Everything You Need to Know for Sno*Drift Rally
The 2022 American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National Championship begins this weekend in the small town of Atlanta, Michigan for the Sno*Drift Rally.
After last year’s rally was shortened to one day due to COVID restrictions, fans and competitors alike are ready to get back to normal at one of the most difficult rallies in all of North America. The one and only event to be held on snow and ice of the ARA season, Sno*Drift is nothing like Rally Sweden in the World Rally Championship because those fancy studded tires the WRC machines have bolted on? They are outlawed in the US.
That makes this rally truly unique and a real chance for the underdogs to spring a surprise and upset the establishment.
Here’s everything you need to know for this year’s Sno*Drift Rally:
The National entry at Sno*Drift is a bit slim this year, but still shows potential for great competition. The Open class is headlined by Brandon Semenuk and new co-driver Keaton Williams representing Subaru Motorsports USA alone, as Travis Pastrana continues to heal after an injury incurred while BASE jumping.
Barry McKenna would have been there to fight for the top positions but withdrew last minute due to work complications.
Patrick Gruszka and Zach Pfiel will be Semenuk’s sole competition in O4WD, with the pair making their class debut in a Mitsubishi Mirage after winning the East Regional L2WD Championship in 2021.
In RC2, a pair of Fiestas will battle for both class and overall podium, one driven by rising star Kyle Tilley and the other by proven driver Johnny O’Sullivan.
The Limited 4WD, NA4WD combined class has the most amount of entries with nine racers on the board. Some of the favorites to win include the reigning ARA LN4 champion Mark Piatkowski, reigning Mexico National Champion Ricardo Cordero, and the ever impressive Brit Will Graham.
Plenty of other teams including Honda’s Chris Sladek in the Passport rally truck, and legendary rocker Vivian Campbell are ready to pounce if opportunity arises to take the lead.
The O2WD class’ lone rear-powered entrant Michael Hooper will be battling to stay ahead of the front-drive cars of Spencer Sherman, Brad Morris, and Micah Nickleson for the first win of the class championship. Hooper has the skill to win Sno*Drift in RWD, but the rest of the competition is fierce in waiting to pass at the slightest mistake.
Last but not least, L2WD will be contested by GHR Motorsport owner Jerry Hernandez in the team-built Mazda 2 Rally5 car, competing against last year’s L2WD Cup runner-up Paul Dickinson.
While this is the first rally of the National championship, it’s the second of the ARA Central Regional championship. With 24 of the best grassroots drivers in the country, the Regional rally should host plenty of competition as well.
Jon Kramer of Heavy Metal Motorsports and Jimmy Pelizzari of Blind Deer Rallysport will be ones to watch for the top spot. Pelizzari has won the previous two Sno*Drifts and often outruns many National entries.
Since Nemadji Trail Rally at the end of 2021 counted toward this year’s Central championship, Al Dantes Jr. and Stephen Gingras each enter with points on the board, and stand the best chance of being ahead in the standings by the end of the weekend.
The 2WD classes are absent of last year’s fastest competitors, but a few notable entrants include Santiago Iglesias’ crew chief Erik Buetow taking over for the weekend due to Iglesias being unable to make it, Daniel Downey of Downwy Dirty Racing in his E30 BMW, and Kelsey Stephens in her ‘Clownshoe’ BMW M-Series Coupe.
Back to a full-length rally for the first time since 2020, this year’s Sno*Drift Rally comprises 15 special stages – conluding with the traditional but renamed Thunder River that used to be known as Bonfire Alley.
There’s no service in between any of Friday’s first six stages making them a particular challenge, but the real sting in the tail could be the demanding Camp 30 which is comfortably the longest stages of the event and now four miles longer than in previous years.
Friday February 18 SS1 Fishlab-Greasy (8.10 miles) 1618 SS2 Short Ranch (3.27 miles) 1651 SS3 Sage-Orchard (7.05 miles) 1719 SS4 Fishlab-Greasy (8.10 miles) 1833 SS5 Short Ranch (3.27 miles) 1906 SS6 Sage-Orchard (7.05 miles) 1934
Saturday February 19 SS7 Hunters-Argen (7.26 miles) 1058 SS8 Old State-Huff (8.99 miles) 1130 SS9 Mills-Meaford (6.68 miles) 1205 SS10 Hunters-Argen (7.26 miles) 1339 SS11 Old State-Huff (8.99 miles) 1411 SS12 Camp 30 (14.88 miles) 1437 SS13 Mills-Meaford (6.68 miles) 1517 SS14 Camp 30 (14.88 miles) 1718 SS15 Thunder River (4.87 miles) 1805