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Origins: Subaru in American Rallying – Part 4

The X Games Twist ... and Climax


Photo: Lars Gange |
X Games 12 Rally: (left to right) silver medalist
Colin McRae, gold medalist Travis Pastrana,
and bronze medalist Ken Block.

Pastrana had been used to performing in front of crowds in stadiums and on short dirt-bike tracks, and he’s disappointed there are few spectators out in the boonies where rally cars run at their best. Since he has been competing for several years in X Games, he thinks rally cars would be a good fit. He and others suggest adding an event for rally cars. The idea is met favorably, and plans are made. The top dozen rally drivers are to compete in a short rally stage in The Home Depot Center (Carson, California – a suburb of Los Angeles) using part of the motocross circuit.


Just to add spice to the event and make it more interesting to hard-core rally enthusiasts, one of the world’s top rally drivers is asked to be a third member of SRT USA for the event. He’s Colin McRae – one of Pastrana’s heroes. It also helps that he started his rally career as a factory driver for Subaru and was World Rally Champion in 1995 driving a Subaru.


To make the X Games Rally event realistic, the organizers decide to hold eight “real” rally stages at an off-road park near Los Angeles a few days prior to the event. Pastrana and Christian Edstrom, Pastrana’s regular co-driver, finish half a second behind McRae, who’s teamed up with Nicky Grist, his co-driver from years past. It’s a great staging for the final rounds at the X Games Rally venue.


 Seasoned rally drivers find the short rally course that winds through dirt in The Home Depot Center a little too tight. But for someone like Pastrana, it’s fine. He’s used to flinging a motorcycle around tight arenas.


In the elimination rounds, everything goes well. There is little drama. But that changes for the final round, which pits McRae against Pastrana. Although Pastrana puts in a fast time on his final run, it does not look as though it’ll be better than McRae’s, which is obviously very fast from the start. At the end of the final run, McRae comes down into the stadium with just one jump and a couple of corners left to the checkered flag. He flies over the jump but lands awkwardly. The car rolls over onto its roof, but then continues rolling to land back on all four wheels.


Amazingly, just like in a movie, McRae manages to keep going despite some damage, and he looks like he will still win. He has lost barely a second in the rollover. The checkered flag drops; the clock stops. But it’s not to be. Pastrana beats his hero by half a second.


Pan the camera to Pastrana. He cannot believe his luck. He’s won the gold medal in the first X Games Rally competition by beating McRae fair and square. “It is an honor and a dream come true just to compete against Colin McRae,” explains a jubilant Pastrana (as if on cue). “This was a great day for rallying in North America, and I hope the fans enjoyed it, because we certainly did!”


Viewers of the movie will think everything was fixed, but no stunt driver was used in the rollover, and spectators watching the event in person will confirm it was shot in real time and was totally unscripted.


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