A Firsthand Account of Rally North America’s Ohio Valley 700 Rally

Editorial By Nick Hilton

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Ohio Valley 700 Rally

How does one describe the essence of a rally to someone else that has never competed in such an event? How do I illustrate the rush of the stopwatch, the feel of the wind, the adrenaline racing through your hands to your toes? Well, as your rally correspondent for Moore Performance, the boys gave me that very, very enviable task!

My name is Nick and for those like Ryan that have known me for quite some time, adventure and excitement tend to be a weekly occurrence. Cruises to Mexico, trips to the west coast and parties in the south fuel my fire that comes from trying to experience everything life has to offer. If you tend to use the term “Sunday Funday” in everyday dialog, then you’re speaking my language. That’s why when my good friend and co-pilot Jonathan introduced me to Rally North America and explained the organization, I jumped at the chance to join up!

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Nick with his 05 Saabaru

Rallies are the perfect way to break up the monotony of the week, month, even year. They provide an outlet to see new places, meet new friends, and raise money for a charity in need. Rally North America is the perfect way to hard-line fun straight into your veins!
As a RNA veteran now, I have raced through many states and cities I would have never gotten an opportunity beforehand. The only issue was that Jonathan and I never used our own vehicles on the rallies! As a member of Team Rental, we were always driving a loaner that made things fun, but never as personal as it could have been. There wasn’t that connection with you and your car, which is one of the large reasons why car enthusiasts participate. The bond with you and your vehicle, the feel of the road, the squeal of the tires as you push the boundaries of speed and power. It’s a feeling I wanted to experience and Moore Performance made that happen!
I set out on this year’s Ohio Valley 700 Rally with my 2005 Saab 9-2x fully examined by the Subaru experts! New meats, oil, brakes, headlights, and Moore Performance vinyl graced my “Saabaru” as I promised to represent the guys honorably. I wanted to show the entire rally organization as well as the state of Ohio and West Virginia what it means to be a part of the Moore Performance team.
Day one started out in Dayton, Ohio with the drivers meeting the night before. Our starting line was in downtown, but since Jonathan and I indulged in a little too much pre-rally festivity, we were the last team to start day one. There are good and bad effects of starting last. The good is that because of the “Glimpse” app that everyone had to use, we could see the directions that the other drivers were headed. The bad news was that the police were already aware of “loud sports cars with stickers” driving on the highways. Therefore, Jonathan and I were able to make up lost time with utilizing back roads and not getting lost from checkpoint to checkpoint. The checkpoints are received at the starting line from Scott, our president of Rally North America. You acquire a pamphlet of photographs and descriptions, and are then presented with the task of figuring out where that photo is located and driving there in the shortest time possible. If you recklessly speed, our safety director Tony disqualifies you because he can monitor all speeding through the “Glimpse” app. If you receive a speeding ticket, you are also disqualified. Rally North America’s purpose is to raise money for charity every year, so disrespecting the rules of the road, and poorly representing the organization is unacceptable. Since 2010, RNA has raised over $340,000 for selected charities!

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Off-road on the Rally

As we completed checkpoint after checkpoint, we realized how much ground we gained on the leaders. We raced through cities such as Winchester, Point Pleasant, and Elizabeth. Day one had 7 checkpoints and ended in Buckhannon, WV. After a few minor setbacks, we finished 7th out of the field of 50. It was a good outing for day one, considering our starting condition and worsening headaches throughout the contest. The Saabaru was performing perfectly thanks to the finely tuned work of Moore Performance, and I couldn’t wait to push the envelope on day two.
Day two was an incredible Sunday Funday back to Dayton from Buckhannon. The back roads of West Virginia and Ohio were a dream come true and I recommend them to anybody with a need for speed. This day consisted of some very creative and difficult checkpoints. Farms, monuments, waterfalls, barns, and orchards were some of the challenges that Scott had us trying to track down during the race. Jonathan and I were a little less fortunate on this Sunday though. We got lost on a gravel road trying to find a barn in the middle of West Virginia. Then we got lost tracking down a monument in remembrance of an Indian massacre. Even though my Saabaru was attempting to replicate a Gymkhana video on a few of the back roads, I couldn’t make up enough time in the long run. We crossed the finish line 9th out of 50 on day 2. The general lesson learned through my time as a rally veteran has been similar to the tortoise and the hare fable. Slow and steady will always, always win the race. If you take the correct route, don’t get lost, and catch the right wind at your back, the checkered flag will be your reward.

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Nick’s Saabaru at one of the 7 checkpoints on the Ohio Valley 700 Rally

Overall it was an incredibly rewarding adventure getting to use my own car for the first time. The Moore Performance Team really allowed me to experience one of the greater pleasures in life, which all of you gear-heads already know. It was great hearing from other drivers about how they already knew of Moore Performance, or how they wanted more information on their work. I hope from my rally report, it will ignite a fire of your own. Maybe you’ll find yourself researching RNA online, or contacting the Moore team on how to get your Subaru tuned up to compete. I assure you, the relationships you build with either organization will be both enriching and lasting.