Article and photography by Randy Montgomery.
The third round of the Rally America 2014 National Championship is the Oregon Trail Rally, which took place last weekend, May 2 through May 4, and was another fantastic production. Rally fans were blessed with good weather up until mid-day Sunday, causing the stages to be slightly more trying. The first day went down at Portland International Raceway (PIR) where spectators were offered views of each stage. With the combination of tarmac and dirt, the event at PIR turned out to be a lot of fun for all the drivers as well as the spectators. Most of the teams participating finished with little to no problems and the opportunity to show off their driving skills, which is rare due to the limited amount of spectating locations on normal rally stages. In the end, it was a day for the fans. There was plenty of spectating, up close views of the service areas, and autograph opportunities with all the drivers including David Higgins, Travis Pastrana, Dillon Van Way, Adam Yeoman and David Sterckx.
Day two of the rally was located in beautiful Dufur, Oregon. All the stages offered amazing scenery and a wide variety of roads. Big Boyd was one of the more popular stages with a menacing jump about halfway through the stage; the height and distance that the cars traveled was absolutely mind blowing. David Higgins hit the jump without his driver’s side rear wheel and still managed the landing with no problem.
During the second run of this course, driver Nick Roberts and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino’s Subaru STi caught on fire and ended up burning down to its bare bones. Only the car’s frame remained. Both Nick and Rhianon escaped with minor burns, but overall are doing well.
Another notable stage is Clausen. Throughout the trail of long straightaways, sharp corners and amazing views of Oregon lays a large body of water that competitors hit at full speed causing an explosion of water, rocks and mud⎯spraying debris fifty feet in every direction. After a few delays and accidents, the day finished in the evening with Pastrana in the lead and Higgins right behind him in the Open Class.
The Oregon Trail Rally wrapped up the weekend with its last few stages located among the swooping roads of Hood River, Oregon. The weather started off fairly decent, but in the end the rain took the day. The clash of the Open Class was neck and neck as David Higgins in a 2014 Subaru STi raced to take the lead from Travis Pastrana, who was also in a 2014 Subaru STi. After a hard fought race, David and his co-driver, Craig Drew, took first place. Travis Pastrana and Chrissie Beavis took second, with Adam Yeoman and Jordan Schulze in third, bringing in their third career podium. Super Production was a pretty tight battle as well, coming down to the last stage to determine the victors. The final standings were David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski in first place, Dillon Van Way and Andrew Edwards in second and Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam in third. The 2WD category ended with some unexpected placements but not without their own battles throughout the three-day event. When the dust settled, Ramana Lagemann and Nathalie Richard, in their 1995 BMW M3, took the first place position, with Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey, in their Ford Fiesta ST, finishing approximately thirty seconds behind for second place. The third place win went to James Robinson and Josh Kramer in the Honda Performance Development 2009 Honda Fit.
The Oregon Trail Rally is one of the most beautiful and scenic rallies among the eight offered here in the States by Rally America. The entry list is always full of dedicated rally drivers and co-drivers and, whether they are privateers or manufacturer-sponsored teams, everyone is out to have an amazing time and support each other. Watching the Open Class cars with drivers like David Higgins, Ken Block and Adam Yeoman is always amazing and almost unreal, but it’s just as fun to watch drivers like Gary Cavett, who unfortunately briefly lost control of his Subaru and ended up off the road, hard parked next to a very large tree.
In the end, however, the car was pulled out by some of Oregon’s finest sweep members and Gary was able to drive his car back to the service area. Jeff Seehorn and Michael Milos, Scott Kovalik and Danny Norkus, and Brian Gottlieb and Krista Skucas are just a few of the other teams that participated, ripping up the back roads of Oregon. Without all the teams, fans and sponsors, this sport wouldn’t exist. Rally isn’t just a sport, it’s a family, so keep those wheels down and rally on!