Video: Former Steamboat resident Tanner Foust takes rally car gold

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Rally final race from expn.com

Rally final race from expn.com

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Courtsey photo

Tanner Foust, center, took X Games gold Sunday after a thrilling finish in the head-to-head Rally Car Racing Super Special. Ken Block, left, took silver, and defending champ Travis Pastrana, right, took bronze.

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Former Steamboat Springs resident Tanner Foust and co-driver Chrissie Beavis raced their Syms Racing-prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the quarterfinal race of the X Games 13 Rally Car Racing Super Special on Sunday in Carson, Calif. Foust beat Rockstar Energy Drink teammate Andrew Pinker in the quarterfinal and went on to survive two more rounds to win gold.

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Courtsey photo

Former Steamboat Springs resident and driving instructor Tanner Foust (No. 34, on top), clears his Syms Racing-prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI over the 70-foot gap jump during the quarterfinal race of the X Games 13 Rally Car Racing Super Special, Sunday in Carson, California. Foust beat Rockstar Energy Drink teammate Andrew Pinker (bottom) in the quarterfinal and went on to win the gold in the event.

— Tanner Foust knew he'd have to be warmed up and ready to drive all-out in the semifinal race of the Rally Car Racing Super Special event that closed X Games 13 on Sunday in Carson, Calif.

Maybe he was a little too warm.

"I pulled the handbrake straight off the floor - it just broke right off," Foust said.

The race format pitted drivers in head-to-head matchups, with both cars simultaneously completing loops on separate courses. The courses combined off-road and asphalt driving as well as a 70-foot gap jump. The courses then converged so the drivers would approach the finish line side by side.

As Foust and 2006 X Games Rally winner Travis Pastrana's cars came barreling together to the semifinal finish, Foust said, "It was too tight, and Travis shot into my lane."

Pastrana was disqualified, and Foust was able to tap the skills he honed during his eight years as a Steamboat Springs resident to compete in the finals against driver Ken Block.

Foust, 34, is a Colorado native who moved to Steamboat shortly after graduating from the University of Colorado in 1997. He became an instructor at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School at the Stanko Ranch just west of Steamboat Springs. Foust said his time at the school formed "the cornerstone" of his career.

"It gave me enough seat time to really learn quick about how you can control a car," Foust said Tuesday from Laguna Beach, Calif. "I learned the skills for rally, drift and stunt driving, and I learned the verbiage to train people."

Since then, Foust's training and stunt career have led to jobs with a clientele list that includes the Secret Service and Hollywood appearances such as the recently released "Bourne Ultimatum," in which Foust drives an agent vehicle in the New York City chase scenes.

But that just helps pay the bills. Foust's real passion is rally car racing, and that started in Routt County as well. Foust's first rally car race was the 2003 Rally Colorado race in Hayden, then called the Colorado Cog Rally.

"That first race was a great experience," Foust said. "I got my butt kicked, as I knew I would. My car broke down and I didn't finish, but I learned a lot and it was a great education about the commitment of rally racing - I was hooked."

In 2005, Foust won the Production GT class of the nine-race Rally America circuit. In 2006, he got an X Games invitation and solidified a sponsorship deal with Rockstar Energy Drink. Now racing in Rally America's top open class, Foust sits in fourth overall with three races to go.

But before thinking about his return to familiar roads for the 2007 Rally Colorado in Hayden next month, Foust and co-driver Chrissie Beavis had to deal with Ken Block and his co-driver Alessandro Gelsomino in the X Games finals. Without a hand brake, Foust quickly gave up a 3- to 4-second lead to Block.

But Foust, who's been called "one of the hardest working men on four wheels," tapped his experience to make up that deficit.

"It plays into all the disciplines," Foust said. "With rally racing, you're maintaining momentum through the corners, with the ice driving and with the stunt driving, especially having to jump the car, and then the drift racing to keep the car pointed - it all came together to hustle through there."

Foust and Block both came careening into the finish line barricades at the same moment, with Foust edging ahead for X Games gold.

"There was smoke, I looked to see if (Block) was OK, then Chrissie started screaming," Foust said. "You're not supposed to do doughnuts, but come on, it's the X Games. I was on cloud nine, and I still am."

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