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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.