The new Rally America National Championship season will launch into the freezing winter of Northern Michigan at the end of the month. The Sno*Drift Rally January 28-29th will slide amongst the trees and frozen roads in Atlanta and Lewiston, Michigan! The images are post card beautiful. The stories are best-seller dramatic.
The hot competition always heats up Sno*Drift’s frigid temperatures. Returning for the 2011 season is the Subaru Rally Team USA with BMX Legend and X Games star, Dave Mirra, and a new driver familiar to longtime rally fans, Britain’s David Higgins. Higgins is the 2004 British Rally Champion and the replacement in the seat left vacant by action sports star Travis Pastrana, who announced last month he’ll participate in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. Higgins brings exceptional rally experience to the team having won the 2002-2003 SCCA ProRally Championships and is considered an instant top challenger for an American championship again.
Meeting the Subaru blitz will be returning 2010 Rally America National Champions, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard from Quebec, Canada. Earlier this month they were named to the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-American team for their success last season. They’ll be at Sno*Drift defending their title in an improved Rockstar Energy Drink sponsored Mitsubishi EVO X. The team had a phenomenal 2010 winning both the American, North American and Canadian Rally Series, in addition to securing a bronze medal at X Games 16 Rally Car Racing event.
Ex-Subaru Rally Team USA driver, Ramana Lagemann from Boston, almost won the Super Production (SP) Class title last year. He steps up in 2011 with a new, more powerful Open Class “Team Rally-Tire” car to challenge the top of the field. In 2010 he won three of the four events he entered in the Super Production category and missed the title by just a few points at the end of the season.
San Francisco Bay Area star Lauchlin O’Sullivan, one of the fastest rally drivers in North America with two consecutive championships for 2WD cars, also makes an appearance in the SP Class as an early favorite against other established SP drivers, more notably 2009 SP winner Jimmy Keeney.
The always entertaining 2 Wheel Drive Class will see Chris Duplessis from Mason Township, ME, last year’s national class winner, defend his title against a more focused young Dillon Van Way, 2009 2WD Class National Winner from Louisiana. Duplessis just announced his plans to compete in a factory-supported Scion xD sponsored by 0-60 Magazine. He’s a crowd favorite for his championship skills to drive a slow car VERY fast.
Since the inception of the Rally America Series in 2005, the Sno*Drift Rally is traditionally the kickoff to the Rally America series that began in 2005. It features two days of racing on Montmorency County snow and ice. It is the only snow covered event on the six event national schedule and normally attracts more than fifty domestic and international teams and legions of fans. Those fans will have plenty of opportunities to meet their favorite drivers and watch the snowy rally action over 120 miles of competition roads and a fan friendly super special stage.
It’s that Super Special that draws considerable attention during the event. It’s a location where spectators can view an entire stage on a closed course and a spot where photographers and videographers can capture at least a taste of stage rally action. It takes place on Saturday, January 29th at the Lewiston Sand & Gravel Pit off of Buttles Road. Parking is extremely limited. Admisssion is $5, however, organizers are providing free bus rides from Atlanta School and Lewiston Ace Hardware beginning at Noon.
Sno*Drift begins in downtown Lewiston Friday, January 28th at the 1:00pm Parc Expose. That’s essentially a car show before the competition day starts. Fans can meet drivers one-on-one and collect a spectator guide providing driving instructions to nearby viewing areas. It is a perfect starting place for a day full of rally action and an adventure in the beautiful Michigan woods. The Saturday action begins in downtown Atlanta at 8:00am, January 29th with another Parc Expose.
The Sno*Drift Rally features two separate regional events. The Sno Regional and Drift Regional Rallies will be run on Friday and Saturday respectively, again, to support grassroots and regional competitors.