ProRally: SCCA announces 2004 schedule

2004 ProRally Championship Schedule Announced TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 28, 2003) - The Sports Car Club of America's ProRally Championship officially released today its 2004 schedule. The schedule is highlighted by the addition of the Colorado Cog...

2004 ProRally Championship Schedule Announced

TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 28, 2003) - The Sports Car Club of America's ProRally Championship officially released today its 2004 schedule. The schedule is highlighted by the addition of the Colorado Cog Rally, in Steamboat Springs, Colo., the inclusion of all classes at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and the long-term commitment of several organizers to be part of the SCCA ProRally Championship.

As has been the case for the past two years, the 2004 Championship season includes nine full-points driver's championship events. This number is up from eight events a year ago as Pikes Peak has become a full ProRally Championship event, open to all classes for full points.

"We're excited to see the enhancements that the 2004 ProRally schedule brings, especially the new sponsorship at Rim, the additions to Pikes Peak and the new venue in Steamboat Springs," said Steve Johnson, SCCA President and CEO. "We also have the chance to again put the premier Rally Championship into the backyards of the best rally fans anywhere and put our competitors on some of the best roads as well."

The schedule features a mix of events that have helped shape rally in America from its early stages, like the Susquehannock Trail event (entering its 28th year) and Rim of the World (21 consecutive events), to recently added events like The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (third year) and Colorado Cog (first year), events that will provide ample opportunity for the Championship's continued growth in its role as the premier Rally Championship in the country.

Stretching from coast to coast, a broad array of terrain and climate ranging from the snowy tops of mountains to hidden forests and dusty canyons await both ProRally rookies and veterans.

The season kicks off with the frigid two-day, Michigan-based Sno*Drift winter rally scheduled for the final weekend of January. If the snow and ice pack is in place for Round One, sliding by turns and slipping past trees will be common as teams tackle the brutal driving conditions in the areas surrounding Atlanta, Mich.

After teams are given a chance to thaw out from the only true ice and snow ProRally in the United States, the Championship heads west to Hillsboro, Ore., Apr. 17-18, for the dusty Oregon Trail Rally. Oregon Trail, back to its custom spring time slot after running in August last year, will once again feature extremely fast dirt roads lined with the tall timber of the Oregon state forests.

Moving from second to third on the schedule from last year to 2004 is the newly-named Subaru Rim of the World Rally presented by Autosport Engineering LLC, in its new home, Lancaster, Calif. The rally can be a suspension's worst nightmare as waterbars (dips and rises built into the roads allowing for water runoffs) run across the rocky canyon roads which are known for their harsh treatment of both cars and teams, especially during Friday night's run.

America's longest, continually-running ProRally is fourth on the list for the upcoming season as the Championship moves across the country to Wellsboro, Pa., June 5, for the 28th Susquehannock Trail ProRally, June 5. The only one-day event on the schedule features over 100 stage miles on very fast gravel and dirt roads, approximately 300 total miles overall, and is home to the fan and photographer favorite "Water-crossing" stage, which opens the rally.

Scenery and heart rates are at a maximum for Round Five of the ProRally Championship as teams race 14,000 feet straight up Pikes Peak at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, June 24-26. After posting some of the fastest times on the mountain overall last year, the Championship will show off even more as all six classes will compete for full points at the 82nd running of the Colorado Springs, Colo., event.

"Rocks as big as Volkswagens" await competitors in Round Six of the Championship as it moves into the far northeastern United States. Narrow, winding, logging trails - complete with fluorescent orange-painted rocks in the middle - make up the Maine Forest Rally, based in Rumford, Maine, July 30-31. The event is co-organized by rally legend John Buffum (117 career rally victories and 11 national ProRally championships).

The "Land of 10,000 Lakes" is home to Round Seven of the ProRally Championship as the Ojibwe Forests Rally is slated for Aug. 27-28. Based near the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Bemidji, Minn., the rally's often sandy surfaces proved no match in 2003 for John Woolf Cup winner David Higgins as he wrapped up his second consecutive top overall driver award here in 2003, blistering his way through the competition and tall trees of the Paul Bunyan and White Earth state forests.

Brand new to the ProRally Championship schedule for 2004 is the Colorado Cog rally, Sept. 24-26. The two-day, Round Eight event is based out of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and runs in and through the Hayden Valley, west and north of Steamboat Springs. The rally proudly proclaims that "this is NOT a car breaker," which means that it should instead bring another element of speed to the ProRally Championship.

The 2004 schedule wraps up in familiar territory as Houghton, Mich., and the Lake Superior ProRally hosts the year's final event in the upper-peninsula of Michigan. The stages run from south of Houghton all the way to the tip of the peninsula at the Copper Harbor service area, which sits on the edge of Lake Superior. Cold and precipitation could play a part in 2004 as the rally timetable has been pushed back a week, to Oct. 22-23, later than the Oct. 17-18 slot it held in 2003.

Manufacturer and series partner interest in the SCCA ProRally Championship continues to strengthen as the SCCA unveiled its new Performance Rally Partnership Program in conjunction with Mitsubishi Motor Sports America, Subaru of America and the Air Force Reserve. The voluntary program, funded in part by the SCCA, MMSA, SOA and AFR, will provide organizational support for local event organizers through means including cash, increased public relations efforts, advertising and standardized timing and scoring provided by Rally America.

The full series, except for the Pikes Peak event, is slated for North American television broadcast on SPEED television through 2008 as part of the new five-year agreement between SPEED and the SCCA. Pikes Peak will be shown on ESPN2, while the television format for the eight other championship events will be broadcast in the same manner in 2004 as they were in 2003, with hour-long recap shows for each event.

-scca pro rally-

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Series SCCA
Drivers David Higgins , John Buffum