Category Archives: Championship Press

Rally Championship Press Releases

Big 2C field to challenge the twisty Gorman Rally

Gorman is a rally that defines the toughness and spirit of Southern California rally competitors. If you’re from out of town, don’t call it “rough”. Gorman is the reason competitors from here are often successful all over the US. It’s a rally that teaches you what rocks and terrain to avoid. It shows you how hot your engine bay can really get, and how inadequate that rear skidplate you made out of 1/8″ steel is. Cap that all off with a legendary after party and you’ll never look at “just finishing” the same. Presented by Team O’Neil Rally School and Streetwise Motorsports: 2C the 2WD challenge makes this victory even sweeter with a cash prize for the top 5 2WD competitors.

Ryan Millen with co-driver Christina Fate will be taking the challenge for the first time in the RAV4. We’re not too worried as Ryan’s desert racing experience will really come into play here, but this will be a serious test for the new Toyota. Look for Ryan to pull off a solid finish and not take too much risk – the question is: Will this strategy be enough to land him in a top 2WD spot?

Markus and Alicia Saarinen will be looking for a bit of redemption at Gorman. Last year a mistake over a long crest landed them off the road, and literally ripped a wheel and strut off the tough little Mini Cooper. They will need to keep it clean here at Gorman to match their win in Idaho.

Bret Robinson is back to challenge 2C from his last outing in Prescott 2014 where he captured 3rd place cash in his VW Golf. This time with seasoned co-driver Brent Ellzey. These two have raced Gorman for years and will be prepared to challenge for the top spot. Also in a VW Golf: Andrew and Robin Lockhart are back to Gorman after not running the event for a few years. Look for this to be a great VW rivalry!
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Co-Driver Chrissie Beavis slides over to the drivers seat again, this time to compete with co-driver Erica Sacks – Erica, the first US competitors to enter the Gazelle Rally in a side-by-side quad. Both of them have completed the Gazelle. That rally being a nine-day, all-women, off-road rally across the Sahara Desert. This team will no doubt have an interesting perspective of the Gorman stages in their Volkswagen Jetta.

Long time competitors Larry and Lance Gross in their tough Toyota Corolla will be trading times with John Black and Lori Stone in their equally capable Ford Ranger. Look for Javier Olivares and Brock Heinz to be in that mix with their Ford Escort. Gorman first timer Andrew Cowan and Tim Brown will see if they have what it takes. Chris Palermo will be looking to improve his speed here at Gorman with a yet unnamed co-driver. For some RWD fun, Steven Egger & Christopher Chenoweth are back sliding around their 318i BMW. While Christian Arboleda & Oscar Arteta push a Suzuki Swift to the limit! Twelve 2C competitors make up the large field for Gorman 2015!

Watch for some great 2C competition. Follow live scores and text for the Gorman Rally at http://rallydata.com. On Twitter @GormanRally #GormanRally @NASARallySport #2WDRally and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/NASARallySport. Looking to learn to drive at the limit in a 2WD car? Go to the Team O’Neil Rally School at http://www.teamoneil.com. Looking to build a 2WD car? Talk to Streetwise Motorsports at http://streetwiseparts.com.

Markus Saarinen pushes past Dave Clark on final stages to take 2C win at Idaho!

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Seventeen 2WD teams took to the stages at this year’s Idaho Rally for the 2WD Challenge. Set in Boise County, the roads converge on the small town of Placerville and made for a fantastic weekend of racing. Eleven special stages make up the two days of rallying that would test the competitors skill, machines, and perseverance. The 2WD Challenge is supported by Team O’Neil Rally School and Streetwise Motorsports who believe that starting with a 2WD in rally is the best path to future success in the sport.

Ramana Lagemann established quickly that he was the man to beat in a BMW M3. Setting the fastest 2WD times on all of Saturday, he and Co-Driver Chrissie Beavis settled into 5th overall gunning for the podium. A flat tire on Sunday barely slowed the pace of the M3 on SS7 and it wasn’t until a differential failure on stage 9 that wrote the end of the story for the BMW. Lagemann rejoined the rally for fun and super rally points, but you have to finish all the stages to win the 2WD Challenge.

