Is Travis Pastrana’s wild Subaru WRX STi the perfect Gymkhana build?
The tricky thing about racing is that everything you build is limited by the rules. Chapter This, Section That says that whatever stock car, rally car, or formula car you’re configuring must adhere to certain limits and, while racing drives incredible technical innovation, sometimes these rules produce cookie-cutter race cars.
The 2020 Subaru Gymkhana STi gets rid of that nonsense. It’s essentially the distillation of the racing experience shared by Subaru Motorsport and Vermont SportsCar (who has operated the USA-based rally teams for around 15 years), who together built what looks like the ultimate rallycross car to bring Ken Block’s Gymkhana stunt video series back around to Subaru.
“This STi is unbelievable!” says Travis Pastrana. “We’ve never had the opportunity to do this before, to build a car with no restrictions. Engine, suspension, aero—everything is unlimited, clean sheet. It’s crazy fast, easy to control and get sideways, and it was perfect out of the box in testing. Gymkhana is a new challenge for me but I want to raise the bar, and this is the car to do it.”
While the humble Impreza started life as a stock WRX STi, it’s now a shell of its former self—literally, in many ways. Up front, the structure forward of the strut towers is gone, replaced by carbon-fiber fenders and bumper. A network of tubing supports the massive carbon wheel tubs and front air ducting for what appears to be the air intake and intercooler. The rear quarter-panels are also wholly carbon-fiber, flared for the increased track width. Those big scoops feed a rear-mounted radiator, which vents hot air through the now-open trunk lid. This does two things: First, it frees up a substantial amount of space ahead of the engine, which is utilized by the new aero and intake package up front, and, second, it moves some weight behind the nose of the car, alleviating some of the Subie’s infamous front-end heft.
The rest of the car is pure, unhinged mayhem, the realization of the dreams of the most capable braintrust in rally history. The tall fender wells suggest ample travel. The hood stack promises to burp flames, and while the car is a mix of black paint and carbon, the gold Method MR502 racing wheels harken back to the traditional Subaru rally livery.
“When we brought Subaru back to Gymkhana, we knew we had to build something outrageous,” says William Stokes, motorsports manager for Subaru of America. “Travis always wants to push the limits, so we knew from the outset we weren’t going to do this with a rally or rallycross car. This was an opportunity for us to redefine what an STi could be, and the results speak for themselves.”
While the date has not yet been announced, Travis will take the reins of Ken Block’s Gymkhana series this round with the new machine. The combination of Travis Pastrana’s unique driving style—developed across in motocross, rally racing, and NASCAR—and the dream car for Subaru rally fiends should make for wholesome entertainment.