The Rally America Series is set for a new look starting this weekend at the X-Games. As drivers prepare for all-star event of the championship in L.A., the series as a whole has announced a number of changes for the 2011 season. Let’s take a look and try to pick it apart.
The series at large is no longer the Rally America Series to start with. Because of the addition of Rally Cross, the sanctioning body will now be known as Rally Car. The website is already reflecting this change across the banner of the page. The series wanted to change the name to show that they are the premiere outfit for US rally and everything rally car racing. Rally Car President JB Niday had this to say in regards to the series name change:
“We’re expanding as an organization and we wanted to make a change that reflects our commitment to rally car events in 2011. The introduction of Super Rally presents a perfect opportunity for us to change our name to reflect what we’re about: racing rally cars – whether that’s on endurance-based Special Stage courses, or through the new Rallycross short-course format.”
The traditional stage rally will retain the Rally America name but that is about it as far as name changes go.
As far as the Super Rally series is concerned, we will have a 2011 championship that includes six events across the country. This really comes as no surprise as the series said that it was a real strong possibility earlier this season. Drivers such as Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP), Tanner Foust, Travis Pastrana have already committed to the series on top of the stage rallies we are used to. The first year of the series will include two classes of cars. The open class 4WD that we see out on stage as well as 2WD machines that will be pushing 450hp or more. These races are held on close circuits and involve a mix of both tarmac and dirt. See the associated video on the main page or this weekends X-Games. The events are for all intensive purposes a full contact sport. Sorta looks like British Touring Car with dirt. The series will have Subaru WRX STi, Ford Fiesta, and the Mitsubishi Evos in the open class and Dodge/Honda power in the 2WD class. Should be interesting to say the least. The series is hoping that the new event will help showcase the mid-sized car that we everyday people drive. Good strategy! Should make it easy for folks to enter the series in the long run. That is if they have the money to run a 2WD car running over 450hp!
Some side thoughts on the announcement ask a couple questions. As Mike pointed out in a text message to me, why not run an IndyCar series championship system that introduces a stage rally title, and a rally cross title. Rally Car would then crown an overall champion at the end of the season. Let’s face it, the series only runs six stage events and six rally cross races. That would make for a twelve round championship that would test the driver’s ability over both events. Thanks for that idea Mike! Also, could we see other styles of racing enter the mix? Perhaps a hill climb category could be introduced in the future. Granted there are not a ton of places to compete in such a fashion, but the six rounds slated for the other series would be doable in my opinion. What does this mean for the US Rally championship that you rarely here about? The series seems to be on crutches as this point. Could we see the series fold into the Rally Car series down the road? One thing that is certain is this is a great move on the part of the series. Rally is really starting to grab hold of the US motorsport community through drivers such as Pastrana and Block. Expanding the series into other forms of racing will help the series continue to grow and hopefully attract more young talent from across the country.