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Big-boy toys on wheels

Grown-ups marveled at the engineering behind the rally-car racing that topped off the extreme sports dust-up known as the Summer X-Games.

When the Summer X-Games rolled into Los Angeles last month, organizers offered a behind-the-scenes look at the rally-car racing that tops off the extreme sports event.

While the younger crowd got their share of skateboards and BMX bikes, adults seemed more drawn to the rally racing course built into the streets around the city's Staples Center.

The rally-car world is of particular interest to some consumers because it's built around cars that most people can afford. Average drivers aren't going to hop into the Ferraris of Formula One or the Audis of Le Mans. But they can purchase a Ford Fiesta or a Subaru STI.

Of course, rally racing serves up heavily modified versions of these cars worth many times their assembly-line cousins, but the heart of rallying is powered by the small hatchbacks and sporty sedans that fill our roads.

The media got to tour the pits before, during, and after the rally racing events to see the technology and engineering that transforms common cars into half-million-dollar racing machines. Car makes included Fords, Subarus, Mazdas, and Citreons.

This year's final rally results saw gold medals going to Liam Doran and Brian Deegan, with Tanner Foust taking two silvers. Foust managed that feat in the same Ford Fiesta he set the indoor speed record in with 0-60 mph in 1.8 seconds.