A strange tweet popped up today from former IndyCar driver and 2007 Indy Lights champion Alex Lloyd. It contained a photo of a simple dirt road in an autumn wood, a "racetrack" in Alex's words, and a few notable linked Twitter accounts. This was the first and only announcement I'd seen so far that the racing-driver-turned-Yahoo!-Autos-editor was contesting this weekend's Lake Superior Performance Rally.
The Lake Superior Performance Rally, which takes place on Michigan's upper peninsula and is based in Houghton, is the final round of the Rally America national championship. It's known as the oldest currently active rally in the U.S., starting life in 1949 as the Press On Regardless rally (a time-speed-distance event), becoming a stage rally in 1969 (one of North America's first), and even being included in the 1973 and 1974 World Rally Championship*. It is one of the toughest and one of the most beautiful rallies of the year, and many elements of the stages and the area made it into the Dirt 3 video game as the "Michigan" rally, including the Quincy Copper Mine. It is a fantastic event, but with roads that are narrow, rough, and often muddy and rutted, it's about as far from Indy as you can get.
And the same can be said for Alex's car. Alex will be piloting a B-Spec class Honda Fit. Specifically this B-Spec Honda Fit (which, by the way, is (was?) available as a free DLC car for the original Forza Horizon). The young B-Spec class is, essentially, the most basic class in Rally America. It's a class for specific late model small hatchbacks, with virtually no modifications allowed beyond suspension, safety, and minor weight reduction. Back seats, carpets, headliners, and most interior trim can come out, but things like door trim, dashboard, and center console must remain untouched (most B-Spec cars even maintain functioning radios). Similarly the engine, transmission, and brakes must all remain factory. It's effectively a stock hatchback that won't freak out if you go over some bumps.
Information is still scarce, but it appears Alex is taking this little adventure to the U.P. as a story for Yahoo! Autos. In a subsequent tweet he's said he's bringing the Y!A video crew to the rally as well. My only hope is that this isn't a one-time deal and we see Alex return to rally next year. Sno*Drift is only 107 days away, Alex! How about it?
*Side note: 1973 was the first official year of the World Rally Championship, however in 1972 there was an FIA international rally championship, which Press On Regardless was also a part of. The rally was won by American rally driver Gene Henderson in a Jeep Wagoneer, making him the first person to win a major stage rally in a 4WD/AWD vehicle. The FIA subsequently banned AWD in rallying until Audi convinced them to remove the ban to make way for the Quattro.
Honda Fit photo credit: Pete Kuncis/On A Limb Racing Rally Photography