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Old 03-10-2008, 04:34 PM   #1
dodgerfreak714
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Default ESPN article on rallying and subarus

http://expn.go.com/expn/story?id=3272754

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They suck down more adrenaline in a day than most people swallow in a year, these maniacs. They're hip, they're popular and they collect endless amounts of primo swag from cool companies. And it's all a part of their job description.
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Bartram, driving his 401(k) into the ground.



But apparently, the real thing action sports athletes want to do is race automobiles.

It seems that way, at least. Led by Travis Pastrana, the double-backflipping motocrosser who has made the transition from FMX to rally-car racing almost seamlessly, a growing number of action sports athletes (call 'em ACAs for short) are finding their bliss on four wheels. Some are full-timers — such as Kenny Bartram, Ken Block and now Dave Mirra — who, like Pastrana, are hoping to conquer the rally world. Others, such as Bucky Lasek and Tara Dakides, have dabbled without going whole hog.

However you slice it, whether it's a second career or a weekend warrior thing, vroom is clearly the new black.

Explanations abound. First off, ACAs don't tend to be timid people. They like to try new things … especially if these things happen to be laced with speed. Second, as they grow older and more accomplished in their respective sports, new challenges are often needed. For example, what exactly was left for Pastrana to accomplish in freestyle? Same with Mirra in BMX. Third, most ACAs have suffered so many dislocations, lacerations and operations that even the skeletons in their closets can't get reasonably priced health coverage and (scarily enough) racing is a safer alternative.

Lars Gange - subaru.com/rally
Pastrana, thinking about giving Mirra a love tap.
"It's not as damaging for me as snowboarding. Not as continuously damaging, at least," Dakides says. "Obviously, if you hit a wall in a car, there are some extreme consequences."

No argument from Bartram. "There's a saying: With age comes the cage."

Put all of that together with a love of cars, and it's a winning recipe.

"How much longer can I ride BMX competitively?" asks Mirra, who made his off-road debut at Ontario's Rally of the Tall Pines in November. "The idea of going as fast as you can without wrecking is exciting. I guess as a kid, riding BMX I have always been fascinated with pushing limits."

Lars Gange - subaru.com/rally
Ken Block's not technically a retired action sports star, but he does occasionally play one on TV.


Pastrana, who won the Rally America National Championship in 2007, and Block, who sits atop the '08 points ladder, have had the most success of the ACAs. Not surprisingly, they also have had the most funding and support as members of Subaru's Rally Team USA — long a dominant factor in North American rally racing. But Pastrana, more than any other ACA, has proved that an action sports mind-set can help athletes quickly interpret the nuances of their adopted sport.
Andrew Comrie-Picard, second in the points standings, recognized early that Pastrana would become a force to be reckoned with. He recalls a conversation between race stages a couple of years ago: "He picked my brain, nonstop. We were talking about how changing wheel speeds on a flying vehicle changes the attitude; the weight and ratio of a motorcycle wheel relative to a car. At the end, I was like, 'Dude, I'm almost sorry I just downloaded all that for you because you're going to be using it against me in no time.' Sure enough, the dude has become awesome."

That's not to say that the transition was a piece of cake, though. "The biggest growing pains were for my team," Pastrana says. "In my first three years, every time they gave me the green light to go for the win, I completely destroyed the car. I knew what the car could do, and knowing I had a roll cage, I was never afraid to see if my driving skills magically improved. I ran out of talent a lot in my first few years in rally."
Lars Gange - subaru.com/rally
You'd be smiling, too, if your only punishment for wrecking a perfectly good Subaru was another Subaru.



Of course, considering his backing, Pastrana could afford to learn on the fly (often literally). But although rally — a wildly popular form of racing internationally that has never quite caught on stateside — might not be very visible here, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a rich legacy and a passionate following. It raises the question of whether big-ticket efforts such as Pastrana's or Block's create any resentment. Veteran driver Matthew Johnson acknowledges that it's possible. "Somebody who's been out there slugging away, working on a rally car, and they've spent years on it and all their extra income — and maybe some that wasn't extra — building a race car to chase their dream might feel a little [resentment]," he acknowledges.

But the ACAs also create enormous awareness and exposure that rally would otherwise miss. "As far as all the other crossover guys," Pastrana says, "the rally industry makes them prove themselves before fully accepting any one of them. But even the grassroots guys are excited about how much attention guys like Dave Mirra, Kenny Bartram and Ken Block have been able to bring to the table."

Lars Gange - subaru.com/rally
How the real pros look: Matthew Johnson, tearing SnoDrift a new one.


Besides, a lot of the ACAs' efforts are pretty grassroots themselves. Pastrana and Block may have factory support now and Mirra may have some help from Monster Energy Drink, but all have dipped into their savings accounts to fund their speed fix. Bartram admits that much of the money he earned in freestyle has disappeared into his rally dreams. And Dakides — who has raced shifter karts and F1-style cars and drove the last leg of the Baja 1000 for the 2006 All American Girl Racing Team — already has hit the financial wall with racing. "It's hugely expensive," she says with a laugh. "I'm not going to blow all my money. I might not get it back."
Lasek, who won the celebrity race that accompanies the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2006, then finished second in the pro division last year, agrees that he's "not going to sacrifice the kids' college fund" to fund his racing habit. But he's nowhere near done skating, and he won't close the door to full-time racing later on if he can find the financial backing. Why would he? Why would any ACA turn down an opportunity to continue going fast, catching air and pushing limits?

"Those of us who enjoy competing and going wall to wall, we think it's awesome," Comrie-Picard says of his new ACA peers. "They're going to go big or go home, and a lot of us are that way ourselves. What we do with cars is extremely improbable. The fit is great."
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:46 PM   #2
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You'd be smiling, too, if your only punishment for wrecking a perfectly good Subaru was another Subaru.
Heh, awesome.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:54 PM   #3
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"...action sports athletes (call 'em ACAs for short)..."

nope. ASA if you must.
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Old 03-10-2008, 05:01 PM   #4
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Maybe it'd get more exposure in the US if ESPN would devote some decent coverage of rally racing.
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Old 03-10-2008, 05:15 PM   #5
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it's not up to espn, it's up to RA to decide to cough up the $ for the show.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:30 AM   #6
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it's not up to espn, it's up to RA to decide to cough up the $ for the show.
They don't have the money to do it, as they have no title sponsor.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:30 PM   #7
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Maybe it'd get more exposure in the US if ESPN would devote some decent coverage of rally racing.
This is a non-sequitur, but maybe they should stop calling it “Rally Car Racing,” or “Rally Racing.”

Hey guys, I have an idea, let's go watch the rally car race... after that we can watch a formula one car race... no, no, we should definitely watch the endurance car race instead. I love race car racing!

I understand that it's not big here and there's a chance that portion of the nascar audience might somehow get it confused with politics; but give me a break! You sound ****ing stupid.
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