Rally Colorado 2009 events
Spectator Guides are available at www.rallycolorado... or at the Steamboat Pilot & Today office on Curve Plaza.
Events open to the public:
- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Cook Subaru Technical Inspection at Cook Chevrolet/Jeep/Subaru
- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Miller Coors Party Reception, Parc Expose (Car Show) at Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue and Steamboat Car Club Display at Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat Springs
- 8:01 a.m. Saturday, first car out Day 1, Steamboat Springs rodeo grounds
- 5:19 p.m. Saturday, first car in Day 1, Steamboat Springs rodeo grounds
- 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Rally Colorado 2009 Fanfest and Rally Car Display presented by Fireside Catering, Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue, and Dirty Impreza Car Club Display at Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat Springs
- 8:31 a.m. Sunday, first car out Day 2, Steamboat Springs rodeo grounds
- 4:17 p.m. Sunday, first car in Day 2, Steamboat Springs rodeo grounds
- 6:30 Sunday, Awards Presentation at Howelsen Hill Lodge, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs Jim Gill said the signs that Routt County had embraced rally car racing were initially hard to detect.
"In the first two or three years, people didn't know what it was," said Gill, the long-time organizer of the annual Rally Colorado event. "It started about three years into it. People would call and say 'I live on Country Road 46. Is my road going to be closed? Are they going to race past my house?'"
Gill said he often paused, waiting for the wrath of homeowners concerned about the additional traffic.
Then, he said, the purpose of the call became clear.
"Can you have them race by my house this year?" they asked.
To all those hoping for a 2009 flyby, Gill has bad news. The course hasn't changed and the 2009 Rally Colorado will look remarkably similar to the 2008 version, using the same backcountry roads buried in the hills and forests between Hayden and Steamboat Springs.
But for all those hoping for another year of the 120 mile-per-hour, dust-raising, car-drifting action, Gill has great news.
The Rally is back for its ninth year, and all of the sport's biggest stars are coming along for the ride.
"We have more cars this year than we've ever had," Gill said.
A welcome party will take place on Sixth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street at 5:30 p.m. Friday, giving the public an opportunity to talk to the racers about anything from car engineering to race motivation.
As far as the drivers are concerned, things get started bright and early Saturday morning and stretch into Sunday evening.
The weekend's races will stretch across Routt County and the small, brightly colored cars should be impossible to miss as they zip along the area's roads.
The drivers only really fly through certain portions of the course, however, and are ranked based on their overall time accumulated in those nine stages.
"This is what high school kids have been doing around here for years: going fast on dirt roads," Gill said. "Now they get to see professionals do it."
When they do let loose, there's nothing similar. The appeal isn't necessarily for all race fans, Rally America media director Ananda Siverts said.
Those interested in long, left-turn-only NASCAR races, for instance, had better look elsewhere.
Those in search of how'd-he-cut-that turns and breathtaking tears down dirt road straightaways should be right at home.
"The Rally fan is the Gore Tex fan," Siverts said. "It's just as much of a lifestyle as NASCAR is for some. Their biggest motivation is they want to rally. They really want to do this stuff, but maybe it's not the time in their life or they don't have the budget to do it. But to be a part of it, they will travel for hundreds of miles, stand in the rain and love getting pelted by rocks."
There will be no shortage of familiar names for local fans to get behind. Extreme sport connoisseur and MTV star Travis Pastrana is back and is easily the favorite to soar through Routt County the fastest and finish in first place.
Pastrana won last year's Rally Colorado event and has won the Rally America season-long championship three years running. Though it's not yet official, he mathematically has already captured a fourth season title, as well.
Ken Block also will race. He helped found DC Shoes, but he got into rally car racing in 2005 and since has become one of the top drivers in the sport.
Steamboat's Chris Moore will represent locals in the weekend's race.
Other racers from state and regional circuits will fill the ranks. This year's field of 34 cars is the largest in the event's history.