Grassroots Regional Rally FTW!

Matt and Lauren Conte finish Friday morning stages
Grassroots regional rally team
Matt and Lauren Conte check in on time to Friday Service.


Stage rally is awesome. From a gearhead’s perspective it’s got everything we dream about in motorsports.  Real roads. Real cars. Real drivers. Real conditions. Free to spectate. All the teams are accessible to the fans. Speeds are high. Cars get sideways and catch air. Glowing brake rotors. Anti-lag!!! I can go on and on…

I’m a crew guy for an open class Subaru Legacy in the Rally America Championship, and now I’m excited to say I’m a new blogger for Build Race Party!

I don’t work for a big budget team like FY Racing or anyone with factory sponsorship. I work for Team Conte — the husband and wife duo from St. Louis, MO. I’ve also lent a hand to guys like Hardnock Rally and GZB Rally Team, among others. These are not professional racers. All have day jobs like me, but if you look at the entry list for a rally like 100 Acre Wood this past weekend you’ll see the field is mostly made up of those guys. People who save all their vacation time and use their weekends and late nights preparing their own car with their own bank account.

In most forms of motorsports that means these guys are the privateers at the back of the pack. The weekend warriors having fun but not seriously competing. But this is rally. Lets look at the overall times from last weekend, ignoring regional vs national registration, and see how the deck was stacked:

Higgins came in first (big surprise). Then came Sterckx followed by Pritchard, Conte, and Fetela.

So the top 5 at the second round of the championship had two teams in it completely funded and built by the drivers and their spouses. And Pritchard’s 3rd fastest — he’s open light! That means no turbo; so a lot less power. It came down to the driving. Fantastic!

For me, this is what rally and Rally America is all about. Meeting people, coming together and helping each other out, and pushing for one weekend to get a car to the start line and through to the finish, regardless. There’s been a bit of criticism of Rally America lately, but they host a fantastic championship in one of the best sports there is. My only critique is that they need to tell the whole story of what’s going on for the entire rally weekend, not just a few top national teams.

My view of the rally has shifted from spectator to behind the scenes over a short time. I’m going to share my thoughts and stories from inside the rally, and I hope to get a few good photos along the way. Here are some of mine from the 2015 Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.

Gabe Weiss
Service Crew for Team Conte #542
Rally fan for life.

Thanks to Chris Duplessis for the tire advice!


Service truck down. No problem.


John Huebbe welcoming the Contes in to Friday Service.


Conte and Pritchard at the start, Saturday Parc Expose.
On transit to stage 1 on Saturday.


0 car co-driver Ron Erickson.


0 car driver Mark Huebbe.


Elliot Allchin servicing the Hardnock Rally open light Legacy piloted by Zachary Jacques and his father Ron.


The 2 Legacy teams stick together.


Gorilla Offroad and go hand in hand with subaru rally!


Matt Conte swapping stage stories with Jimmy Brandt and Ian Topping
Pritchard taking the hairpin. Photo by Ben Newburn.


Conte taking the cattle guard jump. Photo by Ben Newburn.




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