Rally to rocket round the region

CRAZY CARS  A Subaru races down one of the valley's backroads in last year's Rocky Mountain Rally. File photo
CRAZY CARS A Subaru races down one of the valley’s backroads in last year’s Rocky Mountain Rally. File photo

Dan Walton

Pioneer Staff

This weekend, extreme automobiles will be pushed to their physical limits all throughout the valley during the annual Rocky Mountain Rally competition.

Its really nerve-racking when you see them flying by, said Cheryl Williams, Rocky Mountain Rally media liaison. When they take the curve you think theyre just going to fly off but somehow they dont. Its really cool how they control these crazy cars.

This will be the 41st year of the event, but only the second year that its held in the valley (aside from one stage during the inaugural event in 1974). Previously, the event had primarily been held in various locations in Alberta near to B.C. The roads are great out here, Ms. Williams said. Last year, we got snow overnight which was a big surprise, so the chance of the weather switching back and forth was a challenge, causing a few cars to go off the road last year.

The rally will have drivers and their co-drivers compete in ten different stages, spread through four locations. About 19 kilometres south of Invermere, the Hawke stages will be the first in action. To view the Hawke stages, be sure to arrive before 11 a.m. But before they begin, racers and their rides will be showing off their goods along 7th Avenue in Invermere, which will be closed to traffic this morning (Friday, October 31st) for the event. Theyre not allowed to speed when theyre in town. They have to follow the rules of the road, but they will be able to show off just a little at the Ceremonial Start, said Ms. Williams.

Later in the day at 2 p.m., the racers will begin tearing through the Torrent stages, which are located between Canal Flats towards Skookumchuck Pulp Mill. Spectators need to arrive before 3 p.m. Racing continues on Saturday, November 1st. Rally cars will be testing out the Forster Creek Forest Service Road, and they begin early. Spectators only have between 6:40 and 7:40 a.m. to access the viewing area. The final four stages of the weekend happen later in the morning near Westside Road and Hurst Creek. Access to view the races closes at 11 a.m. This location also will have food and drink (for a small donation) as well as fire pits and heaters to keep warm. Winning is based on timing of stages, said Ms. Williams, adding that performance points are accumulated to determine the winner.

Theres no cost to view the action, but a VIP package is available to enhance the experience; a paid three-day all inclusive package of food, exclusive transportation, premier viewing locations, and an extreme ride in a rally car. For the public, there are additional viewing locations for anyone who wants to witness the action. Its all free and everybodys welcome kids especially love it.

The event will be capped off on Saturday night at the events headquarters at Panorama Mountain Village. In the Great Hall at 7 p.m., dinner and an awards banquet will recognize the winners of each category. Attendance costs $35.

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