WRC – is it time for the USA?

It is debatable if they are the best drivers in the world, but I don’t think you will get an argument if you declare them the most fearless and talented drivers anywhere.  They don’t just turn left and right, they slide, skid, spin, and fly along roads you might crawl along on your best day.

The World Rally Championship is an astounding level of racing that is followed with a fanaticism everywhere in the world except the United States.  At least for now. 

Certainly there are a few rally-like events that are known in the US.  There is the Pikes Peak hill climb and the Rim of the World Rally.  Baja racing is similar, but these rally cars in WRC are very much like stock cars were back in the sixties.  Other than the roll cages and some racing bits these cars are very much like cars that come off the showroom floor.  While most of them are brands and models that have not graced our shores for a decade or more, at least two should be recognizable.  The Subaru WRX and the Mitsubishi Evolution derivatives of the WRC cars can be purchased in the states.  These pocket rockets even in their domesticated street version are incredible performers.  How about zero to sixty in well under five seconds?  How about turbocharged two litre engines that nearly 300 horsepower and even greater torque?  How about all wheel drive?  These are the street versions mind you.

The WRC venue spans the globe with events in many different geographies and climates.  Some are run in snow and ice while others are on gravel in the desert.  Sweden, Turkey, Japan, New Zealand, to name a few. 

Rallies are not wheel to wheel events, no these are timed events where the cars are spaced a few minutes apart and are challenged to run the stage as fast as they can.  It is rare that they ever see each other on the course.  But the fans watch with great anticipation.  They pick out the most exciting corners to stand at fearlessly as these rally cars of 300 horsepower perform handbrake turns at speeds that are unbelievable just feet away from the fans.

Unlike other motor-sports when there is a shunt or something breaks these cars don’t stop.  Even if they only have three wheels working these cars keep going.  They have to.  Each car has a driver and navigator and they must work in perfect harmony.  The navigator and driver speak in a coded language so that the driver can anticipate every turn, switchback, breaking point in terms of direction and optimal gear.  There is a tremendous amount of dependency and trust here.

Between each stage is the Service Park where the pit crew waits to see what condition the car will arrive in.  The crew will have only twenty minutes to make the car road worthy again.  This is like no other racing.  These Service Parks are not in nice air-conditioned garages, but tents set up in what ever weather conditions exist.  The crew that restores these cars back to some semblance of rally condition truly work miracles.

Did I say this was coming to the USA?  Yes, in the 2006 Summer X-Games. 

If you watch closely you might find the WRC events shown on the Speed Channel, but usually at odd hours.  If you can, it is worth the sacrifice.  If you can ever attend an event live it will be an experience you will never forget.

Oh, and these cars don’t get put in a trailer and carted to the next stage, they are licensed and drive the roads with the rest of the public traffic. 

I would love to see how the WRC would look being run on the Tail of the Dragon.

WRC and the USA – your time has come.


This entry was posted in Automobiles, Cars, Racing, Rally Cars, Road Racing, Sports Cars, WRC. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to WRC – is it time for the USA?

  1. Fernando says:

    I am with you. I am from Cordoba, a state in Argentina, where RWC comes every year an it is fantastic.

  2. jimsgarage says:

    Thanks Fernando! I envy you.

  3. Noel says:

    I think it would be great to have WRC in the US. There are similar rallies, but not the WRC, so it’s a matter of a US sponsor or three ponying up the bucks to see it through.

    Rally drivers are probably the most skilled on unpaved surfaces. It would be interesting to see how they’d do in some other types of cars and races. F1? NASCAR? IRL?

    But that’s today….
    50 years ago, when some races were actually still held on public roads, many of the top racing drivers competed in everything. Guys like Stirling Moss, for example, won events like the Monte Carlo winter rally in small sedans, Grand Prix races in Mercedes F1 cars, and over-the-road sports car races like the Mille Miglia. I think drivers then were a lot more skilled and versatile overall than the specialists of today.

  4. Jim says:

    This week’s Autoweek had a write up on the Rally part of the X-Games. It may have been a bit contrived, but it was sure exciting. The first place guy also competed in the motorcycle event and the second place guy put on an amazing show as he rolled his WRX and still kept the car going – so when he landed on his tires he just ook off and finished the race.

    Sounded more like a monster truck or pro wrestling venue than the WRC I know and love, but it was the X-Games after all. I can only hope that it generates enough interest to bring the “real” WRC to Amercan’s attention.

    Noel – you are absolutely right. The drivers like Clark, Fangio, Parnelli Jones, etc. were much more versitile and could drive anything on anything. It took AJ Foyt a fews years to mellow enough that they could use him to sponsor products though.

  5. Nate says:

    Ya your right thats why i don’t like nascar its just round and round in circles. I like rally way better than most road sports (except roadracing). hand brake turns at 80+ while one wheels hanging off a cliff! nothings better than that!

  6. Jonathan says:

    If it isn’t run in a simple circle and sponsored by big brand names, the USA will ignore it. Most American dads, (the main target audience of NASCAR) think of the GL when they hear of Subaru. It will take marketing to the kins in their late teens and twenties to get the WRC over here.

