Last updateThu, 29 Jan 2015 8am

Rally teams descend on Steelville

    Rally cars raced their way through the local area for the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, despite the winter storm that covered roads with ice and snow just prior to the event. The second event of the Rally America series was held on February 22 and 23 and Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew came away with the win—after three attempts at victory in Missouri.

    Higgins is the reigning 2012 Rally America National champion. With this win, Higgins assumes the lead in championship points as he works to defend that title.
    Steelville provided a service area for rally teams on Friday, utilizing the old factory lot adjacent to the downtown campus of the Steelville schools. Teams came into town for service in the early evening hours and Mayor Terry Palmer noted that he thought things went well, but that attendance overall seemed to be down, probably as a result of the weather.
    “I saw some local families there with their kids, getting autographs signed,” he said. “That was good to see.” He also ran into some out-of-town visitors in Perkins Lumber, and saw a variety of car haulers in the area.
    When asked if he thought the event was good for the town, he replied, “Oh yes, it’s a good thing. Next year, I’m hoping we will be the starting place again.” The start location for the event has alternated between Steelville and Potosi over the last few years.
    Curt Faigle, Rally in the 100 Acre Wood chairman, agreed that the event went well overall, despite some trouble with the weather, and one situation with spectators that caused a stage to be shut down. The problem occurred near Hobo and Westover roads during Stage 5. According to both Faigle and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, it involved some people who were drinking and refused to comply with race official requests.
    “A half dozen guys ruined it for everyone,” Faigle said. Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin said that was the only incident with the rally event.
    “It went great overall,” Faigle said. “It was a challenge, but the drivers seemed to enjoy it. When it’s a challenge, and you finish, it means more.”
    Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino, with Hoonigan Racing, the team who had won six previous 100 Acre Wood Rallies, were knocked out of contention during the first day. On Stage 6, the first nighttime stage, Block suffered front end damage, but rejoined the event on day two using SuperRally rules (which allow a team to reenter the race with time penalties), but was forced to drop out again with an electrical throttle problem on Stage 10.
    Stage 6 was also rough on Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard who subsequently had to retire from the event with overheating issues. This was disappointing to the team who had kicked off the season with a win at the Michigan based Sno*Drift Rally in late January.
    The team of Joseph Burk and Alex Kihurani took second place and Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam took third place. Higgins won nine of the last 10 stages of the event, contributing to his overall victory.
    The next event on the Rally America Championship tour takes place at the Oregon Trail Rally in Portland, Oregon on May 3-5.