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'A party in the forest': Muscatell Ojibwe Forests Rally is just around the corner

Marc Rue, left, and his son Kristian Rue pose in front of their '99 Subaru that they will be racing with at the 2018 Ojibwe Forests Rally in Detroit Lakes. / Submitted photo. 1 / 3
The Ojibwe Forests Rally, set for this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24-25, can often be a high-flying affair, with the event kicking off at the Becker County Fairgrounds. (Tribune file photo) 2 / 3
The Muscatell Ojibwe Forests Rally is referred to as a "party in the forest" as drivers rip through winding roads at top speed while spectators come out to watch. (Tribune file photo) 3 / 3

Regional competitor Marc Rue will be back this year to rip up the road at the Muscatell Ojibwe Forests Rally on August 24 and 25.

With his son Kristian Rue, 21, in the driver's seat, Marc Rue will relay information from the passenger's seat on how to navigate the sharp turns.

This year's chairman, Jonathan Atkins, said, "There's a driver and co-driver in each car. The co driver acts as a navigator — he will read pacenotes."

The navigator will describe the severity of the next corner and whether it is left or right while the driver focuses on speed and precision.

"It's very much a team sport. They really work together within the car," he remarked.

The rally is a multiple stage event that cars complete one at a time. They have one goal in mind: complete each stage as fast as possible.

"They'll drift corners while maintaining their speed as best they can," Atkins said, "If you get out of line you might tag a tree trunk and the car could spin out."

It is a form of motorsport that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars.

Despite it being one of the more dangerous sports, Marc Rue said he's never actually feared for his life.

"It's just fun to drive fast through the woods. It's a cool sport, and I hope a lot of people come out to watch," he explained.

It's a father-son hobby for the Rues. Both from Fargo, they came out to the event four years ago and realized they could get involved pretty easily.

"We saw some of the big guys race through first, and then we saw some cars in the back that were more realistic," he laughed.

So they gutted a '99 Subaru, threw a roll cage on it, and turned it into a suitable rally car.

It is the 7th year in Detroit Lakes, and round five of the American Rally Association championship series. Thousands of spectators will come to watch, and nearly 200 volunteers will help out.

Spectators can watch the cars in action and also meet the drivers during designated meet and greet sessions. According to Atkins, they will have stages placed sporadically.

To see the tentative schedule and event maps, go to

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first of 15 staged event will be at the Becker County Fairgrounds on Friday afternoon.

"We have people coming from as far away as Maine and Washington state," Atkins said, with a couple of international guests also.

Dave Higgins, one of the top drivers according to Atkins, is travelling from Wales. He will be sporting an '18 Subaru.

"Top competitors can get over 100 mph on the straight stretches, average is around 60 mph. On a gravel road it's pretty impressive," Atkins said.

Stages are typically around 10 to 15 miles long. The stretch is short, and then they will travel to the next stage, following the rules of the road while transiting.

"We have a radar gun. If they're caught speeding [between stages] then we give them a penalty," Atkins explained.

It is one of the many regulations and safety measures they have to enforce to prevent accidents and disturbances for locals.

Designated spectator points will be pointed out on the available maps.

There are dozens of rules and precautions, like leave pets at home, always be alert, listen for cars coming, stay away from the edge of the track, etc.

"People set up lawn chairs and watch the race go by," Atkins said, calling it a festival in the forest. "Car enthusiasts out there talkin' about cars and enjoying the woods."

In 2009 they had only nine competitors at the Ojibwe Forests Rally, marking their lowest count so far. This year, they already expect at least 25 competitors.

The event is free to the public and will go uninterrupted by rain, sleet, snow, wind, etc., according to Atkins.

They haven't had any life threatening injuries or fatalities in the forests rally's 37 years. Atkins hopes that in their 38th, they will maintain that reputation.

"We've had cars go off the road and multiple crashes. The cars have suffered all the damage, but the cage has done its job," he said, meaning it protected the people inside of it. "Everything we have on the vehicles, we've made it as safe as we can with helmets, seat belts, etc."