The wait is over! The SOFR crew is excited to share our 2019 plans!

The wait is over! The SOFR crew is excited to share our 2019 plans!

While we couldn’t be happier with our previous events, U.S. rally is changing and in order to maintain our level of excellence, we are migrating to ARA sanctioning for 2019. Additionally, SOFR and the Ohio Division of Forestry have added yet another forest to the schedule, along with bringing back the infamous "city park" stage from the days of SCCA Rally in Chillicothe!

The upcoming schedule will include competition Thursday evening in Downtown Chillicothe/Yoctangee Park, Friday we'll be in Shawnee State Park/Portsmouth with 30 new miles of stage, including the aptly named stage, "Hello Hairpin". We’ll continue the fun on Saturday in Zaleski State Park/McArthur with the famous "Irish Ridge", followed by a quick jaunt through Scioto Trails before finishing in Downtown Chillicothe where we will celebrate with awards and an after-party. We will share more details as they become available, but, rest assured, we aren't slowing down. Make sure May 16th-18th is on your 2019 rally schedule! You won't want to miss this!

Car and Driver’s Josh Jacquot to Compete at Southern Ohio Forest Rally

By Chris Leone

Automotive journalist Josh Jacquot of Car and Driver magazine will be among the 65-plus drivers to take to the roads in the second annual Southern Ohio Forest Rally, the third event of the 2018 Rally America National Championship season. Jacquot will compete alongside co-driver Pete Pollard in the Open class in a 1997 Subaru Impreza, as he returns to the sport for the first time in a number of years.

“Ohio’s narrow gravel roads will be a heck of a way to blow out the cobwebs, since I haven’t raced the car since 2015,” admitted Jacquot. “But I’m looking forward to it, and I’m so grateful for the support of the local rally community in Ohio and southeastern Michigan. This will be the first time I’ve rallied in the midwest since 2003, and the smoother, more technical roads are more to my liking.”

Jacquot’s interest in competing at SOFR came after writing a story on rally legend John Buffum, himself a seven-time winner in Ohio-based stage rally events (five times as a driver and twice as navigator). When Buffum, an 11-time national champion with 117 race victories on his resume, recommended that Jacquot compete in the event, wheels were set in motion for his return to the stages.

“We’ve spent a lot of time prepping the car for this event,” he continued. “It will make more power at this altitude than it does in the high desert so that will be an adjustment. And we’ve got a new brake setup that should make the car easier to drive and safer. We’re making a lot of setup choices without knowing what we’re facing in terms of grip or surface conditions so those things are a bit of a gamble. The goal, as always, is to finish and have some fun.”

Jacquot’s entry is supported by Car and Driver magazine, Maxxis Tires, KC HiLiTES, Sparco, Turn-In Concepts, and Kartboy. The 2018 Southern Ohio Forest Rally will kick off on Saturday, May 18 with the Zaleski Forest Rally and will conclude the next day with the Scioto Trails Rally.

The 2018 Southern Ohio Forest Rally takes place on May 18-19, 2018 in McArthur and Chillicothe, OH. It will serve as the fourth event of the 2018 Rally America season. More information on the event and series is available at and


The March 2018 issue of Car and Driver holds a special place in our hearts, because we are in it!

Car and Driver's Brett Berks Article "Our Entirely Subjective Guide to the Most Important Good-Weather automotive events of 2018" has Southern Ohio Forest Rally on it. Noticed for being RA's largest event of 2017, but if reports are correct the largest rally in the United States for 2017! 

We are looking forward to 2018!! #SOFRSOGOOD

3rd Forest Added for 2018

The organizers of the Southern Ohio Forest Rally and the Ohio Division of Forestry have teamed up to add a third forest for the 2018 Southern Ohio Forest Rally. Tar Hollow State Park will be added to the schedule for May 18-19 2018 providing teams and spectators another great opportunity to experience more of the outstanding stage roads we have here in Southern Ohio. 

We would like to thank the Ohio Division of Forestry for their continued support of SOFR. We would not be where we are today without them! 

Sponsorship packages are available for the 2018 event. Contact Brent Short at for more information.

The Mirage of Rallies Past

Southern Ohio Forest Rally Wrap Up

By Steve Gingras

The newest event in the Rally America Championship promised very challenging roads and great competition. The Southern Ohio Forest Rally did not disappoint. The extremely twisty roads and high temperatures tested both the teams and race vehicles. How difficult and challenging was this race to finish? Only 56% of the teams that started the event made it to the finish. That being said every team I spoke to loved the event and promised to be back next year. Driver Steve LaRoza commented “As of today I have my new favorite rally.” The competition did not disappoint either, with 6 different teams claiming stage victories including a 2wd car winning 3 stages and three different overall leaders.


