The 6th Ramada Express International Rally and JAOS Adventure Rally, presented by Magellan, is scheduled Thursday through Sunday in Laughlin, Nevada and is the final listed event on USAC's 2003 calendar. It is also the final round of the FIA-listed Rally Series of North America 2003 Championship.
A shakedown stage is scheduled at the Special Events Arena in Laughlin on Thursday, December 11, from 2-5 pm. The start of Stage 1 is set for 6 am Friday, December 12, while Stage 2 starts at 6 am Saturday, December 13.
On Sunday, the Rally takes center stage at the Special Events Arena and a concluding parade to the finish ramp area is set for 4 pm. The Finish Ramp Ceremonies begin at 4:30 and will be followed by a 6 pm Awards Gala Party and a 7 pm awards Ceremony, both in the Pavilion Ball Room of the Ramada Express Hotel in Laughlin.
Opening ceremonies on Thursday will include a presentation of the flags for all the countries represented by the competitors and a welcoming by the Tribal Chairman of the Hualapai Indian Nation, on whose land the rally will be running. After the National Anthem and invocation a special guest will direct the crews to their cars and use those very special words echoed at racing events around the world, "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines". In one heart-pounding moment, rally cars will fire-up their engines and que up to cross the starting ramp during the ceremonial start. National and international television coverage is planed with a one-hour broadcast again for 2003.
The International will include America's only stadium SuperStage. The SuperStage, similar to those run on many World Rally Championship events, is the climatic last stage of the rally. Spectators will fill the grandstands of Laughlin's new special events area to watch rally competitors go head to head on a specially constructed course. Two rally vehicles will race side-by-side down a straightaway before splitting off onto separate portions of a shared course. Finishing side-by-side in a drag race to the flying finish. The only spectator friendly "event within an event" in the United States, will showcase the excitement and thrills of the sport. A full day of fun and excitement is planned for Sunday, December 14th. The SuperStage starts off at 9am running to 3pm. Sunday is sure to be enjoyed by competitors, service crews, and spectators alike! After two full days of hard rallying, Sunday's format will be a spectacular finale.
Altitudes during the three-day event range from 200 feet above sea level to over 5,000 feet, some times on one stage. Temperatures in Laughlin during December range from 70 degrees in the day to below freezing at night. Temperatures on the Leg 1 stages Northeast of Peach Springs run in the low 20's F. High winds, rain and snow are always possible.
Mark Nelson of Incline Village, Nev. and Alex Gelsomino of Santa Clarita, Calif. won last year's "overall" championship, driving an AV Motorsports-prepared Subaru WRX-STI.