Volk Wheels

Let’s Go (Rally) RACING!

Over Easter weekend, Rally USA hosted a demonstration rally just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The event was not open to the public, however, we got invited to film & document it. Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity, and sent Chattanooga-local Ben Battles to check it out:

Fiesta RS Flying Through The Mountains

It’s Important To Note…

On Friday, Rally USA also hosted an event that WAS open to the public. This was held in downtown Chattanooga and was along the lines of a ‘meet and greet’ event. All the cars & drivers participating in the weekend’s private event were downtown at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. People came from all over to check it out – which in itself was great news. Why is that important? Because it shows fan engagement.

Renault Rally Car

Consider This Event ‘A Feeler’ For The Future

This demonstration event is a gauge to determine if an event like this ‘could work’. Not just with the drivers & their machines… but with the people, the location, and the fans. Traditionally, rally is not a form of motorsport widely attended in North America. At least, it hasn’t been for a long-long time. But Rally USA aims at changing that: 1) Not only by raising awareness to the sport, but 2) by making it engaging to the fans & local community. Again, Friday’s event brought folks from all over, I personally received multiple texts & phone calls asking if I’d be there. It shows that people DO care… which is a great 1st-step in growing this sport domestically. However, Rally USA also has some longterm goals in mind.

Fiesta RS Goes Past Finish Line

The Bigger Picture…

The WRC, or ‘World Rally Championship’ is set to make a potential return to the US as soon as 2024. This would mark the 1st time the WRC has been involved in the US in 35 years. Yes – 35 years! Globally, the WRC brings hundreds of thousands of fans together for days-upon-days of rally action. It is an incredible spectator sport – truly. Rally USA’s demonstration event was aimed squarely at the WRC to show them – WE WANT THIS! And having witnessed the event 1st-hand, I gotta say, they’re right! Seeing Rally USA’s level of organization really gave me confidence that the people running the show have a firm grasp on everything. That box is checked. But what are the other reasons why WRC should consider Tennessee as a location?

Fiesta RS Rally Car Splash

1) The Dynamic Local Climate…

Although the weather was less-than-favorable during the demo… the organizers, staff, marshals, & volunteers all rose to the occasion. It’s important to note that Chattanooga (and the surrounding areas) have their own ‘micro climate’ about them. Having lived around Chattanooga my entire life, let me be the first to say – the weather cannot be properly predicted here. It’ll be 80º & sunny one day. Then the next day, you’re reaching for a thick coat and rain boots. BUT – I view this as a GOOD thing. The wild variance in weather provides challenging & technical elements to events like this.

Hyundai Rally Car Flat Out

2) Topography…

I titled this article “…Mountains of Tennessee” for a reason. The Chattanooga landscape is what brings tourists from all over to this area. If you’re looking for mountain roads that ascend up to tall peaks, then descend down to wide-open valleys… you really can’t run out of them here. The demonstration was held in the hills of Reliance, TN next to the raging Hiwassee River. The roads have significant elevation changes, along with a good mixture of switchbacks & open straights. Kudos to the organizers for picking this particular location… as it was a phenomenal display of what a rally stage can look like.

Fiesta RS Launch

3) Take Your Pick Of Location…

Once you really start looking at all the locations around Chattanooga, you’ll find an incredible mix of roads & fauna. From the rapids of the Hiwassee & Ocoee all the way up to places like Prentice Cooper… there’s always a challenging road. Even when you travel further outside of town, you’ve got places like Windrock off-road park. You’ll really be spoiled for choice. Ask any of the locals – and they’ll point you in the direction of a couple good places to take a RZR up to its top speed. Off-road is a way of life around here… and there’s plenty to choose from.

Lexus IS350 Rally Car

Again, This COULD Work…

What needs to happen – is getting everyone involved. EVERYONE. Luckily, there’s a way you can get involved: Volunteer. Tennessee is “The Volunteer State” after all. Rally USA will be hosting a test rally that will be open to the public. And as of now, that event is scheduled for September. They need as much help as possible to make this thing work & entice WRC. And the trade off is – you’ll be up close to the action & get to be a part of something HUGE. You can sign up on Rally USA’s website.

Rally USA Finish

There’s More To Come…

Although no official date has been set yet, the follow-up event should be in September. And you can bet that we’ll be there, covering (and soaking up) all the action. So be sure to download our latest app to stay up to date!

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Hyundai Rally Car At Rally USA Arch

To Conclude…

This event sparked a level of excitement in me that I haven’t felt for motorsports in a while. Not only just excitement… but hope. Hope that things fall into place and everything works out for a WRC return in 2024. Be it in Chattanooga, or not, the return of WRC to the US would be huge. So here’s to hoping things continue to look up for this sport going into the immediate future.

Text & Photos by Ben Battles

Import Alliance car show