Freeze Frame

Stopping Time in the Rush of Winter Rally


April 1, 2015 Photo Essay By Photo by Henry Phillips
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Rally drivers are the ramshackle bunch that hang out on the outskirts of town. They’re the outcasts ostracized not because they’re oddballs, but because they’re aloof — they dream of something better to do with their time. That something involves the great outdoors and miles of unpaved roads; the raucous challenges to whip ultra-powerful cars through terrain not suited for most four-wheeled wonders. Rally guys’ eyes glaze over when talk turns to backroads and the perfect, unmonitored stretch of gravel. They’ve got a passion for something that’s reckless and, if you let rational thinking take over, straight bizarre. Drive a car on surfaces with no grip? Let loose the back end to round a corner? Soup up a rusted-out ’87 Quattro? You crazy?

MORE RECKLESSNESS: Rallying Caught on Film | Get Rally Schooled | The Audi Sport Quattro

The wildness, grit and a touch of crazy is what makes rally something of note. It’s nothing without the element of riding the hairline of utter danger. When you drive a car straight into a six-foot-deep snowbank, get towed out and then — antithetical to any natural intuition — you redline the beast back onto the course: those moments define the sport. It’s taking a charred Quattro and pushing it harder than you’d ever drive those more precious, beautiful cars. It’s walking out into sub-zero temps in the New Hampshire wilderness, looking around at a landscape that only consists of snow and thinking, “You know what I’m going to do now? I’m going to go for a drive. A really fast drive.” That’s the spirit of the rally driver: the driver that lives for the fringes and steers life down an alternative, adrenaline-laden path.

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Matthew Ankeny

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