There’s no missing David Holloway’s 2016 Subaru WRX when it rolls into an event, whether it’s a car show or a road rally. The car is decked out in Subaru’s classic Blue Pearl and Yellow, covered with graphics and wearing enough lights to illuminate a long-abandoned elevator shaft.
“I’m a Subaru Ambassador,” says Holloway, explaining an enthusiast organization created by the auto manufacturer. “We educate people on Subarus, all the models available, we promote safety and introduce them to rally racing. I go to a lot of charity events. I’ll show up and give my time and I always leave the car open so kids can climb inside.”
Holloway comes by his love of Subarus naturally: he’s owned five so far.
“The first one was a Brat, an ’81. It was ugly, but that thing would go anywhere,” he chuckled.
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And he loves introducing people to the popular sport of rally racing, which is big in Europe and just now beginning to take hold in the United States.
“I grew up on the dirt and gravel roads in Mississippi,” he says, explaining that he learned to drive behind the wheels of a variety of old beater pickups, at least one of which ended upside down, well off the road.
Today, he stresses proper driving and learning a car’s capabilities by understanding how it handles. That’s critically important in rally racing, where Subaru has long been a top contender, with its Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system.
“Learning to rally race is based on control. Professional rally teams do not practice at high speed but rather at lower speeds focusing on weight transfer, self-imposed under- and over-steer corrections and apex visualization,” Holloway said. “The car goes where you look.”
And go, his WRX does, thanks to a modified 2.0 liter turbocharged flat 4-cylinder `boxer’ engine that produces up to 19.5 pounds of boost, creating 320 horsepower and 344 foot-pounds of torque. The engine redlines at 6700 RPM, with the car rated at a top speed of 157 mph.
Holloway bought his WRX at the Subaru of Wichita dealership and began modifying it almost immediately for rally competition. He designed his own graphics package and had Kory Lawrence at E Graf-X print the vinyl and apply it to the car’s sheetmetal.
“These cars have to be street-legal, licensed and insured,” he said.
Unlike World Rally Championship cars, these machines are not built using custom tubular steel chassis and there is no co-driver (navigator) involved in calling out upcoming turns and twists in the course.
He substitutes special gravel tires and wheels for the factory 18-inch wheels and Kumho soft-compound street tires when he competes.
“You compete on a laid-out track, over so many miles and whoever has the best time wins. But I don’t really care if I win or not. It’s all about the driving,” Holloway said.
The interior of his car is basically stock, with plenty of switches to control the various accessory lights. A stubby 6-speed manual transmission shift lever is located between the racing style seats and he says there’s nothing like shifting out of third gear at 115 mph.
He would someday like to open his own driving school, sharing some of what he’s learned with younger drivers.
“You always drive within 95 percent of your ability,” he says, stressing that no one should engage in rally-style driving on public streets or highways.
Mike Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org