USRCAuthor: USRC Media

The United States Rally Championship is pleased to announce the 2006 Rookie of the year Driver, Kristopher Marciniak and Co-Driver, Christine Wittish. This recently engaged pair raced their trusty Dodge Neon to four strong finishes throughout the season to score maximum points towards the Rookie of the Year honors in their first year as National level competitors.

Their first event was the always-tough Rim of the World rally in Lancaster, CA. A brutal event for a Stock class car but surprised Kris and Christine found themselves spraying champagne at the end. A trip to the Pacific Northwest was next with the Olympus Rally. These roads were much easier on the Neon and another finish was in the bag. A trip to Prescott in October brought the team another finish and win and an unexpected proposal from Kris on the Limestone Canyon turn-around stage. The season ending Laughlin Rally held the most excitement for this duo. A miscue on the fast Black Canyon Stage put them in a ditch with broken parts and the very real possibility of their first National DNF. The ever-present “Red Army” service crew took over and readied the Neon for the final day’s competition. The “Super Rally” format allowed them to restart on Sunday and another fine finish was theirs.

Kris and Christine embody the spirit of rally and proved that a Stock class car can be reliable and competitive through a full year of competition. They will be honored, together with the United States All-Wheel Drive Rally Champions Seamus Burke and Christine Beavis, and the Two-Wheel Drive Rally Champions Bruce Davis and Jimmy Brandt at the United States Auto Club (USAC) Annual Awards Banquet at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana on Friday, January 19, 2007.

The United States Rally Championship, America’s premier rally championship, consists of Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) internationally listed events sanctioned by the United States Auto Club (USAC) and presented by the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). More information on the Championship is available at the series website at More information on USAC is available at, on NASA at and on FIA at

Reply: Christine and I are absolutely thrilled to have won this award. If there is any testament to what a low cost production car with an awesome volunteer crew can do – this is it! For anyone out there thinking that rally is too expensive, you have to get yourself into a USRC Stock Class car and get out there and run it! We had a blast all season and this is just icing on the cake! Thanks again to everyone who organizes and runs the USRC – you made it a great year for two wheel drive!


At the final round of the United States Rally Championship, held last weekend at the Laughlin International Rally and Motorsports Festival in Laughlin, NV, the Team grabbed more then a ten minute lead over their competition in stock class on Friday and lost it all on Saturday to a tricky corner after a long fast straight. “That’s rally,” said driver Kristopher Marciniak. “The Taylors got a flat on Friday and we jumped into a ditch on Saturday. I was actually taking it easy – going fast where I thought we could and going slow through the tricky stuff. Even a slow pace for us is still pretty hairy, and this ditch on the left caught us out and flattened three tires. Were it not for our tough Bilstein shocks we might have had more damage.”

To keep the rivalry going, the team worked quickly to repair the damage and was able to restart the rally at the Super Stage on Sunday. With the Team paired against the Ford pickup driven by Michael Taylor and co-driver Steven Taylor, they made for the closest battle of the day. “We beat them on Friday and they beat us on Saturday, so I wasn’t going to let them beat us in front of a crowd on Sunday,” joked Kris. After three runs the Dodge Rally Neon was out on top by only .01 of a minute. “That’s as close as it gets, but we beat them on Sunday. They are great competitors and we were razzing each other all weekend. They earned the champagne at the end of the day.”

As the International Rally is also run as three regional events, the team scored their highest ever finish in the tough California Rally Series P-Stock Class with a 2nd on Friday. That’s 15th overall in a bone stock Dodge Neon. “We pushed hard on Friday and we beat a lot of faster cars and drivers. Sometimes I want more power out of the Neon, but days like that I know I’m driving her as fast as she’ll go,” remarked Kris. The Team are now the 2006 USRC Stock Class National Champions.

Our fantastic volunteer crew once again kept the Dodge Rally Neon in top shape. Kevin Patterson, Harry Bushling, Kaiser Chen, Brian Driggs, Danielle Patterson, Cyndi Stivers, and Vanessa DuLany. Without them the team couldn’t have continued on Sunday. “The crew had the car fixed in time for us to drive over the finish ramp on Saturday night. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work. Afterwards we celebrated the season with a nice dinner at the Ramada Express,” said co-driver Christine Wittish.


