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Press Release

Laughlin: The Place Where Champions Meet to Compete

Laughlin, NV (December 1, 2005)

The Ramada Express International Rally USA returns to Laughlin, NV this week, bringing exciting rally competition action to country roads within southern Nevada, western Arizona and the ancestral Lands of the Hualapai Indian Nation in northwestern Arizona.

More than forty-five top American and European teams arrive Wednesday and Thursday, headquartered at Laughlin's Ramada Express Hotel-Casino, opening of the eighth running of America's longest, toughest three-day endurance rally, the Ramada Express International Rally USA.

As the final event in America’s rally calendars, three national to regional championships are on the line. Foremost is the United States Rally Championship whose teams gather from states across the country for a final test of determination, preparedness, and speed. Though having more than five vehicle classes, the two favored vehicles are the Mitsubishi EVO series or the Subaru WRX and Impreza, both with full four-wheel-drive and responsive handling.

A new Open Class challenge in this event is the European-based Ford Escort Cosworth, prepared under special supervision of former American RallyChampion Mike Whitman of New Mexico and co-driver Bill Westrick of Michigan. They should prove a challenge to current top-points leader Tom Lawless/Jason Gillespie in an EVO 8, and defending event winner Peter Workum/Chrissy Beavis in a Subaru. French-speaking Stephan Verdier and co-driver Alan Ockwell of Canada, a top national team in the west are here to challenge the strong field, going for an upset.

Surprise entry Flip Van Zutphen and Theo Badenberg, arrive straight from the Netherlands bringing in a rare 300 horsepower Lancia HF Integrale Evoluzione 3. This experienced team, with World Rally Championship experience, is guaranteed to stir the mix.

While the flashy Open Class vehicles grab much of the press, strong competition in less modified Group N arrives this year from New Zealand in the form of Sam Murray and Anton Cheetham in a Subaru Impreza. Pressure is on Doug Chernis of Mesa, Arizona and co-driver Alan Perry of Washington to push their Subaru WRX STi to its limits, fighting for the top finish after three long days of competition.

VW Jetta GLI team Craig Hollingsworth of Zephyr Cove, Nevada with Jason Grahn of Washington begin their final event leading the National Open 2wd championship, but face surprisingly strong competition from California’s Jeff Rados/Guido Hamacher in a Ford Ranger, Larry Gross/Doug Young in a Toyota Corolla, with Colorado’s Jimmy Keeney/ Brian Moody in a nicely prepared Honda. Adding spice to the mix is the female team of Lisa Klassen/Kala Rounds in their Toyota Corolla.

Nicknamed “America’s Grand Canyon Rally”, and “Rally USA”, the event grabbed national and worldwide attention in 1998 following demanding competition in blizzard conditions, establishing its reputation as America's longest, toughest competition rally. The event consistently challenges the best rally teams who face almost two-hundred competition miles over winding mountain and forest roads, enduring winter's oft-changing Nevada and Arizona weather.

The rally returns with a new name and new date November 9-11, 2006 as The Laughlin International Rally & Motor Sports Festival, to include exciting new events and activities for every racing enthusiast. The event is organized by the American Rally Sport Group, Inc., of Laughlin, Nevada.

The United States Rally Championship is sanctioned by the United States Auto club (USAC) for its FIA International listing, and is presented by National Auto Sport Association RallySport (NASA). The United States Rally Championship expands to eight events in Tennessee, New York, California, Washington, Arizona and Nevada in 2006.

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