Red Bull Global Rallycross Detroit Double-Header

It may seem like a no-brainer for a series such as Red Bull Global Rallycross to bring their bombastic brand of motorsport to the traditional center of the American automobile, Detroit – but after a few failed attempts, they finally made it happen. What’s more, the .757 mile course – one of GRC’s longer, faster courses – was set up on Belle Isle, incorporating part of the Grand Prix track which IndyCars more commonly zoom around. The counterclockwise course wrapped around the fountain in four turns, with the Joker Lap a quick turn around the fountain’s north side on the inside of the course loop. After traversing the jump, drivers headed into the dirt hazard at turn 8 – then a fast straightaway to gradual turns 9 and 10 to finish. Across the Detroit River loomed the Ford-funded, General Motors-owned Renaissance Center.

GRC does the D.

This season, instead of using truck loads of packed dirt, the trademark jump was constructed with scaffolding and wooden planks. Arriving for practice on Friday, things were a bit tense as workers rushed to complete the already behind schedule jump. Things got a bit more worrisome when practice began and whole planks had to be replaced after being torn up and broken by the cars on each run. Dirt was packed onto the jump entrance and exit for smoother, more solid transitions, but GRC Lites qualifying was eventually cancelled to get the jump truly race-ready.

Deegan Debris Trail

Lasek Inspects Jump

The jump was in much better shape for the first of two days of finals on Saturday. A muggy day threatened rain, but thunderstorms were thankfully avoided. 18-year-old Alex Keyes was a favorite in GRC Lites, and Brian Wong was stepping in to represent Rhys Millen Racing in Detroit. 16-year old Austin Cindric – slated to race a Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX in the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge in Mid-Ohio – held on in the final to place third, while Californian Miles Maroney came in second. GRC Lites rookie Tanner Whitten, supported by DirtFish rally, took first place.

Tanner Whitten

Lites Podium Saturday

Fresh off a second-place overall finish the previous weekend at the New England Forest Rally in Newry, Maine, Ken Block maintained his momentum to win his first round heat. Patrik Sandell, racing in a Ford Fiesta, led the final until he ran into some mechanical issues. Block took over the lead for the top spot on the podium in his sixth career win, and Scott Speed prevented a Ford trifecta with his Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle wedged firmly in second between Block and Sebastian Eriksson (driving a Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta) in third.

Ken Block

Supercar podium Saturday

Sunday was hot, hot, hot, and primed for some shaking up. The Lites heats saw some carnage, ultimately knocking four cars out of competition. There was some tight competition between Miles Maroney and Alejandro Fernandez, with Maroney besting his previous days podium to come in first. Fernandez placed second, and Austin Cindric once again took third.

GRC-Lites-MIles-Maroney

Lites Sunday Podium

Sandell was back with a vengeance, winning the Supercar semi-final. The entire field, in fact was even more competitive than on Saturday, and a first-round pile-up in the final rendered Tanner Foust’s Beetle too damaged to continue. The final was started over with Sandell shooting to the front, as points leader Block incurred a controversial (to him) penalty for rough driving. Sandell jubilantly won the race, with the rest of the podium not changing at all from Saturday; scrappy Scott Speed with his Beetle still sandwiched in second between the Ford Fiestas of Sandell and Sebastian Eriksson.

Foust's Dead Beetle

GRC-Sandell

Supercars Podium Sunday

Detroit marked Red Bull Global Rallycross’s mid-season, and heads next to Washington, DC August 15, 2015. Patrik Sandell won in DC last year – so it will be interesting to see if he can do it again this year. Or, will the dominant Ken Block come back to win his seventh GRC victory? Will the VARX Beetles edge the Fords off the top of the podium? Can the scrappy Subaru Rally Team, well, rally and regain the competitive edge they honed last year, and we saw glimpses of in MCAS New River? The competition is itchy – tune in this August. 

