THE SUCCESS OF TRAVIS PASTRANA AND KEN BLOCK IN PRIVATELY ENTERED WRX RALLY CARS DURING THE 2005 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON ENCOURAGED SUBARU OF AMERICA (SOA) TO REINCARNATE THE OFFICIAL SUBARU RALLY TEAM USA (SRT USA) FOR 2006. THIS TIME, IT WAS MANAGED BY VERMONT SPORTSCAR (VSC), WHICH HAD BEEN RUNNING PRIVATE TEAMS FOR SOME TIME AND WAS A NATURAL CHOICE.
Pastrana and Block
“Travis actually had somewhat of a testing session with our big brother outfit in the Subaru World Rally Team a few years prior to us seriously considering him as a team driver candidate. Even during that short outing, the consensus was that Travis displayed uncanny car feel and serious rally potential, but, of course, lacked experience.
“After a more thorough test with Vermont SportsCar, we reconfirmed the earlier assessment and ran Travis in a limited number of rallies in 2004 and a full season in 2005. To have signed Travis to a factory program in 2006 represented a major shift in philosophy for Subaru; in essence, we opted to develop an action sports icon with legitimate rally driving potential and a built-in audience outside of rally instead of a traditional, homegrown rally driver.
“That same logic applied to our selection of Ken after he successfully completed a driver assessment session with team consultant John Buffum. Ken is co-founder of DC Shoes, which is an engaging, youth-oriented brand where Ken held the post as his company’s marketing and brand visionary.
“Both drivers had vastly different backgrounds and driving approaches, but having Travis and Ken together proved a good balance within the team. In those years, SRT USA enjoyed explosive growth in awareness and fan support.”
– James Han, motorsports marketing manager for SOA