This weekend we’re off to the 25th annual Prescott Rally in Arizona. This stage rally has been a staple for us since we first ran it in 2005. Even when we can’t race it, we volunteer for it. It’s such a favorite on many levels, and a gem for the California Rally Series and NASA Rally Sport.
It’s pitch black, it’s 2005, and Christine and I are waiting to start our first Prescott Rally. We’ve just transited 60 miles up this crazy windy road, to a little town called Jerome at 5,000 foot elevation. We pass signs for a ghost town and continue onto dirt. The stage is called First View and it’s your first taste of what this rally has to offer. I start the stage knowing there are some exposures on the right. The downhill helps our 90HP Production Neon move. The tight and twisty road, starts to open up to faster and faster corners. Soon we are catching the dust of the competitor ahead of us and we finish the stage right behind them with a great time. The next morning brings another pass of First View and it completely takes our breath away.
The start of the stage overlooks a giant pit mine and in the distance you can clearly see Sedona at twenty miles away. There is a fairly steep slope for at least 100 yards on the right-hand side for several miles and a foot high berm and some brush, is all that keeps your rally car from sliding down it. The red rock canyon yields to the road in only one spot called “The Cut” which describes the thirty foot tall rock face lining both sides of the road for an entire turn – “Don’t Cut” is how you drive it. In the daylight Prescott surprises you and makes you wonder if you’ll ever try to drive that fast on First View knowing the terrain lurking in the darkness. It’s made all the more real for the co-drivers, who have the exposure on their side of the car.
The faster stage called Perkinsville, is where I learned that rally cars handle a little differently at 100+ mph then they do at 70mph. When the earth is rushing by at 150 feet per second, it’s nice to be on a really smooth, really wide dirt road in the Arizona desert, when the back end starts to float around and lifting off the throttle is fraught with danger. This section is followed by a ‘double caution right three downhill exposure on left’ which, even if you don’t speak co-driver, you would probably slow the heck down for.
As the last rally in the 2012 United States Rally Championship, and the last event for the 2012 California Rally Series Championship; Prescott is always a professionally well-run national event. Michael Taylor and his team do a fantastic job and we’d like to congratulate them on their 25th this year! If you’re in the area (1.5 hours from Phoenix) there are some great spectating opportunities. If you’re planning on building or buying a rally car, this is one of those events you must do.
The rallynotes team is going to be showing off it’s new livery in silver and red. Our new 2003 Dodge Neon will be attacking the stages and we’ll be sending lots of pictures and updates out. You can follow us by checking out rallynotes.com and on the usual channels.
See you on the stages! – Kris