Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rally America Adds REAL Rallycross and Announces 2010 Schedule...

While the SCCA has run its own series of "rallycross" events for local clubs of the longstanding auto organization, true "rallycross" has never been seen on a significant level in the U.S.

The closest we have seen is the annual Rally races at ESPNs X-Games with two vehicles going "head to head" against the clock but on what were essentially seperate tracks. True Rallycross is run by numerous vehicles on the same track at the same time. That track may include dirt, tarmac, banked turns, jumps, etc. Players of the original DiRT and DiRT 2 videogames will be very familiar with this style of racing as it was featured prominently therein. Full contact racing on a short-course rally track between rally style vehicles should be awesome.

2010 will showcase these new events in a three race "exibition" season with all three races taking place in NJ. Why NJ?? I have no idea other than that it is near the largest population center in the U.S.

2010 will also result in some changes to Rally America's primary series as well. I think in part driven by the addition of the Rallycross events, Rally America has downsized, by three events, the traditional series. Gone are the Ojibwe Forest Rally, Rally Colorado and the Lake Superior Performance Rally. Additionally the six remaining events will be compressed into a schedule that finishes up in mid-summer to allow time for those same competitors to prepare for the fall Rallycross events.

I think that is really the key here. Rally America has seen the big time TV draw and positive audience reaction from their X-Games coverage and want to start heading towards more TV friendly events for at least some of their season.

Which brings me to another point. Buried in the press release below is the fact that Rally America has been re-signed for the 2010 X-Games, a somewhat surprising fact given Short Course Off-Road's rise in prominance and Ricky Johnson's connection to some of the X-Games production companies.

With Ken Block going off to Europe for a large part of the year to compete in the WRC, Rally America HAD to do something big to drive interest and bring new fans and racers to the sport.

This should defiantely accomplish that...

RA Press Release:

While many motorsports sanctioning bodies are looking for ways to shrink and save, Rally America, Inc., the premier sanctioning body for performance rally competition in North America, is expanding and growing.

Rally America today announced three European-style rally cross events in 2010. The three events will be run as exhibition events in 2010 but there may be more on the calendar in 2011.

European-style rally cross combines disciplines from road racing, short-course off-road racing and X Games-style rally car racing. It’s the action sport of motor racing.

“We’ve experienced dramatic growth in spectator interest the past three years,” said J.B. Niday, managing director for Rally America, Inc. “We’re confident American rally spectators would like to add this wheel-to-wheel competition to their plate of national championship rallying. Our championship is among the most respected in the world. This will make it more so. It’s a logical move for the growth of rally here in the United States.”

All three Rally America events will take place in the fall of 2010 at New Jersey Motor Sports Park in Millville, NJ. The course will be a combination of pavement and gravel surfaces totaling about one mile in length. It will include jumps, un-banked turns, hills and transitions between pavement and gravel that promise to unsettle the cars and drivers. The three-minute sprint heats will see competition between six cars on the track at once. The winners advance through the day to the main event finale. It promises extreme challenges and extreme excitement for spectators and drivers alike.

The rally cross format is extremely popular in Europe. You can experience the excitement through on-demand video highlights at

There will be two classes of cars in Rally America’s initial year of competition. The faster, all-wheel-drive cars will resemble those used in current Rally America competition including the AWD Subarus used by four-time American rally champion Travis Pastrana and Internet gymkhana video star Ken Block. The second category of rally cross cars will be two-wheel-drive. That includes the various body styles from manufacturers such as Ford, Mitsubishi, Dodge and Honda boasting 450+ horsepower, highly modified engines and rally-style suspension.

Both categories include vehicles currently being used in the Rally America National Rally Championship. There will be one departure; rally cross is a driver-only competition. There’s no need for a co-driver to help navigate the car around the one-mile course.

“The Rally America National Championship has experienced constant growth in the past couple of years,” Niday continued. “The sport of rally cross has taken place successfully in Europe for many years and draws tens of thousands of spectators to each and every event. The excitement of wheel-to-wheel racing action for high-powered rally cars should work well here in the United States as it takes place on a closed-loop course that allows spectators to take in all the high-speed racing action from a single vantage point.”


In addition to European-style rally cross competition at the New Jersey Motor Sports Park in the fall of 2010, Rally America will resume its National Rally Championship series beginning with Sno*Drift, the traditional championship kick off in January 2010 and one of the only American national championship motorsports events run in real snow on real roads with real cars.

The 2010 championship, however, will be compressed to allow more spectator and media interest during the season. It ensures that every event will have greater import in the chase for the Rally America Championship. The 2010 Rally America National Rally Championship Schedule:

1. January Sno*Drift Rally Atlanta, MI
2. February Rally of the 100 Acre Wood Salem, MO
3. April Olympus Rally Olympia, WA
4. May Oregon Trail Rally Hood River, OR
5. June Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally Wellsboro, PA
6. July New England Forest Rally Newry, ME

Three rally events that were on the calendar in 2009, the Ojibwe Forests Rally in Bemidji, MN, Rally Colorado in Steamboat Springs, CO, and the Lake Superior Performance Rally in Houghton, MI, will be changed to regional-level rally events and will not be included in the 2010 Rally America National Rally Championship.

“After a great deal of consideration and review of the past three seasons, we’ve decided to reduce the Rally America National Championship from nine to six events to help reduce team costs and increase competition," said Mike Hurst, the Rally America competition director. “The 2010 championship schedule will include two national-level rally events on the west coast, two on the east coast and two in the central portion of the United States. The six-event schedule will not only make it more affordable for the teams, but allow for better competition as well as allow Rally America to introduce European-style rally cross competition in the fall.”

Considered by many to be the extreme sport of auto racing, rally car racing is often described simply as “real cars, real roads, real fast.” This all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover more than 100 miles of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Among the marques typically represented in Rally America events are Subaru, Mitsubishi, Dodge, Ford and Volkswagen.

In addition, some of North America’s top rally drivers from the Rally America National Rally Championship series will be invited to compete in ESPN’s Summer X Games competition, the leading action sports event broadcast live on ABC and ESPN. Rally America officials will once again be involved in the organizational aspect of the rally car racing segment of competition for X Games 16 which is scheduled for July 29 to August 1, 2010.

For more information regarding Rally America, Inc., the 2010 Rally America National Rally Championship or the new European-style rally cross events taking place at the New Jersey Motor Sports Park in the fall of 2010, please call (763) 553-2742 for details or visit