Why Pastrana’s hoping 661 doesn’t make 199

Travis Pastrana sent Jim York and Gregg Duffy to DirtFish for some tuition ahead of this week’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally

Pastrana 100AW

It’s easy to get confused at this year’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally. Usually, there’s only one 199 car – the blue and yellow Subaru WRX piloted by Travis Pastrana. But in Ohio, there’s another 199 car. Except it’s actually 661. Only if it’s upside down does it become 199.

Pastrana is going beyond the driver’s seat for the latest round of the American Rally Association National Championship by fielding a team that’s running a 24-year-old Subaru Impreza for novice rally drivers.

“All my friends want to rally and say: “Oh, that must be nice,”” Pastrana told DirtFish. “And I’m like, no, we can do it. So I’m now a car owner. I went down to an ARA sprint rally, took four guys, said two of y’all are gonna be mechanics, at least for the first round, best co-driver and best driver.

“I got them to come down to DirtFish and really learn about what a rally takes. I’m definitely excited. Southern Ohio Forest Rally is their first rally and we’re following them on the YouTube channel.”

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Jim York & Gregg Duffy have trained at DirtFish ahead of their first rally this weekend

Driving the #661 Subaru Impreza is Jim York. He’s raced offshore powerboats. He’s crashed a limousine through a house. Stunts are his thing. Co-driver Gregg Duffy, a motocross rider, is straight from the same playbook.

They wanted to learn how to rally. Now Pastrana is giving them that chance.

“I sent them to DirtFish to give them a little more knowledge. Everyone thinks they can drive, but since it’s my car I’m really hoping they don’t crash it too much! I know I’m not one to be talking too much on that issue!

“They’re going to have a lot of fun. Even building the car, we got an old rust bucket, an old Subaru that already had a cage that we got for $12,000.

“We’re cheating a little bit, we know the ins and outs of the sport. But that’s the knowledge I’m trying to pass on to everyone through the YouTube channel. I’m curious: how inexpensive can we run a rally? Can we get people that have no idea how to rally and teach them how to do it safely?”

That’s what York and Duffy were doing at DirtFish. They know how to go fast in other motorized methods. Now they’re learning how to do the same thing in rallying. And some in-depth training – including work with Oz Rally Pro – has rapidly accelerated their learning.

“The difference is I don’t hit cones,” said York. “Those cones are actual trees and or a cliff here [in Ohio].”

There are plenty of both trees and cliffs. But now they’re prepared to deal with them. After shakedown, both knew what they were up against.

“Today was an eye-opener,” admitted York. “We didn’t have intercom, so it was him yelling at me, but we were able to clean up a lot of note stuff, which, had we not gone to the school, we’d be sunk. We’d be up a creek without a paddle.

“Between what we learned and what we’re doing now, the consequences are a lot higher, but still just as fun.”

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The 661 Impreza will mirror the 199 car of Pastrana

For a pair of people who’re used to taking risks, it could be tempting to push the limits first time of asking – but they’re in this for the long haul. And you can’t learn how to go fast in rallying without finishing.

“We are both very competitive people, and it’s going to be hard not to really be competitive,” admitted Duffy. “This is our first race. We need to finish. Personally, I think that should be our main goal: to finish and learn. Because if we don’t finish, we’re not learning.”

Learning is what the whole ARA field went through last time out at Oregon Trail Rally, when both factory Subaru cars retired on the third stage and the battle for victory was a new one: Ricardo Cordero versus Sam Albert.

Neither are here this weekend but plenty of others are; there are three RC2-class Hyundai i20 N Rally2s, driven by Patrick Gruszka, Enda McCormack and John Coyne respectively. Javier Olivares continues his march towards attempting to clinch a second LN4 title in a row and the battle for Regional victory between Subaru trio Jon Kramer, Adam Kimmett and Dylan Gondyke promises to be an exciting scrap.

But at both ends of the field this week, there’s a 199/661 in the six-time American champion himself and the 24-year-old white and blue Subaru that’s running rookies thanks to his efforts.