Everything You Wanted to Know About NASA's Rally Sport Racing Series

Imagine leaping over high mounds on gravel roads and tossing your car into a hairpin turn using the time-honored “Scandinavian Flick” technique as you march toward the top time of a stage and ultimately to victory in NASA Rally Sport.

Nothing broadens a driver’s skills and enhances his or her bonafides like finding grip and speed on a surface where there is hardly any to be found. That’s NASA Rally Sport, and there are rallies taking place all across the country. You can get in on the action, too.

 If you’d like to investigate further, NASA Rally Sport has compiled a list of tutorials in its Rally University to help you every step of the way.

You can run nearly anything in NASA Rally Sport, front-, rear- or allwheel drive, as long as it passes tech, but there are cars that lend themselves to Rally better than others. Go with what others are using rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s also worth noting that NASA Rally Sport has classes for motorcycles, quads and production-based side-by-side vehicles.
1983-1988 Porsche 944, normally aspirated, 2,479 cc, eight-valve engine and 1987-1988 Porsche 924S, 2,479 cc, eight-valve engine
  • 2000 to 2005 Audi A4 $1,800 to $4,000
  • BMW E30 $3,000 to $5,000
  • BMW E36 $2,500 to $5,000
  • BMW E46 $3,500 to $6,000
  • 2000 to 2005 Ford Focus $1,500 to $4,000
  • 2000 to 2005 Honda Civic $1,800 to $3,000
  • 2000 Honda Civic Hatchback $4,500 to $6,000
  • 1996 to 2005 Dodge Neon $1,000 to $2,500
  • 2002 to 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer $1,800 to $4,300
  • 1998 to 2005 Subaru Impreza $7,500 to $14,500
  • 1995 to 2005 Volkswagen Golf $1,800 to $4,000
Engine displacement is not regulated, but is subject to adjustment per the rules. Adjusted engine displacement is calculated by multiplying the actual displacement by the multipliers listed in the rules. Turbocharging and rotary engines are the most consequential modifying factors.

Varies by class, car and horsepower. The minimum weight of the car is determined by the class and adjusted displacement. The chart in the rulebook lays it all out.

Permitted fuel is any grade of commercially available unmodified gasoline, E85 Ethanol, biodiesel, or diesel. The driver must notify the Race Director if using methanol or other exotic fuel, when class rules permit. Vehicles that run on (all or in part) electricity, propane, or hydrogen must be cleared through the National Office in writing. No fuel additives are allowed unless specifically allowed by the class rules.
Because of the additional strength requirements of the roll cages, rally cars can cost more to build than a road racing car, and the safety equipment requirements are a little different. Figure the cost of a donor, plus at least $15,000 for roll cage and parts, and lots of your own labor. The less you do yourself, the more it will cost you.

Some recent listings from online sites:

  • 1992 Golf GTI $30,000
  • 2007 Subraru WRX STi $30,000
  • 2004 Subaru WRX STi $14,500
  • 2015 Ford Fiesta ST turbo $20,995
  • 1979 Mercedes-Benz 280CE $15,700
  • Modifications vary by class, but here’s a sampling some modifications and safety requirements.
  • Electronic control of suspension, steering, braking and gear change/clutch is prohibited.
  • Sequential transmissions are prohibited.
  • Seats shall be of one-piece construction, and shall be firmly mounted to the floor of the vehicle in such a manner as to prevent the movement of the seat in case of an accident. Aluminum seats (e.g. Butler Built, Kirkey) are banned as of 3/1/05.
  • All safety harnesses must be five, six or seven points.
  • All mounting hardware should be SAE grade 5 or better or metric grade 8.8 or better.
  • The wheels are free, regarding the maximum diameter and maximum width unless amended in specific class regulations.
  • The spare wheel may be brought inside the driving compartment, on condition that it is firmly secured there and the wheel is not installed in the space reserved for the occupants.
  • It is recommended that Halon or a similar gas be used (for fire extinguishers). If a dry-powder unit is used, the unit should be shaken or rapped sharply at frequent intervals to reduce the chance of the powder compacting.
  • All windows and windshields should be presented to scrutineering free from structural damage minus small cracks and chips.

Tires, brands and prices

Tire sizes vary, but here’s a sampling of popular sizes and brands.