2c_pr_2ndThe close battle for 2nd on Saturday then became the close battle for 1st on Sunday. On day one; Dave Clark in his RWD XR4Ti was 24 seconds ahead of Markus Saarinen in the FWD Mini Cooper and Ryan Millen in the FWD Toyota RAV4. The Merkur was reportedly having steering pump bracket issues and was on the verge of destroying itself, while Clark and Co-Driver Jennifer Daly were running out of decent tires. The team was still having fun though, setting off a shower of RWD gravel where spectators had setup a line of colorful plastic flamingos on the outside of a sweeping turn. Dave Clark scored well at Flamingo Bowling.

Markus Saarinen in the Mini Cooper started to catch the RAV4 of Millen on stage 4, and turned the attack all the way up on Sunday morning beating Clark on SS7. Clark responded with a win on SS9, and back into the last service the three teams learned that they would be fighting for the $500 prize with Lagemann out. Markus and Alicia Saarinen had 7 seconds to make up for 1st in 2C and they pushed to take the lead with 11 seconds on the final two stages! Sarrinen takes home the 2C win with $500, and Clark takes the 2nd place prize of $300.

2c_pr_3rdRyan Millen and Co-Driver Christina Fate were excited to debut their Toyota RAV4 at Idaho, and WE were excited to see where an experienced off-road racer, with a brand new navigator, in a brand new showroom stock RAV4 would end up on the standings. The team was right up with the pack on the first 3 stages and Millen settled into a rhythm to take 3rd in the 2WD Challenge at Idaho earning $150.

2c_pr_4thA back and forth battle emerged with some historic hardware from John Hill in his 1967 Ford Cortina and an experienced Irish Rally Champion John Coyne in a rented 1982 Toyota Corolla. The Cortina unfortunately stopped on SS8 with a mechanical issue after winning the first stage of Sunday. John Coyne and Co-Driver Doug Nagy were having a blast on the Idaho roads and happily accepted the $50 for a great weekend of rallying. Coyne was 4th in the 2WD Challenge.

Setting consistent stage times all weekend was what kept Erik Christiansen in his Volkswagen Golf ahead of James Rimmer in a Subaru BRZ. Other than crumpling a fender with a bump on Sunday, Christiansen had a smooth weekend with Co-Driver Amy Floyd. Not expecting to be in the top placement at this event, the team hung in there to grab $30 for 5th in 2C.

2c_pr_5th2C is here to get teams excited about running in 2WD and we were pumped to see Ryan McLaughlin & David Brown finish their first rally event with their Acura Integra. Ryan says: “We finished Rally Idaho with only two gears left in the transmission and even brought home some hardware. Happy to have made it across the finish, even though we had to come home on a trailer. Stage rally is the most intense motorsport on earth.” We couldn’t agree more! Both of our presenting sponsors are serious about 2WD as a starting point for rally. Team O’Neil in Dalton, NH offers classes in Ford Fiesta school cars and their curriculum focuses on starting with the skills and techniques of 2WD. Streetwise Motorsports in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA builds and supports 2WD rally cars and is ready to help you get started in 2C with their many years of technical experience.

Next up is the Gorman Rally in Southern California on August 22nd. This event typically lets 2WD cars shine with their tight and twisty stages. We’re excited about their new roads – and looking forward to the extra competition that 2C will bring. See you on the stages!

NASA Rally Sport Announces 2015 Nat’l Calendar with Video

Instead of a press release that has a bunch of dates and locations. NASA Rally Sport decided to take you to the action with their 2015 National Calendar announcement. You get to see a short clip of the flavor and in-car from each event, and you quickly realize that NRS has events all over the country, and they have a lot of them! Info and more on their website NASARallySport.com to help get you started in US Rally!

Jason Smith and Matt Brandenburg Earn National Rally Championship Titles at BRS

The woods of Upstate New York played host to two days of intense rally action last month. Black River Stages, the 2014 NASA National Rally Championship Event was held in the towns of Harrisville and Croghan on September 20-21st. A big field of rally teams from all over the country showed up to see just who would have what it takes to be the fastest on these twisty and sometimes muddy stages. Six qualifying events across the country led up to this winner-take-all event.

Jared Lantzy, Jason Smith, Elliott Sherwood, and  Matt Brandenburg

Jared Lantzy, Jason Smith, Elliott Sherwood, and Matt Brandenburg – Photo by Matthew Stryker – Stryker Rally Media

Top honors went to Driver Matt Brandenburg and Co-Driver Elliott Sherwood for Two Wheel Drive, and Driver Jason Smith and Co-Driver Jared Lantzy for All Wheel Drive.

