Rally America was one of the most popular events in the country. It was quite exciting to see race-modified cars lining the streets, impatiently waiting for the green signal to come on so that they can show their magic – while the people in the stand look on whether their favorite would reach the top three positions.
In this article, we answer all the ins and outs of the Rally America event that was most-loved motorsport event in the US. There is something about the game that is unique and indescribable. From motor car enthusiasts to people who just came to the event to have an entertaining evening, everybody appreciates this magnificent event.
Rally America – The Basics
The Rally America National Champion used to be a national rallying event, celebrated with much fanfare in the US. Its inaugural event was held in 2005. The organization that was responsible for sanctioning the event was called Rally America and was briefly renamed to RallyCar in 2010.
The organization held its last event in 2018 after which it underwent restructuring and donned a new role of being a news outlet dedicated to promoting rallying events across the country. However, the stunt didn’t last for long and the outlet was closed down prematurely.
Even though its inaugural event was held in 2005, Rally America itself was founded about three years earlier, in 2002. The founding member of the organization was CPD Rally Team owner Doug Havir who provided reporting services to the Sports Car Club of America’s ProRally Championship. The partnership of the two companies went fine until the end of 2004 when the SCCA decided to withdraw itself from US stage rallying. It went ahead and sold all the sanctioning and commercial rights to Rally America.
It was in 2005 that the Rally America held its first event in which it incorporated all of the events that used to be sanctioned by the SCCA. After running the organization successfully for many years, Havir stepped down and a Vermont-based businessman Bill Fogg took over the ownership of the wildly-popular Rally America.
Before we move on to learn more about the interesting details of the event, let’s have a quick look at the rallies that were previously associated with the SCCA and which, by their association with the SCCA, were held under the banner of Rally America post 2004.
|Race||Years involved with Rally America|
|Lake Superior Rally||2005-2009, 2013-2018|
|Mount Washington Hillclimb Auto Race||2014|
|New England Forest Rally||2007-2016|
|Ojibwe Forests Rally||2005-2009, 2013-2016|
|Olympus Rally||2007-2012, 2015-2016|
|Oregon Trail Rally||2005-2016|
|Pikes Peak Int’l Hill Climb||2005|
|Rally in the 100 Acre Wood||2006-2018|
|Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally||2005-2016|
|Wild West Rally||2006|
Rally America – A Brief Look
Die-hard fans of automobile sports are always searching for the best car that will give them the same feel which race drivers enjoy when they are taking part in a rally event. Rally America itself doesn’t endorse any vehicle. The choice of the vehicle depends solely on the drivers. In fact there is no active involvement of car manufacturers in the event.
Keeping in view the types of vehicles that different owners have brought in the rally, we have compiled the following list of car manufacturers whose cars are mostly commonly seen in the competition. This list, however, doesn’t recognize any particular vehicle for the success of a driver. It just tells the different preferences of car drivers. Have a look:
The Mitsubishi company is famous around the US for its elegant-looking cars that provide excellent performance. Mitsubishi’s best-performing cars have led drivers into the top three finishes – quite often. The company’s Evo series is a dream-come-true for many car enthusiasts who swear by the car’s quality and its great performance. Mitsubishi enjoys a strong position among its rivals and have been one of the top picks of participants.
In the year 2010, a new car under the name of the Scion Rally xD made its debut. It was driven by Christopher Duplessis who participated in the two-wheel-drive category. The car gave great performance during the competition and even though it may not be as popular as the rest of its competitors, it has made its entry to the best-performing race cars.
Volkswagen cars are not really cut out for motor sports. However, its Jetta, Beetle, and Golf series had had considerable success in various sport events held under the banner of Rally America. The car is indeed a good choice for beginners and those who are solely contesting the two-wheel-drive championships. And while it is ideally best for beginners, it still has the potential to perform significantly well. Who knows the company’s car will finally reach the top spots in the near future.
Ever since the inception of the championship, Subaru has been a main part of Rally America. The company’s WRX STi versions and Impreza have been one of the most competitive rally cars in the US. In fact, Subaru sponsored the series and distributed many prices and incentives for the rally and Subaru driving teams. It would, then, dispatch a truck fully stocked with Subaru parts so that the driving team could have access to parts on scenes. For teams who decided to use Subaru Rally Team USA parts, the company offered exclusive discounts to them.
