Chip Ganassi Racing Adds Rallycross Team

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams made an interesting announcement today – they are throwing their hat into the Rallycross ring, so to speak, and fielding a new team with experienced GRC competitors Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan. Their car manufacturer of choice won’t change – both will still be racing in Ford Fiesta STs.

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Curiosity was stoked yesterday when Steve Arpin hinted to an upcoming big announcement on Twitter, and around 1: 30 pm on the East Coast, finally tweeted the news that he had joined CG Racing Teams with partners ENEOS and sponsors Loenbro backing him up.

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The 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross season is gearing up to be a great one. Both drivers were invited to and will compete in X Games Austin. Arpin is scheduled to race in all 12 Red Bull Global Rallycross events across the US and Caribbean, while Deegan is currently scheduled to participate in seven races.

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Ganassi, of course, is no stranger to racing. Founded in 1989 and fielding teams across multiple series – IndyCar, NASCAR, and IMSA – Arpin and Deegan join a formidable stable of drivers including Tony Kanaan, Scott Pruett and Joey Hand.

In the 2014 GRC season, Arpin finished seventh overall with one podium – second at the Top Gear Festival in Barbados – while Deegan finished 12th iand took two podiums, third in Barbados and Seattle.

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2015 Waste Management Winter Rally

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Snowy winter rallies are not strictly the domain of Scandinavians – with some focused googling, you can find some winter rallies taking place in North America. Replete with fast cars sliding around turns, spectacular snow sprays, and adrenaline-junkie drivers and co-drivers, the only thing different is the small clutch of fans. However, the fans that did come to watch at the Waste Management Winter Rally (some family members of the teams and some spectators that came from two hours away simply to watch the rally) were truly hardcore, enduring the 9*F/-12.8*C temperatures of a cold snap and an afternoon of sometimes heavy snow.

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In its fourth year, the Waste Management Winter Rally is held on property privately owned by the company in Wellsboro, PA, located in the northerly reaches of Appalachia known as “Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon,” 60 miles southwest of Watkins Glen. Breathtaking views from the winding local routes are punctuated with the occasional house or store, and the frozen rivers snaking through the valleys are dotted with heavily bundled figures ice fishing. Several miles from the Tioga County Fairgrounds, the rugged, rural terrain is ideal for a stage rally.

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The final entry list of 15 included local teams as well as teams from North Atlantic states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York – even a team with a driver from my New York City borough of Queens. Represent! Cars ran the gamut as well – the grid was Subaru and Ford-heavy, but with several Mitsubishis, a Volvo, Nissan, a Dodge Neon, and the oldest car – a 1978 Datsun 280Z – rounding out the field. The five-stage rally covers 44 miles of competition with fourteen turns per stage, and in the area mid-course for spectators, a high-speed jump on a long straightaway.

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Stage 1 claimed its first victim – the Nissan Sentra driven by Ozgur Simsek, Alp Seyhan co-driver pulled off at Turn 5 with a fire. One of the two Mitsubishi teams – Greg Roumiantsev driver, Zsanett Fabian co-driver – also didn’t make it to the second stage. Last year’s champ – Alvin Fong with William Machin in a Mitsubishi Evo IX – suffered a DNF after completing only the first stage. At one point, both 2014 Ford Fiestas – driven by brothers Anthony and John Concha –  sufferend simultaneous offs, but were able to get unstuck and back in the race. Ultimately,  Subarus swept the podium. Jon Kramer (Ligonier, PA) and Adam Kimmett (Leesburg, VA) won the 2015 rally in the number 777 ’93 Subaru Impreza.  Claiming second place was Alex Kuklov, driver, and Chris Rosato, co-driver in a 2000 Impreza RS. In third was local Jeremy Keck with James Quattro co-driving a 1999 Impreza. Wellsboro will also host the Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® in warmer weather June 5-6, 2015. Scroll down for complete results and gallery from the Waste Management Winter Rally.

