NEWRY — Three young men from New Hampshire and three young women from southern Maine left Friday morning’s New England Forest Rally Parc Expose in high spirits.

The Friday and Saturday event is based at Sunday River Ski Resort’s South Ridge parking area. Saturday’s Parc Expose starts at 7:30 a.m. 

Both groups drove up to three hours apiece just to meet favorite rally drivers and extreme sports legend Travis Pastrana, who is competing in the rally after a three-year hiatus.

Pastrana last won the Maine and New Hampshire event in 2009 with co-driver Christian Edstrom.

Before racing stages started Friday morning in Mexico, Roxbury and Andover, Pastrana and co-driver Chrissie Beavis were in second place behind Subaru teammate and rival David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew.

“It was awesome — I mean, meeting a guy that famous is pretty cool,” Rand Nichols, 21, of Merrimack, N.H., said after chatting and being photographed with Pastrana beside Pastrana’s Subaru Rally Team car.

“He’s a really nice guy, too,” he said. “He really cares about his fans and stuff, and he’s really friendly.”

With Nichols were Tyler Girouard, 22, and Caleb Currier, all of Merrimack.

Pastrana was the main motivator for the three young women — Brandy Chadwick of Portland, her sister, Haley Cox, 18, and Cox’s best friend, Emily Burns, both of Limerick.

Chadwick said Cox just graduated from high school and bringing her to the rally to meet Pastrana again was Chadwick’s graduation present to her sister.

“She was here four years ago to meet him at the age of 14, so she brought her picture here that she took with him four years ago,” Chadwick said.

“To have him sign it,” Cox said, which Pastrana did.

In that picture of Pastrana and Cox, Pastrana had a blatant black eye from doing front-flip stunts on his motocross motorcycle.

Cox said she also likes rally racer Ken Block, who won last year’s New England Forest Rally, but he wasn’t competing in this one.

Asked whether Pastrana remembered Cox when she asked him to autograph the picture four years ago, the sisters and Burns burst into laughter.

“Um, he remembered his black eye that he got from doing front flips,” Cox said.

Pastrana had a long line of people of all ages wanting to meet him, as well as photograph him and get autographs. Hundreds of other fans mingled with the drivers and co-drivers.

Forest Rally volunteer Rick James of Lewiston also mingled with the crowd, waiting for the actual racing to begin.

James is a ham radio operator who has been doing the rally sport for about eight years. Ham radio operators help race organizers by notifying them if drivers are out of sequence because of veering off course or breakdowns.

“We’re basically the safety net for the drivers when they’re out on the course,” James said. “Cellphones don’t work up here. We’re the main communications.”

James doesn’t have any favorite drivers, but enjoys seeing the older-model cars, including the Datsun 280Z one racer brought to a previous rally.

The forest rally is the sixth round of the Rally America National Championship. Drivers race on logging roads that are wide enough to accommodate big rigs. That creates an unbearable urge to drive “flat out,” which was the license plate of rally racer Dan McGinn of Pomfret, Conn., and his co-driver, Matthew LeMasters.

“FLAT-OUT” is also the name of McGinn’s 1985 BMW rear-wheel-drive rally car.

“We built it as a tribute car to the BMWs that rallied back in the 1980s, mainly in Europe,” he said.

Its original motor was replaced with a bigger, 1995 motor with between 250 and 260 horsepower.

“It’s a rear-wheel-drive car so, hopefully, we’ll be able to put that power down, but with this driving in stages, you’re going to see a lot of gravel spitting out the back end of this thing,” McGinn said.

“We’re not even sure how it’s going to handle, but we’re going to take it slow and try to avoid what they call ‘the red mist,’ which is when you just stuff the gas and go,” he said of flat-out racing. “So we’ll try to keep it in one piece so we can get back and hang out with my little son.”

Two-year-old Jack McGinn was sitting in the driver’s seat, turning the steering wheel like a rally racer, a big toothy grin appearing just below his oversized sunglasses.

“He’ll be co-driving for us in 12 years,” Dan McGinn said.

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