The fifth running of the Ramada Express International Rally and the third year of the JAOS Adventure Rally presented by Magellan have come to a close. Competitors in both events traveled the desert roadways of northwestern Arizona to the beautiful western Grand Canyon lands of the Hualapai Indian Tribe. For the first time, the events enjoyed wonderfully warm, clear weather during the day, with only the hint of winter in the evening. Most participants in the Adventure Rally thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the challenge of using the Magellan GPS SportTrak to find their way. Winners of Magellan's national contest, "The Ultimate Road Trip", arrived in Las Vegas from Florida, got married, then headed to Laughlin for the Adventure Rally competition. What a wild honeymoon weekend for them!
At the Rally EXPO tent Mr. Hector Cademartori, renowned motor sport artist who created ARSG's commemorative Fifth-Anniversary Rally Poster, arrived Friday to personally sign posters. Event rally footage aired on the three 73" televisions. The new "Rally Championship" on the Nintendo GameCube kiosk provided dual-action "mud, sweat, and gears" virtual competition. The USA rally component is based on the Grand Canyon stages.
In keeping with world rally standards, Ramada Express International Rally scheduled a Wednesday and Thursday parade-style reconnaissance of the stage roads. A surprising number of rallyists arrived two days early in order to make pace notes or add supplementary information to their route book. During the event, teams sharpened their knowledge of procedures, timing regulations and penalties, tracked check-in and check-out times for parc ferme, mastered re-fueling, and checked for written updates on the notice board. Specific servicing times pressured crews on vehicle repairs and needed parts replacement, keeping Lady Luck busy in the pit areas.
International competition was exceptionally close in all rally classes, and teams pushed the limits for all three days. The good weather and relatively smooth roads led several teams into higher-than-expected speeds, often followed by fancy slide-ride turns, twists and "air-time". More than a few flats and fender scrapes resulted. The event's film-crews and helicopters caught a lot of the action...in High-Definition Television footage, thanks to Mitsubishi Digital Electronics. Experienced Ramada Express co-drivers and drivers missed the traditional challenges of snow, ice and mud, though the service crews wore big smiles. Elimination of stages two/six because of a deep boggy mud hole was a disappointment, but former stuck-in-the-mud-hole rallyists seemed secretly relieved.
Sunday's SuperStage dual-action course put the action "downtown" for teams, crews and local spectators. Charity Rides by rallyists netted $1200 for the local Boys and Girls Club. Grateful thanks is extended to all who were able to provide those exciting rides....though the Hudson's "soft-rollover" was a bit more exciting than most.
Sunday evening's Awards Gala sponsored by Tokico Shocks featured the Hualapai dancers, who performed to four special ceremonial songs. USAC's John Capels spoke to the crowds of his appreciation of the sport after four "hands-on" rally day and nights, and of USAC's support in the years to come. Mr. Tom Burgess presented the first CNAR trophy to Geoff Macguire, accepted by co-driver David Fiddyment. Andy Brown of AV Motorsports represented 2001 winner David Higgins in the traditional transfer of the Championship title to 2002 winners, Mark Nelson and Alex Gelsomino. Nelson and Gelsomino also received watches from TAG Heuer of Switzerland. The Ramada Express and ARSG awarded more than $16,000 in cash awards to class and overall event winners.
Congratulations to 2002 Podium Finishes Mark Nelson/Alex Gelsomino Subaru WRX STI, Open; Rhys Millen/Chrissy Beavis, Lancer Evo VII, Open; and Tim O'Neil/Martin Headland, Subaru WRX, Group N, and to all who chose to participate in this three-day endurance event.
American Rally Sport Group is grateful for the services of America's most dedicated and experienced teams of rally volunteers. Emergency medical teams, ready and willing, provide assistance at every rally stage. Stage and event radio communication, tested and checked before any competitor leaves the start line, tracks each team along the course. Start, Finish and Blockage crews keep the event working smoothly. For the first time, event radio communication included the Rally EXPO tent through a special high-frequency radio connection established this year. The efforts of all volunteers create the strong, unseen web of event safety support that makes the event happen.
American Rally Sport Group would like to express grateful appreciation for the positive support and active involvement of the Ramada Express Hotel-Casino, the Hualapai Indian Tribe and 4-H groups, Tokico Shocks, Yokohama Tire, JAOS, Magellan, Ground Control Satellite System, TG Race Designs, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics, Reliable Racing/Tag Heuer, Bryant 76 Racing Gasoline, 7-24 AIR-X, Flyash Haulers, RSC/Rental Services Corporation, NES Barricade & Light Rental, True Value Distribution, Mohave Wireless, Durham Communications, Mad Dog Wireless, and Conspiracy Entertainment. Their efforts helped to create the quality event enjoyed by all that attended.
Thanks, also, to all that participated, supported and cheered on the efforts of ARSG. Rally on! Roger, Ray, Donna and Lynnette