What is a rally race? Pro rally?Leelyn Pritchard / Logan Mineer
The High Desert Trails Rally is a performance time trial event. Rally Racing is a motorsport where a driver and navigator (co-driver) race down closed dirt roads, one car at a time, as fast as they can. The cars race against the clock, not head-to-head. The racing sections are called Special Stages and closed to all non-rally traffic. The vehicles stay on the road and do NOT go “off-road” into the desert. When not racing on the closed stages, the cars transit with normal traffic.

What are the cars that race?rally_transit1
The cars are specially equipped production based models (Example: VW Golf, Dodge Neon, Subaru Impreza) and not buggies or tube chassis vehicles. They are all licensed, registered, and insured to drive on public roads. They have roll cages and safety features added along with heavy duty suspension and tires. Rally is very popular in many countries all over the world.

These cars can drive on the street?!rally_transit
Yes! That’s how rally works. The cars will transit along with public traffic to the closed racing sections. They race on these close sections and then drive with regular traffic to a service location or the next Special Stage! The racers are subject to the rules of the road and any infractions like speeding on transit would be cause for the racer to be immediately disqualified.

Will the roads be closed? How long?
Expect parts of Jawbone Canyon and Kelso Valley to be closed from 7AM until 8PM on the day of the rally with a break in the afternoon for residents to leave or return. CHP or the County Sheriffs will direct residents when it is safe to travel on the route. We appreciate your patience and we’d be happy to send you information on what times you could transit the route throughout the day.

What if there is an emergency?rall_emt
As we are prepared to handle emergencies with our racers, we are also able to handle emergencies along the route. There will be a radio communications network setup that can coordinate with hospitals, county fire, medical flight, and local law enforcement. We have 2 EMTs that could immediately assist in the event of a medical emergency. If you have a serious emergency – Please DO NOT drive onto the race course! Alert one of our volunteers and we will stop the event immediately.

Will the cars damage the roads?
No. Our racing does little to damage the surface of the road, and we care for the roads before and after the race, filling in holes or ruts that form from rain. All stakes, caution arrows, banners and debris are cleaned up after the race is over.

Racing organization:
The rally is insured and sanctioned by the National Auto Sport Association (NASA Rally Sport). We are supported by the California Rally Series who have been putting events on like this for over 40 years. The first High Desert Trails Rally was run in 1973. We have over 100 volunteers that help us to run the rally.

The Kern County Roads Department issues us a special event permit to use and close the roads. The Kern County Board of Supervisors is aware of this event and its activity. We also work closely with the Friends of Jawbone to coordinate our event.

Last year the rally had 29 cars in the competition. With an average of 3 crew members each, and additional volunteers, that’s 400 people staying in hotels, buying food, purchasing gas, and enjoying the area for the weekend. Competitors come from all over the country to run our event! We want to make the High Desert Trails Rally one of the best rally events in Southern California, and we can’t do it without you!

Quick Stats:
The High Desert Trails Rally
Ridgecrest, California
California Rally Series Championship Event
NASA RallySport sanctioned Event
Organized by competitors Kristopher Marciniak & Christine Marciniak
Contact the organizers – rally (at) highdeserttrails.com

* Compact rally
* Organizer supplied stage notes

We want the High Desert Trails to be one of the best rallies in California. Great for beginners and challenging for experienced competitors to win.

Event Organizers and Fellow Competitors:
Kristopher & Christine Marciniak in the office.

The rally was originally run in 1973 by Mike Gibeault & Gary Potts. It used roads South East and West of Ridgecrest that are now mostly part of an OHV trail system or paved. In the seventies, performance rallies were setup much like brisk TSD’s (a time speed distance rally with a high or unobtainable average speed on twisty dirt roads) and the rally was scored by checkpoints along the route. These rallies would run for hundreds of miles and usually all night. Sometimes workers didn’t make it to the control and there have been many stories of getting to the finish and not having anyone there to check you in, workers asleep, etc. Roads were not closed and on-coming traffic was a general problem. It is unknown to us at this time the complete number of times and years High Desert Trails has run.

In 2008 the High Desert Trails rally was resurrected by Ray Hocker (who competed in the 1974 event and ran the event for several years in the 1980’s). A small motorsport facility outside of Ridgecrest had raised the funds to cut over six miles of stages into their property. Ray & Donna Hocker organized the 2008 event as a ‘shakedown’ for not only the cars, but the new roads.

Seeing an opportunity to keep the rally alive in 2009, Kristopher & Christine Marciniak organized their first event using the motorsports facility outside of Ridgecrest for the 2009 and 2010 events. In 2011 and onward, the rally was expanded to use roads that had originally been part of High Desert Trails and several other events in the past (20 Mule Team Stages, La Journada Trebajosa, Borax Bill Memorial Stages, and Piute Mountain Trials). The rally continues to run today!

If anyone has additional information and would like to contribute to expanding our knowledge with details about the history of the High Desert Trails Rally (or the other events mentioned above), please send us an email: rally (at) highdeserttrails.com

Here is a quick Google Map of Ridgecrest. We’ve highlighted our locations in town and some local spots for gas and rally needs.