Rally Ready Gets Raptor Ready

Posted by Dave Carapetyan on

When Trey at TRR reached out to us a few months ago, we were super excited to figure out how we could turn our Rally Ready curriculum into Raptor Ready. But immediately a few hurdles jumped out at us. First off, nobody here has driven a Raptor! Second off, our cars are all specially prepared for our curriculum and vice versa. Our lessons are designed around a specific driving style that is very different from what you’d find behind the wheel of Raptor, and especially in a desert racing environment. Nonetheless, we sat down and started brainstorming.


Fast forward a few weeks and we put together a great meeting of the minds during a half day class in April. Trey joined us at the Rally Ranch along with our good friend and resident cage-builder “Ol Dirty” Roy Tomkins, fresh from a 2nd place finish in his 1400-class desert racing Ford Ranger. We started off the day with the standard fare of rally curriculum in our fleet of rally school cars and were thrilled to see Trey and Roy, both experienced racers, getting so much from the training. Both remarked at how much they enjoyed the environment just because it was such a relaxed place to push themselves and the cars without the stresses of the competition environment. From our end, it was yet another reminder of exactly what we love so much about our work as we watched our friends developing as drivers with just a little bit of help from our curriculum.


As we finished the day, we took out Trey’s Raptor to see how much of our existing curriculum would transfer over and how much new stuff we needed to add. Much to all of our surprise, with some very minor tweaks, we were sliding the Raptor around like a rally car and finding more and more small changes we could make to mesh together our collective experience in road racing, desert racing, and rally, to help make our friends faster, safer, and more engaged drivers at the next Raptor Run.


Of course, no day would be complete without a few laps around our new off-road course (built for our 2016 Raptor Rally Weekend) with the madman, Ol Dirty Roy, himself behind the wheel.

For more information on the 2016 Texas Raptor Run happening May 19-23, visit http://texasraptorrun.com/ or to sign up for our Raptor Ready class in your won Raptor, visit http://goo.gl/886QRK

Read more →

No Restart Button This Time, GT Planet Goes Rallying!

Posted by Dave Carapetyan on

We had the distinct pleasure of spending 2 days with Jordan at GT Planet and getting to show him what it’s really like behind the wheel of a rally car. It was amazing not just getting to know Jordan and his mom (who we are very proud to call friends), but to see somebody else who managed to find themselves a career in racing through Gran Turismo.


In his extensive review, Jordan details exactly what goes into a 2-day rally school and what you can expect to get out of it. If you’ve been on the fence about going to rally school, here’s everything you need to know about what to expect!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with how I got into racing, check out our other blog here: (http://goo.gl/Zbv394)

Read more →

Jalopnik tells the story of how Rally Ready came to be

Posted by Ophelia Talley on

Check out Jalopnik’s story on our founder, Dave Carapetyan, and how he found himself at the helm of the only rally school in Texas.




Read more →


Posted by Dave Carapetyan on

The clock is counting down from ten. Your co-driver is gripping tightly to his notes. The road ahead is ripe with fresh gravel ruts from the rally cars before you. It's your first rally stage. Are you prepared? Jeff, Jackson and Payton Gray were more than prepared for their first rally this past month at the Ojibwe Forest Rally in Detroit Lakes, MN. 

Here's their unique experience not just learning the skills to partake in the greatest adrenaline thrill ride on the planet, but also the camaraderie between friends, co-workers, and family that rally racing presents.

The Ford Fiesta Rally Cars at the Parc Expose car show. 2014 Ojibwe Forest Rally. Copyright Rally Ready Driving School.

Jeff Gray and his son Payton have been fans of rallying for a while. They visited a rally school in Washington state two years ago for a 2-day class where they got their first taste of the sport. When they returned to Texas, they knew they liked rallying but didn't know where to start. Fast forward two years to X-Games Austin. Jeff, Payton and Payton's younger brother Jackson stopped by the Rally Ready Driving School boothWe talked Rally. All three of them signed up for our July class. On one end of the spectrum, Jeff and Payton had high expectations from their previous rally experience. Jackson, meanwhile, didn't know much about the sport and had never driven a manual transmission. As an instructor that can be quite a gap to bridge.

