While road racing fans are enjoying Florida's warmth at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, rally fans are freezing in Atlanta, Michigan at the Sno*Drift Rally — the first round of the 2012 Rally America National Championship.
There is plenty of snow on the ground at the appropriately named rally, which has a record number of entries.
Travis Pastrana, of course, is a previous two-time winner of this rally but he's at Daytona this weekend driving a Ferrari. This leaves David Higgins as favorite to win the Sno*Drift Rally in the Subaru Rally Team USA (SRT USA) factory WRX STI.
Some were worried that Subaru might not return to the Rally America series this year and instead concentrate on rallycross. Two weeks ago Subaru announced it would participate again with Higgins as the team's primary driver. Subaru says that X Games icon Dave Mirra, Higgins' teammate in 2011, is expected to continue to drive for Subaru but will focus on the Global RallyCross Championship because of several conflicting dates with Rally America events.
While SRT USA concentrates on winning the overall championship in the unrestricted Open Class, Subaru of America, in conjunction with Vermont SportsCar, is continuing its contingency program. The Subaru Rally Support Program is the most lucrative contingency program in North American rallying, with over $20,000 available at each Rally America National Championship event for Subaru drivers to earn. The program focuses support on the popular Super Production class (SP) where the top finishing eligible Subaru SP driver will earn $7,000 at each round while second through 10th placed SP drivers receive generous payouts as well.
The SP class provides a means for cost-effective competition for Subaru drivers to compete not only head-to-head within the class but also be capable of challenging the Open Class cars. Travis Hanson drove this point home last year at the Sno*Drift Rally when he became the first SP class driver to win a national rally outright. He ended up leading the championship points standings for nearly half the season in his SP class Subaru WRX STI, but eventually finished third overall.
The 2012 Sno*Drift Rally is already under way today and continues through tomorrow, Saturday. It's not being shown live on TV but some intrepid Rally America fans are valiantly attempting to stream video live over the Internet using cell phone service, which can be spotty at best! You can try to watch the action live on the .