NEWS: Live at the X-Games: Rally Racing Does Hollywood

By John Rettie - August 8, 2006
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Dear Hollywood: Teenagers love living on the edge. They worship wild skateboarders and insane Moto X riders. It's no wonder the X Games have become so popular. You've heard of Colin McRae? Sony has this really neat race game named after him so he's a big hit with kids, though many of them think he's a fictitious character. But auto racing enthusiasts know he's one of the world's greatest race drivers.
As a rally driver he's able to drive along dirt roads at unbelievable speeds with the help of a navigator sitting beside him, who reads out instructions telling him what lies ahead. If you've watched coverage of a World Rally Championship event you'll find out why the WRC is probably the most popular form of motorsport worldwide, ahead of Formula One and way ahead of NASCAR. It's because it's a sport people can relate to as these drivers are in street legal cars and they can be seen driving on public highways between the competitive sections of the rallies.
For one reason and another rallying has never become a popular sport in the US. You guys in Hollywood have a knack for creating made-for-TV stories that help promote sports and stars. Can you do something to promote rallying in America?
0608 Z+2006 Subaru Impreza WRX+2
Dear Rally Enthusiast: We've taken a look at footage from rallies and we agree - rallying is spectacular and rally drivers are undoubtedly the best drivers in the world. Here's our suggestion, read through this overview of a potential script and see if it might work for promoting the sport:
Find a good-looking personable teenager who is skilled at riding a motorcycle in the dirt and make him a star in motocross. Bring him to the X-Games where his skills at performing Moto X tricks earn him gold medals each year. Once he's the sports biggest hero he'll have a giant fan base. Then get him to start competing in rallies in a top-notch car. His skills as a motocross rider will ensure he starts to win, as it is such a good training ground for rally drivers.
His draw will allow him to approach the organizers of the X Games when he asks if rallying can be added to the annual event. Get the rider's team to bring in his hero, a world champion rally driver from Europe as his team mate. Run some elimination special stages in the great tracks out in the desert near Los Angeles. Take the times from those stages and adjust them so the accumulative times are close, allowing for a dramatic final stage on an artificial track in the stadium at the X Games. Make sure that the battle between the motocross rider and the world champion is close so there's a chance for the motocross rider to be able to beat the world champ.
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One the first day of the X Games have the Moto X star do an unbelievable double-flip jump to win a gold medal so the crowd is pumped up for the rally event. Before the start of the rally stage interview the motocross champ and get him to reveal that it's the world champ's birthday that day. Have him egg on the world champ saying something like: "you're going to get the silver medal for your birthday present."
On live TV set the stage for a dramatic finale by showing great footage from the desert stages run earlier. Show how rallying works and make sure footage of the driver's feet is shown - it really demonstrates the incredible car control achieved by these drivers. Have the five finalists race through the stage in reverse order. Show their times on the TV screen so viewers can see how close each driver is coming to winning.
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Make sure the Moto X champ puts in a good time so he's guaranteed a silver medal. The final run will be that of the world champ. Have him drive right on the ragged edge, clipping barriers as he slides around the stage, setting a time that will beat the Moto X champ. Let the excitement build. Have him take the final jump located in the stadium near the finish line. But make sure he rolls the car.
Capture the roar of approval from the crowd and the look of amazement on the Moto X rider's face as he realizes he's just beaten his hero to win the gold medal. But continue the drama as the rally champ's car lands on all four tires after the rollover and he's able to continue driving and reach the finish line with a chance to still win. Instead he loses by less than a second, despite rolling the car. Fill the stadium with movie extras who can jump and scream, make sure the TV commentators sound believable as if this all happening without being staged.
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We're sure such a dramatic "event" will garner massive publicity for the sport and make a true champ out of the Moto X rider as well as raise the former world rally champ's stature even more.
Dear Hollywood: Unbelievable -- if you could persuade TV to go for a script like that it would amaze everyone. I can just imagine the TV commentator covering it live will say: "It looks like a video game - is this real?" From my experience you cannot script a race - and rallying in particular is the ultimate reality show.
By the way did you know that Subaru's current star WRC driver is Petter Solberg and his nickname is Hollywood - he could drive in the encore event next year if you pull off a great event this year! Go for it and let's see what happens in reality.
0608 Z+2006 Subaru Impreza WRX+6
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As a teenager in the 1960s in the UK, John Rettie's hero was Paddy Hopkirk after he won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 driving a Mini Cooper S. His dream was to own a Mini Cooper S once he was old enough to drive and become a rally driver. Rettie managed both when he was 21. But he quickly discovered he was not really fast (brave) enough as driver. However he was good at reading a map and not throwing up, so he became a sometime rally navigator. A decade later, after a couple of events sitting in the right seat with Steve Millen in the early 1980s, he nearly became a professional navigator but a tentative factory ride fell through. He has been lucky enough to cover many WRC events around the world as a photographer and writer. "I have watched many writers attend their first ever rally and come away amazed at the skills of the driver and the excitement of watching cars going sideways through corners in some of the most beautiful places in the world," says Rettie. "As I've followed rallying's ups and downs in the US it was just amazing to attend the X Games and see Pastrana and McRae battle it out in an incredible made-for-TV drama shown on ABC. I just hope this may be the start of a surge in interest in rallying."

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