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Origins: Subaru in American Rallying – Part 1

Act 1


In the late 1970s, Chad DiMarco, a young biochemistry student living in Riverside, California, was dating Karin Zimmerman, whose father, Ken "Doc" Zimmerman, was partnered with Hendrik Blok in a successful American rally team. DiMarco caught the rally "bug" in a big way, and he entered his first local rally in the family Fiat 1200 with Karin as navigator.


DiMarco then bought a rally-prepared car and competed in several larger rally events. Before long DiMarco decided he wanted to create a professional rally team and make a career of rallying instead of becoming a doctor. DiMarco did some research and decided a Subaru would be ideal for competing in the SCCA PRO Rally series in the United States. In 1985, he presented a proposal to SOA, suggesting that entry in the series would be good publicity for Subaru and would promote the sportiness of the cars as well as their toughness.


In 1986, DiMarco fielded two cars in the WRC round in Olympia, Washington. New Zealander Possum Bourne also entered a Subaru and, significantly, this was the first time Subaru had entered multiple cars in a WRC event besides the Safari Rally in Africa.
Photo: courtesy of Chad DiMarco/Subaru

Subaru, which was still a relatively small player in the U.S. market, accepted DiMarco's proposal. The DiMarco-Subaru rally team was born. Subaru provided sponsorship money, a car, and parts for the fledgling team.


The first car that DiMarco and his rally team partner Paul Ludgate built was a 1985 RX 4WD Turbo sedan. The first event for the car was the Press on Regardless PRO Rally in Michigan, where DiMarco finished 9th overall and 2nd in the Production GT class. 


 By the end of the 1986 season, the team had finished on the podium six times in Group A, the category for near-production cars.


Pikes Peak, the famous hill climb in Colorado, was not on the SCCA PRO Rally circuit, but it did have a rally class. DiMarco entered the event in 1986. He finished 2nd in the Production Division and took the Rookie of the Year award.


Chad DiMarco leaps over a jump in the Rim of the World Rally in Palmdale, California. The Subaru Legacy carried the coveted #1 during the SCCA's 1992 Subaru PRO Rally Championship season as DiMarco had won the Overall and Group A championships the year before.


For the 1987 season, DiMarco used one of the RX Turbo 3-door coupes that had been prepared for the Safari Rally. It proved to be a much tougher car. By the end of the season, DiMarco was 3rd in Group A and 5th overall. The following year, using the same car, the team ended the season one position higher -- 2nd in Group A and 3rd overall in points.


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