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ARA Double Header This Weekend Sees Action from the Beaver State to the Land of 10,000 Lakes




SPEEDWAY Ind. ~ The American Rally Association is ready for an exciting double-header this weekend as the fourth round of the 2024 ARA National Championship, the Oregon Trail Rally Presented by Wilsonville Subaru lines up with the beloved Central Region Headwaters Rally hosted by the Woodshed, sponsored by Classic Collision & O'Reilly Auto Parts in the Central Championship.

 

With Headwaters on Saturday, and Oregon Trail running Friday through Sunday, there are over 140 miles of stage rally action, and 79 cars on stage across the country this weekend!

 

This weekend also marks Travis Pastrana’s return after health issues forced him to miss last month’s Olympus Rally, and fans are excited to see the Subaru Motorsports USA team back in full force!

 

2024 also marks 40 years since the first Oregon Trail Rally in 1984. Since then, the rally has seen the likes of Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, John Buffum, Stig Blomqvist, Paul Choiniere, and more top the podium in the iconic event.

 

For 2024 Karen Jankowski is entering her fifth year as the chair for Oregon Trail, and the 28th Oregon Trail she has been involved in.

 

“Our 2024 Oregon Trail Rally is shaping up to be one of the best yet!” she said. “We have 66 teams, over 350 volunteers, and 110 miles of fun tarmac, gravel, and dirt roads. The weather this year looks perfect all weekend too.” ~ Karen Jankowski

 

With stages Friday night at Portland International Raceway, fans have the opportunity to watch the cars race on and off track with a unique mixed-surface set-up in the Super Special stages.

 

Saturday the rally picks up and heads to Goldendale, Washington for the Dalles Mountain stage, which will be run downhill twice and uphill once, Oak Flat Reverse, and of course, the tarmac Maryhill Loops hillclimb stage.

 

Sunday we move to Dufur, Oregon to tackle the photographer’s favorite Boyd Loop with its scenic jump showing Mt. Hood in the distance. In addition to the Boyd Loop Very Short alignment, teams will make their way through Shadowbuck, Nagle’s Revenge, and Starveout, the last of which will be run as the National-only extra loop and PowerStage.

 

As Oregon Trail marks the halfway point of the 2024 National Championship, all eyes will be on whether anyone can take down the three-for-three Brandon Semenuk as he already looks near undefeatable this season.

 

All-in, the 2024 Oregon Trail Rally Presented by Wilsonville Subaru covers 108 stage miles (100 for regional competitors), making for three of the most photogenic, and high-speed days of the year!



Reignited National L4WD Battle



One of the most exciting storylines from last month's Olympus Rally was the tight back-and-forth battle of Nick Allen and Javier Olivares, both in identical Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars, as they fought for the Limited 4WD class win.


Olivares and co-driver KJ Miller will be looking to repeat their class win from last year at the rally, where they won L4WD and landed third overall, while Allen will be looking to impress in his first Oregon Trail in an AWD car.


The battle is sure to be intense despite the two being the only L4WD entries, and with two near identical cars between the teams, every detail from notes to services, to driving will be vital to take home the win.


Last year Allen and co-driver Matt James also impressed, holding the O2WD lead for the first half of the event before settling into a comfortable class podium finish.


A total of 23 National competitors are entered in the event this weekend. Still, fans will surely be most excited about Travis Pastrana being back after his absence from the last round of the championship.


Pastrana last won Oregon Trail in 2017, and will be battling hard against his Subaru Motorsports USA teammate Brandon Semenuk to try to do so again this weekend, but with Semenuk on a 12-win streak in the ARA, it’s going to be a tall order.


Pastrana’s co-driver, Rhiannon Gelsomino is excited to get back on stage. “I’m looking forward to my 10th Oregon Trail Rally this week, and my 3rd with Travis,” she said. “It’s always a fun event, with many spectators and some of the fastest stages in the USA! Can’t wait to get started.”


Starting third on the road and looking to play upset will be the Ferrari V8-powered 2004 Subaru WRX STI of Sam Albert and Krista Skucas, which is sure to be loud in all the best ways on Oregon Trail’s flat-out stages.


Battling alongside the O4WD cars for the second time, the AWD Subaru BRZ Chimera of Matthew Dickinson and Chris Kremer which debuted at Olympus, will be making its second appearance this weekend.


Ricardo Cordero and Marco Hernandez will return in their Citreon C3 Rally2 car after their last US appearance in the 2023 season-opening Sno*Drift Rally. Oregon Trail 2024 marks the first gravel rally the team has done in the US. Taking on John Coyne and Eoin Treacy in the RC2 class, the three-time NACAM Champions will be battling for their first ARA podium this weekend.


