Road rallies

Road rallies

  Road rallies are long distance race on open roads usually at unsafe and illegal speed in expensive and exotic cars. The latest most famous one is the Gumball Rally.

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

Just days ago we let you know that Mini pretty much used FIA homologation rules to its advantage by finishing up the 2012 season and calling it quits, now another manufacturer is following suit. There have been rumors floating around since 2011 that Ford Europe was going to pull out of the World Rally Championship and that will become a reality following the 2012 season, as Ford Europe announced that it will pull its sponsorship following the 2012 season.

Unlike Mini , Ford has been a long-running sponsor, lasting 16 seasons. With that long of a history, it is more obvious that Ford’s pull out is mostly due to the crumbling automotive market in Europe. Despite pulling its sponsorship, Ford will provide M-Sport, its WRC partner since 1997, with the Fiesta R5 rally car , along with engineering and vehicle support following its departure. In addition, Ford Europe will still offer the Fiesta R2 rally car for grass-roots national and regional driver programs.

It looks like we are in for a drastically changed lineup for the 2013 WRC season, and we’re not even through the 2012 season yet. Hopefully no more manufacturers pull out this year.

Click past the jump to read Ford’s official press release.

Mini Countryman WRC

The Mini Portugal team, along with its WRC partner, Prodrive, actually started off pretty well in the 2012 WRC season, but things turned sour for the MINI rally team following its breakup with said partner. Following the March split, Mini never reached the podium again. Though the 2012 season is not quite finished, Mini has announced that it will withdraw from the World Rally Championship following this season.

In all honesty this really comes as no surprise, as Mini is thought to have only raced as a factory sponsored brand this year to get WRC homologation. Why is that so important? Well, this means that Mini now can sell its rally cars to private racing companies, make profit, and have zero racing overhead. This was all backed up by Dr. Kay Segler’s statement “By the end of the season WRC Team Mini Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the Mini John Cooper Works.” Well, don’t make it too obvious that you played the system, fine Doctor…

In all honesty, this is just one of the necessary evils of the racing world, as car manufacturers simply want all of the free advertising at these events without any of the corporate responsibilities. So in all honesty, we can’t fault Mini for its obvious using the rather loose WRC homologation rules.

With the Mini John Cooper Works WRC car pumping a wild 300 horsepower and 400 Nm (295 pound-feet) of torque from its little 1.6-liter Bimmer engine, we doubt that MINI will have any issues selling it to private teams. Since 2011, the rally Mini Portugal team made it to the podium three times and had its biggest success in the January 2012 running of the Monte Carlo Rally when it finished 2nd.

We’ll keep an eye out to see if any private teams select Mini as its WRC car.

Click past the jump to read Mini’s presser.

Chrysler 300 SRT8

Autoweek America Adventure is holding a 7-day-long rally sponsored by SRT on October 24th, which runs from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Los Vegas. Along the way, drivers are required to endure certain tasks and tests to earn points. In a way, it is a race between the two cities, but speeding is strictly prohibited and you lose points for it.

You must also navigate the route perfectly and hit each checkpoint at a certain time. If you are too early or too late to the checkpoint, you lose points. At the end of each day, the team with the most points gets a key and at the final rally event, the SEMA show, the key holders will all try their keys in the ignition of a 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 .

Whoever’s key starts this mighty luxury car gets to drive it and its 470-horsepower, 6.4-liter V-8 engine home, netting themselves a free $47,670 car.

The entry process is pretty simple; just head over to the Adventure America website and bang your mouse on the “Register” link at the top of the page. From there, just enter all of your information and the information of you teammate(s), then pay your $5,000 registration fee for your team – c’mon, you didn’t think it would be free, now did you? You have to have a car that can at least make it to and from Las Vegas too.

That five grand, however, pays for all of your hotels, meals, drinks, and track fees during the trip, plus it pays for your entrance into the SEMA show. Also, if you use the promo code “Fox 12” during your registration process, you get to use a Dodge Challenger or Chrysler 300 rental car to get you to or from Los Vegas, courtesy of Fox Rent-a-car.

So check it out and see if you can get yourself into a brand new 300 SRT8!

