Rally racing normally conjures the images of high power cars like the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sliding threw a dirt turn sideways kicking up a mountain of dust. Well, the 2009 SCCA RallyCross Championships are no exception, except that you get all kinds of cars competing on a couple of dirt courses. Think of autocross or “SOLO” as it is called now, but in the dirt, mud and in this particular case, the ice and snow.

The great thing about RallyCross is that they have stock two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive categories, among the other prepared and modified classes. In the stock front-wheel drive category you get a lot of cars that we would and have written about here on AllSmallCars.com. For example, a Honda Civic Si, Ford Focus SVT, VW Jetta and yes even a Hyundai Elantra or two. In fact, one of the more popular cars at this event and winner of the 2009 SCCA RallyCross National Championship in stock front-wheel drive was Tim and Don Hardy’s Ford Escort GT from the early ‘90s (Tim beat out his dad for the Championship title).

Two Rallycross Fiestas will be competing, with rally legends Marcus Gronholm and Andreas Eriksson getting tackling the circuit

Two Rallycross Fiestas will be competing, with rally legends Marcus Gronholm and Andreas Eriksson getting tackling the circuit

However, this story is really about how a little Korean car managed to hang in the competition and finish the weekend 7th out of 11th place. In fact, the 2002 Hyundai Elantra Automatic would have had 6th place by another ten of a second, but was just nudged out by a Sentra SE-R. The real story here isn’t how well it finished or even that it was competing against stock performance models like the Honda Civic Si V-tech or the aforementioned Sentra SE-R, both with limited slip differentials.

No, the real story is about how far Hyundai has come as a car brand in the last 20 some years. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s Hyundai was a laughable brand; not only would you not get quality, you probably wouldn’t get a car that would run more than a couple years without loosing multiple pieces. Now, Hyundai offers one of the best factory warranties in the business, car that get good marks for their interior finish and even decent performance and handling.

Bottom line—this is the Hyundai Elanta’s second season racing in the Colorado SCCA RallyCross. Last year it was second in points in the region, which shows just how far Hyundai has come—this from a 2002 model—just image what changed in the last 7 years.