It was an exciting year for rally. 2017 marked the creation of a new rally sanctioning body, the American Rally Association. It also marked the return of a few events that had been absent for some time and the creation of a few new ones.
The inaugural ARA season came down to the wire with a showdown at Ojibwe Forests Rally between Subaru Rally Team USA teammates David Higgins and Travis Pastrana.
It all came down to the final 2 street stages that went through Detroit Lakes, MN and in the end the 199 car of Travis Pastrana and Robbie Durant came out as champions.
There were some hard fought battles with both teammates having to push the limits.
My rally year started in the woods of Missiouri at Rally America Rally In the 100 Acre Wood. The event had a different feel without the superstar draw of the Subaru giants or Ken Block overshadowing the rest of the field. It left for a wide open event, with opportunity for anybody to take a podium spot.
100 Acre Wood also marked the debut of one of the most unique and exciting rally cars to race through the stages of the U.S. in a long time, the JRD Rallysport Mk2 Escort piloted by Seamus Burke and Martin Brady. Wow was it a treat to experience and what a sound it makes, if only a picture could accurately portray that sound..
The roads in Missouri are some of the most fun and challenging in the country and always make for some great photo opportunities.
Next, I headed out to the west coast for one of my favorite rallys… Oregon Trail.
The addition of a stage that climbed up the hillside above the Colombia River Gorge, one of the most beautiful stage locations in the world, only cemented Oregon Trail as a top rally.
And even though there is a lot of beauty at Oregon Trail, some of the stages are still savage.
Ojibwe, the final rally of the 2017 ARA season turned into a wet, slippery mess on the second day. Although conditions weren’t ideal, this road that runs between two lakes is still amazing.
Barry McKenna and Leon Jordan showed they had the pace to hang with the Subaru goliaths. It’ll be exciting to see what they can do next year.
Travis Pastrana with the pressure on, came through with a big win to wrap up the ARA Championship.
My season wrapped up in the beautiful forests of Upper Peninsula Michigan at LSPR where the trees where sporting their fall foliage.
Rally legend Hannu Mikkola made a surprise appearance driving a replica of his MK2 Ford Escort provided by Dirtfish Rally School.
The forests at LSPR really are magical.