Pikes Peak is by far one of the most treacherous courses in the U.S., as it climbs a total of 4,720 feet over a span of 12.42 miles and it boasts 156 turns. Even on its own site it says “Competitors and vehicles must be in top shape simply to finish...let alone win!” The video above shows exactly what can happen when even the slightest error in a car can cause a deadly crash scene.

Fortunately for the racing world, Paul Dallenbach, the driver of the 1,400-horsepower monster you see taking high-speed plunge into the trees, cheated death this time around. We were interested in how he was feeling, so we gave our Paul a call and checked on his recovery process. He felt so good, he was able to give us a short interview about the crash, so our readers can get a good idea of what actually went on.

UPDATE 08/14/2012: Check out our images of the Dallenbach’s race car post crash, as well as the state of the scene after the crash!

We were also able to get a video of the crash from the car’s onboard camera!! Check it out above!

Click past the jump to read what Paul had to say about this gut wrenching wreck.

For the most part, custom cars are a thing of beauty. This latest example offered up by RK Motorsports Charlotte is no exception to that rule. This beastly hunk of metal before you is a 1950 Chevrolet Deluxe coupe that is fully restored and customized to within an inch of its life.

Front to tail, side to side, on the inside and under the hood have all been touched one way or another with the help of numerous custom car shops and custom fabricators. And it all seems to come together is absolute harmony, making a stunning looking piece.

One thing that we know is that a custom car may also be very deceiving, as some people “customize” their cars to hide severe flaws, or the customization itself is severely flawed. The question begging to be answered is whether this 1950 Chevy Deluxe is the real deal or just another poorly thrown together custom rod that looks good from far away.

Click past the jump to read our full review and find out.

Remember the days when car racing was “Car Racing.” The rules were loosely written and even looser followed, and it was considered more entertainment than sport. Those were the good old days, when the purpose was to build a car faster than the others and hire a driver that can keep the thing on the tarmac. Those days all went away in the 1980s, as all of the major professional racing circuits – NASCAR , Indy , F1 , NHRA – turned these entertainment spectacles into damn sporting events.

While we love our sports – I for one am obsessed with NFL football – the turning of driving a car fast into a sport led to the injection of fairness and parity. This led to restrictor plates, horsepower limits, and barred modifications. It even led to drivers starting to whine and boo-hoo about a little paint scraping… Well, if you are ready to see some racing in its truest form, take a look-see at the Global RallyCross Championship.

Sure, it piggybacks along with the aforementioned whiny racing “sports,” but it couldn’t be much farther from these sports in terms of real life competitive racing. The rules are few, the paint trading is a plenty, and there is no one crying foul when a fellow driver pulls a pit maneuver on your car’s tail end. He just pops it back in gear and thinks “why didn’t I see that guy there,” then gets ‘em back.

To boot, there are freaking bike-style ramps and barricades in the middle of the track to leap over or drive around. There are even shortcuts on each track. Granted the shortcuts are typically more difficult to drive through, but they are there. The only rules regarding the engine is the fitment of an intake restrictor and that the engine block must meet the manufacturer’s specification. This means you can bolt on as many ponies as you like, just don’t modify the block. Ah, you’ve got to love it.

Check out the above video to catch a glimpse of the awesomeness that is GRC!

Chris Harris is at it again, only this time he has snagged up a rather shoddy looking and running Land Rover , borrowed a clunky trailer with egg shells for tires, bought a £4,000 ($6,225) E30 BMW 325i “Rally car” (that’s at least what the dude that sold it to him called it), and attempted to try and get the rally car to a local track to test it.

Getting to the rally track turned out to be a task in itself, as it began with the cooling fan on his shoddy old 3.9-liter V-8-powered Land Rover crapping out and him repairing it in a not-so-correct-way that ended up causing it to pop fuses like crazy. Add on top of that the fact that this now hot-wired fan was constantly killing the battery and you have quite a situation.

On top of the crappy tow car, there is the fact that he borrowed a trailer from a friend that has tires that are magnets for punctures and replacements are not available at any tire shop. After popping and shredding two of the four tires on this trailer, Harris and his crew manage to get the £4,000 Bimmer to the track and beat the living hell out of it. The Bimmer took it well until Chris pushed it a little too far and spun it out coming out of a turn. Fortunately, the car was fine and the rallying continued. You can see it all of this in the above video.

