If there is any motorsport that doesn't get the attention it deserves, it would have to be rally. Simply put, rally isn't for sissies; in fact, it's arguably the most demanding type of racing out there. Each driver is faced with the challenges of handling different road conditions, from wet pavement to gravel, mud and snow. And unlike standard road racing, drivers aren't allowed to practice on a track over and over again until they perfect every apex. They're permitted one dry run before the competition starts…that's it! Oh, and we mustn't forget, rally drivers gotta have the biggest balls. If a driver strays off course just a little bit, he or she risks slamming into a tree or falling into a ditch. These consequences aren't just going to mess up a car but could also be life threatening.
With that said, there's a reason car manufacturers like Scion want to be a part of rally. Contrary to what you might think, this Scion xD, along with many other rally vehicles, aren't a custom-built chassis with a dedicated race engine. They are production-based cars with some minor reinforcements. The xD is basically the same car you would see on the street with the addition of a rollcage, TEIN coilovers, GReddy turbo kit, limited-slip and off-road tires. With the beating we've witnessed this xD survive, Scion has showed us not only how tough their car is, but that it's also competitive in North America's premier rally league.
So when Scion invited us to check out the sixth and final round of the Rally America series, we jumped at the opportunity. After a quick flight to Sea-Tac International, then a two hour drive south to Olympia, we were ready to soak in the the famous Olympus Rally.
There was a record of 72 competing cars in attendance, but we were there for Scion Racing's Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey. The team had a shot of taking home the two-wheel drive title so we shadowed them through the rally's ten-stage battle. At the end of the grueling two-day event, Scion was the runner-up finishing 21-seconds behind the 2WD leader. This would be good enough to put the xD in second place overall for the entire season and ninth amongst the entire field of competitors, which included AWD and Super Production cars—pretty damn impressive for a lil' Scion!
We recognize rally isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. The cars don't look like show queens, but if there's anything you should take from the sport, rally is definitely only for the hardcore.
You normally have to drag us out of bed to get us to school but the DirtFish Rally School is different. You're not going to sit through another painful lecture on math or English. No, the DirtFish classroom takes place behind the wheel of a 300hp rally-spec Subaru STI!
Through one-on-one seat time with one of their 14 experienced drivers, DirtFish teaches its students the ins and outs of rally racing such as the sport's rules and regulations, safety, sliding, weight transfer and driving accuracy.
Scion was kind enough to hook us up with a half-day session to get us acquainted with what exactly a rally driver has to go through. While it was a bit intimidating for us at first having never tried any type of rally racing, the environment and instruction by DirtFish was top notch. The facility is basically a 315-acre playground. With an old lumber mill as its backdrop, it looks like a scene out of Gymkhana 1. It has a large mix of road surfaces, slaloms and turns, which taught us all the techniques that the pros use.
DirtFish offers various programs from a half-day class up to a five-day program. Despite the starting enrollment fee of $399, you'll have the most fun you've ever experienced. Where else are you going to get to beat on someone else's rally car with a pro driver as your passenger?