Saturday, May 4th marked the 40th anniversary of the High Desert Trails Performance Rally based out of Ridgecrest, California. Crews headed out early for a great day of rally on 70+ miles of stages in and around the scenic Kelso Valley in the southern tip of the Sequoia National Forest. In 1973 the High Desert Trails Rally used some of these same roads for the inaugural event. What began as an all night car rally with miles of average speed and timed sections has grown into what the sport is today: Highly modified production cars with driver and co-driver racing as fast as they can against the clock on closed dirt roads. As part of the NASA National Rally Championship (NNRC) drivers could instantly qualify by setting the fastest time down the last stage, the HDT Power Stage.
Right from the start, Jon Burke and Tom Morningstar made sure every stage counted in their Subaru Impreza. Jon clearly wanted to wipe away problems of the past and launch into the 2013 California Rally Series Championship with renewed confidence after a series of DNF’s plagued the team last year. Jon backed off slightly for stage 6 (The HDT Power Stage) and still won it all for Open 4WD. Driving a Mitsubishi Evo prepared by Laengworks Racing, Vartan Samuelian and Laurence Babahekian were quick all day, but could just not match the pace of the Subaru and ended up securing second overall and 2nd in Open 4WD with a series of 2nd and 3rd place times throughout the day. Proving that this rally is not just about top speed, the 2WD Honda Civic driven by Pete Pollard and Marie Boyd came in 3rd overall, set the fastest time on the Power Stage, and won it for 2WD and CRS-2. Burke, Morningstar, Pollard, and Boyd celebrated with champagne and a $100 cash for each team at the finish line for the fastest 2WD and fastest 4WD rally car down this years 14 mile long Power Stage.
There must be something about the Power Stage that makes the 2WD guys go to maximum attack. Sarkis Mazmanian and Michael Mazmanian set the second fastest time on SS6 in their Acura Integra, beating all the Open 4WD cars for a 1st in CRS Performance Stock. A close battle all day with the 3rd fastest time down the Power Stage was the VW Golf GTI driven by Tony Chavez and Raquel Salas. A mere 22 seconds separated them from Mazmanian for a 2nd place in class. Second in CRS-2 with a solid drive in a VW Golf went to Erik Christiansen and Amy Floyd. Marvin Ronquillo and John Burke set an identical time on the last stage as Chavez and claimed 3rd in Open 4WD. They shook off any rust from their rally sabbatical. Also back from a break, Jeff Rados and Guido Hamacher struggled with brake problems on their Ford Ranger. They will settle for top points in CRS-5, but were looking for a much better position overall.
Pete Pollard and Marie Boyd – Top 2WD
Survival was the name of the game this year in the new California Rally Series Open Light class. Michael Carnes and Reza Yazdani were the first ones out, having engine problems on their Audi. They were followed soon after by Michael McCanna and David Moss who misjudged a crest on SS3 and flew into a ditch pushing their left front tire into the A-Pillar. Having problems on the first stage, Ray Piloto and Tyler deal got stuck and received a 45 minute time for SS1. Never thinking that their rally was over, the team set great times on the remaining stages and a 5th fastest time on the Power Stage to bring home 1st in CRS Open Light! It’s never over until it’s over, and as we say in rally: Press On Regardless!
Supporting the event in a big way this year, Streetwise Motorsports helps the High Desert Trails Performance Rally give competitors a great day of competition. Streetwise offers rally car preparation rental, service, and parts including Bilstein Motorsports Struts. With over twenty years of experience, they know what it takes to win rallies and championships! Check them out at StreewiseParts.com
Teams are off to Rally Idaho for the next event in the California Rally Series Championship on June 7th-9th. We would like to thank all the volunteers and crews for making this such a successful event! See you next year!