"Oh, Dear!" Undoubtedly that's not exactly what Travis Pastrana said on the 16th stage of the snowy Sno*Drift Rally in Atlanta, Michigan, the first round of the 2008 Rally America National Championship. He hit a deer, and the rally was over for him and his co-driver Derek Ringer – not a good start to his fourth full rally season as a member of Subaru Rally Team USA (SRT USA).
In January, Ken Block/Alex Gelsomino won the first rally of the
year – the Sno*Drift Rally in Michigan.
Alex Gelsomino and Dave Mirra check notes with Derek Dauncey
during X Games competition in Los Angeles.
Travis Pastrana/Derek Ringer in the SRT USA #199 Subaru WRX STI
finished 2nd in the 2008 Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.
Fresh from winning the 2007 Rally America National Championship, Pastrana and Ringer once again were teamed with Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino. They had finished 3rd in the 2007 championship. Naturally, the team's goals were to win the championship again as well as try to improve on its results at X Games.
Fans of BMX racing knew of Dave Mirra. He had, and still has, won the most medals in the history of the X Games. Through his friendship with Pastrana and Block, he caught the rally bug.
James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc. was introduced to Mirra. "As you can imagine," Han said, "I had more than a few parties expressing interest in driving for our team. Both Travis and Ken knew Dave and his interest in driving and raw talent in a car.
"When looking at potential driver candidates for future support, it's paramount to evaluate one key question straight away: Will this athlete represent Subaru adequately both in and out of the race car? The next pivotal evaluation revolves around accurately assessing (and honestly answering) whether or not the candidate has the driving potential to become a championship contender. To Dave's credit, my answer to both after the evaluation was a resounding 'Yes.'"
As it had done with Pastrana a few years previously, Subaru partner Vermont SportsCar (which runs SRT USA) put Mirra though rally schools in preparation for his debut with SRT USA. His first rally had been in a regional event in Canada at the end of 2007.
After more testing with the team, Mirra was added for 2008 in a third car with outside sponsorship. Just as Pastrana and Block had done in the their first year of rallying, this was going to be a learning season for Mirra. He only planned to compete in six of the nine rounds of the championship.