Subaru Motorsports has revealed its entrant for the Open 4WD class of the American Rally Association (ARA) Championship. The vehicle is simply being called the “WRX Rally Car” and it’s a painful reminder that enthusiasts haven’t been afforded a hardcore variant of the platform. The ARA racer is effectively what the mind conjures up when trying to imagine a modern WRX STI — a model the fans expected but Subaru elected not to build.
Several hooptie-centric road rallies take place every warm season in Front Range Colorado, including the 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 Rally, and the Colorado Gambler 500 Rally. Teams will build crazy stuff— say, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV filled with three tons of engine-heated water or a gutted Volkswagen R32 converted to a doorless post-apocalyptic Astroturf nightmare— or just acquire some random cheap car, decorate it, and beat it half to death on Rocky Mountain fire roads. As you’d expect, many of these cars go right to the nearest boneyard when the rally is over, and I find quite a few of them during my junkyard travels in northeastern Colorado. Here’s the “Good Vibes” Pontiac Vibe, found in Denver over the summer.
A stock 2021 Bronco Badlands finished third in the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally, driven by two Ford engineers. The podium finish came in the Pre-Runner Truck class.
Bronco engineer manager Jamie Groves and Seth Goslawski, another Bronco engineer, drove the majority of the 1,141 mile race across the Baja peninsula. Brad Lovell, a Bronco advisory panel member and prior NORRA winner, helped navigate and drove one stage during the five-day event.
Whether it’s a job, car, or food, trying something new often takes a dose of courage. It’s that reason why I always sit up and take notice when a racer steps out of the machine in which they normally compete and turn a wheel in a different environment.
Fernando Alonso did just that this weekend with Toyota at LeMans. The Spaniard appeared in the LMP1 class, part of a team that took the overall win. Not shabby at all.
Top Gear presenters Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan narrowly evaded injury when a pre-production Alpine A110 caught fire while the duo participated in last week’s Monte Carlo Rally. Apparently the two had been blasting down stage SS17 when the engine warning light came on. Sometime later, flames were seen beneath the vehicle and the two were advised to pull over immediately.
Fire crews were unable to control the blaze and the car ended up completely obliterated. Alpine and Renault have said they are conducting a full investigation to see what went wrong but are currently attributing the mishap to a “technical incident.” They are also suspending all testing of pre-production models until they can determine the true cause of the fire.
Most automotive advertising has little to nothing to do with the actual car. It’s usually about presenting an image or hawking brand identity and then loosely associating it with a vehicle — Mercedes’ current “Grow Up” campaign is a perfect, cringeworthy example. However, enthusiasts know that the best car ads feature incredible shenanigans and loads of life-or-death action.
Dave Chapelle mocked Mitsubishi for its pop-and-lock Eclipse spot, while Top Gear honored Land Rover for winching a Defender up the side of a dam. Keenly aware of this is Subaru, which, after sending Mark Higgins and a WRX STI around the Isle of Man TT course in 2014, brought both man and vehicle to the world’s oldest bobsled run in St. Moritz, Switzerland to record another automotive spectacle.
Unfortunately, Subaru is more than 50 years too late for this particular publicity stunt. Ford filmed an identical feature in the Italian Alps with the Cortina GT way back in 1964. It even named the car after the Cortina d’Ampezzo ski resort, where it later held the event. Subaru may be calling it “boxersledding” today, but it’s really just a rehash of Ford’s classic “auto-bobbing.”
In 1978, Mercedes-Benz made the decision to expand its efforts in rally competition. But its choice of platform to enter into the World Rally Championship was, to say the least, unique.
At the time, the WRC was dominated by small sedans like the Fiat 131 Abarth and Ford Escort RS1800 — cars that finished first and second in the championship that year. Mercedes-Benz took a decidedly different route, as it had no small sporty sedan.
What it did have was a large, heavy and expensive personal luxury coupe in the C107 SLC. While the choice would seem unnatural, under the direction of Erich Waxenberger the premier 450SLC was prepared and developed over the next few seasons into a rally winner.
Editor’s Note: Yes, yes, I know there weren’t many reader submissions posted this week — but fear not! We are working our way through the wave of emails. Thank you all for sharing. Next up: Justin Hughes of RightFootDown.com wringing every last horsepower possible out of a rental Compass. Enjoy! —Mark
What do you do with a car that wants so badly to be an off-road vehicle, but can’t actually go off-road?
Take it to a rally.
The year was 1984. Rally was all the rage. Danger was mainstream. And carcinogens weren’t exclusively advertised by the rumble of tailpipes.
Also in 1984, Porsche was developing a legend, but it was behind schedule: The 959 wasn’t ready when David Richards, the orchestrator of the Porsche-Rothmans deal, wanted to go rallying. So, along with Weissach, 20 examples of the Porsche 911 SC RS were built to take the manufacturer Group B rallying. Those cars also became the foundation of Prodrive, one of rally’s most famous teams.
This is one of those cars. Drifting. In snow.
Andrew Comrie-Picard, also known simply as ACP, is a rally champion and team owner, stunt driver, TV host, former Pikes Peak International Hillclimb record holder and BFGoodrich tire spokesman.
We asked him about his experience in rally, how he sets up cars and how it pertains to road cars.
Seven spectators are dead after a rally car plunged Saturday into a crowd of 20 people, killing at least seven and injuring at least 12 more, media outlets are reporting.
The BBC reported that six people were initially dead after the crash in the province of Galicia, which is in northwest Spain. The Daily Mail reported that a young girl who was severely injured in the crash died from her injuries Saturday night.
The La Coruna rally was immediately cancelled after the deadly crash.
Rally legend Tommi Mäkinen will lead Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Rally Championship team when it begins competition in 2017, the automaker announced today. Mäkinen was announced as team principal, which will race a Yaris-based car, for the WRC team.
Toyota boss Akio Toyoda, who will be the team’s chairman, said the 51-year-old Mäkinen was an ideal fit for the team.
“Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us. With Tommi behind us, Toyota will forge ahead with our return to the WRC and also our efforts to make ever better cars,” Toyoda said in a statement.
In the pre-Playstation days of the early ’90s, most Yanks knew nothing of the glory of an AWD turbocharged powerslide on gravel. I was lucky, as my dad installed a C-band satellite and we watched all kinds of oddball motorsport from around the globe. I especially loved watching Carlos Sainz and his Castrol-liveried Celica ripping up stages.
The homologation special has been around nearly as long as road cars have been built into racers. Nearly every OEM that went racing built street cars that aped the racers, in an effort to make certain parts kosher for the track or stage. Sadly, many of those meant for rally never made it here to the States, as there were few such enthusiasts here.
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