America is not quite ready for foreign-style auto rallying lasting days or weeks over thousands of miles, said David Ash, director of the North America Rally and Racing Association.
"It's possible here, but I'm not sure that's where we want to go," he said. "Right now, we want to stabilize performance rallying. Our way is to have good, fast weekend rallys."
Performance rallies are usually held at night often over unpaved logging trails or fire roads, divided into stages of one to 30 miles covered as quickly as possible. Cars run these timed stages singly against the clock.
"We're living up to our name this year with a rally in Puerto Rico and a 1,000 miler in Mexico City this weekend." Ash said. "In all, we'll have 10 events with 60 to 70 entries in each."
The three-year-old NARRA series is sponsored by the million-member Montgomery Ward Auto Club, Porsche Audi and Robert Bosch. Purses range from $3,000 to $5,000 per event, with a high of $13,000 for the Mexican rally.
Ash points out the auto rally is one of the oldest forms of motor competition. "The Monte Carlo began in 1911 to boost winter tourist trade," he said. "It's still run. OVer here, the off-road events are pure tests of stamina of the driver and machine, something like the foreign events. We think performance rallying blends them."
The Sports Car Club of America has a similar series. In both, two-person teams compete, a driver and a navigator. Last year't top NARRA navigator was Vicki Upjohn Buffum who, with her ex-husband John Buffum, won most of both clubs' top events.