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Rally Car Racing

Photo of a rally car at a Rally America race.
Courtesy of Rally America

Rally car racing is a test of extreme skill, speed and endurance. Take a closer look inside the world's most exciting motor sport.

Rally Car - Hang On Tight

Rallying is a sport that's all about speed, stamina and pure driving skill. A rally race features cars racing against the clock in different stages that could include dirt roads, rivers, hairpin turns and banked jumps. Races can take place in any weather condition or road surface imaginable and can last for hundreds or even thousands of miles over several days. Drivers could find themselves racing through a desert, over a mountain pass on a gravel logging road or on a well-paved piece street. The driving team that has the fastest total time on each of the various stages wins the race. A rally race can take place on just about any kind of driveable terrain so a team must be able to adapt quickly to conditions and think fast.

Rally Car - Teamwork

A rally team includes a driver and a navigator. Rally drivers cannot practice on the course ahead of time so they depend on their navigator to let them know when a tight turn, big jump or a change in terrain is about to happen. The navigator or co-driver uses a computerized odometer along with a route book (which they get just before the race starts) to tell the driver what's up ahead on the road. The route book gives a full description of the course and includes warnings for hazards such as cliffs, trees and forks in the road. Rally drivers determine what speed and angle to enter each turn or crest in the road by listening to their co-driver's instructions.

Rally Car - The Wheels

A good rally car needs be able to travel at high speeds and have incredible handling on any road surface and in every weather condition. All cars must also be street legal, since courses sometimes go through public roads, and they need to last hundreds of miles and several days of ridiculous wear and tear. The cars used on the Rally America circuit and other rally races include Mitsubishi Evos, Audi Quatros and VW Golfs.

Rally Racing - Safety

Rally Racing is a dangerous sport, so car safety is key. This includes a full roll cage, with door bars and triangulation, fire extinguishers and special seat belts. The crew must wear approved fireproof suits and helmets, and must hold a first aid certificate. All of this equipment is scrutinized by event officials before the start of each event.

Rally Car - Did You Know?

  • One of the most famous rally races is the Monte Carlo Rally and it was started in 1911.
  • Rally car racing became an event at the X Games in 2006.
  • Rally car drivers Lauchlin O'Sullivan, Rhys Millen and Tanner Foust did the racing stunts in the high-speed flick, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift.
  • The world's longest winter rally is the Expedition Trophy - a race from Murmansk, in Northern Russia to Vladivostok on Russia's East Coast. The 10,000 mile (16,000 km) race takes drivers through snow storms, mountain ranges and frozen lakes, with the winner getting 22.5 pounds (10 kg) of gold.
  • For more info on rallying, head to www.rally-america.com.
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