Spectators line Sturtevant Pond Road in Magalloway Plantation to watch the 27th Annual New England Forest Rally on Saturday afternoon.

The popular New England Forest Rally brought lots of spectators deep into the woods to watch the dirt road rally racing on Saturday afternoon.

MAGALLOWAY PLANTATION — Sturtevant Pond Road on Saturday was lined with spectators for the 27th Annual New England Forest Rally.

“I like fast cars on dirt,” said Jared Stone of New Hampshire, as fellow spectators laughed and shouted in agreement.

Saturday’s event was known as stage (or track) 8 and 9.

The two-day racing event began on Friday, with utility task vehicle rides and an afternoon kick-off rally race on the Concord Pond stage, which ran through Peru on Dickvale Road.

The NEFR is the fifth round of the American Rally Association National Championship, and takes place on the back roads and logging tracks of western Maine and northern New Hampshire, beginning at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry.

“(Sturtevant Pond Road) is one of my favorite rally stages in America — it’s a classic,” said 2009 American Rally Championship winner Andrew Comrie-Picard, driver of car No. 20.

It certainly looked like classic rally racing — with an engine roar crescendo, each racer came whipping around a corner to scream down the hill toward the stage’s “flying finish” line. As soon as the billowing clouds of dust settled, the next driver came flying through.

A flying finish is a finish line that racers pass through at high speeds. Their timer stops when they cross, and they then have a considerable amount of road left to slow down.

After completing the first run on the approximately 13 mile-long Sturtevant Pond Road stage, drivers went to JML Trucking in Errol, New Hampshire, to get their vehicles in shape for the next of five total stages.

“We can fix pretty much anything,” said Graham Rice, crew chief for racer Travis Pastrana, whose co-driver, Robbie Durant, had to be taken out of the race after a rough landing on a dip in the road, which resulted in a compressed spine.

Luckily, one of Rice’s crew members was experienced in co-driving.

“A co-driver is just as important as the car or the driver,” said Rice.

The co-driver is the navigator, companion and adviser for the driver — responsible for accompanying the driver on their “reconnaissance” mission, in which the pair drives the stages before the race and make notes about the route, and reads the route book, which contains notes about every turn, bump and dip in the road.

Lewiston-born Ben Nadeau began his co-driving career in college, after being asked at a party by friend Anthony Burden to fill the position.

“I bought a racing helmet, and the next thing I know I’m sitting in a car next to him flying down the road,” said Nadeau, who co-drives for Dan Spalinger.

Spalinger’s rally vehicle is a 4-cylinder 2.5 liter Nissan Frontier, with about 155 horsepower — half of what other cars were putting out.

“We’re slightly underpowered compared to the cars, but we’re higher up, so we can clear things they can’t. That’s our secret weapon,” said Nadeau.

Burden said it was a good advantage to have, due to the number of cars off the road, particularly on the Sturtevant stage.

“It’s turning out to be a race of attrition,” said Burden.

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The “flying finish line” at the 27th Annual New England Forest Rally is in the middle of the woods. The cars need to come to a complete stop further down the road.

The “flying finish line” at the 27th Annual New England Forest Rally is in the middle of the woods. The cars need to come to a complete stop further down the road.

Cars traveled an average of 80 miles per hour on a 13 mile dirt road stretch during the 27th Annual New England Forest Rally on Saturday afternoon.

Cars traveled an average of 80 miles per hour on a 13 mile dirt road stretch during the 27th Annual New England Forest Rally on Saturday afternoon.

Each car is required to stop at a check point before leaving the racing stage and going back to a service area in Errol.

Each car is required to stop at a check point before leaving the racing stage and going back to a service area in Errol.

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