World Rally Championship (WRC) fans in the United States need to travel abroad to see a race in person, but that could change in the coming years. Organizers are laying the foundations for the first American WRC event in over 30 years, and it might take place in 2026.
The last WRC round held on our shores was the Olympus Rally, which took place in Washington from the 1986 to the 1988 season. It’s still held today, but it’s a national rally (WRC is an international series), and nothing suggests it will get added to the 2026 calendar. Instead, the organizers are looking east to the gravel roads of southeastern Tennessee; WRC’s next American round could take place near Chattanooga.
Known as Rally USA, and backed by the American Rally Association (ARA) as well as Tennessee officials, the event has its sights set on the 2026 calendar. It held a demonstration race in September 2023, according to Motorsport, and it will hold another race in June 2024 that will more closely follow the layout of a WRC round. The upcoming race will be a test run to help decide whether Tennessee can host WRC.
“It’s not a certainty at the moment, but the event in June will be a stepping stone toward that [candidate event] and then the goal will be to be observed and be able to be on the calendar in 2026 or 2027; that’s how we’re looking at it,” rally manager Stuart Wood told Motorsport.
Rally USA has already started looking for volunteers to help at the race, which will take place June 14-16. Applications are closed, which suggests the organizers have already found the help that they need, but a dedicated page on the Rally USA website notes that volunteers will “ensure the smooth functioning of the event, from assisting spectators to marshaling stages and maintaining the track.”
While WRC’s 2025 calendar hasn’t been set yet, the odds of seeing an American round on it are nonexistent.
“The USA will not be ready for 2025, 100%. When we go to the United States, we want to do more than just go there and do a rally. We want to have an event that’s going to have an impact, because it’s a market that is important, but we don’t just want to go there and make up the numbers. We want to make sure it’s an event that has sufficient funding but also sufficient time to test. We already have great support from both the state and regional government in our potential home there. It’s just a few funding pieces that need to go into place there,” WRC event director Simon Larkin explained in an interview with Motorsport. He added that insurance-related hurdles still haven’t been cleared.
After largely snubbing the American market for years, the organizers of major international racing series increasingly see us as untapped potential. Formula One’s first race on the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, took place in 2012. Las Vegas held a Formula One Grand Prix in 2023 after a decades-long hiatus, and a recent report suggests that the series is looking at organizing a road race in Chicago.