Kris and Christine get engaged at Prescott!The Prescott Rally was a fantastic success for the team on many levels. Since Prescott is part of the USRC this year, the team now has a commanding lead in the national stock class championship. Pushing hard for second place in the very competitive regional P-Stock class, the team got a flat on SS12 and was forced to change it on stage. Not discouraged, they continued to push and set an unbelievable 7th fastest time on stage 14, the long 22 mile PerkinsView. Unable to make up all of the time lost, they landed in 3rd for CRS P-Stock, a very strong finish after their problems at the Gorman Ridge Rally.

Driver and Co-Driver: Kris and Christine have been together for a little over three years now. This is their sixth rally together and Kris felt the time was right to pop the question. Limestone canyon is a turnaround stage where teams wait at the end, turn the cars around and run it in the other direction. During the break, Kris pulled a hidden box out of the camera case and completely surprised Christine while she sat in the rally car. “She had no idea what I was up to,” said Kris. “The really cool part was that no one had any idea. Our parents were able to watch that stage and they didn’t know until service that I had asked.”

News of their rally engagement quickly spread and soon the celebration extended into the champagne ceremony. “It was great to share the news so quickly with our rally friends and family there! I am really excited to be engaged. Kris is an awesome guy, and not only picked a beautiful ring, but also an excellent time and place to propose. It was a total surprise!” Christine shared.

The large volunteer crew had lots to keep them busy with the rough roads this year. The team destroyed three rims and lots of bolts needed to be tightened down at every service. Made up of eight people, some of which have helped at many events and some first timers: Brian Driggs, Jake Walters, Kaiser Chen, Kevin Patterson, Vanessa DuLaney, Caleb Boulier, Shawn Threkold, and Chris Rees. Kris commented, “The crew was great. Everything was checked and double checked. We were out on time after every service.”

Even with the rough roads, the Dodge Rally Neon equipped with Bilstein shocks is in great shape for the season finale in Laughlin, NV. The Laughlin International Rally held on November 9-12th will be a first for the team and they are ready for the long stages of the event. For more details about Laughlin, check out:

I know the girls want to see the following: the engagement, the ring, and the hand. :D
Plus more has been added to the Prescott 2006 Gallery.


The beautiful southwest flowing landscapes, scenery, and sunsets are the backdrop for the team’s most anticipated rally of the year; The Prescott Rally in Prescott, AZ. The roads are wide and fast with a lot more speed than California rallies. An expanded spectator stage has been built at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds and will give fans a close look at the action.

The rally will be held on October 6th & 7th and the team is pumped up and ready to go! “I can’t wait to get out on the roads here. They have combined two of the popular stages to make a twenty mile test called ‘Perkins View.’ It equates to driving flat out for about a half hour. I’ll be saving my adrenaline for that one,” remarked Driver Kristopher Marciniak.

The Dodge Rally Neon is in great shape and ready for the win. A fresh set of Bilstein performance shock absorbers have returned from testing and will compliment a new set of Hankook Rally Tires over the one hundred plus stage miles. The team will be in excellent hands as eight crew members have signed up for the event. Some new faces as well as returning crew from an Arizona based car club ( last year.

Among the fans watching the rally will be Kris and Christine’s parents. They have flown out to see the team in action for the first time. “I’m really excited that our parents are coming from the east coast – I’ve been telling everyone! Neither set has even been to a rally, and I really want them to see what we have been so excited about for the last couple years,” said Co-Driver Christine Wittish.


ZeTen miles into stage seven, with three stages to go, the team was holding onto a second place in class when the Dodge Rally Neon’s computer failed. At that point an overwhelming five out of the six P-Stock competitors had dropped out of the Gorman Ridge Rally. The problem was related to an oxygen sensor that ground out, stalling the car on the transit between stages two and three.

“Of course we’re bummed, but it had to happen sometime. I’m happy we were able to at least finish all of the morning stages. It’s disappointing that our problem was most likely due to something we could have easily replaced on stage – unlike the whole transmission locking for example – but I’m also thankful the failure was not caused by something more major. I’m looking forward to getting out to our next event,” reported co-driver Christine Wittish.

“It’s our first DNF (did not finish), but we still had an awesome time! The car ate up all the bumps and jumps. The new damping in the rear Bilstein struts kept the back end from popping up and we landed flat every time,” said driver Kristopher Marciniak. “I didn’t give up when the car stalled during the transit to stage three. I pulled out the rear O2 sensor plug and got the car going again. I tried everything when she died on stage seven, but I knew when we heard the fuel pump and cooling fans running even with the keys out of the ignition that we were done.”

The Team finished all of the stages in the Hungry Valley ORV Park. These same stages were included in this year’s X Games competition. The crew of four: Harry Bushling, Jake Walters, Colten Becker, and Kevin Patterson did an awesome job of checking and repairing the car while in service.

