Crashes don't hinder rally

Cog races looking to expand in future

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Even with several crashes at last weekend's Colorado Cog Rally race in Routt County, organizers said the competition went smoothly and that they would like to see an expanded race next year.

Jim Gill, chairman for the race, said crashes were an expected part of any cog rally race, in which cars race at speeds of up to 120 mph along bumpy backcountry roads. This weekend, medical workers and other professionals handled the accidents well, he said.

He said the High Country Rally Group, which sponsors the Routt County race, hopes it will be asked to hold a professional rally race next year.

That level of competition would mean more visitors to the area that stay for a longer period of time and so contribute more to sales tax dollars, Gill said. It could also mean more publicity for the area.

"The SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) is looking for this event to be bigger," Gill said.

Several people from the national organization, which sponsors races across the country, attended the Routt County race last weekend, in part to see if it would offer a good area for a larger race, Gill said.

"They went away very happy and very impressed," he said.

"People like the community. They like the roads. Geographically, we're closer to the center of the country."

At an Oct. 1 meeting for the organization, there likely will be discussion about whether there could be a professional race in the area next year. Gill guessed that if it didn't happen next year, it would happen in 2005.

National events would bring about 75 cars to the race, some of which would be factory-owned cars with professional teams. This year, 28 cars attended, double the number that came to last year's race.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said that before the race grew, it might be necessary to get a special permit for the company.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said that the county's biggest concern with the race growing would be the need for more roads for racing.

Three crashes took place along one stretch of road last weekend. The road was straight for about 1,500 feet and then racers had to make a sharp left-hand turn, Gill said. If they didn't make the turn, they went straight down a hill, which is exactly what three leading cars did.

The first car went straight off the road and avoided a roll, but the next car rolled about eight times, according to bystanders who were watching that portion of the race, Gill said.

The third car rolled twice but the fourth and all the following cars were stopped before they made it to the dangerous curve.

"There's no issue over whose fault it was," Gill said. "They were just going too fast."

The two racers who were taken to the hospital were treated and released by the end of the weekend, he said.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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