A battle of GC Imprezas makes up the NA4WD field, as NA4 Cup leader Andy Didorosi will take on second-place Madelyn Tabor for the fourth time this season. Jacob and Michael Despain will be looking to take the top spot as well, hoping to play spoiler to the two main Cup contenders, while Haowen Chu will be hoping to upset the whole field after a promising year so far.



Tabor, who sits just three points off of Didorosi is excited for her home event as she works her way through the NA4 Cup.


“Stepping up to National wasn't originally in our plans,” she said. “My dad, Mark Tabor, is running the National Championship in L2, so the original plan was to take one or two other support cars to run the regional event at each stop. But we noticed that there are significantly fewer people in the NA4 class on the national level, so we decided to run national for the first event, which turned into the second event, and the third, and now we are here!”


“Overall, things are going well. My general goal for the year is to finish each event (and have fun!) obviously. I've enjoyed myself so far in the series, and I'm especially excited for Oregon Trail, as it's my home event! This will be my third OTR and I've always had a blast on these roads, so I'm feeling very confident.” ~ Madelyn Tabor

In the Open Two-Wheel-Drive world, Ryan Booth and Nick Dobbs return in their Mk2 Ford Escort after a strong performance at Olympus, but boasting twice the cylinders in the same platform, Seamus Burke’s famed V8-powered Ford Escort will be looking to make things interesting for their fellow escort.


Joining the ARA for the first time will be 2023 TER Junior Champion Patrice Spitalier and co-driver Jorge Gomez in their Renault Clio V Rally5 car. The Rally5 joins the Escorts and Keenan Phillips’ fan-signed BMW 328i as the full O2WD National Field.


Finally, in the Limited 2WD field, seven competitors will be competing for the L2WD podium. With just three points separating them, the battle will be tight between Mark Tabor, Richo Healy, and Alastair Scully, but 2021 L2 Cup winner Roberto Yglesias will be hoping to come out ahead of all of them.




Miller a Favorite for Oregon Trail Regional Rally

As always, a large and dedicated community of western-region rallyists have thrown their hats into the Oregon trail arena. 43 regional competitors will contest the 100-mile Oregon Trail Regional Rally, including many long-time favorites, and a few new faces.


After winning the 2023 Oregon Trail Regional Rally, as well as the 2024 Olympus Regional Rally, Andy Miller and co-driver Shaun Tracy are favorites to win in the Regional Rally overall in their EZ30R-powered Subaru WRX STI.


Last time at Olympus, Miller and Tracy got out to an early lead. They managed a gap over the 2007 N12 WRC Impreza replica of Steven Redd and Dylan Hooker, but by the end of the event, the two unique Imprezas were trading times back and forth, as Miller managed the gap and Redd got more comfortable in his still-recent build.


With Redd and Hooker back for Oregon Trail as well, the battle between their O4WD STI and Miller’s NA4WD six-cylinder beast is sure to be an exciting one as the fight for first.


As far as Miller’s competition in class, plenty of viable competitors are ready to take over the lead if he makes a mistake. The NA4WD includes not only the DustKats Rally team of Josh Geirman and Colin Katagirl and the 2002 Impreza of Daniel Sperry and Zachary Thomas, but fresh from winning the 43 Institute’s Ken Block FLAT OUT 43VER Award at Olympus, Cooper Anderson and Ethan Curtis are returning in their 1998 Impreza 2.5 RS!


Redd’s competition is looking similarly threatening in the O4WD class with the 2016 Subaru Crosstrek Competition of Chris Sutton and Hayley Hoffman starting behind Redd and Hooker on the road. Also fighting in the O4WD class are Brett and Hunter Livingston, Sean Dorrough and Andrea Lauria, and Arto and Mary Yikangas all in Subaru WRX models of varying generations. Kenny and Kaylee Copeland also start their third rally after debuting at this event last year, and of course, the fan-favorite bright-green and purple Impreza, “Devastator,” will be piloted by the duo of Jacob Sturgeon and Maribel Plaza.


Open 2WD is once again the busiest class of the rally with 15 entries this time around. As always, Dave Clark and his 1999 BMW M3 will be putting smiles on everyone's faces as they make driving sideways look easy up Maryhill Loops Road.


Clark and co-pilot Lisa Long will have their work cut out for them though, as John Hill and Jake Blattner will be nipping at their heels in their 1968 MkI Ford Escort, and after them so will Julien Sebot and Steven Harrell back in a new-to-them Ford Fiesta O2WD.


Other O2WD highlights include but are certainly not limited to Ryan Haines and Rebecca Ruston in their 1995 M3, Garth Ankeny and Jennifer Daly’s beautiful 1981 Toyota Starlet, and first-time entrant Ethan Hannemann with veteran co-driver Jack Gillow-Wiles talking him through his first rally in his 2007 Dodge Caliber.


