LEBEC, Calif. — the renowned Gorman Ridge Rally, welcoming new presenting sponsor Dirty Racing Products (DRP), returns to Southern California to celebrate its 24th anniversary on Saturday, August 24. This performance stage rally is the fourth western qualifying round for the 2013 NASA National Rally Championship and also the fourth event in the California Rally Series. The rally is headquartered at the Holiday Inn Express in Lebec.
Organizer Ray Hocker said his tagline for the Gorman Ridge Rally is “it’s the place where new legends are born.”
Although the traditional forest stage rallies slowly began to fade into obscurity in many parts of the U.S., Gorman’s flexibility in venue continues to provide both a challenging and exciting course inside the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area in Lebec, Calif.
“We are really happy with the relationship we’ve built through the many years with the staff and administration at Hungry Valley,” Hocker said.
NASA Rally Sport, the arm of the National Auto Sport Association, is a rally sanctioning body. Its mission is to encourage growth of the sport by providing support to organizers who can offer safe, fair, and affordable events for the stage rally competitor. And the Gorman Ridge Rally does just that.
“This one-day event, although it’s three roads run twice in each direction, offers a closed, accessible, yet fun, low-expense event,” Hocker said. “It’s all about the ‘sportsman racer,’—the one who does it because he or she loves it, but they’re out there to win. Yet, it’s also the event where teams can work on skills.”
Building on the success and positive competitor feedback from previous years’ events, the course will once again use those stages. The route is all dirt road surfaces, which are generally smooth and hard packed with occasional rough or sandy spots. There are always a fair number of washouts and water bars; however, Hocker said the roads are graded three days prior to the event. It is also one of the few events that combine both daytime and nighttime competition into one day.
Hocker—a formal national rally competitor—has managed this event for many years, along with wife Donna Hocker. Together they organized the high profile rally Rim of the World Rally. Sadly, that event is now history after losing access to the roads in the Angeles National Forest roads where it ran for over 30 years.
“We have great pride in Gorman. For the last three years, we’ve run 16 stages with every stage starting on time,” Hocker said. “Add in we have really great volunteers and competitors who come back year after year. We also like to keep things fresh and adding Brian and Stacey Hamblin to the organizing team has kept the event vital and fun for us.”
The organizers would like to welcome Dirty Racing Parts (DRP) as its new presenting sponsor. Old Dirty Racing’s Chuck and Rick Wilson, and Jackson Rally’s national champion Keith Jackson and Kyle Jackson have teamed up to build a new line of aftermarket performance parts for Subaru vehicles. DRP will design, produce and market their products through their facility outside Jacksonville, Fla.
Also new this year is the NASA National Rally Championship, comprised of 10 events, split between the East and West Coast equally. Champions are crowned in both the all-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive categories at the Championship’s finale, the Prescott Rally in the weekend of October 4-5 in Prescott, Ariz. The Championship shall be determined solely by the performance of the racers at Prescott Rally and no prior ranking shall affect the crowning of a champion, only the results of that final rally.
Competitors have four different qualifying paths to the Championship. Hocker said it’s “very accessible to the sportsman rallyists because they can win it in one event or one stage.” The first method is to be ranked in the top-10 in either the East Coast or West Coast series; the second is to place in the top three of a two-day rally in either AWD or 2WD; the third is by winning a “Power Stage,” a stage specified by the event’s organizers, usually the last stage, or “Super Special Stage.” Finally, each of the series’ directors may nominate a single driver who has competed in an NRS event in the 13-month period prior to the Championship finale.
For the purposes of the Pacific Cup leaders, NRS West will use the California Rally Series Championship points scale to calculate the standings for the top-10 AWD and 2WD competitors that qualify for the NNRC event. These results will be based on the finishing positions from the following events: High Desert Trails, Idaho Rally (combined two-day results), Nameless Rally (combined two-day results), and Gorman Ridge Rally. The California Rally Series, whose championship structure is based on a cumulative point structure, is broken into five classes.
Here are some of the teams to watch at this year’s Gorman Ridge Rally:
Chinese national Tingwu Song, who currently resides in Denver, Colo., is leading the CRS points standings in the Open 4WD class after his second-place overall win at last month’s Mendocino Rally. He and his co-driver, Martin Brady, of Galway, Ireland, have entered a Mitsubishi Evo 8.
Only 30 points behind Song in the Open 4WD CRS standings is Ukiah, Calif.-based Kris Psara, who has entered a 2010 Subaru Impreza STI. At last year’s Gorman, Psara took the class win in his first year of competition.
Despite a mishap with his VW Golf at the Mendocino Rally, Michel Hoche-Mong, from San Jose, Calif., returns driving a rented car prepared by Streetwise Motorsports in the 2WD/CRS-2 class. His first-in-class win at the Idaho Rally qualifies him for the NNRC/2WD. Marie Boyd, from Bishop, Calif., will call the notes once again.
Chuck Wilson is moving from his 2WD-class Ford Escort into a 4WD Subaru STI, which his team, Old Dirty Racing, will unveil at Gorman. He’s teamed up with national champion Keith Jackson and Jackson Rally. Their company, DRP, is also the event’s presenting sponsor. Rally driver Leelyn Pritchard will provide his experience from the navigator’s seat.
Gorman Ridge Rally is famous for its barbecue during the dinner break. This year it will be during the rally’s mid-point and provided by the local Boy Scouts. Post-event beer is provided by Karl Strauss Brewing Company.
The event also features live scoring, presented by RallyData.com, available through the event’s website.
As an added bonus, for those who want to follow the event’s social media efforts, there will be live text-based updates, using a custom, proprietary application aptly called Live Text as well as the other popular methods. Facebook members can find us at http://www.facebook.com/groups/gormanridge/, and follow @gormanridgerally on Twitter. To tie this all together, visit the event’s news blog at http://gormanridgerally.wordpress.com.
Further information about the Gorman Ridge Rally is available on the Web at www.gormanridgerally.com. The event is sanctioned by NASA Rally Sport and organized by Creative Edge Events, Inc.