Right out of the gate, Payton and Jeff were learning at a quick pace. Their previous rally school experience gave them an advantage but didn't leave them confident in their left-foot braking. Our unique approach and curriculum pushed them far beyond where they had left off And the amount of seat time at Rally Ready (drive until your arms turn into jello and your calf can't press the pedal anymore) left them with a true muscle memory skill set.  

The youngest, Jackson, had the additional task of learning how to work a clutch. After just a few minutes, his left foot danced from clutch to brake just like his dad and brother. In fact, he was the fastest of the three at times! (Payton and Jeff might disagree.)

By the end of the class, the three were so hooked on 
rally, they set their sights on the next level. We discussed some options and decided the best option would be arrive-and-drive. Danny Grant and 2WD Rally America superstar Chris Duplessis recently launched their new business, Kitty Smiles Rally Adventure (www.kittysmiles.com) offering reliable, affordable rally car rentals to adventurous new drivers. Jeff rented both of the team's Ford Fiesta rally cars. Next event on the calendar was the Ojibwe Forest Rally some three weeks away. They signed up.

The week before Ojibwe Forest Rally, Jeff, Payton and Jackson returned to Rally Ready for some 
advanced training to prepare for their first rally. In an effort to ease the stress, the unknowns and pitfalls of a first rally, we put together a unique co-driving lesson, paired with a mock rally.

First, we found a twisty public road and made stage notes much like the ones you would read at a Rally America event. We had everyone read and listen to them as both co-driver and driver. Regardless of which job you plan on doing in your rally career, it is tremendously important 
for a new driver to understand just how difficult the co-drivers job can be. It is up to each to keep one another safe It is of paramount importance that driver and co-driver understand just how difficult it is to both read stage notes and drive with them.

Once stage notes had become comfortable and everyone was on point with the pace, inflection, and timing required of professional co-driving, we headed back to the Rally Ready track where we had a mock rally set up. Each driver received a time card and was sent through a stage where they encountered all of the signage and controls they would experience in a real rally. This process helped them became comfortable with not just the rally control signage but driving at speed with notes, as well. To finish the day, everyone took a handful of laps in a variety of different cars reading and listening to notes while being coached on rhythm and enunciation by veteran co-driver and Rally Ready co-founder, Rob Amato. By the end of the day, the three of them were completely comfortable heading into their first rally. 

Jeff and Jackson excitedly waiting for the start of the 2014 Ojibwe Forest Rally. Copyright Rally Ready Driving School

August 21, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota: Ojibwe Forest RallyJeff drove car #571 with his son Jackson co-driving. Payton drove #129 with Danny Grant co-driving. Right out of the gate, their stage times were quick, competitive and they kept the cars in one piece for the entire rally. Jackson, in his debut co-driving, didn't get a single time penalty and surprised many veteran co-drivers with some of his advanced co-driver tricks that we prepared him for. 

At one service, Payton's orange car came over the crest down the highway with the hazards on. "Uh oh," we thought, "There must have been an incident."

As the car came into view, we noticed that the hazards were on because he had a car in tow. Payton approached the service park and put his hands out the window signaling to the car behind him to brake. It was a ton of fun to watch him getting his first taste of competitive camaraderie and especially using a skill he learned at Rally Ready— how to tow and be towed

From left: Danny Grant, Payton Gray, Chris Duplessis, Jackson Gray, Jeff Gray with their Kitty Smiles Rally Adventure Ford Fiesta Rally Cars. 2014 Ojibwe Forest Rally. Copyright Rally Ready Driving School

And how did they do? On their first rally Jeff and Jackson made podium, taking 3rd in 2wdwith Payton just a couple spots behind. The cars came home undamaged and the drivers and co-drivers had an exceptional first rally. In fact, they had so much fun that they plan to enter their own rally cars in the full Rally America 2015 National Championship calendar!

Payton coming through the last corner of the spectator stage. 2014 Ojibwe Forest Rally. Copyright Rally Ready Driving School

We'd like to thank the Gray family for choosing us as their team for real-world rally training. We'd also like to thank Kitty Smiles Rally Adventure for providing safe, reliable and affordable rentals for them to start their career in. If you are interested in getting started in the sport, check out the variety of class offerings we have from a 2.5 hour clinic all the way up to our 3-day Rally Ready University and private rally training. Compare us to the other programs out there and you'll see the difference is clear. There's only one place to become Rally Ready. 




