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Origins: Subaru in American Rallying – Part 1

 

Chad DiMarco and Erick Hauge.






Between 1985 and 1990 DiMarco rallied four
different RX cars in most rounds of the SCCA
PRO Rally championships, eventually winning
his first of four consecutive Group A
championships in 1990. He switched to a
Legacy in the latter half of the 1990 season.
Photos: courtesy of Chad DiMarco/Subaru
 

 In 1988, DiMarco moved the team up a notch by hiring Erick Hauge, a well-established and highly regarded navigator. The team continued to improve as DiMarco and Hauge built a top-notch, professional team.

 

Meanwhile, Subaru completed its Indiana manufacturing plant in 1989 in order to build the Legacy. Naturally, it was a great opportunity for SOA to promote the Legacy through rallying. Unfortunately, the car was not ready in time for the 1989 season, so the team was at a disadvantage, as other competitors had newer and more powerful cars.

 


Even though the new Legacy rally car was not completed until mid-season in 1990, it proved to be a great competitor. The team finished the season winning the driver and manufacturer Group A championships.

 

The publicity garnered by DiMarco’s wins encouraged SOA to increase its involvement, especially through its public relations department. To further help promote the company’s involvement, Subaru also sponsored the SCCA PRO Rally series. It was known as the Subaru PRO Rally Championship from 1991 through 1993.

 

During that time, DiMarco’s success continued. He won Group A championships in 1991, 1992, and 1993. Despite driving a much less powerful car than those in the open class, DiMarco won several events overall, beating out top SCCA drivers in cars such as the Audi Quattro. DiMarco even managed to garner the overall SCCA championship for drivers in 1991 as well as the Group A championship.Sadly, by the end of 1993, SOA was not faring too well in an auto market suffering from the remnants of recession. The company decided against renewing DiMarco’s sponsorship.

 

DiMarco was able to obtain several one-off sponsorship deals with local Subaru dealers and the western region of Subaru, and he was able to compete in a handful of rallies in 1994. However, by the end of the season, DiMarco decided he did not want to compete unless he had a fully funded team. So he retired from rallying. Subè Sports, the company he formed in the early days of his rally career, continues on as a well-established player in the rally world to this day.

 

 Sadly, by the end of 1993, SOA was not faring too well in an auto market suffering from the remnants of recession. The company decided against renewing DiMarco's sponsorship.

 

DiMarco was able to obtain several one-off sponsorship deals with local Subaru dealers and the western region of Subaru, and he was able to compete in a handful of rallies in 1994. However, by the end of the season, DiMarco decided he did not want to compete unless he had a fully funded team. So he retired from rallying. Sube Sports, the company he formed in the early days of his rally career, continues on as a well-established player in the rally world to this day.

 

Act 2

 

Subaru, of course, survived the downturn at the beginning of the 1990s and spent the decade promoting the outdoor value of its vehicles by selling only all-wheel-drive vehicles and introducing the Outback. This helped build a financially solid foundation that prepared SOA for Act 2 at the beginning of the next decade. That's when the WRX would appear in the U.S. market and rallying would once again become an important part of SOA -- as we'll see in the next issue.

 

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