The inaugural Southern Ohio Forest Rally kicked off with a festival like atmosphere on Friday afternoon under a blindingly blue sky and temperatures in the high 80s. Excitement was high as the cars left park expose for the first of 25 stages.



Rooney/Holter won the first stage to take the early lead. Donoghue/Browne won the next 3 stages to build a 22 second lead over the championship Leaders of Gruszka/Wronski in their Mitsubishi Mirage. On stage 5 Donoghue gave up 3 minutes due to a fuel system problem. The Mitsubishis of Donoghue and Gruszka continued to slug it out like heavy weight prize fighters with Donoghue cutting the lead to 2 minutes by the end of the first night. Rooney/Holter were sitting in 2nd only 57 seconds out of first with Burke/Brady in 3rd overall with their 2wd Escort only 30 seconds back.


Would Gruszka stand on the podium or could Donoghue overcome their earlier problem? Donoghue won 2 of the first 5 stages on the final day to and moved up to 3rd overall. Sadly, the Evo’s motor would give up the chase on Stage 21. Gruszka/Wronski won their 3rd race in row with Rooney in a well-deserved 2nd overall. The surprises continued with a 2wd car on the Overall Podium for the first time in about 20 years, but it’s not the 2wd car everyone was thinking of. Wallingford/Crescenti stayed on the road and earned 3rd overall honors.



Andress/Moser would be the first casualty of the high heat and very twisty roads as they retired with from the event after 3 stages with the co-driver exhibiting signs of heat stroke. He would not be the last. From the word go Kaltak/Vohs were on a mission to put the rest of the NOL field in their dust. At the end of the first day they had built a lead of 4 minutes over LaRozas mostly due to a 2 minute off on Stage 7.


Reid Andress came back on Saturday and had drafted Jared Lantzy to take over the co-driving duties. Though they were a DNF for the overall national event, they could still earn valuable championship points plus they were able to run some of the best rally roads in the country. They promptly took charge and won stage 16. Andress, LaRoza and Kaltak all continued to swap stage wins for the rest of the day. Andress/Lantzy even won the coveted Super Special stage in front of 4000 screaming fans.


Kaltak/Vohs would not be denied and finished 5th overall and 1st in NOL. The father daughter team of Steve and Allison LaRoza came home 2nd with Balzer/Arpke earning a fine 3rd in class. 



Rooney/Holter won the 1st stage and Usher/Langosch took the 2nd stage to move into first. Rooney came storming back to take over the lead with a string of stage wins. It was not easy as he was being pushed hard by several Open Lights including Kimmett/Moore, Whitebread/Weiss and Surdyke/Vickman.  After a hard fought day Rooney/Holter held on to a 42 second lead over Kimmet with Kramer only 30 beyond for 3rd.


Saturday continued to be a battle with top OL/SP teams trading stage wins. The biggest challenge coming from Surdyke. They won stage 11 overall and 5 of the day’s 10 stages in class to move up to 2nd only to drop out on stage 24. In the end Rooney/Holter won the class and finished 2nd overall with one of his best drives since he started rallying again. Usher/Langosch came home 2nd three minutes back and Johansen/Little overcame early problems to finish 3rd in their big blue Audi.



With the roads being very twisty no one expected the 2wd cars to be very competitive compared to the awesome AWD cars. If you thought that way you would be wrong. Not only did a 2wd team win a national stage for the first time in forever, but they also did it 3 times and a 2wd car was even on the overall podium.  Thirty-nine of the 63 cars that started the event were 2wd making it the biggest attended class. The competition was great too with 5 different teams claiming stage wins and 8 different lead changes.


Steely/Osborn would win the opening stage in their Ford Fiesta with Wallingford/Crescenti right on his heels to take over the lead on stage 3. Robinson/Penza in their new Honda Civic with a stock motor and suspension won Stages 3,4 and 6 to take the class lead. It was short lived as Wallingford and Steely continued to trade stage wins and the lead. That was until Burke/Brady decided to take over the race and won the next 9 stages and take the lead. It was a lead they would hold until stage 18 when they drove off the road and were stuck. Steely then grabbed the lead and traded stage wins with Robinson. On Stage 24, the last real forest stage and only a short distance from the finish, Steely/Osborn broke an axle, ending their quest in despair.  Wallingford/Crescenti picked up where they left off and took the class win and 3rd overall.  Robinson/Penza finished 2nd - a great outing for the new car. I can’t wait to see it at the Colorado Rally with the full spec R motor and rally suspension. Yuvali/Nomer brought their BMW 318 home in 3rd place.


