35 years have passed since the World Rally Championship was held in the US. There was a rally in Seattle between 1986 and 1988.14 photos
The photo was taken by the WRC.Since then, there haven't been many big efforts to return to North America. Now, let's play a little thinking game. Imagine if Formula 1 stayed out of the United States for 35 years. Pretty crazy right? A competition that calls itself a world championship is still primarily based in Europe. For example, there are nine races in Europe, one in Africa (Kenya), one in Asia (Japan), and two in the Americas (Mexico and Chile). The WRC's promoters are working hard to solve this problem and expand the calendar to all continents. But why is this problem present in the first place?
America's National Rally Championship seems to be growing every year, and the social media content from those events is getting better every day. The United States has Travis Pastrana, a world-class rally driver, and we have to mention Ken Block as well, who sadly passed away a couple of months ago in a snowmobile incident. Travis is producing a lot of valuable content about rally driving, and in terms of social media figures, he is the biggest rally driver in the world. Pastrana has millions of followers on social media, while the most important guys from WRC, Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier, have less than one million combined.One of the most significant issues is that United States regulations and FIA regulations differ. The WRC is a dangerous sport; nasty accidents have happened where spectators have suffered injuries. Combine that with the fact that, in America, it's very common for people to sue everything and everybody that hurts them, and you will see how much of a risk the organizers should take. Still, this problem can be solved with some terms and conditions that spectators would have to accept when buying their tickets.
The photo was taken by the WRC.Maybe an even bigger issue is, of course, money. It's pretty tricky to find a qualified group of people in America to obtain the funding for the event and then organize it up to the FIA ( Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) standards. Because they can, the FIA usually asks for a lot of money when someone organizes any kind of motorsport event. Still, negotiations can be made because, for example, in the 2020 season, when the pandemic was a thing, many rallies got better deals from the FIA to keep the championship going. Former FIA Rally Director Yves Matton declared in an interview once that he was trying everything to introduce a rally event in the United States for 2022. However, nothing happened, and after him came Andrew Wheatley, the new director. He had the same ambitions for the 2023 World Rally Championship, but again nothing materialized.
It would be a good idea if FIA set up a WRC candidate event in the United States in the upcoming years. Basically, this would be a local rally race with a little more money to invest in looking prettier because the FIA will spectate and evaluate how well they manage the event. While it's not such a big thing as a WRC rally race, this candidate event would allow FIA to evaluate if they are ready to organize a full-size event.
The photo was taken by the WRC.But in my opinion, the biggest problem is a different one. The organizer's main fear is that not enough fans would be at the side of every stage. However, I think that every car enthusiast will immediately fall in love with the sound and looks of a WRC vehicle. After all, the United States is a huge car and racing country, with competitions like NASCAR or IndyCar being literally a religion to millions of people. Besides, Ford is participating in the World Rally Championship, so you can imagine the kind of marketing they alone would do for the event. There are dozens of cities where a race could be organized, and even legendary race tracks like the Indianapolis or the Daytona International Speedway could be incorporated. Besides, with America being so gigantic, I am sure roads can be found for every imaginable event. After All, Americans fall in love with cars that can only turn left, so without a doubt, they would really appreciate vehicles that go through forests and public roads at speeds over 100 mph.
I hope that the FIA finds some kind of solution with the organizers so we can finally see the United States in the World Rally Championship calendar. The WRC would expand so much economically and politically if they held at least one race in America. Besides, they are already going to Mexico, so an additional trip to a city in the U.S. wouldn't hurt and would be a total game changer.