Rally USA ready for WRC dry run

Chattanooga will host a one-day WRC-style test event on Saturday


America’s bid for a return to the World Rally Championship will take another step with Saturday’s Tennessee Rally USA test event.

After an initial event in April last year, this week’s one-dayer is designed to move further towards a World Rally Championship-style format, while demonstrating the organizing team’s capability to the local community and emergency services.

Initially planned for two days with two service parks, rally manager Stuart Wood was forced to cut the itinerary after losing two stages due to bridge repairs on those roads. After a ceremonial start on Friday evening, Saturday will include all 77 miles of competition across eight stages to the east of the host city, Chattanooga.

“There was nothing we could do about the roads,” Wood told DirtFish. “The contractors couldn’t budge on the date of the work and the forest service couldn’t say no [to the work], so we lost those roads – which is a shame because they were two great stages.

“That means we consolidate everything into a busy Saturday – which is going to be a great day. The priority for the event is to execute the event, the road closures, the whole operation in the full day in front of all the law enforcement, the EMS (emergency medical services) teams and everybody in the community. We’re running a WRC-style day to show everybody what’s coming.”

Following this week, a second test event will run next March, which is the anticipated date for a possible 2026 inclusion on the world championship calendar.

“In March we’ll be back up to the full two days,” said Wood. “We’ll bring back the mileage we lost this time and run the event we planned.”

That March event is expected to draw personnel from the WRC teams, FIA and WRC Promoter.

“We’re about showing what Chattanooga’s about this time,” said Wood. “Friday night is a big concert night and the rally’s going to be right in the middle of that big street party this week. There’s going to be a lot of people down there and we’ll be showing the public and the politicians that this event will bring a bunch of people and it’ll bring a bunch of money in.”

At the time of writing, Tennessee Rally USA had just nine cars on the start list.

“The entry is the only thing I’m disappointed in,” said Wood. “Everything else, the 250-odd volunteers, the 25 operational team members, every aspect of the safety side of the event is great – those folk are very serious and they have great knowledge of what’s coming and how to run an event.”