MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ) – Friday night was the start of the Lake Superior Performance Rally. A race coined as the oldest, meanest, and toughest rally on the circuit. At Fox Marquette Subaru just before the ceremonial start, fans got to meet the over 70 teams and see the racers off as they drove to Sidnaw for the first stage of the race.
Performance racing is more than just a team of racers. What’s under the hood can sometimes be just as important as those behind the wheel. To paint the competing scene at Fox Sports Marquette Subaru Friday morning, there were first-time racers, veteran drivers, and even legacy cars on display for the start of the race and these drivers rely heavily on what’s in and around them to maneuver the terrain and stay as agile as possible.
“So the cars that we’re racing today are highly modified to get maximum traction over some of these rougher roads and absorb the bumps now the suspension systems that these cars have is really expensive and complex I mean the top Subaru cars each shock absorber or strut is about $10,000 dollars a piece,” commented Lake Superior Performance Rally Co-Chair Steve Gingras. Each car is insured and street-legal, all the suspension, tire tread, and frame choices can affect speed and the way the car meets with the terrain.
“We have an off-road rally suspension that’s built exactly for what we’re doing so it has a lot more travel,” explained Driver James Randall. “It’s quick and it’s got a lot more grip than you expect, especially breaking grip,” said Co-Driver Andrew Rousch. Some racers are here, wrapping up their first full season, and commented that they’re thrilled to be a part of what’s grown into a racing family.
“We’re a pretty new team, our very first event was the LSPR last year so we wanted to come here to kind of round out the season,” continued Randall, however, the sport doesn’t come without its iconic legends. “This is a Ford RS200 it’s an extremely rare car, it’s Ford’s world rally championship vehicle from over 20 years ago, The versions of this car were over 800 horsepower and the car weighs just under 3000 lbs,” continued Gingras.
Despite all the bells and whistles on these cars to drive faster and keep the teams safe, organizers say it’s all still dependent on one thing this far north.
“The weather we don’t know if it’s gonna be snowing or raining and all of that affects tire choice you know we have different tread patterns for mud or hard-packed gravel and picking the right tire and the right suspension setup is all things that contribute to going fast,” continued Gingras. The rally isn’t just about speed, time, and distance, but also the laughs, comradery, and race ethic that can only be felt on a rally day.
Click here for the full schedule of the rally races and the best locations for viewing opportunities.
Marquette Mountains’ Ski Lift will also be operational during the race day on Saturday, October 14th, and spectators can purchase those tickets online at Marquette Mountain.