Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The 2014 Oregon Trail Rally

Subaru Impreza rally car throwing dirt
Words by Andy Lilienthal. Photos by Mercedes Lilienthal.

Rally racing is one of those forms of motorsports that takes skill, talent, and a lot of courage. I mean, you're hurtling down an unpaved road with nearly zero runoff, unlike begin on a paved race track. Should you make a mistake, there's a good chance you're going to hit something. Hard. Driving like a madman (or madwoman) down dirt roads, sliding sideways, going through water holes and over jumps—all part of a day's drive at a stage rally race. And as a spectator, there are a host of sensory inputs you experience. The sound of the exhaust; the smell of race fuel (or burning clutch); the taste of dust in your mouth after a car slides past you; and the feel of the elements as you camp out waiting for the next driver to come flying by. I must say—it's ridiculously fun; almost addictive.

Mercedes and I attended the Oregon Trail Rally, held May 3–5. Part of the Rally America circuit, the first day's stages are held at Portland International Raceway; day two is held around Dufur, Oregon; day three is held around Hood River, Oregon. The event attracts both big names, such as Travis Pastrana and David Higgins driving their factory-backed Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars, as well as amateur rally drivers who may only compete in a couple of events a year campaigning decades-old lower-dollar race cars. In the middle are prepped Ford Fiestas, a lot of Imprezas and WRXs, a Scion xD, and a host of other neat cars. One of the best thing about rally is the variety. Race a Volvo 240? Sure. A 1969 SAAB? Let's race! A Honda Fit, CRX, and Civic? You bet.

The overall winner of the race was driver David Higgins and his co-driver Craig Drew in their Subaru Motorsports STI. Second place went to the other Subaru-backed team of Travis Pastrana and Christine Beavis. In fact, the top five finishers were all in Subarus, something that shouldn't be too surprising as it's the most popular car to use. And while we love the big, fast cars, we have a soft spot for the smaller, slower vehicles. I know, shocking.

We had a blast and highly recommend checking out a rally race near you if you've never been. These races have an energy to them; a different feeling that on-road racing—it's infectious. I can't wait until the next one. Additionally, with all those WRXs out there, it planted all sorts of seeds as to how we'd like to modify ours. While we figure out what our next mod will be to our Subie, here are some pics from the event. Enjoy.

Black Subaru WRX STI rally car

Giant sponsored Subaru rally car

Ford Fiesta ST rally car at Oregon Trail Rally

BMW M3 rally car at Oregon Trail Rally

Primitive Racing WRX STI at Oregon Trail Rally

WRX squatting out of a hole

WRX STI at Oregon Trail Rally

Rally fans at Oregon Trail Rally

Travis Pastrana's Subaru in the pits

Travis Pastrana's Subaru WRX STI at Oregon Trail Rally

David Higgins' WRX at Oregon Trail Rally

A WRX hard on the brakes

BMW braking into a corner at Oregon Trail Rally

Dirty Drifters' WRX at Oregon Trail Rally

Ford Fiesta rally car rounds a corner at Oregon Trail Rally

Team O'Neil Ford Fiesta at Oregon Trail Rally

1980s Toyota Corolla rally car

Honda Fit rally car at Oregon Trail Rally 2014

Subaru Legacy rally car at Oregon Trail Rally

1969 SAAB rally car at 2014 Oregon Trail Rally

Volvo 240 rally car

Toyota Corolla coupe at Oregon Trail Rally

Honda CRX Rally car

Toyota Supra/Celica rally car

Black MINI Cooper rally racer

Honda Factory Performance Civic rally car at Oregon Trail Rally

Nameless Performance Mazda 323 GTX

Vintage Toyota Corolla rally car

Volvo 240 getting sideways

White Team O'Neil Ford Fiesta

Scion Racing xD Rally Car

Mitsubishi EVO rally racer at Oregon Trail Rally

Paul Eklund's Primitive Racing Subaru Impreza WRX STI at 2014 Oregon Trail Rally on day 3

Oregon Wine Country License Plates on a rally car!

Fast VW Rabbit rally car

Honda CRX rally racer on day 3 of the 2014 Oregon Trail Rally

Vintage SAAB Rally Car

Porsche 911 rally car

MINI Cooper Rally Car with full droop on the front suspension

Teal Honda Civic EG rally car

Travis Pastrana's 199 Subaru Rally Car

Plaid Subaru WRX STI sedan rally car.

Impreza WRX squatting down coming out of a corner.

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