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Wild West Rally wraps up a rainy weekend

Photo courtesy: Mike Shaw

Wild West 2024


Raymond, Wash. ~ The return of Wild West Rally was wet, wild, and full of huge smiles. 

Standing at the end of the final stage waiting for the first car to finish and suddenly the rain laden clouds parted and the sun appeared. A rare sight on a weekend frequented by torrential downpours. The rally gods must have finally been appeased with the siren song of eight cylinders of prancing horse fury in Sam Albert and Krista Skucas’ Ferrari engined Subaru. The high pitched roar could be heard for miles as it echoed across the hills and valleys. They were the favorites from the start and took the overall victory, but it didn’t come easy with many fast regional rivals nipping at their heels the entire way. 

The day began with the two famed stages of Smith Creek and Brooklyn which were run consecutively out and back before the first service.  The available grip and speeds were quite the wake up call despite the heavy rains. O2WD competitor Derik Nelson said “The first stage was like 10 shots of espresso! I was pie eyed. It’s like, oh so this is what rally is like, I forgot!” . 

The increased grip encouraged competitors to push, and unfortunately for Javier Olivaris who was hoping to challenge for the overall podium, he pushed just a bit too hard slipping to 4th overall, and second in L4WD. “We had 2 spins on SS3. Just lost the rear a bit. I was just trying to push a little and these turns you can carry a lot of speed into them and carried a bit too much rotation into them. The first one was a complete 180 and partially into the ditch, but was able to pull out and come around, then three corners later we kind of did the same thing but this time going to the right and nosed the bank pretty good.” He made some tweaks in service and at the end of the last stage was happy with those changes. “I think we learned some things with the setup of the car. It’s a lot more stable.It feels really good. Got a lot of the confidence back, so that's good.” Javier and co-driver KJ Miller 

photo: Erick Huertas

Overall winner Sam Albert said “I started off the day with some fantastic stages being on Smith Creek and Brooklyn. On turnaround, we unfortunately had some issues where we were going over the throttle limit on the pedal. I guess I just wanted a little bit more jam out there! It ultimately put us in a ten second time out here and there. So we lost a bit of time on stages three and four. Not a huge deal. I think we gave one stage win away to Derek. Assuming that we did pretty well on this stage (Palix), if we got this one, then that's five out of six (stage wins). Just really, really excited to be able to get this car out again and let it really kind of perform the way that I wanted it to. Krista did great notes all day long. Ian, our crew chief, he did a great job as well, especially dealing with all this weather that we had in the mud bog at the service area. Kudos to them for making this happen.”

photo: Erick Huertas

Second overall and first in Open 2WD were Derik Nelson and co-driver Michael Hordjik driving a turbo charged Subaru BRZ. Derik is one of the few that remembered these stages from years ago as he said at Parc Expose “I’ve done these roads in the early 2000s and Doo Wops was the first rally I ever did! But that’s so long ago that I don’t really remember any of it.” Obviously he didn’t forget for too long with a stage win and 2nd overall against cars with twice the traction. “The start of the day was a little sketchy, I'm not going to lie. I felt pretty off my game, but the fun factor just kept going up and up and up. And these stages are spectacular. Like the fun factor on that one just now, the second time through was very high. That was super cool!” Whenever Derik Nelson is having fun, look out as it tends to mean he’s going really fast.

photo: Erick Huertas

Coming in 3rd overall and first in NA4WD were Andy Miller and Shaun Tracy in their H6 swapped Subaru STI.  “The morning stages were super fast and grippy, we had pretty good pace. Coming back we lost a couple seconds, but I think that’s just the name of the game and I think everyone lost a few seconds coming back.” and at the finish he was happy to have improved his pace “Overall, it turned out to be great. We had a really good run through Palix right here. Our first run seemed maybe a little sloppy. And then this one, I think we kind of put it together. We didn't shave as much time as I thought between the two for how it felt, but,I'm happy with both.” 

Second in O2WD and 5th overall was Dave Clark and Jamie Willetts who were silly sideways in their BMW M3. The level of sarcasm ran high with how much fun they had “I'm frustrated with the rally in general. It's just a complete waste of time and money. Really. The roads being so boring…this one was just a just a big disappointment….Seriously though, this is so fun! Honestly, I really hope this is the first of many more times of using these roads. I ran them back years and years and years ago, but I don't remember them being this smooth.It's like they got better over time!”

The final podium spot in O2WD and 6th overall went to Nate Tennis and Alex Jardevall in the Volvo 940 turbo “I can't fit a big enough smile inside this car right now. That was so much fun. I can't thank everyone enough for putting it together, especially Dave, he's a rock star for making it happen and getting back the best roads in the northwest, man. So cool!”