Looking forward to their next event, the team re-joins the competition of the USRC in October at the Prescott Rally in Arizona.


Kris and Christine at Rim of the WorldHungry Valley, the same stages and location used by the inaugural X Games Rally competition, will once again host the Gorman Ridge Rally on August 19th. This is a tough regional event that those local to Southern California always enjoy. We invite you to come out and see rally up close at the open spectator area! For an even closer look, you can volunteer to help at – Check the website for volunteer and spectator information.

This event marks the team’s first anniversary of competition and continues the excitement of their 2006 season. “Gorman is a tough rally and it was such a relief just to finish it last year. Now that we’ve driven the roads and know more of what to expect, we’ll try to have another smooth run here,” said driver Kristopher Marciniak. The team goal of this rally will be consistency and survival. “There’s no need to destroy the car on the first stages. If you watched the X Games, then you know how tight and rough these roads are. They claimed two top competitors and punctured dozens of tires.”

The Dodge Rally Neon is in top shape and ready to handle the rough stuff. Bilstein has made some changes to the rear damping and it will be pushed to the limit at Gorman over the jumps, dips, and water bars. The team has done some major work to the car over the last two months. From seam welding the front end, to strengthening a new sub-frame, the Neon continues to prove itself as a tough little car.

Constantly sharpening her skills, Co-Driver Christine Wittish attended a seminar taught by the world famous Nicky Grist following his performance at the X Games. “It was great insight from a world champion and the experience positively reinforced everything I’ve been doing as far as pre-rally prep, and co-driving in general. Gorman will be a good rally and we’ll be going a hell of a lot faster then we did last year!”

We would like to thank the following for their support!
The Southern California Neon America Club


Olympus ORV Jump!

With seven production class starters on Saturday, the team knew they would have to be strong on the first stages to claim victory in the North West. The hard packed roads took a toll on tires and competitors the first day. “You either know how to drive fast on these roads or you don’t. The learning curve is steep, and there is a ditch filled with rocks and trees at the bottom of it,” said driver Kristopher Marciniak. “These are just like the roads I grew up on in New Hampshire and Maine. Driving fast through the trees is such a rush!” They set their mark by finishing 17th overall out of 33 starters and 2nd in the regional production class on Saturday. “It was fun to run with so many production class cars this weekend. The roads are great and we really enjoyed ourselves,” said co-driver Christine Wittish.

Not completely without incident the volunteer crew encountered a sub-frame mount that was cracked and ready to break. Some last minute help from the Kosmides crew got it welded and out of service with seconds to spare. Erik VanDyke, Matthew Laverty, Jason Sampson, and Jordan Luzader worked hard to keep the Dodge Rally Neon in the running all weekend. Unlike the regional crews, the car was impounded on Saturday night in Parc Ferme so overnight repair was not allowed. This is typical of an FIA event and the team was prepared for it.

On Sunday, with the other national production team out of the running and the sub-frame starting to give way again, the team took the last couple stages easy and brought the car back to the Little Creek Resort and rally finish intact. “I could have made a push for third in the regional on Sunday but the car was getting a little wacky to drive and the USRC championship is what we’re aiming for,” said Kris.

The team finished on their Bilstein shock absorbers and the newly designed strut mounts. “I had no trouble at all on the harder stages. I took the jump at the ORV-park flat out. Bilstein helped us get it done this weekend.”

Next up for the team is Gorman Ridge in California, a regional event that marks their one year anniversary competing in rally. The team will return to the national events in October with the Prescott Rally in Arizona.

Kristopher is a computer technician and support analyst working for the Alteer Corporation in Irvine, CA. Christine is a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine in the field of molecular biology and the lab of Dr. Douglas Wallace.

We would like to thank the following for their support!
The Southern California Neon America Club
Hankook Tires


The motto “To finish first, first you must finish” was more evident for the team then any other this weekend at the Rim of the World Rally in Lancaster, CA. This is only their 3rd full stage rally and they are proving that they have what it takes to be a national team.

The all volunteer crew pushed hard to keep car 761 in it. “We just kept taking stuff off the car and finding more broken. Everyone was up until 3:00AM,” said driver Kristopher Marciniak. “I called Harry who was coming up on Saturday morning. I can’t believe he answered his phone. I said – you know where I live, Harry. Pick up the four struts off my porch – and at 7:00AM he was waiting for us at service. He had already started on the front right!” The crew of four: Harry Bushling, Kaiser Chen, Colten Becker, and Susan Rand, continued to work throughout the day to see that the car finished the rally.

