* Rally racing returns to the Portland area with the Oregon Trail Rally, May 13-15th
* BMX Legend and X Games star, Dave Mirra, and fan favorite, Britain’s David Higgins will lead the Subaru Rally Team USA charge against 2010 Rally America National Champion, Antoine L’Estage from Quebec, Canada.
* The three-day contest includes 17 timed competitive special stages, with the action taking place at Portland International Raceway, presented by Dick Hannah Subaru, on Friday May 13th and on the challenging forest and county gravel roads around Hood River, The Dalles and Dufur on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15th.

The premier United States national rally series is making its annual visit to Oregon. Round 4 of the Rally America Championship comes to town, May 13-15th, for the extremely popular and challenging Oregon Trail Rally. Top drivers in several classes of competition vehicles will come from across the U.S. and Europe to drive on the best rally roads in America.

Rally racing is known as the most exciting motorsport in the world and continues to grow in popularity across the US. The Oregon Trail Rally is known as one of the toughest tests for rally racing teams as they take on the challenging Northwest forestry roads. While the event is held in late spring, unpredictable weather conditions have always been a factor for competitors. Coupled with the tight and twisty nature of the special racing stage roads quite often make this event a battle of attrition.

This year’s event will follow the familiar format of Spectator Special Stages, presented by Dick Hannah Subaru, in the heart of the city at Portland International Raceway (PIR) on Friday, May 13th, followed by exciting special racing stages on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15th, on the closed forest and county gravel roads south of the Columbia River Gorge.

After two very successful years staging the event east of Portland, the Oregon Trail Rally will return again to the beautiful Columbia River Gorge region. Oregon Trail Rally Chairman Matt Tabor is excited about returning to this scenic area of the state. “Each year we continue to grow and improve our event, making it a competitor and fan favorite while providing an economic benefit to the local community. We want to thank the people and county officials in Hood River and Wasco Counties for their continued support for our rally.”

Returning for the 2011 season is the Subaru Rally Team USA with BMX Legend and X Games star, Dave Mirra, and a driver familiar to longtime rally fans, Britain’s David Higgins. Higgins brings exceptional rally experience to the team having won the 2002-2003 Sports Car Club of America ProRally Championship and the 2004 British Rally Championship. Rally fans can expect just as much action out of the Subaru Rally Team USA as in years past.

Meeting the Subaru blitz will be returning 2010 Rally America National Champions, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard from Quebec, Canada. Earlier this year they were named to the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-American team for their success last season. They’ll be at Oregon Trail defending their title in an improved Rockstar Energy Drink sponsored Mitsubishi EVO X. The team had a phenomenal 2010 winning the American, North American and Canadian Rally Series, in addition to securing a bronze medal at X Games 16 Rally Car Racing event.

For any newcomers to rallying, a rally consists of “transit zones” and “special stages.” To get to special stages, street legal rally cars transit the same roads as the general public and follow the same traffic laws. Special stages are temporarily closed roads where competitors are allowed to travel as fast as they safely can, racing one car at a time against the clock from start to finish. Trained, expert volunteers ensure the safety of the public and the competitors and provide a timing mechanism to score the event on the heavily manned special stages. The total elapsed special stage times for each team will determine both individual class and overall victories in the event.

The three-day contest includes 17 timed competitive special stages, with the action taking place at Portland International Raceway, presented by Dick Hannah Subaru, on Friday and on the challenging forest and county gravel roads around Hood River, The Dalles and Dufur on Saturday and Sunday. The event is the most popular on the six event national schedule and normally attracts more than fifty domestic and international teams and legions of fans. Those fans will have plenty of opportunities to meet their favorite drivers and watch the rally action over 120 miles of competition roads and fan friendly super special stages at PIR.

Fans will have a chance to meet the drivers and see the cars close up at the Parcs Expose to be held at Portland International Raceway on Friday, May 13th, near the Kmart in The Dalles on Saturday morning, May 14th and in downtown Dufur on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15th. Dufur will host a number of community fund raising events in conjunction with the race: a Saturday evening BBQ, and a Sunday morning breakfast.

The Oregon Trail Rally cannot happen without the help of a dedicated group of volunteers. Volunteers get the best seat in the house, a free event t-shirt, and an invitation to the private Awards Banquet Buffet on Sunday night. Volunteer sign-up is available online at, http://www.OregonTrailRally.com/.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/OregonTrailRally and on Twitter: twitter.com/OregonTrailRly

Additional information on the 2011 event will be posted on the events website, http://www.OregonTrailRally.com, as details become available.

Event Schedule (tentative):

Thursday, May 12
11:00 – 13:00 Rally Fan Appreciation Pioneer Courthouse Square Show
Downtown Portland
Presented by Dick Hannah Subaru

Friday, May 13
18:00 – 20:45 Fan Spectacular Portland International Raceway
Presented by Dick Hannah Subaru

Saturday, May 14
10:00 – 11:00 Parc Expose The Dalles
11:00 First Car starts Day Two The Dalles
11:00 – 20:00 Competition Stages (Free) Hood River/Dufur Area
19:30 First Car Finishes Day Two Main St. Dufur

Sunday, May 15
10:00 – 11:00 Parc Expose Main St. Dufur
11:00 First Car starts Day Three Main St. Dufur
09:00 – 15:30 Competition Stages (Free) Dufur Area
15:30 First Car Finishes Event Main St. Dufur

Rally Headquarters: Shilo Inn-The Dalles. Phone: 541-298-5502

Image: Andrew “ACP” Comrie-Picard pushes his Mitsubishi Evo on the way to winning the 2010 Oregon Trail Rally.
Photo: WRS-Ken Maydaniuk

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