Read more →


Posted by Dave Carapetyan on

Texas Dave - Co-founder, Rally Ready Driving School

This was my tenth consecutive entry at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. To that point, this summer was a time of reflection as I got to look at where we'd been in the past ten years. 


Dave on his way to his second of 3 consecutive Pikes Peak Open victories in 2009.


An Acura Integra Type-R was my first car back in 2005. We finished third in that car twice before moving to an Evo 6.5. That car brought us a 2nd place finish in 2007 and a win in 2008. For 2009 we moved to the Evo 8 that we still have today. It brought us our second and third consecutive victory in the Open Division in 2009 and 2010. For 2011, we made heavy modifications to the car and moved to the Unlimited Division. Since then, we have had a rough go of it. 2011 brought us our first DNF as we ran out of budget before we could get the car finished. We made it 4 miles before the engine gave up. In 2012, we raced our rental car, a 2005 Subaru, but lost an engine in testing. We sat 2012 out to support our friends. 2013 saw the rebirth of the Unlimited car and finally a run to the top with a time of 10:27. Unfortunately, we had mechanical trouble towards the top and lost a lot of time. 


This year, things looked even better. Our Hoosier tires were far and away the best we'd ever had on the car. The car was incredibly quick in practice despite being down on horsepower. Our times in practice were competitive against some of the fastest cars in the field. After a re-prep and nut and bolt check of the car, we prepared to load it up the night before the race. As we pulled it onto the trailer, two gallons of coolant poured out of the exhaust and we found ourselves with a cracked cylinder head. A replacement was sourced from Craigslist and after an all night push, the team had the car back together. Race day had a different plan for us, though. 

I left the start line and immediately knew something wasn't happy. The first mile or two was the most time I ever spent flat out on the Peak.. but for all the wrong reasons. It wasn't but three miles in and we had a mechanical failure. I suppose our shot at a 9 minute run will have to wait until year eleven.


Pikes Peak 2014


Brianne- Co-conspirator, Rally Ready Driving School

2009 was the first year Brianne tackled Pikes Peak. Her first adventure was on two wheels. After two years of that, she moved up to 4 wheels in a Subaru Impreza. Her 2011 maiden two-wheel voyage brought home a win in Time Attack 4WD. In 2012 she returned with the same car much more thoroughly prepared for Time Attack domination. Weather wasn't on her side that year and she was forced to run in the worst conditions of the day giving her an unfavorable time compared to the rest of the field. Nonetheless, she made it to the top and brought the car home in one piece. For 2013, she took the year off to help Dave make his Unlimited run. 


Brianne and Dave, Pikes Peak 2013


2014 was Brianne's fifth run up the Peak. The car was better, faster and stronger than ever. Her practice times were quick but the car was losing compression all week. Race day for her was, however, a success. The engine held on for the whole run up the mountain and she managed an 11:35. Plans for next year are already more than in motion. A new sequential gearbox goes into the car next month and testing starts this winter.



Yuri Kouznetsov- 2012 Rally Ready Alumni, Current Rally Ready Instructor

When Yuri showed up to RRDS in 2012, it was clear quickly that he was a natural talent. His driving skills were astonishing and his sense of humor even better. His first trip up Pikes Peak was in 2012 in the co-driver seat of a car that was made world famous when it tumbled down the hill 12 times. Yuri and the driver both walked away. He returned to spectate in 2013 before putting his sights on the drivers seat to tackle the 156 corners that nearly took his life two years previous.

Yuri built a strong and quick car and put in a great drive all week. With the exception of a couple small issues, they put on the strongest effort. When Yuri left the start line, the emotion for everyone was tangible. He faced down his demon with the best time of all of us at 11:03.


Yuri on his way to a rookie Pikes Peak run of 11:03


2014 was a difficult year on Pikes Peak. Even for those who finished on race day, times were significantly slower than anticipated. The mountain, like a rally stage, is a living breathing dynamic entity. Everything can change in an instant. The conditions can be sunny and hot for a mile, raining for 4 miles, dry for a mile and then snow and sleet to the finish. It is not to be taken for granted and it is to be respected. What we have learned here over the past ten years has shaped much of what we teach, how we teach and will continue to shape our perspective going forward.

To share some of what we've learned, sign up for a class today at www.rallyready.com.

Read more →