2024 WRC Could Feature U.S. Race

Hosting in Chattanooga, TN

The Chattanooga Times Free Press indicated that the World Rally Championships could potentially go back to America after a period of 36 years, with the possibility of a racing occasion in the Smoky Mountains situated in Southeastern Tennessee maybe taking place sometime in 2024.

In the event that everything works out as desired, 2024 will witness the first FIA World Rally Championship occurrence on American soil in three and a half decades. As per Jalopnik, the administrator of universal motorsport, otherwise called FIA, has been examining the likelihood of an American venue for some time, with potential areas including Washington D.C., Seattle, Utah, and Colorado all being evaluated.

It seems the most encouraging for Tennessee, with the Chattanooga Touring Organisation been chasing after the prospect of a local rally racing competition for longer than 12 months.

On Wednesday, Barry White, the head of the Chattanooga Tourism Corporation, declared that the locality’s officials have arranged a few trial runs that are going to occur during this year to decide if a contest will be held down the line.

The World Rally Championship is slated to arrive in Hamilton, Bradley, and Polk Counties. A promotional rally set for the 7th and 8th of April is anticipated to happen in the area, which could potentially lead to an official test race at some point during September. Said event would be headquartered in Chattanooga, while the majority of races are envisioned to occur in the gravel streets of the Ocoee River region and Cherokee National Forest located in Polk County.

“For the past year and a half, the WRC has been working to make a return to the United States,” said White. “We have been in communication with them and are doing our best to make sure that happens.”

Tim Morgan, the chief sports officer for the Chattanooga Tourism Co., has been astonished by the level of enthusiasm that rally racing generates in other parts of the world: “It’s mind-blowing how much anticipation there is for an international rally event in the US. We’re aware that these events draw in people from all around the world, and there’s a huge interest and craving for this kind of adventure race that I was unaware of until we started exploring it. It’s amazing.”

White calculates that a WRC event based in Chattanooga might bring up to $34 million into their regional economy. The broader media attention this would attract is estimated to definitely help secure the growth of tourism within other areas as well.

“Rally racing is an exciting sport that provides an unforgettable experience for both the drivers and spectators,” said Morgan. “It’s similar to many of the adventure sports that this region is renowned for, such as hang gliding, rock climbing, caving, biking, and whitewater rafting.” She added, “In places like Portugal and Finland, where World Rally Championship races are held, rally racing is just as popular as NASCAR racing in the United States.”

Jalopnik has uncovered that, per the Director of Business Development at the World Rally Championship (WRC), Marc de Jong, an estimated 20% of the fanbase for this very popular sport resides in the U.S.. This implies guaranteed success is on the horizon. Much of the enthusiasm can be credited to the pioneering work of Ken Block and other racers similar to him.

At this point, it would be too soon to wager on a US leg of the rally, however things seem positive. The Chattanooga Touristic Corp. has allocated $200K for this year, in collaboration with the managing organization bearing responsibility for Rally Mexico.

Ford, Hyundai and Toyota, the three automakers linked to WRC, are evidently enthusiastic about having an event in America. It would be captivating to witness a Hyundai i20-based rally car challenging a Ford Puma and a Toyota GR Yaris rather than watching a Santa Cruz take the fight to a Jeep Wrangler when it comes to off-road racing. Apparently Ford is most thrilled, in accordance to de Jong. Even though it has already ascertained itself to F1 and other stars of motorsport, adding another crown to its list of achievements wouldn’t do any harm.

The success of Formula One open-wheel single-seater racing in recent years has reflected the increased excitement and engagement for the sport throughout the US. Bringing back WRC racing to America is a smart call for both the sport, but also the tourism industry. The opportunity for an American version of rally cars on the roads would be exciting to watch unfold.

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