New American Rally Association Coup Apparently Not Yet Complete

Yesterday one of the biggest bombshells in American rally racing was dropped with the announcement of the new American Rally Association as a new sanctioning body.  Admittedly we’ve seen this before when just a year ago the formation of the US Rally Association threatened to replace the often criticized Rally America Championship Series, but it never came to fruition.  So what’s different this time, and will ARA be successful?

 

As stated in the press release below from the American Rally Association and Team O’Neil, the ARA already has 4 of the current Rally America Championship rounds that have stated they will move to ARA next year.  Additionally they have already created the 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that will run the series, insurance through USAC has already been established, and ARA states they have an “Automotive OEM” sponsor to be announced soon.  It seems this time a lot more has been worked out, enough so that organizers of major events have already jumped on board.

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MEMBER-DRIVEN ASSOCIATION CREATED TO GUIDE THE SPORT OF RALLY INTO THE FUTURE
American Rally Association Formally Announces Plans For 2017 National Championship Series

Dalton, NH – Following months of planning, officials with the newly formed American Rally Association (ARA), a member-driven nonprofit organization based in New Hampshire, announced today details of their first-ever ARA National Championship series in 2017.

The Board of Directors, with volunteer representatives from each rally in the championship, as well as seasoned veterans from the sport of Rally will comprise the American Rally Association.  Guided by the association’s first member-voted Chairman, Tim O’Neil, a multi-time National Rally Champion, Event Organizer, and Entrepreneur. The group will continually work together to help the sport grow and evolve with a primary focus on safety and affordability.

“We appreciate the hard work and dedication put forth by many in the sport of rally over the years to get it where it is today”, stated Tim O’Neil.  “ARA specifically appreciates Bill Fogg Sr. and Rally America in their effort to continue rally in the United States the last few years by providing sanction and insurance. We look forward to working with Rally America during the transition period over the next several months as we prepare for the 2017 season.”

The inaugural 2017 ARA National Championship series currently consists of these events: Olympus Rally in Shelton, Washington in May, the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) in Wellsboro, PA in June, the New England Forest Rally in Newry, Maine in July, and the Ojibwe Forests Rally in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota in August.  Additional events to be announced in the coming weeks with a full event schedule announced later this Fall.

United States Auto Club (USAC) will provide licensing and insurance for the ARA-sanctioned National Championship series. ARA has confirmed sponsorship from an automotive OEM which will be announced along with other sponsors in the coming weeks.

For those interested in becoming involved with, or learning more about, the American Rally Association, the organization’s web site (www.americanrallyassociation.org) contains a variety of information regarding how to get more involved with the sport of Rally as well as the organization, frequently asked questions and timely updates regarding the inaugural 2017 ARA National Championship series.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN RALLY ASSOCIATION:
American Rally Association (ARA) is a member driven organization dedicated to the sport of stage rally and is a transparent and inclusive sanctioning body. As a 501 (c)(3) non-profit ARA is led by elected and appointed board members who guide the sport in the best interest of the members. ARA is delivering a framework for safety, competition, promotion, and educational forums for all aspects of stage rally. The success of the organization is dependent on many experienced volunteers working toward the common goal of a thriving stage rally program in America. For instant updates join us on Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/AmericanRallyAssociation

 

Most interesting about this announcement was the inclusion of a quote from Tim O’Neil stating  … “ARA specifically appreciates Bill Fogg Sr. and Rally America in their effort to continue rally in the United States the last few years by providing sanction and insurance. We look forward to working with Rally America during the transition period over the next several months as we prepare for the 2017 season.”

 

One would assume with such a statement that Rally America has seen the writing on the wall and is working with the new ARA to help to make this “coup” of sorts a peaceful transition.  At least that was until the following written statement showed up from Rally America this morning.

 

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RALLY AMERICA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Williston, VT (July 28, 2016) – Rally America is announcing today that it will be running the Rally America National Championship in 2017 just as it has since 2005.

Rally America will be working with USAC for insurance and licensing.  We appreciate our partnership and the professionalism that USAC brings to rally and we plan to continue this strong partnership for some time to come.

Rally America is going to continue to work toward the future with its partner event organizers, focusing on sport awareness, strong competition in every class and economic benefit to the host towns in which we race.  We plan on putting forth the required effort towards improved communications and compromise as we close any gaps together.  All rally fans will reap the rewards of our combined successes.

Rally America’s staff has been and will continue to be thoughtful stewards of the sport of rally and helpful to all those that come to participate.  This includes competitors, organizers, volunteers, sponsors and the media.   We will continue to foster and improve good relations with local, state and federal organizations through improved PR and sport education.

