PNW’s biggest Subaru meet gets the DirtFish treatment

Big Northwest brought Subarus back to their natural habitat in style

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Subarus. We love them here at DirtFish. Every one of our Rally School vehicles sports the Pleiades star cluster on the hood – whether they’re the all-wheel-drive WRX or rear-wheel-drive BRZ.

But for one day only on Sunday, August 7, DirtFish was about more than just its black and orange WRX and BRZ fleet. There were colors from the full boxer-engined spectrum. Big Northwest had come to town and DirtFish had been turned into Subaru Mecca.

Basking in the warm glow of mid-80F sun were over 4000 gearheads mingling between rows of hundreds of Subaru’s finest creations spanning nearly half a century. And in true DirtFish style, those cars weren’t simply sitting in silence. They were unleashed at full volume.

Few cars stood out quite as boldly as the GC8 that came resplendent in a classic 555 livery. It had rocked up to take on the exhaust challenge, which is as loud as it sounds – rev it to the max and hope the decibel counter comes out with the biggest set of digits.

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GC8 555 came close. 109.6 decibels. Alas, a 2019 STI had it licked at 113db.

Not every car needed to make its presence heard, though. A select few cars that made you look without having to ask. An Impreza 22B is always going to be hard to miss; so too was Bucky Lasek’s STI-swapped 1998 Impreza L Coupe – along with Lasek himself.

But at DirtFish, we’re all about competition. About driving at the absolute limit. Few cars evoke that attitude like the 2011 WRX STI that Mark Higgins broke the 37-mile-long Isle of Man TT lap record for four-wheeled vehicles. But there would be no 150mph slide over Bray Hill this time around.

Wander a little more and you’d find the works Subaru cars. Beyond the shiny new WRX, BRZ, Forester and Outback Wilderness Editions, Ascent and Solttera were the Vermont SportsCar crew, who’d brought Travis Pastrana’s VT21r WRX STI with them.

VSC had also brought something else – Brandon Semenuk. He’s leading the points standings in the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship right now. Pastrana might have been the reigning champion but right there and then, Semenuk was the man.

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But this was no VIP dropping by to do their piece, pick up their event fee and check out. Semenuk was here, there and everywhere; milling through the crowds to check out the hundreds of cars on show, chatting with his fellow gearheads and snapping selfies.

And, unsurprisingly, he gravitated towards the shop where our Rally School cars live. Semenuk was quizzing the shop techs for good reason – he would be driving one of the DirtFish WRXs in anger out on course, taking some lucky VIPs out for a high-octane thrill ride.

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Nor was he the only one putting pedal to the metal. Just a week after the incredible RallycrossFest that had enveloped the DirtFish estate, NorthWest Rally Association was back running another rallycross event. And what an atmosphere to do it in – where else could you take a standard Subaru road car and drive it in anger in front of 4000 other people?

It’s strange to think this was DirtFish’s first year hosting Big Northwest. For years it had been held on paved circuits elsewhere in Washington and Oregon. Though Snoqualmie was new for BNW, it felt more like a homecoming. It was Subarus thriving in their natural environment – gravel.