Another well-known car manufacturer that has enjoyed great reputation and top spot is Ford. Ever since its 2009 appearance at the X Games, the company has been quite relevant in rallying events. The car has been driven by Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan, and Ken Block. Block who won the event with the car had said great things about the car. On the other hand, Foust expressed that he’d like to see a factory-backed Ford team at the event. In 2010, Ford also announced sponsoring a Fiesta in both the X Games and Rally America.
Groups in Rally Americas
The number of Rally America championships were rightfully reduced in 2009. Regional rallies that have a number of categories were divided into two events. The first one is 2 Wheel Drive which is further split into two separate championships for Group 2 and 5. In addition to this, there is an Open Light event. All the championships, however, are organized with great enthusiasm and a large number of people take part in the event, competing fiercely to reach one of the top positions. And while many rules make one vent uniquely different than the other, let’s have a quick look at what these events meant and if there are some unique rules for each event.
In this championship, drivers are required to drive a vehicle whose engine is turbo-charged – based on a production engine, with its power being limited by the use of an inlet restrictor. The body of the car must be easily recognizable and must look like how the original car looks like. In this event, the management has also added a clause of minimum weight, which is generally dependent on the engine.
2 Wheel Drive
This 2 Wheel Drive events follow FIA Group 2 and Group 5 standards. They have a limited on weight and displacement. The cars that participate must have a production of 1000 per year. With regard to race-related modifications, the power must be sent to either the front or the rear wheels.
This event allows the production of 2.5L or less naturally aspirated 4wd production vehicles. There are no restrictions on weight and the management doesn’t provide the limit of minimum weight. Another rule of the event – which is what the Open class event also suggests – is that the body of the car has to be recognizable and the car which is participating in the event must look like the original car.
Under this, there is a limit on weight and the organizers do set a minimum weight. The parts that are allowed to be changed are strictly those that have the option – from their manufacturer – to get changed. Some other rules of the modifications include, but are not limited to, the following: engine displacement shouldn’t be more than 2.6 liter with multipliers; drivers are also required to place a limiter on forced induction system; and the chassis generation should match the modifications and appearance of the car. This means that even though a person can take a 2006 Subaru WRX chassis and place it in a 2003 WRX shell, all parts used in the modification must be allowable for the latter model.
This list is definitely not exhaustive. As the event date nears, the management and organizers sent out the rules to let participants know about the things that they have to be mindful about. Now that we have learned a little about how the championships normally function. In the sections below, let’s find out the names of the champions of the event.
Champions of Rally America
Winning a rally event is indeed a great honor. Participants prepare for this important day throughout their life. A lot of sweat and blood is involved during the practice session. The excitement of being the first to cross the finish line and then raising the trophy is surreal and quite difficult to explain in words. To date, Rally America had organized 14 rally events in which people from all over the world has participated. In the table below, we’ll share the names of the champion from each season along with the name of the car that they drove during the event. Let’s have a look:
|2005||Patrick Richard||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2006||Travis Pastrana||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2007||Travis Pastrana||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2008||Travis Pastrana||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2009||Travis Pastrana||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2010||Antonie L’Estage||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X|
|2011||David Higgins||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2012||David Higgins||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2013||David Higgins||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2014||David Higgins||Subaru Impreza WRX STI|
|2015||David Higgins||Subaru WRX STI|
|2016||David Higgins||Subaru WRX STI|
|2017||Arkadiusz Gruszka||Mitsubishi Mirage RS|
|2018||Travis Pastrana||Subaru WRX STI|
Let’s have a quick look at the drivers who emerged as event winners.
|1||Subaru Impreza WRX||67|
|2||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution||13|
|5||Ford Escort Cosworth||1|
What Happened to Rally America?
The 2018 Rally America event was the 14th installment of the wildly popular sporting event. The series began in the November of 2017 and was finally concluded in October 2018. The Nemadji Trail rally began the championship series and the event was concluded with the Lake Superior Performance Rally. In the same year, Wyoming Rally was cancelled twice due to a lack of participation.
The Final Word
There is something magical about car rallies that make them very hard to avoid. People from all over the country take part in the event to showcase their driving skills. Rally America has remained one of the top rallying events in America. It is sad that the event had its last season back in 2018. However, whenever the people managing it decides to make a comeback, it will be well-received by the car enthusiasts.