Rangely, Colo.~ The American Rally Association crisscrosses the United States with eight national events, dubbed the Green APU National Rally Championship. It also encompasses three regional championships, including 12 Super Regionals (8 are held in conjunction with the national events) and nine regionals.
One of those upcoming events is the ARA's fourth round of the American Rally Association's West Regional Championship: Rally Colorado. Registration for the event opened in June, and 23 cars will rally this weekend. Here's an ARA: First Look at Rally Colorado and who will be starting this weekend in Rangely:
"Some say it has ten times the corners per mile than the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and I believe it," 2018 Rally Colorado overall winner Steve Bis.
The American Rally Association welcomed Rally Colorado as a Super Regional in 2019, but the event holds a key place in the history of the sport in the United States.
The SCCA held the Colorado Cog Rally in 2002 out of Steamboat Springs, with 14 competitors taking part. A brief respite in 2003 was reborn in 2004 as a part of SCCA's Pro Rally national championship schedule. Over the next five years, the state of Colorado would see some of the biggest names rallying compete at the Colorado Cog, including Travis Pastrana, Tanner Foust, and Ken Block.
Rallying in Colorado would see an eight-year drought after the 2009 season before Rally America reintroduced the sport to the Centennial State with Rally Colorado. Held out of Rangely, the new event was a national round in 2017 before becoming a Super Regional event with the ARA in 2019.
In 2023, Rally Colorado will continue that designation and its immersion in Rangely and the surrounding Colorado landscape. In total, the rally will be run across 114 miles and 13 stages. In some cases, competitors will have to deal with elevation changes that can total more than 1,500 feet per stage. Rally Colorado shows a bevy of driving conditions on its gravel roads. Some sections will be wide and feature top-end speeds, while others will bring excessively twisting configurations that climb to the clouds and have vast exposures.
Twenty-three competitors will battle the unique road configurations and near triple-digit temperatures on Saturday and Sunday.
Leading the charge will be the pairing of Jacob and Michael Despain. On their way to end-of-the-year championships, the pair took the overall Rally Colorado win in 2022. Jacob won the 2022 ARA West Regional Overall Driver title and the West Regional NA4WD honor. Co-Driver Michael joined Jacob on the top spot of the NA4WD class while finishing third overall.
Fresh off his O2WD regional win at the Oregon Trail Rally, Chris Miller co-driver Crystina Coats) will look to build upon his past success at Colorado. Miller took home top O2WD honors in Rangely in 2019 and will start second on the road this weekend.
Scott Crouch has done well in Colorado. He finished second overall in 2019 and was first in the O4WD class. He and co-driver Ryan Crouch finished second overall at December's Ridge Rally and second in class (L4WD).
2018 overall winner Steve Bis is back behind the wheel of his 2016 Volkswagen Golf R. Bis and co-driver Kelly Keefe will team up for the first time and are looking to continue Bis' past success. Bis won the Limited 2WD class in 2021 and 2022 but will drive the VW in L4WD in 2023.
2020 and 2022 ARA West Regional Limited 2WD champions Tim Wickberg and Matt Trott have had four class wins since 2020. A talented field, including Bret Hunter/Elizabeth Austin and former Rally Colorado organizers Joseph and Samantha Chiarelli, will push them hard.
Rally fans can closely see the cars and competitors of Rally Colorado at Friday night's Parc Expose. The pre-event program will be held at the Rangely Auto Museum at 6:00 PM, with a parade downtown at 7:00 PM. There are three spectator areas for this weekend. Go to Rally Colorado's Facebook page for more information.