Setting fast times on Friday the team was 1st in Production and 4th in the very competitive regional P-Stock class. They finished the night in 17th overall, very respectable for a production Dodge Neon. “The Bilstiens were amazing on the rough stuff, I know that’s what allowed us to move up so fast. We went from 33rd to 17th in 4 stages!” exclaimed Kris. “I was heartbroken when we discovered the housings we had made were broken and we had to pull the struts Saturday morning.”

The only goal at this point was to finish the rally. The team would drive smooth throughout the afternoon into the final two night stages. A small mistake on the rougher section of Maxwell Road got the car stuck nose first into loose gravel. A gracious tug from car 632 driven by Dean Schlingmann & Chip Doeden got the Dodge Rally Neon back on the road to finish the last stage.

On the final transit back to headquarters the engine died. Disappointed, the team pulled over and tried to get the Neon going again. “The car was not getting fuel. The oil light was on… I have no idea what was wrong,” said Kris. They flagged down the next rally car driven by Bristol Keele & George Scott. They graciously offered a tow back to the finish pavilion. “That is what rally is all about!”

At the finish, the time control workers told the team to head into the pavilion, where the winner’s circle was located. “I was stunned. I asked if he was serious,” said co-driver Christine Wittish. “It was amazing – as we pushed the car inside everyone was cheering and applauding. Getting to participate in the champagne ceremony was something I had no idea we would be taking part in so soon in our rally career.” The team will be looking for its next win in less then a month at the Olympus International Rally in Olympia, Washington.

Kristopher is a computer technician and support analyst working for the Alteer Corporation in Irvine, CA. Christine is a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine in the field of molecular biology and the lab of Dr. Douglas Wallace.

We would like to thank the following for their support!
The Southern California Neon America Club
Hankook Tires


Rim of the World

This year the team kicks off a big season with a huge rally close to home. Living up to its name “The Rim of the World Rally” in Lancaster, California is one of the biggest and most well known rallies in the country. Covering over ninety stage miles, the freshly graded roads offer two days of high speed action. This includes an arena style super special stage where the team can show off their championship rallycross skills. With this event, the Team begin their quest for the United States Rally Championship!

The Dodge Rally Neon has received a number of upgrades since last season, the biggest being a full set of Bilstein Shock Absorbers. “What a difference! It’s a whole new car to drive. I always push what I have to the limit and I’m excited to test the Bilstein Shocks on water bars and jumps,” said driver Kristopher Marciniak. Along with new suspension, several upgrades to the car’s performance were made. “There’s not a lot we can do with a production car according to the rules – but we’ve taken what we can do to the max,” Kris said with a grin. This year the car will be riding on new Hankook Ventus rally tires which have just been introduced to the United States. TeamSetting a goal for the event, the team wants a strong showing. “I want to win. I want to push and have a lot of fun, but I also want to finish the rally and head up to Olympus unscathed. So, we’ll keep it real. If I’m comfortable with our pace and in the hunt, I’ll stay on it. If I start to stress things I’ll go into ‘finish the rally’ mode. Plus it’s my birthday weekend so I know I’ll have fun no matter what happens.” said Kris. “I just want to have a good time and finish. Co-Driver Christine Wittish added, “Having driven up some of the stages as a volunteer last year I’m a little terrified, but hopefully the notes will keep my view away from the sudden drop-offs.”

The volunteer crew will consist of people from various Dodge Neon car clubs and friends. “We have someone driving all the way down from Sacramento just to be here! We can’t thank them enough for their support,” said Christine. The team only recently started to be active with the Southern California Neon America Club, and already the members are helping out the Team with various facets of racing a Dodge Neon rally car.

We would like to thank the following for their support!
The Southern California Neon America Club


The World Leader in Shock Absorber Technology.Bilstein has always been a driving force in the development of automotive suspension technology. From Dakar to the Baja 1000, more races have been won on Bilstein shocks then any other major shock absorber manufacturer. We are delighted to announce Bilstein will be partnering with the team for the 2006 season!

The Dodge Rally Neon will be riding on Bilstein’s patented performance gas pressure shock absorbers in several rallies starting with The Rim of the World Rally in Lancaster, CA. “I can’t wait to get them on the car and start testing for Rim.” said driver Kristopher Marciniak. “Rim can be a harsh event with lots of water bars, dips, and broken pavement. I’m sure the new Bilstein setup will excel in this area.”

Watch for the installation and testing to be covered on
You can check out Bilstein’s full product line at