The Dirtfish Rally School is not your typical driving school. The instructors don’t teach students how to parallel park or make a three-point-turn; instead, trained instructors show them how to drift around corners and get in-sync with their car under the worst driving conditions.
Dirtfish was founded in June 2010, when Snoqualmie Mill Ventures purchased the Weyerhaeuser Saw Mill site and the surrounding property, and began transforming the location into a site for rally car racing. In total, the property is about 315 acres. Today, Dirtfish equips its students with practical car knowledge and car control, allowing them to take the lessons they learn on the track with them into the real world.
“We teach advanced techniques to make people safer drivers,” said Trevor Wert, media manager at Dirtfish. Wert has worked at Dirtfish for more than four years, joining up with the company in the middle of 2014.
The business model appears to be working. Wert said that their business has been increasing each year, with most days in early 2019 already booked in advance.
Dirtfish employs 15 professionally trained instructors to give students practical training under the tutelage of an expert. Dirtfish also has its own shop repair staff who maintain their fleet of Subaru rally vehicles on a daily basis.
Dirtfish primarily focuses on teaching the basics of good car control, but they also have a flair for competition. To start competing in rally races, Dirtfish Motorsports was formed as an extension of the Dirtfish brand. Dirtfish Motorsports sends drivers to races across Washington state, and even competed in the 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross in Seattle.
The company does more than teach students and participate in races. Dirtfish regularly puts on community events free of charge, like Summerfest or the Thrill Ride event during the fall season. During Summerfest, attendees can enjoy racing, a car show and refreshments for no charge, and the Thrill Ride later in the year provides a Halloween-themed
“We have this property, and we want to use it, we want to invite people here,” Wert said. “We just want to show people a good time.”
Beyond events, Dirtfish gives back to the community through donations to charity. They have four designated charities they give to, including Seattle Humane, Encompass, Pushing Boundaries and Conservation Northwest. Wert said that each of the local charities mean a lot to the company.
“We do a lot of fundraising,” Wert said.
Dirtfish isn’t only for kids looking to test out a cool rally car either. Their attention to giving students a healthy dose of practical experience behind the wheel with different driving programs for any kind of student.
“Everyone should experience it, and everyone can do it,” Wert said. “We let people come in at 15 with a permit, and our oldest customer is in her 80s. We can cater to anybody.”