“We like to use the phrase ‘win it on the stages,’ meaning that the best racing is when driving skill alone determines the outcome, and not frivolous timing penalties or undeserved mechanical breakages,” said NASA Rally Sport East Director Anders Green. “One excellent story that I heard from the weekend was Eric Wages, sitting in second place, and Mike Reilly in third, working hard during a turnaround at repairing frontrunner Jason Smith’s car when both of them would have benefited by doing nothing. That is a dedication to the true spirit of competition that goes beyond lip service. Ultimately, it’s the racers themselves who define the level of honor and nobility that exists in a series.”

Driver Jason Smith and Co-Driver Jared Lantzy for All Wheel Drive

Driver Jason Smith and Co-Driver Jared Lantzy for All Wheel Drive – Photo by Matthew Stryker – Stryker Rally Media

In the Two Wheel Drive class, Brandenburg showed up with a well built motor; it lasted just long enough to complete the stages and not a moment more. Kevin Turner and Matthew Rhoads took second, unable to repeat their amazing performance last year where they won the rally overall. Jim Kelly and Dean Thuline completed the 2WD podium, a pair that has steadily gotten faster all year and certainly one of the top picks for podiums in 2015.

Driver Matt Brandenburg and Co-Driver Elliott Sherwood for Two Wheel Drive

Driver Matt Brandenburg and Co-Driver Elliott Sherwood for Two Wheel Drive – Photo by Rob Sackyta

The structure of the multiple qualifying methods was based around finding and qualifying racers who have the potential for amazing speed. However, just like the Olympics, on the day of the actual race, no one will be able to sit on their laurels, they must come out on top in that gathering of all of their speedy peers. In many racing series across the country, it is well known that simply towing the race car to enough of the events will grant you a year end trophy, but when it comes to the NASA National Rally Championship, “You can’t win it with a trailer.”

NASA Rally Sport, the grassroots rally sanctioning body in the US, focuses on competitor fun and providing support for rally organizers. Providing tools, technology, and systems to the organizers, racers, and fans to increase their enjoyment of rally is a core mission of NASA Rally Sport. Making sure that rally remains a sustainable and affordable passion for the drivers and organizers while building the family of racers and volunteers that make rally happen goes hand in hand with that mission.

Pacific Rally Cup Wraps Up with a Shake Up in AWD and 2WD at Prescott

Consisting of five events on the West Coast, the Pacific Rally Cup is awarded to the top scoring 2WD and AWD driver and co-driver for the season. Held at the scenic Prescott Rally in Arizona, this year’s PRC final event would have some surprises.

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John Trucks & Chris Fine at the Prescott narrow bridge.

In AWD, heading into the final event, Todd McAllister nearly had the season locked up with his Subaru WRX STi. With a win at High Desert Trails and a good showing at Rally Idaho, Todd McAllister and navigator Trent Bateman collected points at every PRC event this season supported by the Rallicandi team. At the Gorman Ridge Rally a serious challenger emerged when Rally Kings John Trucks and Christopher Fine took the win over McAllister in their WRX STi.

Suffering with a blown strut, and unable to match McAllister’s speed on the first day of the Prescott Rally, Trucks settled in for the weekend a minute behind and a chance to try and gain on Saturday. The two Subarus of McAllister and Trucks were 1st and 2nd overall going into Saturday morning, when they set almost identical times on the first stage, and Trucks finally took a win on stage two. His fortune was about to dramatically change when McAllister and Bateman lost a steering ball joint, narrowly escaped the posts of a cattle guard at speed, and retired on stage three. Todd remarked: “Out because of a $20 part. It sucks, but we could have done way more damage if we hit that cattle guard.”

Blowing a tire on the last stage and no doubt rattling nerves, John Trucks and Christopher Fine finished the weekend winning the Prescott Rally and the 2014 AWD Pacific Rally Cup. “This is amazing! It’s never over until it’s over,” said Trucks. The team came away with 162 points over McAllister’s 155. Third place competing at this event was Chuck Wilson with 138 points.

Tony Chavez from the air!

Tony Chavez from the air!