The rally racing is only half of the fun of the video, as the trip getting there had plenty of interesting twists. To boot, the trailer from hell gave Chris and the boys another surprise on the way back home… Ah, the joys of budget racing!

Ford is really banking on the Focus ST taking over where the Focus SVT left of in the U.S. market, and they went a rather creative way to grow its buzz even more. Ford needed a commercial introducing the ST as a performance hatchback to the U.S. market, so what better way than to set up a street race involving two Foci STs. This “street race” was held on closed roads and each car was driven by a professional driver, of course.

That was not the interesting part though, as Ford relied on customers to film the event for them. You’re reading that correctly; no camera crews, no sound team, no directors. Just two Focuses, hundreds of screaming fans and a whole bunch of cellphone cameras, digital cameras and likely a few pieces of professional equipment.

Not only is the commercial bad ass (you can see it above), but just the pure concept really got the public excited for the upcoming release of this high performance econo-hatch.

Of course, Ford did have a hand in editing the videos taken by the fans and we are certain the majority of the shots were taken by semi-professional cameramen with thousand dollar equipment, but some of them were obviously by handheld camcorders and digital cameras too.

Our favorite camera operator was a man sitting in the tree at the 0:35 mark in the video. He obviously didn’t get his shot into the commercial, but he gets a shiny gold star for effort. Good call Ford, good call indeed!

We all have our own tolerance level for speed and danger, and rally racing is about the limit for most automotive buffs. We see these guys whipping around turns and sliding in loose gravel at speeds best reserved for smooth tarmac and we think “yea, not for me.” All we ever really get to see though is the outside of the car and rarely do we ever get a look at what really goes on inside the car during a live rally.

Subaru rally driver, David Higgins, and his co-driver, Craig Drew, decided it was time to let us in on what it is really like behind the wheel of a 300+ horsepower machine in loose dirt. First and foremost, Craig Drew sounds like he was once an auctioneer, as he quickly blurts out the upcoming turns, and its recommended speed. How exactly he manages to keep an eye on his track notes while flying around turns and bouncing up and down is beyond us.

Secondly, Subaru mounted a forward-pointing camera, so we can see the track live as Drew and Higgins tackle it. Even seeing the video of their running in the Rally America Susquehannock Trail Rally in Wellsboro, PA was enough to make us a little uneasy, so we could only imagine what kind of training both drivers went through to manage to slither down this track that is barely wide enough for a four-wheeler, let alone a rally car, at speeds obviously in excess of 100 mph.

Truly scary stuff. Take a look at the video and see if you could actually handle the craziness that these guys do.

About 10 years ago, Hyundai Accent owners ever walked with their chests puffed out a little bit, as their daily driver econo-hatch was actually being raced in the World Rally Championship. Despite the impressiveness that Hyundai Hyundai actually got this car into the WRC, it was a widely unsuccessful attempt because it never got a podium appearance and Hyundai cut funding in 2003.

It looks like Hyundai is ready to jump back into the WRC circuit, only this time with a more highly modified vehicle. It will also not be an Accent, but rather a heavily modified i20. However, don’t expect this Hyundai rally ride to look as much as the i20 in your garage as the Accent rally car did, as this model will sit on a chassis that is significantly wider and lower than the factory model.

In addition to the modified chassis, this i20 will ditch the 1.2- and 1.4-liter gasoline engines that it comes standard with and instead have the turbocharged 1.6-liter from the Veloster . There is no way that Hyundai would enter the WRC with a stock 201-horsepower 1.6-liter engine, so we assume that Hyundai will pump this engine to over 300 ponies to keep it competitive.

We definitely expect a much better performance by Hyundai this time around because the company has really come into its own when it comes to technology. Hyundai has also become one of those brands that folks can rally around, as it has really come from often being the butt of automotive jokes to a well-respected company that actually gives the big boys – Honda, Toyota Toyota and Nissan Nissan – a run for their money. So, don’t be surprised if to see the fancily written “H” on the podium at some point in the 2013 WRC series WRC.

Source: SpecialStage

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