Open Paddock has learned that the Lake Superior Performance Rally has elected Steve Gingras and Eric Carlson as their new co-chairmen.
Steve told Open Paddock “It’s going to be a big challenge but we want to build an event that is going to be strong for several years.” This is yet another ‘changing of the guard’ we’ve been seeing over the past several years as a younger generation begins to run events. “Only somewhat younger” as Steve jokingly put it. This is quite the change for the former Production GT champion who’s still coming down off the high of winning the closest regional rally battle in recent history at the Ojibwe Forests Rally we reviewed last month.
Although Steve hasn’t organized an event before, he knows the Upper Peninsula better than most having grown up and competed there for many years. One of his earliest rally memories was when his dad took him to see the Press on Regardless Rally in 1974, the previous name of LSPR, which was then a round of the World Rally Championship. “…the sound of that Lancia Stratos!” For more on Steve’s background we chatted with him a couple months back on the Open Paddock RallyCast.
The new organizing committee will be a mix of existing experience and some new faces. “We’ve put together a great team. Eric Carlson is going to co-chair with me, we’ve got Bill Westrick as our Clerk of the Course, Net Control is all on board… We’ve got most the key positions filled.”
But Steve doesn’t want to stop with just the core team he’s got now, he wants to start from the beginning with an organizing platform that continues to bring in new organizer members. “I want every role to have an assistant working with them so they can learn and take on that role in the future.” It’s common for many volunteers to burn out after just a couple of years, so his goal is to create a consistent flow of volunteers that can move to different rolls or take a break from organizing without feeling like the event will collapse without their involvement. “This is the best way to secure the long term future of events like LSPR.”
In addition to the organizational change, LSPR is planning to move their base of operations from Houghton to Marquette, about 100 miles to the southeast. “Marquette is a lot bigger and has more hotels to support this large of an event. After talking with several hotels and the Travel Marquette tourism board, we were put in touch with the city of Marquette commissioners and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.” In addition to more lodging options, Steve says Marquette’s more centralized location in the UP offers several other advantages. “The distance to most of the stages used in the past is roughly the same, but Marquette also opens up options to significantly more forest roads in every other direction as well.” Some of the roads Steve has in mind have run in other regional events in the area, and others used to be part of that WRC round all those many years ago.
We’re looking forward to LSPR returning to its “Oldest, Toughest, Meanest Rally in the US” stature in 2021.