If I’m going to wake up at five in the morning on a Saturday and drive three hours for something, you know there had better be a good reason behind it. Vermont SportsCar’s brand new, state-of-the-art race shop more than delivered on its own, but the team’s grand opening bash was a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of all things rally, and by extension, Subaru.
Sure, you can argue that I missed the real grand opening by a day if you want; the new, 75,000-square foot facility welcomed both Travis Pastrana and Vermont Governor Phil Scott on Friday for its ribbon cutting ceremony. But Saturday’s open house started with the kind of thing that you usually don’t see from a top-flight race team in America: a full-on clearout of old race parts of all types, from bodywork to wheels and plenty of performance parts. (You don’t want to know how long it took me to stuff an old Dave Mirra door in the back of my car, but somehow, I got it home and into my basement in one piece.)
With my one purchase settled quickly, I was free to catch up with team members I hadn’t seen since my GRC days and browse the new shop. The eight vehicle bays that house the team’s rally and rallycross vehicles are rightfully the centerpiece of the facility, and the team was more than happy to show off what was under the hood of Oliver Solberg’s car that would win Lake Superior Performance Rally just one week later. Three of the team’s four ARX rides were also in their respective bays, sitting with the team’s trophy haul from the year—most prominent of which was the ARX Team Championship, Subaru’s first-ever rallycross title. Clean and pristine, it’s the kind of garage we’d all do unspeakable things to have.
That said, if you had to choose between the garage and the memorabilia spread throughout multiple floors of the shop, you’d have a hard choice to make. One of the first rooms you see after heading through the main entrance of the shop houses four cars: the iconic 22B, Bucky Lasek’s 2013 Puma Zombie Cat ride, Sverre Isachsen’s 2014 ride that gave the team its first-ever victory, and the ride specially built for Travis Pastrana’s appearance in Action Figures 2. Trophies, posters, and custom artwork are everywhere. That’s to say nothing of one hallway of firesuits, one whose ceiling is lined with bumpers, and one section of the shop floor that is almost completely covered with hoods and roofs of classic cars driven by everyone from David Higgins to Colin McRae.
Speaking of Higgins, he was on hand for the event, having already locked up his 10th career American stage rally title before the open house and season finale. He’ll be inducted in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame next month. Patrik Sandell was also on hand to sign autographs and take photos; his ARX season was already complete, so Sandell’s focus is on the return of Subaru Winter Experience to Wisconsin next February.
Out of respect to proprietary information, I kept the camera off and just took it all in while passing through certain areas of the shop. Just take my word for it: this is a professional-grade program on par with anything I’ve ever seen in any form of racing on this side of the Atlantic, and probably beyond. With so many resources to build and develop their cars in house, it’s hard to imagine anything else that even the wildest imagination could ask for within the shop walls.
One thing’s for certain: if you’re up in the northeast and have the chance to pass through Vermont, stopping by the Vermont SportsCar shop needs to be on your to-do list. You might not be able to see quite as many of the ins and outs of how the team’s Subarus come together the way we did during the open house, but you’ll still be at the mecca of stage rally in North America.
Check out my full gallery from the visit below: