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Rally Cars Return to Fremont Street as Part of The Mint 400 Weekend in Las Vegas

ANAHEIM, Calif. — (March 4, 2013) —The Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series (SWRS) presented by Lucas Oil will showcase local rally teams on Friday, March 22, as part of the General Tire Mint 400 off-road race weekend, based out of Las Vegas, Nev.

The display is designed to introduce off-road enthusiasts to rally racing, and to preview the Desert Storm Rally presented by Lucas Oil, the first event in the SWRS, which will be held two weeks later, April 5-6, based in Blythe, Calif. This event is also part of Rally America’s South West Regional Championship.

Six teams and their vehicles will be set up on Fremont Street as part of the Mint’s Contingency Row, where a wide variety of vendors line the downtown street, while the nearly 300 competitors pass through technical inspection. Off-road fans who stop by the rally display will get the chance to vote online for their favorite rally vehicle, while results are tallied live on the SWRS’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/BSWRC.

Nearly 10,000 Mint 400 fans and competitors are expected to be in attendance for this pre-event experience, allowing the SWRS teams to promote and share tales of their stage rally involvement, showing their competition vehicles and answering questions, as ambassadors of the sport. The SWRS display will also have brochures and posters, product displays from the variety of series’ sponsors, and information about other rallies sanctioned by Rally America.

“Fremont Street is a happening place. Last year we had loads of people come by to see the cars, ask questions, and take the brochures. The teams had a great time and said it was the best parc exposé,” said SWRS Director Denise McMahon. “This was successful because over 12 off-road teams said they were going to complete the DirtFish Rally School [in Snoqualmie, Wash.] , so new blood should be coming in this year.”

Visitors will have a well-represented variety of rally vehicles and teams, from the experienced to novice, to choose as their favorite.

Both off-road and stage rally enthusiasts will recognize long-time off-road racer Bill Holmes, of Malibu, Calif., who currently stage rallies a Ford Raptor. Holmes began desert racing in the late 1970s. During the past several decades, he has won several Baja events, including the Baja 2000, earning him the peer-given nickname of “Baja Bill.” Holmes is also a veteran Mint 400 competitor, taking third place with co-driver John Clark Gable in 1985.

Brent Lee Motorsports will reveal its new Ford Fiesta R2, built by Team O’Neil Motorsports. BLM is campaigning the Fiesta in this year’s Rally America National Championship, as well as competing in local events here in the Southwest U.S. Driver Brent Hercelinsky, of San Diego, Calif., has won championships in not only rally racing and RallyCross, but is a former Mint 400 competitor and go-kart racer.

Doug Nagy, owner of Orange County, Calif.-based Streetwise Motorsports, will show the new Subaru WRX STI he built for the rally team of Lauchlin O’Sullivan and co-driver Scott Putnam. The Lucas Oil, Wolf LED-sponsored team had its inaugural run in the new car a few weeks ago at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in Missouri, where they finished third overall. Nagy is well known throughout the motorsports community as not only a designer/fabricator/builder but also as a sought-after, at-event crew chief.

Other rally ambassadors will represent the grassroots rally competitor. Ray Piloto, of Henderson, Nev., began rally racing in 2012, where he took his Subaru Impreza 2.5RS to a first-place finish in the SWRC Open Light Championship, grabbing the series’ Rookie of the Year award. Just recently, he was hired as an instructor at Ron Fellow’s Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nev. Alex Helton, of Colorado Springs, Colo., has been rally racing at the regional level since 2010. His passion for motor sports stems from racing quad ATVs. Helton’s rally-prepared Honda Civic will also be on display.

McMahon’s objective of the rally racing display is to promote the sport to the off-road community as she visualizes a hybrid type of event in the future, especially for the off-road prerunners. These prerunners, traditionally, are high-horsepower trucks or buggies specifically designed and used to pre-run a desert race course to assure it runs well and doesn’t have any major hazards.

“Although stage rally and off-road racing are unique, they are sisters in motor sports. Both involve getting from point A to point B and beating the clock, so there is that common concept,” she explained. “However, this would involve some special concessions due to the difference in horsepower to keep the overall competition fair.”

One who is tempted on an open road to evaluate the relationship with his or her car is a potential rally racing fan or competitor. Rally racing is done in stages, usually on closed sections of limited-access roads throughout the U.S., from flat-out dusty desert roads in the Southwest U.S. to tight, twisty (and often snowy) forest roads in Maine. Cars start each stage with one- to two-minute intervals. The objective is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible and the car with the overall fastest time wins. Like cars are classified for a more equal competition.

The Bilsten Southwest RallyCup Series, directed and sanctioned by Rally America (www.rally-america.com), includes two categories, Production and Open, that are then divided into six different competition classes. Vehicles range from production compact, small engine, two-wheel-drive cars, like Volkswagen Golfs, to 300+ horsepower all-wheel-drive vehicles in the Open classes, like Subaru Imprezas. There is also a class for variations of production, rally-prepared trucks.

Events can range from less than a hundred miles to well over that, over one to three days. Each competition vehicle has a driver and co-driver (who acts as a navigator). The team receives a route book, which includes a detailed description of the course using “tulip” diagrams to advise upcoming turns, jumps, cautions, etc. A rally computer assists with mathematical calculations to ensure the team stays on course and on time. Between competition stages, teams “transit” from one stage to the next on public roads and must obey all traffic laws; hence, all must be street legal.

For more information on the Desert Storm Rally and the Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series, please visit the Web at www.desertstormrally.com and www.southwestrallyseries.com. And be sure to keep up with our social media by clicking ‘LIKE’ on our Facebook Pages at www.facebook.com/DesertStormRally and www.facebook.com/BSWRC.


Photo caption/credit: Bill Holmes pilots his Ford Raptor through the dusty desert terrain outside Jean, Nev. to an overall victory at the Seed 9 Rally last November. Credit TurnDriverSide.com.

Denise McMahon
Series Director, Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series presented by Lucas Oil
Mobile: 562-547-4892
[email protected]

MaryAnne Shults
Media Director
Mobile: 949-290-3238
[email protected]

About the Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series: Formed in 2004, the series was established to provide high-performance stage rally events in the Southwest U.S. Its objective is also to encourage participation and promotion of the sport, especially at the grassroots level.

About Rally America: Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, the premier performance rally championship in the U.S. and a number of regional rally championships from coast-to-coast (www.rally-america.com).
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