Five teams are lined up for the L4WD class, starting with Olympus class winner Phill Clarke in his 2003 WRX, this time with Kendra Tym in the co-driver’s seat. The pairs of Scott Crouch and Ryan Scott, Jared Bendt and Tim Tokstad, and Robert Shibao and Brandon Panek all bring their own versions of 2002 WRXs to the table, and lastly, Jonathan Myers and Mark Golos round out the field with a 2006 model.


Finally, six cars will compete in the L2WD class, with newcomer Casen Pederson already showing potential to finish first after just one event! Despite a DNF in Olympus, Pederson and co-driver Oliver Smith have targets on their backs as their 2006 Lexus IS250 is the first car on the road in their class.


If they want to win they’ll have to hold off the Mazda 3 of Matt Tabor and Denae Murphy who have won their class at Oregon Trail before, as well as a field of other hopefuls, including the 1982 Corolla of Jeff Castro and Ann Murphy, the 1987 BMW of Johan and John Friesen, the 1976 Volvo 242 of Robert Culbertson and Paul Butvich, and finally, first time rallyist Gabe Young, with co-driver Mitch Meadows in their 2002 Acura RSX-S.


In addition to the normal class trophies across National and Regional competitors, The Oregon Trail Rally is excited to give an award for the highest placing first-time driver as well.


Headwaters Rally offers Central Championship Shake-Up


While OTR is high-speed and jam-packed, Headwaters Rally offers its competitors a completely different experience - deep in the woods with technical roads and a compact schedule.

 

The LaPorte, Minnesota-based Headwaters Rally is comprised of six stages totaling almost 40 stage miles. Two loops will be run on Saturday, May 18, both consisting of the Parkway, Blue Trail, and Spur 2 Cutoff stages.

 

Currently, the 2024 ARA Central Regional Championship top three have just one point spread between them with Matthew Nykanen at the top with 18 points, while Todd Hartman and John Farrow are tied behind Nykanen with 17 points each.

 

John Farrow and co-driver Micheal Farrow won Headwaters last year in their NA4WD 2004 Subaru WRX, making them favorites to take the trophy again this year, but stiff competition will make that difficult.

 

The father-daughter duos of Silas and Charlotte Himes in L4WD, as well as Stephen and Katie Gingras in NA4WD will be chasing Farrow down as best as they can, and, of course, in the O2WD 1998 BMW 328i of Nykanen and co-driver Lars Anderson look to play upset and maintain their Central Championship lead.

 

Katie Gingras is looking forward to the battle, and the familiar roads as she heads into the event weekend.

 

“I've never competed in Headwaters,” she said, “however, the Headwaters stages feature different configurations and directions of the Ojibwe day one roads, including the famous Cross Roads jump from the reverse direction. Having done Ojibwe a number of times and doing Ojibwe course checkout growing up, the Steamboat and Kabekona roads have a familiar cadence and feel.” ~ Katie Gingras

 

“I don't want me or my dad to feel too complacent though and stay laser-focused, especially considering my dad rolled at Headwaters last year. As the codriver, I'm looking forward to recce to make sure our notes are clean and precise to minimize mistakes and allow us to attack right from the start.”

 

“I'm also looking forward to battling it out with the other father-daughter race team of Silas and Charlotte Himes and properly honoring Alison LaRoza's passing. Ali was one of the people I always sought out to talk to at a rally, whether for co-driving advice or to just hear her tell some funny story. I'm going to miss her a lot, but I want to help her memory live on in all the other kick-ass women codrivers in rally.”

 

There’s sure to be good competition across most of the field, this weekend at Headwaters, not just the front. Nykanen’s work is cut out for him in the O2WD class alone with Levi and Griffin Johnson chasing him down in their 1986 BMW 325, while the MkII Golf GTIs of Nino Ortega and Michael Goldenstien, and Joshua Nykanen and Corey Himes look to make a strong run against the rear-drive BMWs.

 

The Farrows and the Gingras’ have the most competition in their NA4WD class with eight entrants. Mediocre Rally (Arin DeMaster and Dustin Sharkozy), and the Dirty Urban Rally Team (Aiden and John Hicks) are two notable teams looking to pull an upset in the class, but anyone in the NA4WD field is capable of a podium.

 

L4WD has a smaller entry of just four cars. Silas and Charlotte Himes’ main competition looks to be the 2015 Subaru WRX of James Randall and Andrew Rausch, but Peter Farrow will be making his driving debut this weekend after co-piloting the winning car at Headwaters last year and could be a dark horse in the fight.

 

Finally, lone L2WD entrant Brent Lucio will be making his ARA debut with co-driver Betsy Ngyuen co-driving in a 2017 Ford Fiesta ST.

 

Overall, there’s plenty of ARA action across the board this weekend!

 

Stay tuned to our social media channels, and follow along with DirtFish to make sure you don’t miss a moment of it!


~ Mason Runkel for ARA.


For more information about the American Rally Association, and to get involved, visit our

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