Speedway, Ind. ~ Happy New Year! From big jumps, to big wins, the 2019 version of American Rally Association, Presented by AMSOIL has had its fair share of success. As we close out the decade, the ARA looks back at what (and who) made an impact on our sport. In no particular order, (and open to debate), here are our top stories from 2019:
Fetela Snags Sno-Drift
Piotr Fetela started his tenth year of rally racing in style in 2019 by winning the opening round at Sno-Drift. Fetela and Co-Driver Dominik Jozwiak took advantage of fellow Ford driver Barry McKenna’s exit after seven stages, and held off Limited 4wd champions Cameron Steely and Preston Osborn for the overall victory. The win set up a strong season that saw Fetela finish fourth overall and held the overall points lead through most of the year.
Oliver Solberg Arrives in America
In February, Subaru Motorsports USA announced a new addition to their driver roster, a developing rally phenom named Oliver Solberg. The then 17-year-old racing talent is the son of Subaru World Rally Team legend Petter Solberg. The attendance of both Oliver and Petter in America was a big boost for fans of stage rally in the U.S. While Solberg’s stay in the ARA is expected to be short-lived, he made the most of the experience picking up three wins in the six events he entered in 2019.
When Seamus Burke breaks out the MK2 Escort, he (and the car) become instant fan favorites. When he breaks the MK2 Escort and still finishes the rally, he just adds to the Legend of Seamus Burke. On the final stage at the 100 Acre Wood, Burke damaged his front-left suspension sending his front left wheel to a 45-degree positive camber. He finished the last two miles of stage road and transited more than 15-miles to the podium, finishing second in O2 and eighth overall.
McKenna Holds Off VSC
Speaking of 100 Acre Wood, it marked the rally that Barry McKenna picked up his first career ARA win. Thirty-five of the 75 cars that entered 100 AW wouldn’t see the finish, and when the dust settled, McKenna and Co-Driver Leon Jordan had successfully held off the Vermont Sports Car Subaru’s of David Higgins and Oliver Solberg. In fact, despite spinning on the fi
nal stage, McKenna crossed the flying finish with a scant 6.8-second win over Solberg.
Women of the Century
With the number of teams steadily on the rise (see below), it’s of importance that we take notice in the growing number of women racers entering our sport. The involvement of women as competitors in ARA events jumped 62% in 2019, with more than 100 women registered as a driver or co-driver. Take a look at the next two items on our list to see their impact on the sport.
Jimmy Pelizzari won the ARA East Overall Driver Championship thanks to his win at Sno-Drift and podium finishes at Summer Sno-Drift and LSPR. His navigator Kate Stevens won the ARA East Overall Co-Driver title.
Dave and Mike Brown took home the ARA West Overall Driver and Co-Driver titles thanks to their wins in Idaho and Rally Colorado.
Con O’Sullivan and Mark Williams East L4 Driver
Aileen Kelly East L4 Co-Driver
Amanda Skelly East NA4 Driver
Marianna Usher East NA4 Co-Driver
Calvin Cooper East O2 Driver
Kelsey Stephens East O2 Co-driver
Santiago Iglesias East L2 Driver
Robert Kassel East L2 Co-Driver
Matthew Brassfield West L4 Driver
Kristi Berg West L4 Co-Driver
Jacob Fowlkes West NA4 Driver
Colin Katagiri West NA4 Co-Driver
Andrew Rossiter West O2 Driver
Jason Baird West O2 Co-driver
Chase Hovinga West L2 Driver
Alison Laroza West L2 Co-Driver