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The Road Rally returns

At the Ojibwe road rally last year this car kicks up some dust. Photo by - Brian Basham

After a brief hiatus in 2011 and a successful return in 2012, the Ojibwe Forests Rally is poised to be back to its former glory in 2013.

The 100-plus mile, timed car racing event, which twists and winds through the north woods of Norman and Becker Counties, has been added to the Rally America national series, according to race organizer Erick Nelson.

Headquartered in Detroit Lakes, the race will be held Aug. 23-24, with weeklong events leading up to the race itself.

"What we had this year is going to look like a county fair compared to a state fair," Nelson said. "It's going to be huge."

The rally is now the seventh race in the Rally America Series, which has races from Oregon to Maine to Missouri starting as early as next January in Michigan.

Nelson said the event will be extended from one day to a two-day race, headquartered at the Detroit Lakes Holiday Inn for the second year.

While the race is still in the early planning stages, Nelson said he expects the 2013 Ojibwe Forests Rally to be a week-long event with many activities culminating with the race itself on the weekend.

"We're working on everything from a charity golf event to two full days of competition. We're going to try to get the cars to start downtown. Lots of big ideas," Nelson said.

Not only will there be more happening around the rally, the road race will also be much more exciting and competitive, Nelson said.

"This is where we'll start to see teams from the Mitsubishi factory team, the Subaru factory team, all the big factory guys," Nelson said. "We're going to see the whole circuit now."

Last year's Ojibwe Forests Rally, which was a regional Rally America event, had 31 racing teams entered with 14 finishing the race in its' entirety. Nelson expects 60 teams entered in the 2013 national rally.

"For the drivers, that means national points, especially where (the rally) is placed in the series. We're sixth of seven (races), so more than likely, our event will be where a lot of the championship is decided," Nelson said. "That makes it a lot of fun, too."

And fun is something Nelson is hoping the rally spectators will have more of during this year's event.

He said there are plans to have the rally make several spectator runs or "super specials," where the cars will make several passes through an easy-to-get-to spot for spectators like a state park or someplace similar.

"Picture X Games without the jumps. All in an area or mostly in an area where you can see it," he said. "There will be a lot of excitement around that because people will be able to sit there and basically see a good portion of (a leg of the race)."

Nelson is also hoping for more community involvement in the 2013 rally.

"I will or someone else from the rally will be in (Detroit Lakes) every week until the rally," he said. "Because we want to get everybody involved. Obviously, it takes a lot more to put on so we're going to be working a lot more with our sponsors than we ever have in the past. Putting on an event of this size, we need a lot more community involvement."