Last Saturday (July 30) marked the inaugural running of the Missouri Ozarks Rally in Texas County.
Based out of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds and Cabool High School, 15 intrepid regional performance rally cars set out to see who could run the defined competitive roads in Sargent Township the fastest.
Rally is a racing sport that pits cars with a driver and a co-driver against the clock, and wheel-to-wheel racing almost never occurs. On roads restricted to rally-only traffic and cleared by at least three pre-competition lead cars, competitors start on one-minute intervals to see who can get to the finish the fastest.
Texas County provided some very technical and challenging roads.
This year’s event, with some help from local media and social media, quickly became very popular. Course-opening cars encountered hundreds of fans along the route, most eager to see their first rally action.
There was an organized spectator location at the intersection of Freedom Road and Timberline Road, which attracted another 100 or so potential new fans.
After two passes of the stage roads, competitors came to the parking lot at the gymnasium at Cabool High School, where mechanics tapped out dings and dents, replaced some unintentionally modified suspension parts, or in a few cases, declared their car incapable of restarting.
While there, they were treated (along with volunteers and spectators) to food in the concession stand offered by the CHS cross country team.
There were delays due to the sheer numbers of fans along the route and an incident that required medical help from one of the Texas County Memorial Hospital ambulance crews on site. This unfortunately pushed the event’s schedule back over an hour, and part way through the afternoon competition, organizers made the difficult decision to shorten the event in the interest of safety.
The racers and volunteers gathered at the community building at the fairgrounds for an awards banquet, catered by Savor Grill & Barbecue and Piney River Brewing.
The 2-Wheel-Drive class was won by Kelsey Stephens and her co-driver Zach Goldstein in a BMW Z3 Coupe. The All-Wheel-Drive class winner and overall champions were Ryan Rethy and James Dallman in a Subaru Impreza Wagon.
Chairman Chuck Renner and Texas County Commissioner John Casey spoke to the crowd of about 150 at the awards dinner with encouraging outlooks for more rally taking place in the area in the future.