I'm getting the impression from some of the posts on this forum that people don't want the SCCA Pro Rally series to become "Professional" (am I right?). Granted, the costs of rallying in this series would probably go up, and it would be harder to get into, but wouldn't it be better to have 20-30 factory and team-sponsored cars in a top-of-the-line "pro" series, where drivers are hired or recruited? Most other countries, you have to build up to the national pro series (and more than likely a funded team) through club events. That happens somewhat in the States, but it seems like the Pro Rally series is the be-all end-all, and everything else "isn't as good" (if you get my drift).
Obviously, rally in North America has hardly been a lucrative form of autosport, so it is a "hobby" for most people. Some people are upset about the age-limit on body styles - and it has definately set some fine drivers back for a bit - but I also think it is a good idea to make it more appealing to the non-rally public. Things need to be slick, new, exciting, and highend in order for TV and the public to get excited about it. Sure it would exclude people who couldn't afford it, but what's wrong with a Club-rally championship...or a "Junior WRC for North America" style series that leads into the pro series.
I'm trying to get into the sport on a limited budget, but I don't have aspirations of being in Open/Pro immediately...I plan to build up to it, going from local rallies, to club-style rallies, and then National rallies (I live in Canada). Wouldn't it be cool though, if up and coming young drivers had a goal to acheive - ie. a factory drive in the "pro" series (a la Ramana Lagemmann, but on a more wide-spread scale).
Rallying in North America is very fortunate that it is so accessable for new entrants, but to grow and become popular with the public, I think the top pro series has to become exactly that - "professional". Most top-of-the-line motorsport series' are expensive and hard to enter, but there is an established ladder that you climb to get into it. Why not develop that "ladder" of progression and costs in rallying?
Anyways...a bit of a ramble, but just thought I'd get some thoughts/discussion fodder out there from a young enthusiast just getting into rallying myself. I realize that series sponsorship and factory involvement is integral in these ideas, but I think it could happen.