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  • Martin Brady

Oregon Trail Rally stage guides

Oregon Trail is the longest rally in the American Rally Association season because of the three-day format.

The start at night in the complex of the Portland International Raceway is a good way to begin the rally - I hope. It is a mix of the asphalt race track with some narrow turns out into loose access roads before a return onto the back section of the track, for big speed if you are brave, before a turn back onto a loose surface and a big man-made jump over the finish line.

Certainly, it looks straightforward on a map, but in the dark, it may just flatter to deceive.

SS3/SS7 Dales Mountain Down (10.6 miles)

Hard packed dirt stage with some loose gravel. A very fast open start, then as it crests the hillside, the river valley thousands of feet below comes into view and the twisty middle section begins.

The fog was a big factor here on recce and it is quite possible that it can drift back and make the stage all about co-drivers more than drivers.

I love fog. It is the best of challenges for any co-driver and getting good notes to your driver in these conditions gives great satisfaction. Dalles Mountain was used as a 2019 stage so will be familiar to some.

SS4/8 Great Horse Shoe (8 miles)

A new stage to this rally. Has been run once before in a shorter format on the regional Mike Nagle Rally. This year it is 8.0 miles but in 2020 when it ran regional it was 5.6 miles.

By far the most technical and narrow stage. The middle section is very tricky with downhill corners that keep tightening and there are so many nefarious trees just waiting to tag a car that strays less than 12 inches offline.

The newer back end to the stage is quite wide and fast by comparison so seems easier, but it is still a challenging bit of road all the way.

SS5/7 Oak Flat Reverse (5.5 mile)

Stage not used in this direction before, so new for most crews.

Crucially it will be dark for the second pass. This is the stage with all the nice farms and the mailboxes that are useful as landmarks in the fast sections!

I like this stage as it has some very nice sights as we start in farming country, then it moves to a very fast middle section passing lots of houses.

The mailboxes will fly past in a blink of an eye but will be very useful markers in the notes during darkness. After the rally I may give my notes to the local postman for his feedback ahead of next year.

SS6/SS10 Maryhill (2.88 miles)

Follows Maryhill Loops Road Uphill. Built-in 1911, it was the first asphalt road in the state.

Today, we race on the restored lower section of the road and transit out via the unrestored upper section. The road surface is good quality asphalt, and there are many long looping smooth corners as the road name might suggest.

I happen to think this stage will suit a racing driver’s approach. I wonder, are there any racing drivers in the rally this weekend?

The biggest challenge will be tackling this stage on gravel tyres, so expect to see some big slides.

SS11/14/17 Boyd Loop Very Short (5.63 miles)

A familiar name but a reworked stage. Shorter than usual (the clue is in the name), it begins in a flat-out section to a sixth gear jump and the approach is so long that you can expect some launches and landings that will be exciting.

The stage has a new hairpin section that is tight and slow, bringing the speed way down, then once more it is into fast-flowing furious farmlands with corners that have a camber that can help or hinder you depending on your line.

Every year this stage claims a car or two in the banks, what are the odds it will keep that reputation this time.

SS12/15/18 Shadow Buck (4.83 miles)

The stage is formerly known as Deer Run, the one with the water splash. Road surface is generally good hardpack gavel, with fast sections where you can trust the notes and go on an attack.

Notes coming down to the water splash are very critical. If you are not on the right approach and speed down the hill then the water splash will be a sudden and potentially car breaking feature.

The last corner also is one worth paying attention to. Best described as a twitchy chicane type corner past farm gates, the stage isn't over until you pass the finish boards and that linked corner could just disrupt plans a whisker off the finish line.

The fact this is the last stage of the rally means it will be a finish line many will be happy to reach.



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