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Pos
O/A
Pos
Cls
Car# Driver
Co-driver
Class
Vehicle
Total
Score
Total
Score
1 1 777 Jon Kramer
Adam Kimmett
Open Light
Subaru Impreza
75.143 01:15:14
2 2 137 Alex Kuklov
Chris Rosato
Open Light
Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS
80.299 01:20:29
3 3 554 Jeremy Keck
James Quattro
Open Light
Subaru Impreza
84.332 01:24:33
4 4 225 Corey Crossan
Anthony DeGuiseppi
Open Light
Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS
88.189 01:28:18
5 1 280 Gregory Healey
Michael Waterhouse
Group 5
Datsun 280Z
94.252 01:34:25
6 1 143 Antonio Esposito
Philip Barnes
Open
Subaru WRX
97.184 01:37:18
7 2 80 Gary DeMasi
Mike Morrone
Group 5
Ford Ranger GT50
98.217 01:38:21
8 1 412 Alan Edwards
Daniel Baker
Group 2
Dodge Neon
117.270 01:57:27
9 3 348 John Concha
Santiago Alban
Group 5
Ford Fiesta ST
132.184 02:12:18
10 4 648 Anthony Concha
Mark Tisdel
Group 5
Ford Fiesta ST
135.477 02:15:47
11 2 33 Jason Smith
Jared Lantzy
Group 2
Volvo 242
154.262 02:34:26
12 127 Alvin Fong
William Machin
Super Production
Mitsubishi Evo IX
DNF
13 555 Greg Roumiantsev
Zsanett Fabian
Super Production
Mitsubishi Evo
DNF
14 145 Ozgur Simsek
Alp Seyhan
Group 2
Nissan Sentra SE-R
DNF

Red Bull Global Rallycross Off-Season Update

Being a newer series in the motorsports world does not leave Red Bull Global Rallycross immune to its own silly season. There has been some good and bad news during the six months of anticipation preceding the 2015 series starting this May.

The spectacular Las Vegas finale saw Ken Block win the race and Joni Wiman win the championship title with a one-two finish in Ford Fiestas. Bucky Lasek prevented a complete podium take-over by the blue oval boys, surviving a first lap crash – “shaken, not stirred” – with Scott Speed to place third. Block has already confirmed he will participate in the 2015 season.

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Darkening the Las Vegas finale was the scuttlebutt that Hyundai would not continue to partner with Rhys Millen Racing in GRC, and within weeks the formal announcement confirmed the rumors; no more Millen in a Veloster. RM Racing has since stripped the GRC car of its wrap, and made it available to privateers. I had the pleasure time of my life riding along for a hot lap with Millen on the GRC course in Vegas, so here’s one last nostalgic listen to the GRC Veloster – and yes, it’s my ringtone. Bye bye, Hyundai.


2015 has brought better news about Global Rallycross. First, the calendar has been announced with double headers in Detroit, Los Angeles and Barbados. Gone are dates in New York and Charlotte, but a date at a mystery military base has been added in July. There is no confirmation on where, but it’s a good possibility it will be on the East Coast, south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

May 31: Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL
June 21: Daytona, FL
July 5: United States Military Base
July 25: Detroit, MI (I)
July 26: Detroit, MI (II)
August 15: Washington, DC
August 30: Seattle, WA
September 12: Los Angeles, CA (I)
September 13: Los Angeles, CA (II)
October 3: Barbados (I)
October 4: Barbados (II)
November 4: Las Vegas, NV

Second, DirtFish Rally School has announced sponsorship of a GRC Lites car and driver. 22-year old Tanner Whitten, who has been competing in various series for most of his young life, is partnering with DirtFish Motorsports for the GRC season.

Third, after a fantastic season with multiple podium finishes for both drivers, Subaru announced that Bucky Lasek and Sverre Isachsen have inked deals to power on as a team. Travis Pastrana also signed on for key races along the way.

This past week, Volkswagen Motorsports and Andretti Autosport announced that Tanner Foust and Scott Speed would also return to compete with them in 2015. The two drivers appeared at a press conference at the Chicago Auto Show to make it official and discussed their 2015 pursuits; Foust has a docket full of GRC, as well as World RX, short track trucks, more Top Gear, and That Which Cannot Be Spoken Of Yet. Speed will concentrate on Red Bull GRC and maybe join some other series in several races.

