Rally Racing Real cars, real roads, very fast | Outside


“Drifting around a gravel turn, connecting that drift to the next turn, followed by a jump, while running through the woods at crazy speeds… it’s just an amazing race,” says Dave Clark of Yakima, running all over the Pacific Northwest. Rally racing is unlike any other type of motor racing. Instead of competing on a racetrack, participants compete against each other on the roads and therefore all of their racing vehicles must comply with road regulations. “Rally racing is ‘real cars, real roads, very fast.’ We usually run one by one, on roads in forests, mountains or farmland. Sometimes the roads are paved, sometimes covered with snow, but most are gravel. Throughout an event there are race sections which are driven as fast as drivers can go, followed by “transit sections” which connect the different race routes. These transit routes are often open to the public, so runners should slow down. Dave says, “Sometimes I will even commute down a freeway in the race car with my flame retardant suit and helmet. You get weird looks.

There are a few other differences between track racing and rally racing, he adds. “In track racing, a driver will see the same 15 turns hundreds of times, in rallying you will see hundreds of turns once. To help me, my co-pilot reads “rhythm notes” during the race to keep me informed of upcoming turns and invisible dangers. Sometimes events go on into the night, so my car is fitted with extremely bright auxiliary lights. Most cars are also equipped with special suspensions to handle rough roads and jumps. As with track races, all cars must have a roll bar, 5-point seat belts, fire extinguishers and emergency medical kits.

Rally races offer participants two main classes: 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive. Within these classes there are also subclasses in which the participants are separated. Dave’s brother-in-law Derek Knight, also from Yakima, also competes in rally races and can thank Dave for getting him hooked. “My first race was in June 2013 in a rented rally car. After that I sailed for my brother-in-law Dave at the 2014 Idaho rally. That’s when the bug really bit, ”he says. “As fun as it was to drive, it just wasn’t the same for me as driving. Soon after, I started riding my 1982 Volvo 242, which is in the 2WD category. Dave and I race primarily in the PNW, the closest of which are the Olympus Rally outside of Olympia and the Oregon Trail Rally, which had stages in Goldendale, Washington last April. A full racing season is approximately eight races.

Rally racing is a competitive sport, but while Dave and Derek race to win, they also go there for fun and pushing their personal limits in a hobby they both are passionate about. Here’s a closer look at the lives of these two men who thrive on the thrill they get from running, but also the fulfillment they get from their wives, kids, and careers when they’re at home in the race. Yakima valley.

When did you start running and why?

Dave: I started racing in 2010. I had decided to get into some form of racing, and my friend Adam Crane told me to go see a rally. I think the first event I saw was the Olympus Rally near Olympia.

Tell me about your victories.

Dave: I’ve been doing well lately. I started out slowly in a slow car and gained speed over the years. All-wheel drive cars usually go a little faster, but I stick with the 2WD class because you don’t have to spend that much money to be competitive. I was the first in 2WD at Idaho Rally, Pacific Forest Rally and Rocky Mountain Rally. I usually find myself on the podium somewhere.

Derek: I haven’t got a place on the overall podium yet, but I’ve won my category several times. One of the highlights was finishing first in L2wd at the Cascadia International Rally Championship, which accumulates your rally season finishes and puts you on a points table. As the saying goes: “To finish first, you have to finish first.”

How does running fit into your family and professional life?

Dave: I am a dentist and have my own family practice in Yakima. I grew up in Naches and graduated from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in 2008. Helping people with dental problems is the best thing to do in rallying. My wife was my co-pilot for a few years until we started having children. She wants to get back in the car one day. The rally is above all a relationship of trust between the driver and the co-driver. She is hands down the best co-pilot I have ever had. She and the kids attend most of the events to watch and help.

Derek: The commute time and weekend errands can make you homesick at times, but my wife, Kari, has been a huge supporter of my runs. We are expecting our second child in October and I will not be racing for the rest of the season.

What’s your favorite part of the race?

Dave: Once I tried rallying it was the only thing I wanted to do. It creates a bond between you and the car. He becomes a dance partner who responds to your input. I have to react to the changing road surface conditions, dodge any rocks and branches that may be in the road, and commit to jumping over the ridges of the road at the request of my co-pilot, without seeing this. that there is on the other side.

Derek: One of the best things about racing is that after you’ve spent some time setting up the car, pre-running the stages, and finishing all the logistics, you can see all that hard work wear off. its fruits.

What is your most memorable racing moment?

Dave: One of my best memories is from the Oregon Trail Rally early in my career. I drove a battered 1980 Toyota Celica with holes in the ground and little power. I remember the dust entering the cabin so badly that my co-pilot and I could barely see. Splashes in a stream sent water squirting through the holes and into the cabin. We were hot and covered in dust and mud. The engine was not running well and that was all we could do to just finish the race. It is this mentality of “pushing anyway” that stuck with me. The harder it was, the more fun we had.

Derek: Setting the fourth fastest stage time in a 35-year-old car out of 45 other riders probably ranks up there.


Leave A Reply