Rally America has strong, supportive sponsors who believe, as we do, that rally has the most desirable demographic in automotive motorsports and we thank them for their continued participation.

Rally America does not have any form of partnership with nor does it have any transition plan with any other organizations hoping to provide sanction in the sport of Rally.

Rally America is looking forward to its two remaining events in the 2016 Rally America National Championship: Ojibwe Forests Rally, August 26th, 27th in Detroit Lakes, MN and Lake Superior Performance Rally, October 14th, 15th in Houghton, MI.  We’re expecting battles in all classes at both events and large spectator turn out as usual.   Stay tuned for more updates to come.

Rally America has a storied history that must be appreciated, protected and taken forward with great enthusiasm and excitement.  It’s that history and those racers, organizers and volunteers that have been involved during the past 30 years who will foster new participants giving the sport its best chance for an even brighter future.

ABOUT RALLY AMERICA: Rally competition can be simply described “real cars, real roads, real fast.” It’s an all-season motorsport that sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover more than 100 miles of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Based in Williston, Vermont, Rally America, Inc., sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of eight national-level events in 2016 from Portland, Oregon, to Newry, Maine.

 

 

So where does this leave things now?  As organized as the American Rally Association seems to be, they still don’t have a confirmation in the rest of the championship rounds of Sno*Drift, Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, Oregon Trail Rally, and Lake Superior Performance Rally.  Statements from the organizers of these events is still pending, but as of right now the sanctioning body coup from ARA appears to not yet be complete.  Can Rally America survive with just 4 rounds if the organizers stay?

 

I think a lot of this hinges on what the manufacturers do.  We know Team O’Neil has backing from Ford Performance, so is this the OEM manufacturer ARA is referring to?  What about Subaru who is the biggest spender in the series?  or Honda?  If Subaru moves over to ARA, I don’t see how Rally America can survive.  We’ll keep on eye on how this develops and let you know when we know more.  For now, rally on….

 

 

6 comments

  • Finally, bye bye R-A!

  • Give it up RA you suck! You and your staff are anything but helpful in fostering in new people to the sport.

  • This is a great step. RA has lost focus of the people that have kept this sport alive since the end of SCCA. I implore all regional grassroots competitors to go to your next “Rally Group/clibs” meeting voice your concerns. We all have them Cost/Media/Regional support and building the system from the ground up. very few of us can afford $40,000 let alone the 1/2 to 3/4 million dollars cars to be competitve Nationally. Yet, there are tina of us with 5-10-15-20 years of rally experience and compete with the national competitors in our class SCCA did a great job building up and supporting the regional effort which helped promote Fans and even sponsors to help these regional competitors continue to grow.

    I had a conversation with Tim O’Neil at OTR years ago discussing how back in the day the local clubs used to find a “Fast” team and they would work together to promote that team with the support provided by the sanctioning body. Rally in America has been in dissarray for years with Clubs bickering internally and with other clubs. The realization we all need to make is it is up to us to build the excitement in the sport. If Rally can be huge in the rest of the world it can be hear as well. Fun, Dramatic, Personable events do that. How do you find those personalities? IMO it’s by promoting the competition from the bottom up.

  • Not surprised at Rally America’s reaction. RA is a for-profit enterprise, and a successful competing sanctioning body directly effects the value of Fogg’s company. Especially one that has pulled in four very key American rallies already.

    A non-profit org like ARA reflects the reality of the state of the sport in North America as a grass roots sport. RA always seemed like it was created to capitalize on the rising popularity of rally as an extreme sport in the heyday of X-Games, but that ship has long sailed. RA failed to translate rally to the extreme sport demographic just as it now fails to meet the needs of the grass roots competitors, the lifeblood of the sport.

    It will be very interesting to see where this goes, and I am rooting for Tim O’Neil and his new sanctioning body. Him framing it as the inevitable transition from RA is a bold statement. Hard to say how accurate it is with how completely opaque the sport is to an outsider. Hopefully as a member driven non-profit org there will be more transparency from the sanctioning body, which is much needed IMO.

  • Ojibwe is going to be tense. They’ll be running the penultimate 2016 RA round having already declared that they’re switching to ARA next year. If rally ever comes back to American TV maybe it will be as a soap opera.

    • Hahahaha! Thanks for the comment Lawrence. Indeed Ojibwe will be awkward at best. On the bright side, A change to ARA might more likely lead to a TV deal than RA based on recent history. Soap Opera or not. Heck, I’d be happy if our sport draws the attention a Soap Opera gets! 😉

      My fear for Ojibwe is that with RA knowing what their decision is, will they be punished as they try to prepare / run their event? We haven’t heard LSPR’s decision yet either. Is this because they have a similar fear?