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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE 100 ACRE WOOD RALLY

PHOTOGRAPHY BY VERMONT SPORTSCAR

WORDS BY LUKE BARRY

 

THE AMERICAN RALLY ASSOCIATION HEADS TO THE SALEM WOODS FOR ONE OF ITS MOST ICONIC AND HIGH-SPEED RALLIES

As always, there will be plenty of unique pre-rally content over the next few days on DirtFish, starting with this handy guide telling you everything you need to know about the upcoming 100 Acre Wood Rally.

 

The history

First run in 1977, the 100 Acre Wood Rally has been a firm favorite for generations. One of the jewels of the US rally calendar, the rally is characterized by fast straight and sweeping corners with a high average speed.

The first-ever victor was the legendary John Buffum who roared to a dominant victory in a Porsche 911 Carrera RS 44 years ago. He would go on to claim four further 100 Acre Wood victories in the forests of Missouri in 1978, ’79, ’80 and ’.83.

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Photo: Vermont Sportscar

His record of five wins was one that stood the test of time; 29 years in fact until Ken Block scored a sixth 100 Acre win in 2012. The 100 Acre Wood Rally is Block’s favorite event on the US calendar and it shows with his seven victories.

The first of those was claimed in 2006 and was his first-ever rally win. Like Buffum, Block would go on to win four in a row but he went one better, winning every iteration of the event from 2006-2010, switching from Subaru to Ford for the last of those five successive triumphs. He ensured the win record bar was set even higher, with his seventh 100 Acre Wood Rally victory in 2014

Comparatively, 100 Acre Wood has traditionally been a weaker event for another giant of US rallying: David Higgins. The Briton has won the rally twice in 2013 and ’15 as has Rod Millen in 1981 and ’82, while Travis Pastrana and Barry McKenna have each won here once.

The challenges

As mentioned above, the 100 Acre Wood Rally is famed for its speed. There is no faster rally across the entire season, meaning to succeed the driver must be ready to hang it all on the line.

The event is characterized by some stunning yet deceptive scenery, as the wide, fast roads are ready to catch the very best out. There are however several twisty sections included too to keep the drivers on their toes but the speeds remain high throughout.

This adds extra emphasis to the pre-event recce, with accurate pacenotes more crucial than ever with the average speeds so high.

“Pacenotes are crucial because if you’re coming into a corner and it’s a left 6 but there’s crown on the road, you need to know about that crown,” Pastrana’s co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino told DirtFish last year.

“So if someone’s just written a corner and they’ve just called it a number like a left six and you’re hitting that max flat out, not lifting on the gas, and then all of a sudden you get on the wrong side of that crown it can be a disaster.”

Another key feature of the rally is the iconic cattle guard jump where cars are kicked into the air and leap great distances.

You often witness a variety of approaches to this spot with some erring on the side of caution and others keeping their foot welded to the floor, but it’s always a favorite spot with the photographers and videographers who capture the cars at full flight.

Source: dirtfish.com