In the United States, we’re used to sporting events spread out over the country for a National Title. From Playoff Hockey to Football – we expect teams to load up on buses or planes, and travel from coast to coast with their equipment. When it comes to motorsport, the cars are a lot harder to ship, and prohibitively expensive to fly.
In a traditional championship, competitors earn points, and are expected to attend most (if not all) of the listed events. Once you spread these events out over the length of the country, you have all but alienated anyone who won’t have the budget to ship a car 10,000 miles. Now, only a handful of financially backed competitors will ever get the opportunity to challenge for this title. Winning often comes down to who could afford to be at the most events and not the fastest rally drivers in the US.
NASA Rally Sport looked to change all that in 2013 with the NASA National Rally Championshiop (NNRC). Structured more like the Olympics – competitors qualify at their local events and challenge one National Event at the end of the Season. This event changes from time to time and swaps from the West Coast to the East Coast every year. Only 2 classes are awarded: 2WD & AWD. Really fast local drivers get the chance to prove that they are really fast National competitors without breaking a regional budget.
Qualifying for speed and skill; At any NASA Rally Sport event (there are 12+ of them in the US) drivers earn regional points for the Pacific and Atlantic Rally Cups (Traditional Championships). The top 10 of which will qualify for the NNRC. Power Stage Win; Any competitor that sets the fastest time down the last stage of any event will instantly qualify. Get a Podium Spot; At events longer than ~50 miles, competitors finishing on the podium (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in 2WD and AWD will instantly qualify. Be a Wildcard; Finally there are 2 wildcard spots that the NASA Rally Sport Directors pick. They look to identify competitors that showed the ability, but for some unfortunate luck were unable to qualify.
Power Stage – An interesting local twist; After a weekend of stages, the top teams may think the rally is locked up, but competitors pushing all the way to the end could be rewarded with National Qualification. Do you settle in for season points? Go for a podium spot? Or apply maximum attack to win the Power Stage! We’ve seen competitors as far back as 7th snag this stage win. Very often the 2WD cars will set the fastest time!
Now that you’re identifying fast drivers at local events, clubman rally drivers who may only run 3 events for the season have a shot at a national title. Their plan should be to do well at a local event or two, instantly qualify or earn points, and then make the drive out to this year’s National Championship event! Thus NNRC’s tongue in cheek tagline: “You can’t win it with a trailer.”
Real Rally Excitement; Not knowing who will be able to pull of a spectacular run at the final event is wickedly exciting. At this point, no team has won it twice in a row. The racing from the field is down to seconds and not minutes. Around 200 teams compete in NASA events, and roughly 1/4 will qualify. More clubman teams from the other coast often make the trek to the final event, and that alone makes for interesting racing. NASA Rally Sport has been laser focused on the smaller teams and their enjoyment of the sport, and it shows with how their National Rally Championship has been designed.
Get involved! Links and more info: