by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Rally America

One year ago, Denver, Colorado’s Dave Brown was at a crossroads in the early stages of his rallying career.

“(My brother) Mike and I crashed badly at the Temple Canyon Hill Climb which severely damaged the car and broke Mike's back,” he explains. “It was a very low point in my life and in my rally career. I thought I was done with rally for good just one year after starting.”

To make a long story short, he wasn’t. In fact, the Browns currently lead the overall Rally America National Championship after multiple podium performances so far this season, including a win at Sno*Drift.

But the journey to the top really began last July at Rally Colorado, in only their second rally. After debuting at Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in the early spring, Brown and Brown battled back through adversity after their crash at Temple Canyon, and survived a high-attrition round in Rangely to take the overall victory. It was the first time an Open Light car had ever won a national event overall.

“Mike's courage and desire to get back in the car, even as he worked through the pain, convinced me to do whatever it took to get us and the car ready for the next race,” Dave Brown continues. “We competed in the Monarch Hill Climb a couple months later and won first in class. Then just one week later we competed in Rally Colorado and won first overall!”

“I didn’t know how to act,” Mike Brown adds. “I was Ricky Bobby trying to figure out what to do with my hands. How do I stand on the hood? How do you open a bottle of champagne and spray it? You just don’t practice that sort of thing.

“Interesting side note: we never checked times or knew where we were placed at any point in the rally. Our goal was to race our race and finish. At the end, my brother came up to me as other cars were continuing to finish and told me we were first. I was stoked about finishing first in something! I didn’t believe it.

“I asked him, ‘First in class?!’ Dave said, ‘No. First overall.’ At that moment, I could not comprehend our accomplishment.”

But as if the journey to the top wasn’t hard enough physically, the duo have had plenty to worry about on the mechanical front as well. For nearly a year, Brown has been searching for a new motor to add both power and reliability to the team’s Subaru Impreza, leading to an extensive saga that has included multiple builds, rebuilds, and parts orders.

“Oh man, it has been an emotional roller coaster that never ends,” he explains. “EcoTECH out of Missouri rushed out a race motor and even had an employee deliver it to me in the trunk of a rental car to get it here sooner! That was amazing, and there seemed to be so much time before Rally Colorado that we could absorb any issues and still have time to test.

“Well, we're a little over a week away from the rally and the motor is running but not well at all. We've been battling issues with sensors and the standalone computer for weeks. As soon as we fix one thing, another pops up.”

Rest assured, though: Brown won’t be missing this month’s event. Not for the world. Not his home race, not when he’s leading the overall standings, and especially not when “Racer Dave” has a win to defend. Even if it means relying once more on a stock motor with over 170,000 miles on it.

“We're in a last minute push now to try to get the computer running right so we can see what this motor will do,” he concludes. “If not, we'll have to do the unthinkable and reinstall the old, tired stock motor one more time. I'm not sure it has another rally in it, and I hate to run yet another race without any testing at all—but one way or another, we'll be there!”