LANCASTER — Auto-sports enthusiasts can watch professional rally drivers race this weekend at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in the 26th running of the Subaru Rim of the World Rally Challenge. The event will feature 35 turbo-charged four-wheel-drive sports sedans in side-by-side racing on a dirt track built in front of the fairgrounds grandstand. “We will have everything from Porsches to Volkswagens to Mitsubishis to Subarus. All cars competing are street-legal cars but highly prepared cars,” race organizer Ray Hocker said. “The track is a closed loop with many twists and turns and jumps and big banked sweeping corners.” However, for the first time in 25 years, rally drivers will not be hurtling over Angeles National Forest fire roads as part of the event. The request to run this year’s event in the forest was turned down by U.S. Forest Service officials, who said in a letter that the rally was “inconsistent with agency direction and the Angeles National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan,” according to Hocker. U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Sherry Rollman said the area that would have been used by the rally has been zoned for restricted use under a new forest land management plan. “The intent of the use is for more administrative vehicles and equestrian- and pedestrian-type use,” Rollman said. “It was not going to be graded to the level that they were going to do races on.” Forest Service officials told race organizers that most of the roads used for the rally in the past will no longer be graded, leaving them too rough for rallying. “In those 25 years in the forest, the event never had any incidents or problems. The denial had nothing to do with performance in the past. It had to do with a change in the way the forest was maintaining its roads,” Hocker said. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. There are four races scheduled for today and three Sunday. Admission is $5 plus parking. Children ages 6 and under are free. The fairgrounds is at 2551 W. Ave. H, just off the Antelope Valley Freeway. This is the fourth year the rally has been held at the fairgrounds. The event also will feature an autocross event, in which anyone can compete in a slalom course around traffic cones in the parking lot, a 150-import-car show, an expo that will showcase firms that make performance car parts, and radio-controlled car-racing for children. In addition, there will be a family-oriented adventure road rally. “It’s an event designed for anyone in any kind of car, It’s a road rally for a couple of hours. The family follows instructions and follows signs around the Antelope Valley,” Hocker said. The road rally is free for anyone driving a Subaru, Hocker added. “The rally is a world-famous event in motorsport racing. Teams have traveled from all over the world to come to the Antelope Valley to run the rally,” Hocker said. “We want to keep that going, and we hope to return to the forest.” — Karen Maeshiro, (661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!