After an entire life of being surrounded by rallying, Mark Piatkowski is in dreamland. On a streak of two top-five overall American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National finishes behind the wheel of an NA4WD Subaru Impreza, he’s beating out plenty of turbo cars, and even a couple R5s.
The Piatkowski name has been in rallying for many years. Andy Piatkowski raced in the SCCA Pro circuit in the mid-1980s, and raised his son, Mark, around the discipline as well.
“I was essentially born into [rally],” Mark said. “My dad used to rally. I’ve been going to STPR [the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally] ever since I was two, and then the only year that I missed it was for senior prom which was the biggest regret of my life so far!”
Even when his dad wasn’t competing, Mark was still involving himself in rallying as much as he could, taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
“I’ve just been engulfed in the culture, and I’ve been either competing, or volunteering, or just spectating rallies ever since, so to finally be here, to finally have good results, to see everything coming along together, I’m super excited.”
Piatkowski opened up the season with a fifth place overall and first in class at Sno*Drift Rally. An incredible feat for sure, though it’s not unheard of for NA4WD class competitors to outperform much faster cars due to the level playing field offered by the slick conditions and lack of studded tires.
What would be truly impressive, though, would be to repeat that result on a gravel National round. Therefore, when final times rolled in at last weekend’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally and Piatkowski found out his team had finished fifth again, he was thrilled.
Yes, first in class, fifth overall, amazing right? But even if I was 57th, I'd still be having a blastMark Piatkowski
“We ran the first loop [Saturday] with stock suspension, we didn’t hemorrhage as much time as we thought, just won our class by six seconds, so that feels really good!” he added.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of a weekend.”
Piatkowski had also managed to get a chip off his family’s shoulder with the results.
“I’m relieved but I’m also proud of what we’ve achieved,” he said. “There is a Piatkowski curse when it comes to Ohio.
“My dad used to compete in the 1980s finished it once, wrecked two cars, and when we’ve been here it’s just been DNFs or terrible placing, so to finally put that all aside despite all the trials and tribulations we’ve been through this weekend, I’m stoked.
“All in all, I’m speechless, it’s a really great weekend.”
Though Piatkowski has been able to bask in some glory from the past two events, he knows it often doesn’t go that way.
‘Rally because you love it’ is how he approaches his career. A great bit of advice for newcomers and seasoned veterans alike.
“There’s no egos, theres no nothing, you have to put that aside, you have to do it because you love it, it’s very easy to get burnt out, I would know,” he said.
“I’m here because I love driving a car fast, in the forest, at night, on gravel, with all of this kind of stuff right?
“Yes, first in class, [fifth] overall, amazing right? But even if I was 57th overall, I’d still be having a blast.”
How impressed were you with Piatkowski’s top-five finishes? Let us know in the comments below