Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Meet your Rally Heroes

I've only been following the world of rallying since 2011 when I first started looking for information on Subarus.  Since then, it's been a roller coaster ride getting into this extreme automotive sport that I have grown to love and enjoy.  I'm still mostly new to all of this, but perhaps one of the most rewarding thing I've done as a fan of rally has been to actually attend events.  Wherever you live, regardless of how long of a drive or far of a flight it might be, experiencing this sport in person is where it's at.  Whenever I get asked "what was your favorite part of the rally?" I think of the memories from each event.  I think of the people that I have met that have made for the best stories.

My first big rally memory happened the night before a rally when I bumped into my rally hero at a gas station.  At that point, I had been following David Higgins pretty much since he had started racing with Subaru Rally Team USA.  My '16 WRX STI adorned his logo on the rear wing and I had been calling it the "Higgins Blue STI".  I knew he had seen the car before online, but to meet him and have him recognize my car at that Mobil Gas Station had me grinning ear to ear.  What I didn't expect was how down-to-earth and normal he seemed to me.  As a fan, I had built up this "superhero" idea of him.  It's easy to do when you've been following them from afar.  Still, David was a normal guy at a gas station talking about cars and rallying like anyone else.  It was at that point that I realized there was so much more to enjoy about this sport than watching videos and following championship standings.

Since then, I've met lots of rally drivers, co-drivers, team members, technicians, managers, and fans of rally.  It's all part of this great family that I only get to see when I go to events, but it always feels like you just pick up where you left off when you see them again.  It isn't just rooting for your favorite car.  You're rooting for the people that put that car on the road!

The sideways stone-slinging gravel machineguns called Rally Cars do make for one heckofuh spectacle to take in.  Whether you're taking action photos of each car as they slide past or just there to cheer the competitors on as they pass in a cloud of exhaust-note-filled dust, it's an unforgettable experience seeing, hearing, and feeling the presence of these competition cars fly by.  Yet it's the enjoyment knowing the people driving and co-driving those cars, knowing the technicians who worked their tails off to get it out there, knowing the teams and fans rooting for their favorites that puts a personal touch on it that you can really enjoy.  At the end of it all, when the champagne is spraying and the smiles are everywhere, you know there's more to celebrate than the results.  The memories of the great people you meet in this sport shine through all the grime and grit that comes with this demanding sport.