Just a few years ago, Rally Racing was virtually unknown in the United States. Worldwide, WRC (World Rally Championship) is one of the most popular and well-followed motorsport events ever. However it has just been over that past 5 to 10 years that world rally has gained a strong following in the US. Here are some of the reasons that WRC has become more popular in recent years.
Fans have long known that there is almost nothing more exciting to watch than a WRC car running a difficult section of track. Rally racing is visually brutal, with cars spitting lethal volleys of gravel and dust as they slide sideways through corners, and catching huge air as they fly over a crest at speed. That kind of excitement packs a punch that you won’t see in any other type of racing.
Rally tracks also tend to be more complex and obviously challenging than in other types of racing. Rally cars race on twists, turns, bends and hills. Rally courses are so long and complex that they require a “co driver” to help the racer navigate the course. That extra difficulty also results in a lot of crashes and like it or not, fans enjoy the mishaps as much as they do watching the race. When it comes to crashes, rally racing is definitely #1. There are plenty of rally events where just finishing without a wreck is considered to be a victory in and of itself.
One thing that many fans enjoy about rally racing is the fact that their favorite racers are driving souped-up versions of the cars that we drive every day. Sure: a Subaru WRC car is about as far from your street Subaru WRX as you can get and still have the same name, but they still share common (and visible) roots. This adds an extra measure of excitement for some fans.
This has been especially true in recent years as manufacturers have begun to release WRC related models of cars into the US market that were previously only available overseas. These pocket-rockets have enjoyed strong sales because of their great performance, and rally racing has had a boost in its fan base from owners of these cars that like to see them put to the test.
Additionally while not every race fan can have the opportunity to hit 200mph around a circle track, a much larger percentage of car owners might have the opportunity to set up a simple gravel track and enjoy testing their skills as if they were their favorite rally driver.
Rally racing also represents a simple escape from the traditional racing venues. Although people have been racing on gravel as long as there have been wheels and rocks, world rally is a relatively new sport in comparison with traditional road racing. World rally is a different flavor or racing altogether, and it can be a breath of fresh air for those people who are used to the straight line or “always turn left” establishment.