Second in NA4WD and 7th overall were Cooper Anderson and co-driver Ethan Curtis who punched well above their weight. “Oh, my gosh, this rally is so much fun. I love the roads. Everything about it, even it being sloppy and wet. It's just been fantastic. I love it. I want to do this race again!” Not only was he having fun, but he improved his pace a considerable amount including shaving 12 seconds on the final stage over his previous run. With a current speed factor of 44.5, Cooper averaged speeds from this event of 62.5. A huge improvement for the young talent.

Rounding out the NA4WD podium was Dan Sperry and Zachary Thomas, who also were all grins at the end of the final stage “It's been flawless all day. Lucky enough that this thing has just been performing great. And happy to be back with that, after the OTR off. Just beyond stoked, man. It's been a beautiful day. Thank you to all the supporters and everybody and all the volunteers to make this happen. One of the best days of my life, baby!”

Second in the L4WD class were Andrew Reavis and co-driver Anthony Campbell “It was a great day, man. These are great stages. Very fast.I was excited to have new stages. Yeah, it was worth it!”. With third in L4WD going to Phil Clark and Kendra Tym who said “It’s been great! I didn't do a 180 back there this time, so we picked up quite a bit more pace. So it was super fun. The roads out here are amazing. Yeah. I want to come back.”

In the Limited 2WD class the VW Golf of Lucas Chalcraft and Sophia McKee “Yeah, we made it. You know what, considering the amount of rain that we got over the last three days, the roads were phenomenal. Let's please do this next year, a little shake down into Olympus”

Jeff Castro and Ann Hanson in their classic 1982 Toyota Corolla pipped their friends Garth Ankeny and Russ Kraushaar with a massive improvement on the final stage to take the 2nd spot in L2WD. “That's a great way to end it. I think we're on the same page that we love Palix. That stage is a mega. We were able to clean it up a bit the second run. I got some great coaching from Ann to tighten lines and commit a bit more, and I think we did it.” …then Ann told him he improved 20 seconds over the previous run “Holy cow! Are you kidding me?!”

Finishing up the class were Garth and Russ in the oldest car in the field, the 1969 Saab 96 “I might just run this thing more. You know, it's kind of fun. It's definitely harder (driving front wheel drive) than I remember, but that's good. And you don't have quite the power like the Starlet. You have to really keep your momentum up to do it right. But it was a blast. These roads are great. I'm happy that,Dave and Rick and the boys all put this together. What a wonderful day. Just can't get much better than this!”

For many competitors, Wild West was a shakedown ahead of next month’s Olympus Rally. Not just for the cars, but for shaking off the cobwebs for drivers and co-drivers as well. For Chris Sutton, this was a chance to get used to a rather large upgrade from his 2WD Renault Clio he normally competes in. For this event, he was driving the O4WD Subaru Crosstrek formerly owned by none other than Brandon Semenuk. “The first two stages it was just pouring down and our windscreen completely fogged up, so we couldn’t see left, so we were turning left by looking into the ditch on the right hand side. The way back the visibility was good, and I think we put in some good times. I’m excited to see how it looks compared to the boys up front actually” Although he was also dealing with a small radiator leak at Chris was still happy with the how the day went “The stages are awesome, the conditions are great. It's nice compacted gravel with some nice slippy corners. So yeah, it's perfect!” 

And for one team, it was their first ever stage rally. The #869 Ford Escort driven by Riley Medcroft and Derrick Pray made it to their first ever finish. 

A few weren’t so lucky.  Of the 32 entries, only 3 were a DNF.  Chris Miller and Crystina Coats were shaking down a new to them 1994 VW Golf that had been a slow build over 14 years finally making it’s rally debut. Unfortunately, a short distance into the second stage the car died. For NA4WD competitor Josh Geirman making his return after a nearly two year hiatus, didn’t even make it out of the first stage. “It started out great, the car sounded great, running great, good temps, and we got through maybe about 10 corners and the engine blew up. The connecting rod made a hole through the top.” Or as his co-driver Matt Perser said “It decided its entrails were going to be its ex-trails!” Matt Barnes and Carl Payne were the other unfortunate DNF of the day.

The common phrase at the final stage was just how fun this event was. Every competitor had smiles a mile wide and can’t wait to come back and do this one again. Congratulations to the organizers for breathing new life into this classic event. 

~ Mike Shaw

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




Thanks for the article and photos. And I would like to know more about Nelson's Subaru BRZ. Do you have any information on the specification of this car?

Michael Shaw
Michael Shaw

Its turbo charged and also the same car that Lia Block won the ARA O2WD class championship in last year.  For more specifics, look up nordicmotorsports on instagram.

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