Brand Tire Size Price
Accelera RA 162
Advan A053 Gravel Rally
Continental Viking Contact
7 175-55-15
Hoosier Gravel Rally
Pirelli K

Brakes, brands and prices

Hawk DTC 70 $300 – $350

Hawk DTC 60 $200 – $300

Check the NASA Contingencies page for the latest programs.

  • Rally is a great way to buddy-up with a friend or even a spouse to go racing.
  • Rally racing is a little easier on tires than racing on asphalt road courses.
  • Driving fast on sand, mud and gravel is a great way to hone your driving skills, and it’s a dynamic you won’t find on asphalt road courses.
  • Rally is racing against the clock, so if you enjoy Time Trial, you might like the added challenges of driving fast on sand, mud and gravel.

Events are plentiful, but spread out across the country.

Rally can be hard on the equipment, especially if there are large trees just off the course.

1.5.22 Parc Fermé

Means a place where vehicles are brought to and held. Servicing is not allowed. Passing

A race vehicle, when caught on stage, should, as soon as they are aware of a vehicle behind them, put on their blinker to indicate to the vehicle in the rear that they intend to pull over to let them pass as soon a reasonable location in the road presents itself. In general, the signal should be the right side blinker, and in general the lead vehicle should pull to the right to allow a pass on the left.

2.30.1 Unplanned Assistance

Unplanned assistance by anyone other than a service member of the crew is allowed unless specifically restricted elsewhere in these rules. Competitors may accept assistance from the Sweep Vehicles. Street Legality

A valid state-issued registration will be accepted as evidence that the vehicle meets appropriate regulations to operate on a public road. Required equipment should remain in good operation throughout the running of the event. Should the competing vehicle be detained or removed from operation during an event by a law enforcement officer, the competitor may not seek remedy or relief under these Regulations. This requirement may be waived for closed venue events.

3.16 First Aid Kit

A comprehensive first aid kit shall be carried in the passenger compartment. The first aid kit must include: 1. Antiseptic (ointment or liquid) 2. Gauze pads or rolls 3. Adhesive tape 4. Arm sling 5. Safety pins 6. Scissors 7. 2 “space” blankets 8. First aid manual.

3.17 Safety Triangles

A minimum of three self-supporting, light-reflecting, daylight-visible triangular warning devices shall be carried in the vehicle. One of which must be located within easy reach of the Driver or Co-Driver when seated. The minimum size of the triangle is 14 inches from tip of the triangle to opposing side of the triangle.

3.19.4 Road Worthiness Items

Each vehicle must be road worthy and have the following equipment in full functional condition: 1. Horn, windshield wipers, windshield washer 2. Inside rearview mirror and side mirror(s) 3. Foot brake and parking brake. Head and Neck Restraint Devices

Use of a head and neck restraint system or device is mandatory for all car drivers and car navigators.


Questions and Answers to Feed Your Curiosity

NASA Rally Sport has two regions, the Atlantic Rally Cup and Pacific Rally Cup. Each region holds rally events on logging and fire roads and any stretch of dirt road that will welcome them in California, Idaho, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Yes, but it’s a pretty simple process. Just create an account on the NASA Rally Sport website, pay for a membership and click on the license tab. Once you have those two items, you can participate in a NASA Rally Sport event.
It’s a good idea, but you can get a Rally license without having to attend a driving school.
The membership is $49 and the license is $85. Entry fees vary, but figure a few hundred dollars per event.
There are two basic classes, open and stock for all-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive cars with variations for heavy, medium and light cars. If you like modifying your car, the Open classes are for you. Stock classes permit few modifications other than safety.
Yes, a valid state-issued registration will be accepted as evidence that the vehicle mees the appropriate regulations to operate on a public road, because some Rally Events use public roads. In addition, each vehicle needs to have a horn, windshield wipers and washer system, an inside rearview mirror and a parking brake.
Yes, there are classes for all three.
Everything you need for road racing you need for Rally Sport. Driver gear includes helmet, HANS device, driver suit, shoes, gloves, balaclava for those with facial hair and racing underwear.
First and foremost, you need a roll cage, and rally roll cages are more robust than those used in road racing. The rules require thicker tubing. You’ll also need a race seat for driver and navigator, five-, six- or seven-point harnesses, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, three safety triangles, tow hooks front and rear, a tow rope and mud flaps behind all driven wheels.
NASA Rally Sport’s website has a paged called Rally University, which answers even more questions that we have here.


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