I had some free time today so I went to over to watch the RedBull GRC which was happening in the mountains only 20 minutes from my house. What is that, you may ask? It’s basically rally racing on a dirt/mud racetrack.

For this post I’ll share some of my favorite photos interspersed with some stories. 🙂

First off though, let’s set the stage and take a look at where this event took place.

As you can see, it’s gorgeous here. 🙂

This race happens at the DirtFish Rally School where you can learn to be a rally driver. 😀

The rallycross event here is a two day event with multiple different heats, qualifications, semi-finals, and finals across both days. I only went to the first day since I’ve got plans for Saturday. When we first arrived, the first place we found to watch from was nice and close to the cars zooming by.

Look at what direction the rocks are flying in the photo… to the left. aka straight at us. 😀

They keep people back for safety reasons, but even if you stand with a banner in the way between you and the cars, you can still get pelted. Glenn took a pebble to the side of the head and I had one that hit me about an inch away from my nuts, leaving a nice little muddy spot behind that we got to laugh at. (We were both just fine. No worries.)

That said, even though being close by is pretty cool, shortly thereafter we decided to go explore some more and find another place to watch from. 😉

Note: Sunglasses double as handy protective eyewear from flying rocks! Bring them to rally events, even if the forecast calls for clouds and rain.

On the other side of the track was a great viewing area raised up a bit so you could look down at the cars zooming around the track.

These cars have some serious power. There were two classes of cars, the “Lites” which have only about 400 hp and the “Supercars” which are running closer to 650 hp. The Supercars were noticeably more powerful, faster, louder, and made a bigger mess of things. 😀

Ken Block who does all the epic Gymkhana videos on YouTube, Tanner Foust who’s awesome at drifting, and Rhys Millen who drives for Hyundai where I used to work and who set a record driving up Pikes Peak were all there. I’ve enjoyed a watching a bunch of their stuff online and it was a nice treat to see them all there in person. Ken Block in particular I really enjoyed watching.

Every driver has a different racing style. Some drivers are more conservative and will slow down into a corner and drive around it. Ken is much more aggressive and flashy and he’ll dive into a corner much faster, grab the e-brake to lock up his rear wheel, and drift his car around the corner which is a lot more fun to watch.

Note the front wheel rotating and the back wheel locked up.

His car also shot flames more than most. All of these cars were incredibly loud and when they’d shift gears they’d backfire and pop and crackle. It sounds unbelievably amazing and you can actually hear the backfire pops through the woods farther than the roar of the massive engines! Here’s the biggest flame I caught out of Ken’s car.

Since I was shooting for fun I decided to play around with the camera a bit and get a little more aggressive with the panning shots. The risk is that you may miss a great shot like the one above if your pan didn’t turn out well, but if you get it right it looks extra fantastic. The background gets super blurry and the car really pops. Like this.

Speaking of drivers, you could go over to the pit area and watch people working on the cars between races. It was incredible to see them all up close.

The drivers all all right around too, not really separated from the crowd as much as I thought they’d be. Here’s Tanner Foust chatting up some people.

Much of the day was actually taking breaks between runs to fix cars or repair the track. With all the drifting they’d mess the dirt up like crazy and would have to keep bringing out a small army of tractors, steamrollers, and bulldozers to level everything back out.

Even still, the cars would create these ruts which would send them flying in the air, blowing out their tires and otherwise destroying their cars, lol… but it was fun to watch!

It was all worth it of course, because it makes for some awesome racing.

Due to delays from initial setup, having to constantly repair the track, and so forth, they didn’t get to do all the events and had to cut some of the last heats. These cars don’t actually have headlights (they’re stickers) so they can’t run when it’s dark. Because of this they had to rush a little at the end to make sure they got all the initial qualifying runs in before tomorrow. One thing that the PNW has is really gorgeous sunsets and today was definitely one of them. 🙂

Cool day… 🙂

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