Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Photos from the 2016 Oregon Trail Rally

Travis Pastrana launching at Oregon Trail Rally

Words by Andy Lilienthal; photos by Mercedes Lilienthal and Andy Lilienthal

Another Oregon Trail Rally, part of the Rally America circuit, has come and gone, and it was as awesome as ever. The annual race was held April 22–24 with the first stages held at Portland International Raceway. However, this year, things were changed up, and the second day of racing took place around Goldendale, Washington. For the past few years, day two's racing has taken place around Dufur, Oregon, but those stages were moved to day three. Regardless, we had good weather, great racing, and amazing scenery. Plus, you know ... rally.

Toyota RAV4 Rally Car
The 2WD 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE driven by Ryan Millen.
If you've never been to a stage rally, it's quite the experience. You only see the cars briefly on track, since it's a single pass on most stages. But when you do see them, they're flying by, often sideways, and they make all kinds of hellacious noises and kick up all sorts of dust. It's definitely a sensory experience, and frankly, a rather crazy one. These drivers are pushing their vehicles to the limit on gravel, dirt, and tarmac, often on narrow single-lane roads. Oh, and the fastest cars are pushing 135 mph. On top of that, rally fans are great. Enthusiastic, boisterous, and totally passionate.

Nissan Juke Rally Car

And while the speed and spectacle of rally is great, one of my favorite aspects of Oregon Trail Rally—and rally racing in general—is the variety of race cars. While you have your usual AWD Subaru WRXs and Mitsubishi Lancer EVOs, you also get Ford Fiestas, BMW 3 series cars, and your rally oddballs, such as a Volvo 242; a 4AGE-powered 1981 Toyota Starlet, or a 2012 Nissan Juke. And how could we not mention the 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE driven by Ryan Millen? The FWD crossover is powered by the stock 2.5-liter engine and has the six-speed automatic. It's got a stripped interior, lightweight seats, and a Tein suspension system, but its 176 horsepower engine is still stock.

Ford Lotus Cortina rally car at night

The Portland stages offered a combination of dirt and tarmac, which included night stages. The stages at both Goldendale and Dufer had plenty of sun, but quite a bit of wind, which was a blessing and a curse. It helped to keep the dust away, but also meant plenty of windburn at the end of the day.

David Higgin's Oregon Trail Rally Winning WRX STI
2016 Oregon Trail Rally winner, David Higgins driving the Subaru Rally Team WRX STI.
When all was said and done, for a sixth straight year in a row, Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins won the Oregon Trail Rally in his open class WRX STI. In second place was his teammate, Travis Pastrana, in a WRX STI, and in third place was the Mitsubishi EVO-powered Mirage driven by European rally driver, Bryan Bouffier. Impressively, Millen took a fifth-place overall finish in the fairly stock Toyota RAV4. Well, stock for a rally car, anyhow.

This is one of our favorite races to attend all year. It's packed with racing action, unique vehicles, and great people. If you're ever in Oregon in April, it's worth checking out the Oregon Trail Rally. In the meantime, here are some more photos.

Green APU Mitsubishi Mirage
The Green APU EVO-powered Mitsubishi Mirage.
Travis Pastrana on tarmac at Oregon Trail Rally
Travis Pastrana's Subaru WRX STI on the Maryhill Curves tarmac section.
George Plsek Mitsubishi EVO Rally Car
Mitsubishi Lancer EVO driven by George Plsek.
Honda Fit Rally Car
The Honda Racing Fit exiting a downhill section.
VW MKII rally car
Who says old MKII Volkswagen Jettas can't rally?
Lifted Subaru WRX STI
There's no shortage of cool spectator cars at the rally, such as this lifted Subaru WRX STI.
Lowered Subaru Forester
Equally cool is this lowered Forester. 
1981 Toyota Starlet Rally Car
This 1981 Starlet, driven by Garth Ankeny, is fantastic.
Ford Lotus Cortina at Oregon Trail Rally - Maryhill Stage
This Ford Lotus Cortina was one of my favorite cars from the rally. 
Nissan Sentra SE-R Rally Car
Admittedly, it wasn't the prettiest car there, but Bruce Tabor was rallying the heck out of his Sentra!
Team O'Neil Rally Fiesta - Cameron Steely
The 2WD Team O'Neil Rally School Fiesta, driven by Cameron Steely, was cookin'!
Nameless Subaru BRZ
The Nameless Subaru BRZ doing its thing in Dufur, and was a 2WD beast.
David Higgins at Maryhill at Oregon Trail Rally 2016
It's hard not to have a good time in scenery like this. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great shots and good write up. I have been going to nearly all OTR's since 2003. I can't get enough. But the wind this year in Goldendale was rediculous! See you next year