* Rally racing returns to the Portland area with the Oregon Trail Rally, May 13-15th.

* Fan activities begin Thursday, May 12th, with car displays and driver autograph sessions at Pioneer Courthouse Square and Dick Hannah Subaru in Vancouver.
* Local OR and WA teams will compete for podium positions in all car class categories.
* 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.

Tighten the belts and hold on! Round 4 of the Rally America Championship, is about to go full throttle. Teams from across North America have begun arriving in Portland to contest the Oregon Trail Rally, May 13-15. The Oregon Trail Rally is a 3 day extreme motorsport event that tests driver’s skill and vehicle reliability to the limit. Competitors will face the challenge of northwest Oregon gravel roads over a course that is 110 miles in length.

This is expected to be one of the most spectacular events organized by the local Oregon Rally Group. “It’s great to have the Rally Championship return to Oregon for the twelfth straight year”, commented event chairman, Matt Tabor. “The organizing team has worked hard over the past year to add some new aspects (Live Rally Radio, improved spectator layout) to this year’s event. We feel confident that this will be an exciting event for spectators and competitors alike.”

Current Rally America Championship point’s leader, Travis Hanson, can expect stiff competition from the top National and Local drivers at this weekend’s event. Subaru Rally Team USA driver and X Games BMX legend, Dave Mirra, will be pushing hard for a podium finish as will his team mate, Britain’s David Higgins, fresh from a win at the Olympus Rally earlier this month. Defending 2010 Rally America National Champion, Antoine L’Estage from Quebec, Canada will compete as well in an improved Rockstar Energy Drink sponsored Mitsubishi EVO X. As if the competition was not hot enough, Canadian Rally Champion Pat Richard is a late entry to the event and is sure to be a contender for a podium finish.

Local competitors will not allow the National teams to have all the fun at this weekend’s Oregon Trail Rally and will be pushing for good results in all car class categories.
* Mother-daughter team of Kristen and Janice Tabor from Tigard/West Linn, who have been competing together for eleven years, will drive their Acura RSX in production class. Kristen has the honor of being the only female driver in the event.
* Driving instructor Paul Eklund, from Tigard, and his Portland co-driver, Jeff Price, will take on the “big boys” in their Open class Subaru STi.
* Hood River team of Dave Henderson and Terrence McDowell will compete in their Mazda 3 for Group 2 honors.
* Portland’s Garth Ankey with Battle Ground co-driver Russ Kraushaar will compete in one of the more unique rally cars entered for the event, a 1969 Saab 96.

Prior to the start of competition on Friday evening at Portland International Raceway, there are a number of fan events planned in the Portland/Vancouver area.
* Early Thursday morning, between 5 – 7 am, look for local and national rally competitors to appear on the KGW Northwest News Channel 8 morning show with Drew Carney on “Out and About”.
* Oregon Trail Rally Fan Appreciation Show on Thursday from 11 am- 1 pm in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland.
* Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins, Canadian Rally Champion Pat Richard and Rally America Points leader Travis Hanson will sign autographs and show their rally cars on Thursday from 6 – 9 pm at Dick Hannah Subaru in the Vancouver Auto Mall.

The Friday Fan Spectacular, presented by Dick Hannah Subaru, at Portland International Raceway (PIR) begins at 6 pm with a Parc Expose (car display) where fans can view the competition cars up close and talk with the drivers. It is followed by a series of timed competitive special stages specifically designed for spectator viewing.

Saturday morning starts with another Parc Expose at 10 am in The Dalles (2600 W. 6th St., immediately off of I-84 exit 83). At 11 am the cars will leave at one minute intervals and head out to the forest stages which include the spectator favorite at Fir Mountain. Rally fans in Oregon are familiar with this Hood River site, and 1,000 fans packed the hillside last year. Special parking and shuttles are being implemented this year so that fans don’t have to hike a mile to the spectator location.

After a service stop back in The Dalles the show moves out to the Dufur area (15 miles south of The Dalles).A rally car service area will be set up in the City Park, with spectating venues nearby. At the service areas, teams refuel and make necessary repairs to their cars. The service areas are open to the public and are similar to being in the pits at a circuit track race. Take a walk through the service area and you will see the mechanics work on the cars under time restrictions. The top teams can change a transmission and get a car back on the road within 20 minutes.

Saturday’s action concludes in downtown Dufur at 8 pm with a “Rally Street Party & Barbeque” in the city park open to all rally fans.

On Sunday, teams return to Dufur, with breakfast served at Dufur City Park from 7:30 to 10:00 am, which will benefit The Ramsey Park Grange. The breakfast is open to the public to come meet the rally teams and enjoy a warm morning meal, while raising money for a great cause. The motorsport action continues around the Dufur area all day, with the champions taking the podium on Dufur’s Main Street around 4 pm.

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.

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.

Image: David Higgins, Subaru Rally Team USA, powers past a spectator location at the Olympus Rally in Ocean Shores, WA.
(c) Subaru Rally Team USA.



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