Spec B

The Spec B class also had its share of dramatic finishes, close racing, and something that hasn’t happened in a long time, if ever. The class would be very competitive with all three teams leading and winning stages. McCarron/Blake started off by winning the first stage by a mere .5 seconds over Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen. Their lead wouldn’t last long as E-C/B-P would win the next 7 stages in row. On stage 5 McCarron and Blake would join the famous rally club of those who have. They only lost 11 minutes as they rolled their Fit off the road and on to its side. A quick yank and spank by safety sweep and they were back in the hunt, but way down the leader board. Could they possibly make up 11 minutes?


Erickson-Chang’s string of stage wins was stopped by a broken shift linkage and the team was forced from the lead to the DNF list. Erickson-Chang commented that “After McCarron rolled I was just taking it easy and then the stupidest little part breaks” Gardiner/Hall took the lead on Stage 9 with a 5 minute lead over the hard charging McCarron. McCarron would win the next 6 stages then trade stage wins with Gardiner before retaking the lead on stage 16.  Though officially listed as a DNF Erickson-Chang charged hard all day and won several of the stages.


The team of McCarron/Blake had quite a rally. Not only did they win their class and join the roll over club, but they also joined the exclusive roll and win club. Road racers and their childish spin and win club have nothing on them!


Special Notes

Bialobrzeski /Jozwiak win the Press On Regardless  Award – they pulled the engine in the parking lot after DNFing on Friday, did a head gasket job, reinstalled the engine and ran on Saturday.


The Engle/Carr car was attacked by an angry snow fence that maliciously cut the car’s brake lines putting them on the DNF list. Don’t ever trust a snow fence in the summer!


It was the first rally for the father son team of Hopf/Hopf and they bought a car that had not been rallied in a long time but they were told it was ready to go. They arrived at tech and discovered that the stock door bars had been removed and the cage was not legal without them. They ran home and traded a buddy for the stock doors off his car. They ran the rally, had a great time and finished.  No word on if they need to return the doors or not.


The last class of winners that needs to be recognized is the organizers and workers of the Southern Ohio Forest Rally. They took an idea and in few short months nurtured and grew it in to a very successful, extremely well attended national rally! Great Job to the entire organizing committee!

Well Done!

I can’t wait to see what you cook up for next year - can we hit 100 cars like the old days?


See you at the Colorado Rally!


Click here to view and download the newly released 2017 Southern Ohio Forest Rally Spectator Guide! 

Printed copies of the Spectator Guide will be available in the Chillicothe and McArthur areas beginning this weekend (5/6/17) at local businesses, gas stations, sponsors and visitors bureaus. Spectator Guides will also be available at SOFR Registration, Parc Expose Friday and Saturday and more! 


We have added  an Official Bulletins to the Supplemental Regulations on the website here.  Please take a minute to review the Bulletins in regards to Registration and Tech locations. 

We have also added a document "RALLY 101" for all of our staff and volunteers here.  This document explains Rally for some of you who may not be familiar and gives some background on how the Rally will be run, what will be expected from your positions as volunteers, etc.

ALSO! There will be airplane rides available on Friday over the Zaleski Forest stages. The airplane rides will take off from the Vinton County Airport and cost $30 per person! Get a look at the Rally from a vantage point like no other!


On Saturday May 20th we will be hosting a Super Special Event at the Ross County Fairgrounds Grandstands which will feature a Head-to-Head Rally competition! Come on out to the Fairgrounds and see what these Rally cars can do on a closed course! This will be one of the most exciting events on the Rally America schedule! 

After the Super Special on Saturday we are happy to have Jamie Baxter and friends all the way  from Lower Broadway in Nashville Tennessee to provide some music and entertainment at our Rally After Party! Jamie is originally from Ohio and has been honky-tonkin' in Nashville for years. Jamie and his band are not only good musicians..they are a good time and they will make sure you have a good time as well!  

We are very excited to be bringing Rally back to our area and we are thrilled with the amount of support that you all have shown. Whether you're a competitor, volunteer or a fan we appreciate all of you and we look forward to seeing you at the Southern Ohio Forest Rally May 19th and 20th 2017! 

Southern Ohio Forest Rally Bringing Rally Back to Ohio By Steve Gingras

The following article was released by Rally America and Steve Gingras in regards to SOFR. We wanted to share the article with all of you and thank RA and Steve for the well written article! 

