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100AW Wrap Up: Semenuk takes late lead on day 1 and stretches it to take 11th straight ARA National win

2024 ARA 100 Acre Wood Rally

Photos by: Charlie Discoe

Salem, Missouri. March 15-16, 2024

It all looked good early as Barry McKenna and Leon Jordan in an O4WD Ford Fiesta set the early pace on Friday winning every stage through SS4. Then the bad luck started to hit as a flat tire on SS5 cost them 39.09 seconds and the lead to Brandon Semenuk and Keaton Williams in their 2024 Subaru WRX ARA24. Semenuk was feeling the pressure from the Ford driver and had a hairy moment as he bicycled the Subaru, “Yeah, we were battling with Barry McKenna. We were testing new notes to get speed and got a little too optimistic on that note. Just got a little too wide.” At the end of day one McKenna clawed back another 3.6 seconds on the final stage to maintain second place with total time of 35.24.5 vs Semenuk at 34:53.2.

On Saturday day two McKenna continued to show he was the faster driver car combo as

he won the first stage of the day by another 3 seconds but at pace he would never catch the

Subaru unless Semenuk had a puncture or made a bigger mistake. That didn’t happen as the

misfortune continued as Barry started pushing harder. He stalled the Fiesta at the virtual chicane

and it took a while to get it started again. He followed that with a spin and then a flat tire. The

gap was now over 1:14.6 and and another spin a few stages later sealed his place in second.

With the threat gone Brandon Semenuk stayed out of trouble to clinch his 11th straight

ARA National Event win in a row with the help of his co-driver Keaton Williams with a total time of


Third overall were fan favorites Travis Pastrana and Rhianon Gelsomino in the second

Subaru WRX ARA24 with a total time of 1:33:19. The 40 year old driver was frustrated with

the huge 2 minute and 40 second gap to his younger Canadian team-mate. After taking 2023 off

he was surprised at how much the pace has increased in his car as well as his team mate. Scary

fast. Travis is going to go home and rethink how he needs to attack the rest of the season

because he does not won’t to get beaten this badly again.

Coming in 4th was Patrick Gruszka and Florian Barral in a 2019 Hyundai i20 in RC2 with

a total time of 1:38.58.6. He felt day 2 the roads were harder, “yeah, they were trickier and I’m

not good with the tricky stuff…it was a tough day for the boys.”

Javier Olivares and KJ Miller in a 2021 Ford Fiesta lead L4WD were fastest in class on day

1 but dropped to a close second on day 2. Co-driver KJ agreed with Patrick about the day 2

roads, “These stages are much more fun. A lot more technical stuff. We are in a really tight fight

with Bardha.” Ele Bardha and Aris Mantopoulos in a 2000 Subaru Prodrive GC8 were

constantly faster on day 2 but only by a few seconds. They took the lead on Stage 10 and then

pulled a bit clear with their biggest margin of 8 seconds on Stage 12. Olivares grabbed back a

second on Stage 13 and they were pretty much even on the final stage giving Javier the win by

13.5 seconds.

O2WD was won by almost 10 minutes by Micah Nickelson and Tyler Ptacek in a 1986 VW

Golf with a time of 1:45.11.

L2WD crown went to Chris Cyr and Glen Ray in a 2014 Ford Fiesta with a total time of

1:51.11. Cyr,” yesterday I was feeling fast and confident, but today I don’t know what’s going on.

The car is loose, everything is uncomfortable. We went off the road, had to change a flat. If you

go to the other side of the car, you will see that we drove for a mile at least with the flat tire. The

whole right side is messed up. just need to calm down , slow it down. definitely been a challenging

day for sure.” Despite those problems they finished nearly 5 minutes ahead of John Sharps and

Gabriel Nieves in a 2023 Acura.

Todd Hartmann and Shawn Callahan were the top Regional finishers in a Fiesta in O4WD.

The next National event will be the Olympus Rally on April 20-21, 2024.

~ Story by Rupert Berrington. Interviews by Icarus Neely O'Hara

For more information on the American Rally Association and the 2024 Championship, go to



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