Anything With an Engine spotlights a rare breed of race driver: those who can find success in multiple disciplines of racing, even in the same season. Be sure to check out the full archive here!
James Rimmer // Sammamish, Washington // January 24, 1997
2015 Subaru WRX STI Rally // DirtFish Motorsports SuperCar Lites Rallycross
Racing has always been in DirtFish Motorsports driver James Rimmer’s blood. Making his competitive rally debut as a teenager and moving into rallycross from there, the 21-year-old up-and-comer has consistently improved behind the wheel in each of his chosen disciplines. He’s become a consistent main event presence in his Supercar Lites ride in multiple series, and aside from his competitive rallying exploits, he’s sampled cars in the DirtFish arsenal that many of us will only hope to drive in video games.
There are plenty of nuances to each vehicle, and Rimmer has found a way to adapt to each of them quickly. Before he prepares to get back in the car for the Americas Rallycross season finale at Circuit of the Americas next week.
When did you start racing each of your different race vehicles?
Racing really took off for me in 2014-15, this was when I started driving my DirtFish built 2WD Subaru BRZ in more and more competitions and consistently getting better. That BRZ is such a cool car—it’s not a crazy amount of power but it’s got a sequential box and more suspension than you will ever reasonably need. Then it was the end of 2015 when I first got into a rallycross car at Evergreen Speedway driving a Lites car under the DirtFish banner with Conner Martell. I have been driving my Lites car for going on three years now and I have loved every second of it. Apart from that I was also competing in stage rally in an AWD Subaru STI both in the US and Canada. And in between all of that, I have done quite a bit of exhibition driving in older classic rally cars.
How do you prepare differently for a race weekend in rally versus rallycross?
Rally and rallycross weekend preparation is incredibly similar, but miles different at the same time. Going into a stage rally, you have to get your head into the mindset of marathon, knowing that if you complete every stage and don’t crash you have a good shot at the podium. This means backing off in some places to avoid risk. Rallycross is totally the opposite: I know I’m only going to be out there for six laps at the most and I have to take every risk to try and get places in that short timeframe.
What’s the most important skill you need to have as a driver to get the most out of each type of event?
I think the most important skill to have as a driver is being able to be patient. Patience is something I have worked on my whole career and I always have space to improve. Patience, both in the car and out, is key to keeping your mind in the right space over any type of race weekend. It’s racing, and as they say (stuff) happens, so you have to be prepared to be patient, and on top of things still.
How do you have to manage rally and rallycross equipment differently to get a good result?
Like I mentioned earlier, you have to take a more slow but steady approach to rally, whereas in rallycross it’s go go go all right on the edge the entire time.
You’ve been fortunate to drive a lot of vintage rally machinery at DirtFish—how do the more modern vehicles you race regularly compare to the older cars? Which vintage rally car that you’ve driven feels closest to a 2018 race-spec vehicle?
I’ve been so lucky to be able to drive quite a few vintage and historically significant rally cars. I would have to say that my favorite and the most modern was Colin McRae’s Ford Focus we have up at DirtFish in the lobby. It has an electronic shifting system and you can literally shift mid corner with one finger—it’s insane!
What takes more out of you physically: rally because of more seat time, or rallycross because of the massive jumps you have to take every lap?
Rally for sure takes the most out of me. It’s an exhausting three, sometimes four days, with very little sleep and lots of focus. The jumps aren’t too bad.
Finally, if you only had to race one discipline from now on, which one would you pick and why?
I don’t know if I could pick one outright right now, they both have their pros and cons. But I will be testing a new type of racing the week after COTA, so stay tuned!