Why a rally couple started life’s next stage at DirtFish

DirtFish Rally School features heavily in one couple's lives, so they decided to make it part of their engagement

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DirtFish Rally School is a special place. We know that. It’s the mothership, where the magic happens. But for Serena Scrivner and Justin Nelson, their time at the Fish has changed their lives.

Hooked on rallying, they compete together in a Subaru Impreza. But their story started years earlier and features plenty of time at DirtFish. They’re part of the family.

That’s why we were delighted when the recently engaged Serena and Justin wanted to start the next chapter of their lives together right here on the property.

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“We have a lot of history at the School, and wanted a special place that had significance to what ultimately brought us together,” said Serena.

“Justin and I have known each other for 15 years. He started volunteering at local rally events 10 years ago and knew from day one that it was something he wanted to do.

“I was introduced to the sport through rallycross. I went to my first event in 2018 through Northwest Rally Association (NWRA), by the next summer I participated in Rallycross Fest as a driver and we both began volunteering and crewing for stage rally teams.

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“I loved the organization, precision, and challenges of the co-driver seat.”

DirtFish is a school of rallying and we teach the sport from both seats. Justin and Serena are advocates of that.

“Over the next few years, while we fixed up a car for stage rallying, Justin took driving courses through DirtFish, while I took co-driving classes through OzRallyPro,” Serena continued.

“DirtFish was the first place where we both competed as drivers. We have both spent countless hours on the property driving, learning, and observing.”

For Serena, it’s about more than the driving and co-driving. It’s about sitting in a Subaru in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains looking out over some of the most inspiring panoramas in the world.

And there’s Michelle and the rest of the gang.


“Michelle [Miller, senior instructor] taught us both before we started competing. And it was really special that it was Michelle who showed us around the property when we were taking our photographs.

“All the staff have always been incredibly friendly and welcoming.

“As a female learning the ins and outs of the sport it was a place that felt safe and judgment-free, that doesn’t exist everywhere and is something that I respect about DirtFish.

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“It’s somewhere we always feel comfortable and the scenery is beautiful. The historical buildings, mountain range, and the variety of scenery that you get from one location made for excellent [engagement] photographs.

“We were amazed at how on board everyone was when we expressed interest in having the photos taken on the property. There was no stress and everybody helped us out, making the experience quite special and memorable.”

Having made more than 20 visits to DirtFish, Justin and Serena know the place inside out. And that’s a help when it comes to putting their Subaru in stage mode.

“We compete in all the NWRA (Northwest Rally Association) events at DirtFish,” said Justin. “And we’ve gone as spectators for big events like the RedBull Global Rallycross, and most recently the Big Northwest Subaru show.

“While we normally race in our own car on the property, the favorite of the DirtFish cars was #199. I was taught Scandinavian flicks in that beauty. The Mill Run is always a favorite for us – it combines so many different driving elements.

“Looking forwards, we’ll be entering another ARA event in the fall to get out of the novice class.”

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After that, there’s going to be a short break for the wedding.

“And the name change on my window,” smiled Serena. “We want to finish the season with a regional ARA event and the NWRA Labor Day event.

“Longer-term, the goal is to compete at New England Forest Rally and to spectate at Rally New Zealand.”

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But, like you and me, it’s Subarus that work for these two.

“We love them,” said Serena. “We can drive them anywhere, they’re easy to work on and we love sliding around in the dirt. And, as a bonus, the community we’ve found ourselves in is irreplaceable.

“And, of course, you can’t beat that rumble.”

Expect Mendelssohn’s Wedding March to be replaced by the glorious and inimitable beat of the boxer.

Congratulations to the two of you, from everybody at your second home.

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Words:David Evans