A Fathers and Sons Rally Story

One of the special stories from this year’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally was that of Go SPEED Racing’s two entries, one made up of fathers and the other made up of their sons, and it happened almost by accident.

The fathers were Robert Sanders and Boyd Smith running in the Limited 4WD Subaru WRX STI. While the sons were Ryan Sanders and Oliver Smith running in Rob’s previous car, a Limited 2WD Ford Fiesta.  

Robert normally has Karen Jankowski calling the notes, but she was ill and not able to make the event. Meanwhile, Rob’s 18 year old son Ryan was already planning on doing the rally with Oliver, which was going to be Oliver’s first ever rally. Oliver Smith may only be 18 himself, but comes from quite the rally heritage as his father Boyd Smith has been co-driving for over 30 years. As luck would have it, Boyd was available to jump into Robert’s right seat to replace Karen creating a unique moment in rallying we aren’t sure has happened in North America before, or if it has, it’s been a very long time.

Both of the Go SPEED Racing crews were not only able to make it to the finish in the wee hours of the morning of the very challenging Southern Ohio Forest Rally, but also also ended up winning their individual classes and were on their respective national combined class podiums! Enough from us though, let’s hear what they had to say about the event.

I’m so proud to have my son finish right behind me!  Soon I think the story might be reversed, just don’t tell him he’s faster, his head is big enough!  As long as I have the faster car I can keep the lead.  When the opportunity to have a father/father son/son team came up I thought it would be really cool. Boyd is a fantastic co-driver and Oliver had an amazing first rally! Talent runs through the Smith’s veins for sure! Driver/Father – Robert Sanders
Being able to race father/father son/son was amazing! We had the opportunity to put ourselves against our fathers and show them what we could do, finishing approximately 30 seconds behind them and given the difference in equipment and difference in skill levels that’s pretty impressive we think! Son/Driver – Ryan Sanders
What an absolute honor and privilege to be able to co-drive in the same team with my son, it is a true pinnacle to my very long co-driving career. Oliver’s level of commitment to co-driving and being properly prepared is a testament to his dedication and character. He has had years of listening to me and has become very familiar with the skills necessary to succeed. Last October, he was granted permission to drive during recce at LSPR. I had him call each corner and he nailed every single one and that’s when I knew he was ready. Father/Co-Driver Boyd Smith
It was honestly awesome and it’s great to have our fathers alongside us supporting us, as well as pushing us! It was an amazing experience and I just love it. I love the sport and I wanna keep doing it. Prior to the event having my father all my life helping me train for that, as well as the Craig Drew co-driver training. They both are amazing tools that set me up perfectly to succeed and it just came naturally after that. Son/Co-Driver Oliver Smith

Robert and Boyd finished 1st in National Limited 4WD and 10th overall, while Ryan and Oliver were 1st in National Limited 2WD and 11th overall.  


While many will be discussing Pastrana’s fire and the challenging conditions, I think we should all remember this special achievement shared between Fathers and Sons on a rally in the woods of Ohio, as I don’t think we’ll see it again anytime soon.


Thank you to David Cosseboom of iHeartfast for his help and Ben Newburn for the photos.  Make sure to follow iHeartfast on Facebook, and @iheartfast_official on Instagram for some of the best rally photos and content in North America.

As always you can follow Open Paddock on Facebook and @openpaddockrally on Instagram, and don’t forget to subscribe to our RallyCast Podcasts for interviews and commentary on all things rally!   

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