The Southern Ohio Forest Rally is a completely new event. However, it has been in the works and smoldering for several years and is now ready to explode like a fire breathing, waste gate chirping, gravel spewing Group B WRC car starting a stage. When registration first opened it maxed out the entries in only a few hours. The organizers expanded the entry and it maxed out again. It is still hard to believe 80 entries for new event. SOFR might be new but there is a lot of rally history here. The SCCA has run several rallies in this area. One of the events featured a downtown spectator stage in Octangee Park that generated a lot of memories. Who can forget Noel Lawler’s midair pass or Jon Woodner standing his Peugeot 205 T16 on its nose at the jump. The Peugeot was so far over that it broke all of the rally lights and looked like it was going over onto its roof. Somehow the car fell back on its wheels.  Sadly we will not be able to run the park this year due to a scheduling conflict. Maybe next year.


The SOFR stages are very technical with lots of elevation changes. You are either running along the top of the ridge or weaving through the valleys and gullies. One of the stages was named America’s Best. It was a beautiful road with white gravel and 10 feet of mowed grass on either side. It was fast, fun, challenging and correctly named. Another of the stages was named Moonshine Express. The rumor is that the road was used by bootleggers and moonshine runners. They eventually grew into NASCAR that is now using stages for scoring – Go Figure.


So what will this new chapter hold? I can’t wait to find out.  



Gruszka and Wronski have won the first two Rally America events this season and could easily make it three. Can anyone knock them off? At Sno*Drift Jon Kramer held the overall lead for most of the race until his dreams of victory went poof in a snow bank. Andress/Moser also have the speed and won several of the Sno*Drift stages. Both teams had to skip 100AW so now we will see how they compare on the technical stages of SOFR. Donoghue/McElhinney not only beat out Burk/Brady for the best Irish sounding name but have the speed and experience to challenge for the win. Cline/Dorman are back in an Evo and will be near the top. They could challenge for the win but they haven’t raced in a while and will be knocking off some rust. Will any of them have the speed and handling to out-duel the mighty Mitsubishi?



Bugaj/Dziubanski and the LaRosa’s are tied for the Rally America Championship NLO Class points lead and are both overcoming issues from 100AW. They will have their work cut out for them as the rest of the NLO field is fast and gunning for them. Andress/Moser won NLO at Sno*Drift and were extremely fast and even won several stages outright. They must be considered the NLO team to beat. It is Samir’s turn to race this event with Rachelle Kaltak taking over baby duties. Kaltak/Vohs showed lots of speed at LSPR last year and should challenge for the class title.




By far the largest class at SOFR is 2WD with 34 entries. Wallingford/Crescenti are the current class points leaders but Burk/Brady are coming on strong. At 100AW they debuted their 325HP Ford Escort MK2 and won the class while finishing 6th overall. They look to be the team to beat in 2wd. Steely/Osborn have showed flashes of speed but have been plagued by bad luck so far this season. “We will be back in top form for Southern Ohio Forest Rally” said a confident Cam Steely.  The Honda Team will be debuting the long awaited Honda Civic R for James Robinson. This beautiful 300HP monster should turn as many heads as it is fast. In the hands of James Robinson it should be in the hunt for the class win.



With 21 entrants the OL/SP class continues to be one of the most subscribed classes in the Rally America Championship. SOFR features 17 OL cars and 3 SP cars. At Sno*Drift the OL cars stole the show. At 100AW everyone expected the SP cars to run away with it. That didn’t quite happen. An SP car won, but OL cars were 2nd and 3rd. What will happen on the slower more technical roads of SOFR? Usher/Langosch are the current class leaders with a 4 point lead over Rooney/Holter. Usher is coming off a blown motor at 100AW and will be looking to rebound with a fresh motor. Rooney/Holter have been strong all season and could easily be standing on the podium at the end of the event. Kramer/Jacques led the Sno*Drift rally for most of the event and are planning to pick up where they left off and put the turbo cars in their rear view mirror. Cline/Dorman are the red herring in the group. They have been very fast but haven’t raced in a while and have a new car. Can they knock the rust off while dialing in a new car?



The team of McCarron/Blake are leading B-Spec in their Honda Fit. Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen are second in their over-hyphenated Ford-Fiesta-3CYL-1L-T. Tracey Gardnier has her Toyota Yaris sitting in 3rd while Jean-Pierre Rasaiah is 4th in his Chevy Sonic. McCarron/Blake look to continue their dominance of the class but Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen can challenge them for the win.


Whatever happens the real heroes of the event will be the organizers and volunteers. In only a few short months they have pulled together and developed an idea into a one of the largest events on the North American Rally Calendar. Congratulations!!!!!!