First aid kit (recommended for rally)

Med-Alert bracelet or I.D. cards


Atlas you can tear apart as needed

U.S.A. map x2

Western states x2

Central states x2

Eastern states x2


1. If for any reason the rider changes or loses a license plate during the rally, the rider must contact the rallymaster and advise of the change of circumstance before attempting to visit further bonuses locations. At some bonus locations there will be a staff member recording license plate numbers. This person may not always be observed by the rider. For various reasons our staff may choose not to reveal themselves.

2. The odometer must remain functional if the rider seeks to obtain bonus location points. If the odometer fails, the rider may not collect bonus location points until it is repaired.

3. For the purposes of this section, "legal working order" shall be construed to mean conformity with current federal regulations as promulgated by the United States Department of Transportation or by passing a sound test at the start of the rally as explained in "Appendix B - Muffler Policy".

4. For a list of auxiliary systems that will meet rally specifications, see 'III.F. Metal containers are allowed. However, thin-walled containers such as those used in marine or snowmobile applications are prohibited.

5. No bungee, shock cord, or similar attaching device will be permitted.

6. Riders carrying seven (7) or fewer gallons of gas are not required to maintain a fuel log but, as noted, are still required to produce gas receipts to qualify for points in that category.

7. Once the rider is used as the identifier in the photograph, he or she will not be allowed to revert to the use of the towel as an identifier. For further guidelines and suggestions concerning photographic bonuses, see 'III.C below.

8. If a checkpoint is missed, the rider, to be considered a finisher of the event, must still ride to the checkpoint city and obtain a gas or local business receipt that bears the date and time of arrival before continuing to the next checkpoint. If the final checkpoint is missed, the rider will nonetheless be considered a finisher of the event if he or she can demonstrate proof of arrival at the final checkpoint city within thirty (30) hours of the closing of the final checkpoint and has not missed any other checkpoint.

9. At each checkpoint the rider must either (1) arrive before it closes or (2) contact the checkpoint or the rallymaster not later than two hours after it closes. Failure to do either (1) or (2) will result in immediate disqualification. Important phone numbers are noted on the listing of bonus locations that the rider is given at the commencement of each leg.

10. The intent of the rules is to require rally participants to ride their motorcycles to each checkpoint and/or bonus location, to arrive at said location within the parameters, if any, set out for said location, and to do so without unauthorized assistance. Any attempt to defeat or circumvent that intent through the assistance of any person, persons, or thing is deemed to be in violation of this rule.

11. There is normally a two-hour window from the time that the rider is due in at a checkpoint until the checkpoint closes.

12. The penalty referenced in this section will not count against a rider's attempt to gain any medal or status as a finisher of the rally.

Please respect our intellectual property rights. Do not distribute any of these documents, or portions therein, without the written permission of the Iron Butt Association.


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