Speedway, Indiana (March 5, 2019)
David Higgins is one of the most successful rally drivers in the United States. The Subaru Motorsports USA lead driver has been making his mark on the US rally scene for nearly two decades and is showing no signs of slowing down. Last fall, Higgins was crowned American Rally Association champion alongside his longtime co-driver Craig Drew; their 7th American rally title together.
Since then, it’s been the off-season for the Subaru squad and for Higgins, that time has been spent with his family at his home in Wales. For the past four months, he’s been decompressing from stage rally while teaching his children proper racecraft in karts to develop the foundations of their own racing careers.
“It’s important to take a break from rallying to recharge the battery, to get motivation, and to go again,” said Higgins. “Traveling back and forth from the USA really takes it out of you. You don’t realise how much until you have some time at home to get back into a normal sleep pattern.”
Higgins was crowned ARA champion for the first time last October at Tour de Forest Rally, though he secured the points necessary to win the month before in Idaho. It was his 9th US rally championship title in 16 years. Last year’s win has now put him within sight of John Buffum’s all-time American championship record of 11 wins. But chasing that accolade isn’t Higgins' objective heading into his title defense and the 2019 season.
“The goal is to always just try and win anything I do. The numbers don’t really mean anything now, but sure, I will look more at them at some point in the future.”
The 2019 season for Subaru Motorsports USA begins next week at the 100 Acre Wood Rally from March 15-16. The event is a favorite for many drivers, and this year will see it run as part of the ARA National Rally Championship Presented by AMSOIL for the first time. This year will also be the Subaru squad’s first time in Missouri since 2016. Higgins personally has won the 100AW twice; once in 2013 and again in 2015.
The rally is just one of several events added to the ARA calendar for 2019. The series will make 9 stops this season in the longest US rally championship since 2009. Higgins is looking forward to all of the travel.
“I prefer having more events on the calendar, and it’s great to have the classic events back, like 100 Acre Wood and LSPR. I love Sno*Drift, and I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t get to go this year, though.”
Confidence in your pace notes is the key to success at a high-speed event like the 100 Acre Wood Rally. Rally drivers will often review pace notes and video footage from previous incarnations of the event to maximize the accuracy of their current notes. It’s a routine of review that Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew have down pat. Higgins says he isn’t doing anything different for 100 Acre.
“I prepare the same for all events. Unfortunately, we don’t have much in car video for this rally and that’s a big problem when you try and dial into the fast stages again.
“I haven’t been in rally car for such a long time now, so I need to shake the rust off first before we really push.”
His focus is on the long game and the championship.
“I just need to try and get points in bag. We’re already one round down, so we can’t afford any slip ups.”
The ARA championship field is developing fast. Open class drivers in all types of machinery will be out in force at the 100 Acre Wood Rally. WRC-spec machines, homebrew monsters, and, of course, the factory Subarus will all be competing at this year’s event. Higgins will be battling direct against a talented group of drivers for the overall win. It’s no easy task.
“I think people underestimate how hard you have to go to win against these guys. You can’t afford to sit back, especially on a rally like the 100 Acre Wood; it’s like Finland, it can come down to 10ths of seconds.”
“It will be interesting to see how many modern parts are put into Ken [Block]’s car – I’m sure it will be a beast of a car. And Barry [McKenna] is working very hard on his rally team, so it’s going to have to be go hard from the start.”
See Higgins and 74 other teams take on the 100 Acre Wood Rally from March 15-16. The towns of Steelville, Potosi, and Salem in Missouri will play host to one of the biggest championship rally events of the year as drivers from around the world descend on the Ozarks to battle it out and find out who’s the fastest. More information is available at americanrallyassociation.org/100aw.
Photo Credit: Subaru Motorsports USA (Top), David Cosseboom (1)