Article and Photography by Randy Montgomery.
With the close of the 2013 Rally America season, and the exposure of rally racing in the US gaining momentum, it seems only fitting that we take yet another great stride in both motorsport coverage, and our dedication to the Modified Lifestyle, and begin assembling a team to cover the 2014 season. With drivers like Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, David Higgins, Tracy Gardiner and Will Orders on the roster, driving monster-built cars like the Subaru BRZ, Mitsubishi EVO, Ford Focus, and even the Toyota Yaris, the season is destined to be a success. Fast cars, both highly modified and stock, racing on dirt, gravel and snow. . . yes please! As the season kicks off in late January, we’ll make sure we don’t miss the opportunity to deliver coverage from the beginning. We’re working hard to make it to each stop in the series, highlighting the coverage, the players, the stories, the history and, most importantly, the culture.
The rally season started off with a frozen bang with Rally America National Championship’s first event of the season, Sno*Drift 2014, based out of the back roads and one very large rock query in Atlanta, Michigan.
As rally teams and spectators poured into the area last week, they were welcomed by sub-zero temperatures and a whole lot of snow. The event officially started on Friday, January 24, with the bulk of the stages located in Lewiston, MI, a town about 15 miles from Atlanta. A total of 10 stages were run on Friday late into the evening, and teams were quick to find out how rough of a rally it was going to be. Many teams found themselves stuck in the deep snow along the roads, with one stage managing to slow down a large group due to a massive ice and snow covered hill, causing a minor congestion. Luckily, the rally community is a tight one, and teams were quick to help by digging, pushing or pulling each other out in order to finish the stages. Day one wrapped up with promises of more snow and even colder temperatures for day two.
The second and last day started bright and early back in Atlanta with a couple of inches of fresh snow and a whopping six-degree temperature outside. Though all the teams battled the conditions for solid times, several teams were unable to finish the event. TAG Rally Sport was one of those teams. After running into some slippery terrain, getting clipped by a following car, overheating and then ultimately making the repairs to continue, they missed two stages causing them a DNF. The harsh winter conditions were a definite test for all teams participating, and in the end, DNF or not, fun was had, roads were shredded, and stages were won.
As the event came to a close, David Higgins and Craig Drew, with Subaru Rally Team USA, took the first place position by just over two minutes. Being forced to run almost a full stage with the hood up against the windshield wasn’t enough to slow them down. Antoine L’Estage and Marshal Clarke of the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team grabbed the second place slot, while Alexandre Béland and co-driver Lyne Murphy wrapped up the event with a third place finish in the Open Class.
The Super Production class first place winners, Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam, also managed to land in third place overall with fairly constant driving throughout both days of events. Dillon Van Way and Andrew Edwards took second place making it their third consecutive podium, and Nick Roberts, Rookie of the Year 2013, and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino, completed with a third place win.
In the 2WD class, the first place podium position went to Matthew Johnson and Jeremy Wimpey. Johnson, who has been out of the driver’s seat the last four seasons, and instead one of the faces of Rally America, returned to racing and started things off with a bang. Second place was secured by the Miller brothers, Troy and Jeremy, while Honda Performance Developments’ James Robinson and Jordan Guitar in the third place slot rounded out the podium.
Over all Rally America’s Sno*Drift Rally 2014 was a success, keeping both Rally teams and spectators on their frozen toes. The next event is the 100-Acre Wood Rally located in Salem, Missouri, February 21st and 22nd. If that event wasn’t cool enough on its own, Travis Pastrana will be making his official return to rally, joined with Subaru Rally Team USA. The 2014 Rally America season looks to be a promising one, returning super-star drivers, new teams and cars, and, most importantly, it looks like the remaining rounds will be televised as word on the street is Rally America has joined forces with NBC!
Official 2014 Rally-America Schedule
Sno*Drift Rally – Jan24-25, Atlanta, MI
100 Acre Wood Rally – Feb 21-22, Salem, MO
Oregon Trail Rally – May 2-4, Portland, OR
STPR Rally - May 30-31, Wellsboro, PA
Mt. Washington – June 27-29, Gorham, NH
New England Rally – July 18-19, Newry, ME
Ojibwe Forests Rally – Aug 22-23, Detroit Lakes, MN
Lake Superior Rally – Oct 17-18, Houghton, MI
Point Series Standings
Place, Name, City, State, Points
#1, David Higgins, Trefeglwys, Wales, 22
#2, Antoine L’Estage, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC, 17
#3, Lauchlin O’Sullivan, San Francisco, CA, 14
#4, Dillon Van Way, Carencro, LA, 12
#5, Alexandre Beland, Val d’Or, QC, 10
#6, Nick Roberts, WBL, MN, 8
#7, David Sterckx, Los Angeles, CA, 6
#8, Matthew Johnson, San Diego, CA, 5
#9, Adam Yeoman, Hancock, MI, 4
#10, Troy Miller, Allegany, NY, 3
#11, Andrew Comrie-Picard, West Hollywood, CA, 3
#11, Panos Karpidas, Dallas, TX, 3
#11, Hawk Miller, Sedona, AZ, 3
#11, Mickey Moran, Charleston, SC, 3
#11, Timothy Penasack, Nashua, NH, 3
#11, James Robinson, Delaware, OH, 3
#17, Peter Fetela, Hanover Park, IL, 1
#17, Tracey Gardiner, North Providence, RI, 1
#17, Brenten Kelly, Alpena, MI, 1
For more information, standings and driver / co-driver info check out Rally-America on the web @ https://rally-america.com/