Celebrating the fifth anniversary of Rallycross Fest, Northwest Rally Association and DirtFish Rally School hosted the largest rallycross event in the United States to date this last weekend.
Some 147 competitors across 11 car classes and two separate courses totaling two miles in combined length were at the heart of the event. Each course was over 90 seconds for the fastest competitors. And since rallying is at the heart of DirtFish, this rallycross event took inspiration from rally stages.
As opposed to taking place in an open field, these courses challenged competitors to race through narrow tree-lined sections, fast blind corners, and multiple surface changes. With temperatures soaring well into the 90s, the combination of heat exhaustion and course endurance gave competitors the true press on regardless experience of stage rallying.
The 11 different car classes were broken down by drivetrain and level of modification, and the variety of entries was vast. Everything from Suzuki Swifts, RHD Toyota Celicas and Lancia Deltas, to Subarus, UTVs, trucks, and more.
This collection of cars made the racing exciting to see how drivers adapted their car’s abilities to the courses.
The competition was split into morning and afternoon sessions with the two courses being ran simultaneously. The morning session featured multiple retirements and penalties as competitors struggled to adapt to the challenging rally-like courses.
A couple of drivers trimmed trees in the wooded sections giving their cars some new racing stripes. Several of the unluckier ones crunched fenders or doors on the tire wall that lined concrete ecology blocks on the course. Cone penalties were everywhere too. There were very few “clean” runs.
The midday class leaders were the ones that might not have had the fastest raw time, but they drove the cleanest and so clocked up less of the time penalties. Just like rallying, driving clean and smooth leads to the top spots.
At the lunch break, a few of the class leaders were within five seconds of each other. This made the competition going into the afternoon a battle of endurance and cleanliness to ensure victory was decided by the actual run time rather than the penalties.
As a result, the afternoon session had fewer penalties and better results for most competitors as they started to come to grips with the courses. However, the afternoon’s blazing heat presented a new challenge. Many competitors were having overheating issues. Hoods were popped and radiators were sprayed down while they waited for their next run.
Some had to abandon their cars altogether and continued competing in a fellow competitor’s car in order to finish their runs. As the sun began to set and the sky filled with dust clouds, the afternoon session came to a close.
One particular Mazda RX-8 owner used his last run to celebrate completing the event with a few victory donuts on the course. Almost as if on cue, a lightning stormed rolled in providing an electrifying backdrop to the podium ceremonies.
Cars were battered, faces were caked in sweat and dirt, but smiles and joyous laughs echoed through the paddock as competitors packed up and shared stories from the day’s racing.
The largest rallycross competition in the nation was a massive success. As Katie from Northwest Rally Association joked, maybe they will attract 200 competitors next year.
Rallycross Fest 2020 results
1 Traver Phillips; 2 Kris Zeman; 3 Robert Bakoczy
1 Alex Mock; 2 Matthew Dickinson; 3 Kip Tischer
1 Luke Mclane; 2 Kyle Herzog; 3 Brent Blakely
1 Billy Witherspoon; 2 Eric Holocomb; 3 Blake Salveson
1 Anthony Orantes; 2 Brandon Burgler; 3 Geoff Clark
1 Sven Eisma; 2 Heather Geba
1 Bryan Davidson
1 Chad Berg; 2 Dylan Shippee; 3 Russell Roulette
1 Maxwell Lee; 2 Nikolai Vachon
1 Daniel Piker; 2 Jennifer King; 3 Sage Van Tilburg
1 Evan Kuester; 2 Blake Glover; 3 Oliver Wermus