With a mere 24 or so days until rally time, organizers are preparing for the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood scheduled for March 19-20.

The coronavirus pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 rally. The event was shaping up as the largest yet with a record 90 competitors registered in the two-day rally. Cancellation impacted the local economy that annually benefits from the thousands of visitors the rally brings to Salem and Dent County.

While the rally will return in 2021, noticeable changes will be seen.

There will be no Parc Expose held on Fourth Street or service areas open to the public. The kickoff at the downtown starting line is always well-attended by crowds and fans, eager to meet the rally drivers and see them take off.

“We are excited to be having the rally this year after missing it last year. It will be a smaller course this year and only running in Dent and Crawford counties. We have the biggest entry we've ever had,” shared Curt Faigle, 100 Acre Wood Rally chairman.

The record year of 95 entries saw about 65 registered in the first 45 minutes of opening.

The rally activities are not open to the public.

“Due to COVID-19 precautions, typical event areas and procedures have been changed or removed entirely. Physical distancing will be important to reduce our overall impact on the community. All participants must be either and working as a volunteer. The event operations will be conducted in a manner to comply with social distancing and other local public health requirements and recommendations,” says the official statement from the rally organizers.

No spectator areas are planned on the route around gravel roads of the county. The length of the rally is approximately 102 competition miles, with over 200 transit miles between stages. Service area and stage access will be strictly limited to ARA licensed competitors, crew members, media, and officials, or ARA volunteers, with the access points controlled.

Roads included in the stages will be publicized for those in the area, but no spectating is allowed, said Faigle.

The Dent County Commons is the home base for most of the week but no one can get enter without an event wristband.

American Rally Association’s national driver’s top three for the shortened 2020 season, Barry McKenna, Brandon Semenuk, and Travis Pastrana are scheduled to compete in the March event.