A Rally Driving Crash-Course at Team O’Neil

Golden State native Chris Cantle makes friends with the snow and slush in New Hampshire.

As his title should make clear, The Drive West coast editor Chris Cantle is used to the Southern Californian things in life, like sunshine and dry tarmac and tire grip. Who better than Cantle, then, to send to a three-day rally school in the cold, wet, snowy New Hampshire mountains?

Team O'Neil is one of the premier rally-driving training programs in the country, and offers students the chance to scrabble through the muddy, slushy, low-grip conditions in a range of different cars, getting a feel for all-wheel-drive Subarus and Audis, RWD BMWs, and front-driving Ford Fiestas. Skills like left-foot braking, pendulum turns, and identifying the best rally-racing line (which is a far, far different thing than a road-racing line) are covered extensively, and the whole three days is brought together with proper bombing runs through the woods, just inches from the trees and embankments and rocks. It's just about the most fun you can have on four wheels—and some of the most demanding, skillful driving you can learn to do.

So how did our man on the ground fare? Safe to say he's no Colin McRae, yet, but this sun-drenched, tarmac-loving Californian did come back a convert (plans to relocate to the White Mountains however, remain unconfirmed).