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Seed 9 Rally

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Surrounded by the flashing lights and omnipresent din of casino games in Las Vegas, it’s easy to forget that the city is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. In a week filled with the spectacle of SEMA along with NHRA Toyota Nationals, SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS, and Red Bull Global Rallycross season finals, it’s easy to not seek life – or motorsports – outside of The Strip. About 35 miles out into the nowhere around Las Vegas is a essentially a crossroads called Jean, Nevada, with a casino, a gas station, women’s prison, and a small town whose entrance is choked by a rather formidable biker bar. Everything else is desert, dirt roads, and rattle snake holes. Lots and lots of rattle snake holes.

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It is out on these Joshua tree and rock-lined gravel roads of Wilson Pass where the Seed 9 Rally took place on Saturday, November 9, 2014, the weekend after SEMA and its associated events. The regional stage rally and the last race of 2014 in the Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series drew 22 teams from Arizona, Colorado, California, Ecuador, and even China with a wide range of experience. The rally cars ran the gamut as well, ranging from a 1971 Datsun 240Z, a 1994 Ford Ranger, to a 2013 Toyota GT86. Not the most inviting terrain for spectators, the course wound uphill to a turnaround, dotted with the occasional race official, volunteer, and photographer. Total mileage for is 35 with all stages completed. The first stage began around 2:30 in the afternoon.

Once the two safety cars drove past, the first team of David Sterckx and John Reed barreled by in a 2011 Subaru WRX STI. Billows of dust undulated behind each car as the teams came through one by one, snaking along the course, adding layers of dust between the road and the setting sun. Early on in the course was a deep gully – some teams slowed down to navigate, but a couple teams were caught by surprise and hit it too fast; all cars made it past, but a few cars were worse for wear. As in all stage rallies, time is of the essence – teams were looking to beat course bests as well as other driver’s personal bests.

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The sun finished setting as the racers looped back down the course for the service break. The Gold Strike Casino lot was lit up with work lights under tarps as team mechanics worked feverishly on the cars, adjusting here, welding there. The informal atmosphere of the parking lot paddock, drivers and supporters alike friendly and chatty, is one of the many positive aspects of regional and grassroots racing. Pro Tip – the best grilled chicken ever tasted can be found in the paddocks at Seed 9. While some lamented the challenges of competing with heavily funded teams, it was agreed that all in all it was fun.

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At this point, my friend Lecia and I had to leave. Exhausted from SEMA, needing another layer of fleece, still rattled from narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with an either tweaked out, suicidal, psychopathic (or all of the above) Harley rider driving the wrong way in our lane, and not really able to shoot much at night amongst rattle snakes anyway, we hit the highway back to Las Vegas. The rally continued on in the dark desert, and David Sterckx scored the best time of 29:08, George Plsek second with 33:17, and Doug Chernis in third with a time of 35:37.

Next year’s date has been announced – November 25, 2015. One more Pro Tip: If you drive a Prius, rent a Jeep for the day.

Red Bull Global Rallycross Heads to Las Vegas

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2014 SEMA in Las Vegas is coming up quickly – the first week of November – and at the same time, so are the Red Bull Global Rallycross season finals. It has been an interesting year for GRC, between new series sponsors, a slightly less global schedule taking place almost exclusively in North America, and a less diverse Ford-heavy grid shared with Hyundai, Subaru, Volkswagen, and random appearances by others.

Of the four top competitors looking at the championship, three drive Ford Fiesta STs – Ken Block, Nelson Piquet Jr., and Joni Wiman. Scott Speed – by no means the odd man out, having won three races in 2014 – drives a Volkswagen Polo.

Piquet Jr. had a pretty impressive streak going on with four podium finishes in the Supercar division until the Los Angeles double-header this past September. Still, an extremely tough competitor to watch out for, along with Ken Block, who won in Las Vegas in 2013 and had an impressive five podium finishes in 2014 – two of them in LA. The competitive Wiman also brags four podiums in 2014.
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The truth comes out following the Wahta Springs 300

Alex Tagliani's car slides backwards down the track following contact on a late race restart, but contact with whom?

Alex Tagliani’s car slides backwards down the track following contact on a late race restart, but contact with whom?

As the second last event of the year for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, the Barrie Speedway round is always exciting and there is always a lot of bumping and banging. There is usually some off track excitement following the race as well as tempers run hot. Occasionally, competitors who are eager to find someone to blame end up running off at the mouth, only to end up with egg on their face when they are proven wrong later.

