Car rally spins out this week

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MEXICO – The annual New England Forest Rally begins at 11 a.m. on Friday when dozens of modified cars and their drivers gather at the Mexico Recreation Park.

Popular sport for years, this year’s event, which is part of the Rally America National Championship Series, has been renamed New England rather than the previous Maine Forest Rally.

According to news releases issued by Rally America, based in Golden Valley, Minn., the name change better reflects the actual venues where the races will take place.

This year, dozens of drivers from across the country, as well as from Canada and the United Kingdom, will navigate the rough terrain of dirt roads in Western Maine and eastern New Hampshire.

Drivers use modified street cars to reach speeds as high as 100 mph over gravel and dirt courses.

Rally events will be broadcast on ESPN2 through November.

Drivers, their vehicles and mechanics will be at the Mexico Recreation Park from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Friday. From there, the rally will start with its first destination being Bethel.

On Saturday, the rally resumes at 9 a.m. starting in Berlin, N.H. It ends about nine hours later at Sunday River Ski Resort.

Most of the pre-rally and rally events take place at Sunday River, including registrations, autograph signings by drivers, and post-race parties and awards.

The schedule is as follows:

Thursday: All events at Sunday River including registration at 7 p.m., rally party and autographs, 7 p.m., draw for top starting positions, 10 p.m.

Friday: shakedown stage, Woodstock, 8 a.m.; Parc Expose, Mexico Recreation Park, 11 a.m.; start of parade/rally, Mexico Recreation Park, 1:45 p.m.; finish of day one, 8:30 p.m., Phoenix House, Bethel.

Saturday: rally restarts at 9 a.m. from Berlin, N.H.; ends at about 6:30 p.m. at the South Ridge Lodge at Sunday River; awards at 9:30 p.m. at the South Ridge Lodge.

A full schedule of events can found at www.maineforestrally.com/nefr07

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