It’s the right road, for the wrong reason. The loss of Al Dantes Jr. on the eve of last year’s Lake Superior Performance Rally was felt throughout the American rallying community.
But that sense of loss was especially keen on the road north of State Highway 41 heading for L’Anse through Herman. That’s the gravel where Al fell in love with rallying. It’s also the gravel that’s been known as LSPR’s Herman Nestoria stage for years. Until now.
Thanks to the imagination of event co-chairman Steve Gingras and his organizing team, that stage will now be known as Al’s Playground.
The 7.22-mile test runs twice on Saturday, opening the day at 9.23am as SS9, then repeated at 10.55am as SS11.
Al’s former co-driver and friend Bryce Proseus explains why it’s a fitting tribute to one of the sport’s greats.
“The stage was renamed Al’s Playground specifically because Al grew up on that road,” Proseus told DirtFish. “His childhood home was on Herman, he drove that road and rally stage frequently, he was very familiar with it.
“It was Steve [Gingras] who wanted to do something special to commemorate Al in perpetuity. He checked with all the Tower City affiliated people, and Al’s family on it before deciding.”
In addition to that, the event will also be known as the Lake Superior Performance Memorial Rally this week.
Emotions will be running understandably high at the final round of this year’s Green APU American Rally Association. Al Dantes Jr. was the pillar of the rallying community in Michigan, but his loss 12 months ago was felt across the country. Crews will be remembering their friend and competitor throughout the week – but especially after the 17th and final stage on Saturday.
Proseus added: “The last stage selfie… I’m not sure what specifically caused that to become a thing. It just happened. Al definitely started it and the other people jumped onboard. Now it’s part of North American rallying culture.”
Let’s keep it that way. To all the crews out there, enjoy Al’s Playground on Saturday and to everybody else, don’t forget that last stage selfie.
If you want to support the family but can’t make it to the event, you can purchase a tribute tee right here. All profits go directly to the Dantes family.
Rally on, Al.