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In the closing stages of the Wahta Springs 300, the #95 of Anthony Simone appeared to be holding up the #25 of Joey McColm, as the pair battled for lap after lap. Simone experienced a drivetrain failure, which left oil on the track, causing McColm into the back of the 95, spinning him into the wall. Simone didn’t see it that way, and blamed the failure to be a result of the hit.

As expected, the restart following the clean up of that incident proved to be hard fought. Moments later, as the pack continued to battle, the #18 of Indycar and NASCAR regular Alex Tagliani got very loose and bounced around between the #25 and the wall, before spinning backwards down the front straight. If I recall correctly, there were 6 laps left at this point.

That mess was cleaned up and the green, white, checkers dash to the finish took place, with Jason Hathaway taking the win following a clean and fast race.
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Car Life makes these racers HAPPY

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I am a firm believer that those of us who work in and around the motorsport world have the best jobs on the planet, and yet I have never seen so many people having as much fun at the track as they are in this video.

Shot at a recent Formula Drift/Motor Games event at Fuji Speedway, the video features competitors, crew and even media getting their groove on to Pharrell Williams “Happy”. Popular Super GT racer Max Orido even gets in on the action.

I think we need more smiles in North American paddocks.

NHRA offers up some explosive action in super slow-mo

boom

Just in case there was ever any question as to what form of motorsport comes the closest to a full on apocalypse, the NHRA has released this compilation of super high frame rate videos that show just how bad it can be when it all goes wrong.

Stay In, Stay Safe – The Kevin Ward Jr. Rule

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By now you no doubt already know that there was an incident at a dirt track in up-state New York over the weekend that resulted in the death of 20 year old Kevin Ward Jr. when he was struck by a competitor’s car. That car happened to be driven by NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

Unlike seemingly every other media outlet, The Garage Blog will not be displaying the sole video of the incident out of respect to Ward’s family and good taste in general. Viewing the video does nobody any good, especially not those who know nothing about motorsports or more specifically, sprint car racing.

Likewise, I have never seen winged sprint cars race in person, nor have I driven one of the very specialized machines, so I can’t comment on things like visibility and lack of control at low speeds. Nor should you, or any of these other mainstream media talking heads.

What I will say is that the testosterone fueled displays of anger that have become common place at race tracks across the planet have gotten out of hand and have to stop.

There was a time when oval track racers with a beef would beat the tar out of each other in the paddock, pit lane or even the winner’s circle, after a race. At some point that was outlawed and driver’s began showing their displeasure trackside, as the driver they were angry with passed by under yellow. Usually the display includes a shaken fist, a flipped bird or even a thrown helmet. Childish behaviour at best, tragic at worst as we have learned this weekend.

In road racing, it is a very common rule that the driver of a car which is stopped on track must remain in their car, with safety equipment intact, until given the all clear to exit the car by safety workers. The exception to this is when the car is on fire. The reasons for this are many, not the least of which is that inside the car is the safest place for a driver to be while the track is still hot. From an attitudinal standpoint, the combination of rage, adrenaline and possibly even disorientation following a crash is not a good one when it comes to walking around a live track.

Tragedy in motorsport often leads to innovation and the creation of new rules designed to protect those involved in the sport. To that end, musician and oval track racer Derick Hamrick has started a petition to vote for the creation of The Kevin Ward Jr. Rule, with the tagline Stay In, Stay Safe which puts a name to what the road racing crowd has done for years.

I think it is a great idea. If you agree, please click on the link below and sign the petition.

Stay In, Stay Safe – The Kevin Ward Jr. Rule Petition

Ride along with James Hinchcliffe during crazy Mid-Ohio start

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I hate to admit it, but I rarely get the chance to sit down and watch a race on television, even though motorsports is my lifelong passion. The reality is that I spend so much of my week immersed in auto racing news and happenings, that when I am not actually at the track, I’m not likely to sit down to watch. I don’t even PVR most races now, because I just won’t watch them. It would really suck for me when cool stuff happens, but there is the internet and I don’t miss any of the cool stuff my friends do.

Long time friend of The Garage Blog, James Hinchcliffe, is one of the coolest guys on the IndyCar circuit, but he also has the worst racer’s luck of just about anyone. I have my fingers crossed that this epic march through traffic at this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio is the beginning of some great luck.

The Mayor of Hinchtown stayed calm and had some wicked good luck on his side during this one.