by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Jason Swoboda

Stage rally in America gets its traditional kickoff event this weekend as Sno*Drift makes its return to the woods of Michigan on Friday and Saturday. A clean sheet in the championship standings and plenty of refreshed racers and vehicles will make the annual romp through the snow one of the most interesting of the season—and that’s even without the traditional white stuff on the ground.

18 national entries are signed up for the 2019 running of the event, and there’s plenty of star power to be had. The entry list is headlined by Open 4WD competitors Piotr Fetela/Dominik Jozwiak and Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan, whose Ford Fiestas will duel for the first time. The Limited 4WD class will be perhaps the strongest fight, as Travis Nease/Matt James, Tim Rooney/Anthony Vohs, Zach Whitebread/Cameron Carr and Cameron Steely/Preston Osborn all taking part.

Three of last year’s top 10 overall finishers are back for more this year. Rooney finished third in last year’s event, while Jon Kramer placed fifth and Keanna Erickson-Chang. All three will have different co-drivers this year, as Jason Smith will partner Kramer and Alex Gelsomino will replace Osborn alongside Erickson-Chang.

In addition, 16 regional entries will compete, including some of last year’s top overall finishers. Jimmy Pelizzari/Kate Stevens (fourth in 2018) and Adam VanDamme (seventh) will compete regionally, as will Nemadji Winter Trail Rally podium finishers Paul Johansen/Susi Little and Elwood Niemi/Marty Passuello.

16 stages totaling more than 120 miles comprise this year’s event, from the ceremonial start in downtown Lewiston on Friday afternoon to the second pass at Thunder River that wraps up the rally on Saturday. The event also includes two passes at a Super Special stage at Lewiston Sand & Gravel; Whitebread won both of those last year. In all, winners of 10 of the 15 stages completed last year will be competing again this weekend.