Rally Racing Revival

The rebound in the auto market has brought car companies and major sponsors back into the motorsports game. But the financial realities of Nascar, Indy, Grand Am and the American Lemans series and even the vaunted Formula 1 are always a gamble.

For this reason, rough and tumble time and distance rally racing — enormous in Europe — could get a foothold here in the US — especially with a growing youth audience weened on the X Games and too distracted to sit for hours watching thundering ovals the meandering road courses.

The recent Sol Barbados Rally, one of the few World Rally Championship style events on this side of the Atlantic, demonstrated the wide appeal of rally racing — evidenced by the huge turnout of locals and visitors from 11 countries to this island nation.

Class winning Irish-American entry Michael O’Leary in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, a builder from Hyde Park NY, drives for passion more than purse. All the cars are exciting and wildly decorated, but they are largely not exotic — a field dominatedby Subaru WRXs, BMW 3s, Ford Focus WRCs — souped up versions of cars that real people drive.