Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Rally America or RallyCar Has Been Sold....
When the SCCA exited stage rally racing in 2004, Doug Havir purchased the series and began operating it in 2005. With entrants such as Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, Dave Mirra and other "name" drivers along with an annual display of racing at the XGames, Rally America operated well for a time.
In recent years however the loss of Pastrana and Block to other ventures as well as reduced car counts and a bastardization of the XGames events and an attempt at developing a "RallyCross" series along side their stage rally events had resulted in divided interests and resources. Compound that with significant issues in their dealings with long term photographers, the always blamed poor economy and governmental regulations that put a squeeze on the profits of owner Doug Havir's primary business (credit card processing) and the time has come for a change.
Confirmed by Block's co-driver Alex Gelsomino and others who are tightly connected/knowledgeable of RallyCar's operations, the series has been sold in approximately the last two months with word leaking in August and really picking up steam in mid-September. Website changes to the RallyCar/Rally America site are now evident as are some interesting rule changes.
Speculation abounds as to who the new ownership is but the current leader in the clubhouse is Vermont Sports Car out of Vermont, home to the Subaru teams fielded previously by the aforementioned Block, Pastrana and Mirra as well as the 2011 series champion David Higgins. They have certainly operated closely and for a long time with RallyCar and would have the knowledge to run the series. Whether they have the resources to do so and how they translate from car managers to impartial series owners would be some big questions.
Other questions include the status of RallyCar's current management and PR staff in the form of JB Niday and Ananda Siverts, both who have endured some whithering criticism in recent years for a number of their operational and personal decisions. Keeping them aboard may signal a mere shuffling of the deckchairs vs. a real change in direction for the series.
I would look for more changes to the website and an announcement in the very near future. RallyCar has gotten bit by being slow on the PR field in recent periods and with the word already out, it would behoove them to start off on the right foot with the public--if they're smart.