“…It’s going to be slamming banging, you’re gonna see the most exciting racing you’ve ever seen in your life. And if you’ve got ADD, it is the sport for you. It’s action-packed every turn, I have a hard time, like, taking it all in…” —Bucky Lasek
With that, Red Bull Global Rallycross arrived in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the first time with a Friday evening parade of race cars on the famed Boardwalk. After the cars drove past Bally’s and Caesar’s, they lined up for a GRC-style Parc Expose in Kennedy Plaza for a public press conference and autograph signing.
While Ford is still the dominant automaker in Supercars with five Fiestas driven by Steve Arpin, Brian Deegan, Austin Dyne, Nelson Piquet Jr., and Patrik Sandell, both Honda and Subaru upped the ante in the gambling town by adding a third car. Honda brought in Kevin Eriksson for their third OMSE Civic alongside Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman; Kevin has competed in GRC Lites and currently competes in the FIA World Rallycross series in a Ford Fiesta. Subaru invited Australian rally driver Chris Atkinson to try his hand at rallycross in the #55 WRX STI with GRC regulars Bucky Lasek and Sverre Isachsen. Tanner Foust and Scott Speed rounded out the field in VW Beetles.
Being an itinerant series, the practice day always comes with its share of challenges – for example the wooden plank jump that caused delays in Detroit in 2015. In Atlantic City the course was on the tarmac of Bader Field, an aging municipal airport named after a Prohibition-Era mayor, and the racing cars created some potholes large enough to create flying chunks of the cement, warranting the postponement of a few heats to the following day. The stands were unusually packed for a practice day, being a Saturday, so GRC kept fans happy by adding a few rounds of door-to-door racing by the “Fastest Six.”
The Atlantic City course was also the longest course this year, measuring 1.102 miles. So long, in fact, that the usual Supercar final had to be cut down to eight laps from the usual ten, and the GRC Lites final down to six laps so the cars wouldn’t run out of gas. After Saturday’s qualifying, Scott Speed came out in front with pole position.
Sunday was bright and sunny for the finals, without the stiff breezes that blew the dirt around on Saturday. In the semi-final, Foust and Piquet Jr. tangled a bit, calling for a restart – moving the schedule around a bit. In order to maintain the live broadcast of the Supercar finals, the Lites finals ended up taking place after Supercars. The Supercars final did not disappoint, with teammates Foust and Speed jockeying for first, Speed ultimately staying in front for the win. On the last lap, Sandell took the Joker lap to take second, and Deegan sped past Arpin and a limping Foust for the third spot on the podium. Foust had a tire puncture for the last two laps, while Subaru teammates Bucky Lasek and Chris Atkinson suffered complete blow-outs.
In an earlier heat, Sandra Hultgren ended up rolling over after the first turn. She quickly got back onto the track in following heats. Alex Keyes won his first race on his last race of the season, with Oliver Eriksson and Miki Weckstrom in second and third, respectively.
Red Bull GRC goes to Seattle for the next race September 17, 2016.