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Ojibwe Road Rally is this week

The Ojibwe Forests Rally runs from Aug. 27-29. DETROIT LAKES TRIBUNE/Brian Basham

Gravel will fly, rubber will burn and metal will most likely be bent and twisted when the Ojibwe Forests Rally returns to Detroit Lakes Aug. 27-29.

Race chairman Erick Nelson said the one major difference from last year’s road rally will be some changes made to the street portion of the race, including adding a night stage on the streets of Detroit Lakes.

The street stage, which runs from the Becker County Fairgrounds to the Detroit Lakes High School parking lot, was popular last year, according to Nelson, despite not so favorable weather for the event. He estimated several thousand people lined West Lake Drive and North Shore Drive to watch the stage.

By adding a night stage to the streets and making some tweaks to the barricades and spectator viewing points, Nelson said he hopes this year’s street stage draws up to 8,000 spectators.

“We’re anticipating and scared at the same time, that this year if it’s 85 (degrees) and sunny, 8,000 people,” Nelson said. “I don’t know.”

Water-filled barricades will be added to make the streets more narrow and force the drivers to slow down at certain spectator points during the stage, he said.

“We’ve done a lot of plans for this year — where we’re moving the concrete (barriers),” Nelson said. “Where the car went off last year, that taught us that’s someplace that we want to change some things a little bit.”

Changes include where concrete barriers are placed and where spectators can and can’t stand, he said.

“Last year was safe, but it was a learning year,” he said. “We didn’t know some of this stuff. Now, if it’s snow fence, you can be behind it. If it’s banner (caution) tape, you can’t.”

The first stage of the street course will start at 7:30 p.m., with the second leg at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, along West Lake and North Shore Drives in Detroit Lakes.

Several of the more popular rally drivers will be returning for this year’s event, including Travis Pastrana, Nick Roberts and the 2014 Ojibwe Forests Rally winner David Higgins. Higgins has already won the 2015 Rally America championship title, but he and co-driver Craig Drew are now looking to complete a perfect season and win every Rally America event.

Events for the rally start Wednesday, Aug. 26, with practice stages and the Subaru Meet and Greet with some of the drivers at Muscatell Subaru in Moorhead.

Racing begins in the forest stages Thursday at 7 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

Friday’s public events start at 3 p.m. with a Parc Expose on Veterans’ Memorial Parkway, where all drivers park their vehicles before the official start. Drivers will then start the rally at 4:30 p.m., leaving from Detroit Lakes to forest stages near Akeley in the Paul Bunyan State Forest.

Racing in the forest Saturday runs from 10 a.m. to about 5 p.m., when the rally moves to the streets of Detroit Lakes for the final two stages.

Post-rally festivities begin at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Go to ojibweforestrally.com for information on VIP packages and spectator information. The rally is headquartered at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion starting Wednesday, Aug. 26.

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