Rally America visits Niobrara County

© 2018-Lusk Herald

Lusk has had its fair share of events this summer ranging from the annual Legend of Rawhide to the Total Solar Eclipse and, just recently in the last weekend of August, Rally America. “It was quite a bit of work and money to put all this on. I love to race I just don’t know if this would be my cup of tea. These men and women are very good at what they do. Every car has a driver and a co-driver to navigate the course. They both trust each other to make the right decision in a split second. The speed of the cars are anywhere from 10 MPH to 120 MPH” says Johnnie Lashmett of JP Oil. The event, which commenced just days after the Total Solar Eclipse on the 21st of August, brought an assembly of a special breed of people to the area that Niobrara locals themselves can relate to—car enthusiasts. 

“Rally America’s initial purpose was to support the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) ProRally Championship with timing and scoring efforts” state the Rally America website. The association deals with “modified street cars” on natural terrains in various elements; “In 2012 Rally America sanctioned the U.S. Rallycross Series at New Jersey Motorsports Park with four more high-energy rallycross events in addition to operating the Rally America National Championship”. Dillon VanWay—son of the owner of JP Oil—is a Top Tier Racer in the rally circuit. With JP Oil owning a substantial amount of land in Lance Creek, it only made sense that a portion of the private land could be utilized to build a track, allowing for the rally to come to the Niobrara County area. In charge of plans to bring the rally to locals was Bill Fogg Sr., Chris VanWay, and the Wyoming JP Oil crew, including Lashmett. Per Lashmett, planning on the event was a year in the making, “We started this project last year and started building the race track the first part of August. Myself and the JP Oil Crew in Lance Creek put all of this together. None of this could have happened with Chris VanWay, Bill Fogg Sr., and the JP Oil Wyoming crew”. The official name of the event was ‘Rally Wyoming’. 

Once the event was finalized and the track was constructed, it was all up to the teams from there. “They have several stages they run during the race. It is all based on time; the faster you get through the track, the more you move up in points. They start the cars two minutes apart. It is all a dirt course with lots of turns and switch backs to try to keep the speed down.” states Lashmett, adding, “They have three stages the run in; the race on Friday and then on Saturday they run three stages but we change up the route they are allowed to take”.  A heavy car enthusiast himself, Lashmett admits his favorite part of the race were “the jumps and the drift of all the cars”, admitting he was pulling for Dillon VanWay, the 600 racing driver. 

“You could say this was an event to kind of test the waters to see how Niobrara County responded to it” comments Lashmett, happy to add that this will be a yearly event with next year’s races slated for September 8 and 9; the weekend after Labor Day. 

Lashmett would like to extend his gratitude to the communities, firemen, EMTs and all of the volunteers. Without them an event like this would not have been possible.

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