The Olympus Rally Is One of the Most Underrated Events in Motorsports

By 4 Min Read

Over the weekend, I left my home in the concrete jungle of Seattle and headed deep into the Olympic Peninsula, the landmass that separates the Puget Sound from the Pacific Ocean. Although Seattle is the 15th-largest metropolitan area in America, it only takes about an hour of driving in any direction to find old-growth forests, pine-scented air, and pristine mountain vistas. It’s a hiker’s paradise.

Naturally, this also makes it the perfect place to hold a rally. The American Rally Association (ARA) began competing on the hard-packed dirt and gravel logging roads outside Shelton, Washington in 1973, and called it the Olympus Rally. In the mid-80s, the World Rally Championship (WRC) even held a few rallies here—the last time a WRC event was held on American soil.

Olympus Rally 2024
Olympus Rally 2024

This past weekend was the 30th running of the ARA’s Olympus Rally, and Subaru invited me to check it out. This was my first time attending a rally, and it doesn’t get much better than this; the Olympus is famed for its perfect driving surfaces and extreme length (150 total miles; one of the stages is 21 miles long, absurd for an American rally).

Professional mountain biker and rally driver Brandon Semenuk and his co-driver Keaton Williams drove Subaru Motorsports’s ARA-prepped Impreza WRX to a handy victory (a margin of over 13 minutes over second place). By stage two on Saturday it was fairly clear he was going to win, barring catastrophe, as his normal top-tier national competitors were all absent for this event.

Subaru WRX ARA Rally Car

This dampened my enjoyment absolutely none. Rally is so spectacular that as long as you can see the cars, it doesn’t matter who’s winning. I followed along with the Subaru media team as we darted from stage to stage, staking out good spots for shots and videos.

My main goal was to shoot stories for the Motor1 Instagram page (we’ll have a highlight reel up this week) but since I love photography so much, I brought a camera along too.

Olympus Rally 2024
Olympus Rally 2024
Olympus Rally 2024

That ended up being a smart choice! Despite extreme temperature shifts (it dropped 30 degrees in an hour) and traditional Pacific Northwest on-and-off showers all day, good shots were easy to come by. Since the ARA runs the Olympus Rally as both a regional amateurs event and a national professional one, the diversity of the field was absurd, with everything from old Volvos and Escorts flying through the forest all the way up to a Ferrari-swapped Impreza STI.

Olympus Rally 2024

My favorite sight, however, still had to be the Pleiades catching flight through the forest 15 feet in front of me. What a spectacular vision. It made the wait to attend my first rally absolutely worth it. My biggest complaint was that I didn’t quite prep myself enough! I’m hoping to return next year with more cameras, a car to camp in, and a much better raincoat. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the shots I got this year!

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