  7. Chris says:

    I completely agree. We are long overdue for a WRC event over here. It just needs to be exposed to the people more but unfortunatly with Speed taking WRC off the air, hopefully someone else will pick up on it. The X-Games was a good way to market it though I wish they had televised some of the off-road stages too instead of just the Super Special at the end. Subaru is already heavily advertising the X-Games coverage on its website. Just to note, that driver that rolled his car at the end of the super special was rally legend Colin McRae.

  8. Karen says:

    You forgot to mention that the driver and co-driver repair their own flats and other mechanical breaks during the rally (or while traveling from stage to stage on regular roads). How many other motorsport racing series can say THAT???!

    I’m still sulking at Speed channel taking WRC off its calendar a year ago…. it’s not only my all-time favorite motorsport, but my all-time favorite sport, period. Check out OLN for the annual Dakar rally across Africa beginning January 6.

  9. jimsgarage says:

    Karen –

    I could not agree wtih you more. I don’t understand why it has not caught on in the US. The racing is spectacular! Not that the NASCAR drivers aren’t talented, but my god, the WRC drivers and co-drivers are amazing.

  10. Ian says:

    this site has a lot of wrc shows from eurosport. You cant find wrc shows anywere on the dial in the us. http://rally.stanis.info/ is free but the pull down is slow if you paypal then a few bucks you get 180kb down. they also have the Dakar rally up.

  11. bruce says:

    Imagine rally of new england,
    Mt. Washington’s roadway, some Connecticut back country, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire

    and Colorado’s Pike’s Peak would be a nice little treat

  12. Jim says:

    And let’s not forget the Tail of the Dragon! That would make for some interesting driving. 318 turns (switchbacks included) in eleven miles of two-lane mountain road. I’ll have to dedicate an entry on just the Tail of the Dragon some time soon.


  13. Yeah I really enjoy them watching on TV. I hope I could see it live..

  14. Travis says:

    Is this site dead? I haven’t seen anything posted in awhile. I know in Washington they have a rally every year. Here is the info from http://rally.subaru.com/event_2008_olympus_info.html: “The Olympus Rally was part of the first US Rally Championship held in 1973. It later became a World Rally Championship from 1986- 1988. In 2008, the Rally America event moves from its original location near Olympia, Wash., 300 miles east to the Washington/Idaho border. The 2008 event will be based in historic Pomeroy, Wash., 116 miles southwest of Spokane. The terrain is comparable to Rally Colorado, with the event stages being held on county roads that cross wheat and barley fields before dropping into gullies that drain into the Snake River. Springtime temperatures in the region range from the 50s during the day to the 30s at night, with a 50 percent chance of rain.

    I am fresh into the work of WRC and I am getting more excited about it everyday since I have purchased my 07 Impreza WRX STi. Any new news on when the WRC will be coming to a country near me?

  15. Kilian says:

    I live in Ireland and the wrc only came here in 2007. When it was here it was just HUGE. Everybody was talking about it! Americans don’t know what they’re missing.
    It would be cool to have it around Nevada, Arizona, Utah. I heard the roads are really windy around hoover dam. In the desert there are dirt roads(wrc would be nothing without them)so they could be held there.

  16. jimsgarage says:

    Americans truely don’t know what they are missing. There are thousands of miles of interesting and challenging roads in America. Some in eastern staes would amaze you.
    The trick is to excite the American public with the concept of WRC. I am afraid that most are more interested in a tail gate party than the actual competative nature and automotive technology involved with WRC.

  17. Tim says:

    Most Americans simply don’t have an appreciation for the skill and technical acuity that goes into any advanced racing series. Look at the split of automatic to manual transmissions sold and it paints the picture clear as day.

    FWIW, my kid will learn to drive stick and LIKE IT.

  18. Ricardo says:

    My name is Ricardo I’m Mexican and I live in the city of León, in Mexico where the WRC rally has been held for the past few years. I must say that it is an enthralling race as it is amazing. Just to see the way these pilots and their copilots work to sort the windy dirt roads of the local mountains and at what speeds! -These are roads that we city-slickers sometimes drive on weekends to go up to the mountain for a picnic and we don’t dare drive our cars faster than 40 or 50 k/h so we don’t damage our suspension a wheel or something-
    I had the opportunity of living in the USA and I know how Americans love races and I am surprised to find out that they can’t enjoy a WRC Rally as we do.
    I actually came across this article while Googleing about the WRC in USA. I hope they get their chance to have a go at it someday . The USA has an excellent infrastructure to hold such events, and a many great places to do it.
    Saludos desde Mexico!!!

    • jimsgarage says:

      Ricardo – nice to have your comments. I envy your being able to enjoy the WRC. This september I will travel to Newfoundland to be a safety marshal in the Targa Newfoundland. It may not be WRC, but it should be a lot of fun.

      Thanks again for your comments.


  19. Ricardo says:

    I forgot to mention!!!
    The WRC Rally is taking place as I write!!!!! zzzzzzzzzzzzoooooooooooooommmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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