Skip to main content

Press Release

Official 2005 Cherokee Trails International Rally Preview

Knoxville, TN (March 15, 2005)

First round of the United States Rally Championship promises strong competition

The Cherokee Trails International Rally, the first round of the 2005 United States Rally Championship [USRC] will take place this weekend on the gravel roads of the Cherokee National Forest outside of Cleveland, Tennessee. The USRC, the United States' premier rally championship, is a four event series of the best events the United States has to offer, all to run under Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) sanction.
The Cherokee Trails International Rally entry list reads like a whose who of the U.S. rally world, and guarantees close competition in this weekend's event. The weekend's forecast is for partly cloudy skies with highs upper 50s after mid-week rain, which should allow some fast and close battles on the dry and smooth forest roads, with a minimum of dust.

The event has a large Open 4 (O4) field, made up of four wheel drive vehicles with very few restrictions on preparation. Odds on favorites are rally legend John Buffum, multiple-time national championship winner, in his Libra Racing Hyundai, Seamus Burke also in a Libra Racing Hyundai, and Peter Workum, coming off a win at the 2004 Ramada Express International Rally in the Autosport Engineering Subaru WRX STi.

Also expecting to challenge for an overall win are drivers Thomas Lawless in his Mitsubishi Evo VIII, Matthew Iorio in his Subaru Impreza, and Ken Block coming of a recent high finish at the SnoDrift Rally and challenging the O4 field in his Group N Subaru WRX STi.

The two wheel drive Open 2 (O2) class also promises some strong runners. Bruce Davis in his HMC/Motorsports Marketing Dodge SRT-4 will be challenged by national Formula Ford championship winning driver Justin Pritchard in his well developed VW GTI. Eric Heitkamp will be mixing it up against the O2 cars as well in his well known Stock class Acura RSX. Local favorite Randy Bailey, while only running the regional event on Saturday, is expected to be among the top finishers for that leg of the rally. Organizer John K. Shirley is excited about the event. "The rally should prove to be a real battle, with some excellently matched drivers, and excellent road conditions as well," he commented, "with this level of competition, it is promising to be an interesting year for the Championship."

The United States Rally Championship is made possible through the cooperative partnership of the United States Auto Club (USAC) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA).)The 2005 Cherokee Trails International Rally is run under sanction by NASA Rally Sport, USAC, and the FIA, is organized by Rally Promotions, LLC, and constitutes Round One of the USRC, with Saturday's regional leg constituting Round Two of the Eastern States Rally Championship.

For more information, contact Wilson von Kessler, (423) 265-2020,, or visit the United States Rally Championship website at