FUZI: The Rally Way Of Life
GAYLORD, Mich. — For young Chris Duplessis racing is much more than a hobby, it is truly a way of life.
His first adrenaline rush came as a kid growing up in Maine racing go-karts with his dad and brother, but soon the few weekends that were available for racing began to dwindle.
“We raced go karts for years, but they used to get canceled for rain and we couldn’t race in the winter so we would end up racing only about three times a year. We were looking for something else to do when we ran into Tim O’Neil ,who owns the Team O’Neil Driving School in Dalton, N.H. I went to a rally racing school there and it was so fun that we built a car and now here we are.”
Duplessis was actually the youngest driver to ever complete instruction at Team O’Neil being only 11 years old at the time. Now, a little more than a decade later Chris is a multi-time Rally America two-wheel drive champion and a well respected instructor at the same school that inspired his rally career.
Duplessis made his competitive rally debut in 2004 as a navigator, but soon wanted to be behind the wheel and in 2005 he made his first start. “The first rally I started was cool, and my first snow rally was really neat. In my second ever start I was actually only 30 seconds behind Paul Choiniere who has won all kinds of championships here in the states.”
Over the past six years, Duplessis has proven himself a fierce competitor on the course, and a great rally enthusiast off. His passion and energy are contagious, and his patience and tenacity are held in high regard. He has driven to three Group 2 Eastern Regional Championships, two Group 2 National Championships (2007 and 2010), the 2008 Regional Championship, and the 2008 two-wheel-drive Woodner Cup Championship all behind the wheel of a 1990 VW GTI.
His No. 70 hatchback was never far from the podium and this year with a new ride he is already stringing together an impressive season. For the entire 2011 season, Scion is making a rally debut with Duplessis at the controls of the No. 70 xD. The opportunity is one that Chris is thrilled about, “They asked me last year to run two events — Oregon and Maine. It went well with two second-place finishes and the car stayed in one piece. Everyone was really happy so they asked me to run the entire 2011 season. When it came to Sno*Drift in northern Michigan in January we thought we would really have our work cut out for us in Subaru territory, but we all made it work and came out with a second-place finish to start off 2011.”
With Duplessis behind the wheel, Scion is taking the world of two-wheel drive rallying by storm and the 2011 season looks to be a great one. “When it comes to my goals for this year I definitely want to win another championship, this time with Scion and qualify and race at X-Games 2011.”
When it comes to rallying Duplessis said with his ever-ready smile, “It’s just what we love to do. Every rally we go to has new experiences and new memories and they are all really fun, which is why we keep coming back. I will be in rally for life.”
Duplessis not only has a great team for 2011, he also has by his side a fellow rally enthusiast who will soon be his wife. He and his fiancée Sarah Crask met at a rally event where she was navigating for another competitor; the two instantly hit it off and will wed Sept. 10 and make their home just outside Boston, Mass.