In 2WD it looked as though points leader Derik Nelson was the clear favorite. Derik was unable to attend, and this left the door open for Tony Chavez to “cruise to a win.” We know in rally though, things like this rarely happen. The Condor Rally Sport Team had issues just getting to the event when the service truck water pump failed and a late night replacement got them to the event in the early morning of Friday with not enough time and sleep for reconnaissance.

Setting consistent times, Tony Chavez and Raquel Salas worked hard to complete the Prescott Rally and were rewarded with the 2014 2WD Pacific Rally Cup. The team collected 164 points for the season. Tony exclaimed: “What a weekend. A lot of hard work just to get here. We’re excited to be taking home the cup!”

As this event came two weeks after the 2014 NASA National Championship runoff at Black River Stages in New York, it will also serve as a qualifying round for the 2015 NNRC. Winning the final stage at this event (the Power Stage) Duncan Smith in AWD and Markus Saarinen in 2WD instantly qualify. On the podium John Trucks and Chuck Wilson qualify for AWD. Kristopher Marciniak and Bret Robinson also qualify for the finishing on the 2WD podium. Thanks for a great 2014 season. See you next year!

John Trucks, Tony Chavez, Raquel Salas, and Christopher Fine

John Trucks, Tony Chavez, Raquel Salas, and Christopher Fine

NASA Rally Sport, the grassroots rally sanctioning body in the US, focuses on competitor fun and providing support for rally organizers. Providing tools, technology, and systems to the organizers, racers, and fans to increase their enjoyment of rally is a core mission of NASA Rally Sport. Making sure that rally remains a sustainable and affordable passion for the drivers and organizers while building the family of racers and volunteers that make rally happen goes hand in hand with that mission.

NASA National Rally Championship Wild Card Picks Revealed

For 2014 the ultimate rally event of the NASA Rally Sport season is the Black River Stages in upper New York. On the weekend of September 20 and 21, the rally will host this year’s NASA National Rally Championship and crown both All Wheel Drive and Two Wheel Drive national champions. Simultaneously, Black River Stages is the final round of the Atlantic Rally Cup presented by RallyPro at The FIRM. With just over six weeks until the rally takes place, the list of national qualifiers moves closer to being cemented with this announcement of the Wild Card drivers.

The NASA National Rally Championship philosophy works similarly to the Olympics: first you qualify, then a winner takes all battle for the title takes place in a single venue where all comers have a decent shot. There are a variety of methods of qualification, all designed to identify fast rally drivers. In short, you can win the final stage of a rally, you can win a rally, or you can win a regional series. All of these are excellent indicators that the driver is fast and has the potential to be a national champion. This method prioritizes driver speed over driver budget. And finally, there is the Wild Card. Each NASA Rally Sport director, in the Western part of the country, Kris Marciniak, and for the Eastern part, Anders Green, chooses a racer who they believe has the capability to take the crown but for some reason didn’t otherwise qualify.

“My Wild Card choice is Matt Brandenburg.” revealed Director Anders Green. “He had a tough start to the season, a penalty that kept him off the podium at the Sandblast Rally which would have qualified him for Nationals. But what really impressed me is how he picked himself back up after that event, kept at the grindstone, worked on his car and team and kept pushing through the rest of the season. It’s a perfect trifecta: he loves rear wheel drive, I love promoting two wheel drive, and the fans love his ridiculously yellow sideways BMW.”

“When it came to my Wild Card choice, I went with history.” started Director Kris Marciniak. “Jason Smith’s first rally as a driver was Black River Stages, way back in 2009. He worked his way up from Dead Last But Finished at that rally to multiple event wins and winning the All Wheel Drive Atlantic Rally Cup in just two short years. And doing it in an Open AWD Light car with no turbo speaks to the skill he has behind the wheel.”

The rally is always looking for passionate fans who want to get closer to the action by volunteering. Special access combined with great perks like free camping, food, and clothing makes volunteering the best way to meet up with a whole new group of rally fanatics in your area. Go to BlackRiverStages.com for more information on all aspects of the rally.

NASA Rally Sport, the grassroots rally sanctioning body of the US, focuses on competitor fun and providing support for rally organizers. Providing tools, technology, and systems to the organizers, racers, and fans to increase their enjoyment of rally is a core mission of NASA Rally Sport. Making sure that rally remains a sustainable and affordable passion for the drivers and organizers while building the family of racers and volunteers that make rally happen goes hand in hand with that mission.