The most enthusiastic cheering section at many Rally America events is very likely to be showing some serious Polish pride. They're easy to spot, waving the Polish flag, wearing brightly-colored traffic vests, and blaring air horns. They have also been known to steal the microphone from the MC and sing Polish songs for the whole crowd to hear.
This so-called “Polish Power” is why Krzysztof Brizniuniewicz comes to the rallies. An avid fan, he says he tries to make it to every rally and estimates there are at least 100 serious Polish fans at Sno*Drift this weekend.
They've got some great talent to cheer on.
Among the favorites is Andi Mancin, a well-known Polish driver who took on his first full U.S. season in 2009. His co-driver, Maciej Wislawski, is an ex-European champion. Mancin debuted in the Rally America series at LSPR '08, and earned the runner-up position in the series in 2009.
Mancin and Wislawski run alongside Art Gruszka and Dominik Jozwiak as part of the Art Rally Team. The team fields a pair of competitive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX rally cars and both took on the X Games Rally Car Race last summer for the first time.
Driver Piotr Wiktorczyk and co-driver Grzegorz Dorman of White Frog Racing are also a high-profile team that rocks the Polish pride. Wiktorczyk was born in Krakow and Dorman was born in Sosnowiec. They rallied their first full season together last year in a Super Production Subaru class and went to X Games. Their title sponsor, White Frog, is a polish operated club and show promoter in Chicago.
Fetela is a regional competitor who says his team's Subaru is sponsored by Polish-run companies in his adopted hometown of Chicago, including DC Graphics Inc, Orion Restaurant and Night Club and Radioampol.com. Fetela and co-driver Raivo Vambuts finished the regional Sno rally in fifth place on Friday and are back in action Saturday for the Drift event.
“There are not many sponsors, whatever we can manage -- family, whoever,” said Marcin Dabros, a service member for the P&L Motorsports team.
The team isn't sure about whether they'll put together a full season effort, but they are planning on attending 100 Acre Wood next month.
The veteran husband and wife team of Henry and Cynthia Krolikowski, Jaroslaw Sozanski and co-driver Bartosz Sawiki and the team of Roman Pakos and co-driver Cristopher Gordon also draw some of the loudest cheers from the Polish fan contingent.
"Rally is very popular in Poland," Mancin explained last year. "It is exciting to be here."
(Story by Aaron Pierce)