You won't find RallyAmerica on TV and none of the major buff books will touch such a rabid motorsport, so we're bringing you the 2008 LSPR Rally, straight and unedited. Mega-sized gallery below.
The scene is northern Michigan. Very north. We're headed for the Houghton area, which is so far north it can't be properly represented by the usual "Michigan=Hand" model. We're in a convoy with amateur rally driver Billy Elliot and his tired but trusty VW GTI Group 2 racer. We're hauling fast to make it on time for the Parc Expose, the opening portion of the rally where the drivers must display their cars for viewing by the public. After all, it's the least they could do as a torrent of horsepower, oversteer and raucous noise is about to befall their tiny town.
With Travis Pastrana the far and away points leader coming into this race, this one is simply run for bragging rights and the second place position. Being the last race on the RallyAmerica circuit for the year, with also being the toughest and roughest, all of the cars are truly going for broke with the dire hopes of clinching a win. The regional guys push extra hard as this is their turf; they've got the home team advantage. The surface is hard packed dirt with a short stage over the Brockway Skyway, which is medium-quality tarmac that connects the Copper Harbor mountaintops. Brockway is the only stage on the entire RallyAmerica circuit to be run on true tarmac at race speeds, including its harrowing jumps and sheer cliff faces.
Heading up the Michigan regional racers and winning the award for Most Jalopnik Rally Car Ever is a bloke by the name of Mark Utecht in his Foxbody Mustang powered by a stroked 383 Windsor. Nothing can speak for the badassery of such a ride more than having it kick a half ton of fine silt into your lens from 20 feet away before speeding off into the sunset, back tires desperately fighting and losing a battle between a low traction surface and a high horsepower engine.
Ken Block eventually cinched the overall win, cementing himself in second place just below Travis and right above upcoming superstar Kyle Sarasin. Our pivot Billy Elliot walked away with no awards but was ultimately satisfied to leave his first performance rally alive and with a mostly functioning car.
Would you like to see more RallyAmerica coverage? Check back here as we're due to cover the Sno*Drift Rally next week in Atlanta, MI. We'll be on the scene in a Roush Propane F-150 just like this one and on the back of a pair of snowmobiles. If you spot us, feel free to say hi! See everyone out on the stage.
Video and Partial Photo Credit: Clutch Creatography