 

2015 Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally

The first weekend in June saw a return to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania in much warmer weather for the 39th running of the Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally. Held over two days, the entire rally covers almost 422.6 kilometers (262.6 miels), 192.2 kilometers (119.4 miles) of  competitive stages split between dirt roads on Waste Management property Friday and public roads in state parks on Saturday. Drawing 70 regional and international teams, STPR is the fifth of eight Rally America Championships held in 2015. Past winners have included Subaru Rally Team’s David Higgins/Craig Drew, as well as Ken Block/Alessandro Gelsomino.

Parc Exposé

Parc Exposé

After a sunny Parc Exposé Friday morning, the teams left The Green in Wellsboro and headed to the Waste Management stages 1 – 3. Last year, a jump near the spectator area was added, and it did not disappoint… the spectators, anyway. It’s a sad thing to hear a driver tell his kid, “Tell mommy we’re coming home a day early. We broke the car.” Car 157 (Super Production 2008 Subaru STI Tomasorally) driven by Tomas Solnicky with co-driver Ray Vambuts bounced on landing off the jump and spun in a huge cloud of impenetrable dirt. When the dust settled, the car was off the course and unable to continue, though driver and co-driver were fine. All in all, 62 teams finished the 14.3k (8.9 mile stage.) By the time Stage 3 came around on the same course, 61 teams started and 54 finished.

Just before landing and spinning off course in Stage 1.

Just before landing and spinning off course in Stage 1.

All teams and volunteers then returned to the Tioga Fairgrounds for Stages 4 & 5. These “Super Special” stages see two cars on an almost half mile dirt course at the the same time, taking two spins around a twisting route and ending on a straight-away in front of the filled grands stands. The weather had other plans, however, and a violent thunderstorm blew in and stayed. After a constant downpour with too-close-for-comfort lightning, the evening Super Stages were cancelled.

Team umbrella, heading over to shield another car being repaired from the rain.

Team umbrella, heading over to shield another car being repaired from the rain.

Thunderstorm that ultimately caused the cancellation of Friday's Super Special stage

Thunderstorm that ultimately caused the cancellation of Friday’s Super Special stage

After an early morning Parc Exposé in town, 61 teams headed to Stage 6 – and 56 finished. Stage 7 saw William Petrow and Raphael Orlove – already out of contention and driving for exhibition only – roll over after taking a turn wide and clipping the embankment on the edge of the course. The Broken Motorsports 1992 Nissan 240SX came to rest off the embankment heading down into some brush, but media and rally volunteers pushed the car back on course and they sped off.

Pushing car back onto course after rolling onto roof.

Pushing car back onto course after rolling onto roof.

Service in Germania saw many teams frantically fixing limping cars. Robert Pepper, driving a 1991 Porsche 944S2 with co-driver Mical Davis, said his team had been up all night with about 20 minutes of sleep fixing the transmission, which was left with a hole the size of his fist after Friday’s stages. “That’s rally.”

Germania Service

Germania Service

The carnage continued from stage to stage, and by the start of the 14th and last trail stage, 46 cars started and 43 survived. The weather was spectacular on Saturday, so competitors headed back to the fairgrounds to meet the fans then complete the Super Special stage. The still-muddy course saw a few spins and lots of flying dirt, especially when Pink Curl Racing in the 2006 Mustang (Paul Cacioppo and Niall Burns) faced off against the crowd-pleasing Gary DeMasi and Stephen Kurey in a 1985 Ford Ranger. The Mustang just about made it to the end, but the 2WD swerved and got stuck on a berm. Ultimately, Subaru Rally Team’s Dave Higgins and Craig Drew faced off against FY Racing Team’s Adam Yeoman and Jordan Schulze for the podium. Overall rally winners were Higgins and Drew continuing their winning streak for their 11th win in a row, the FY Racing Team in second, and Nick Roberts with co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino taking third for Nick Roberts Global Rally Team.

Podium

Podium

Full gallery:

#HOONICORN!

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Can’t get enough of the Hoonicorn from Ken Block’s just-released Gymkhana SEVEN? Haven’t seen it yet and want a preview? We got it. Launched at SEMA in the Ford booth, the highly awesomely insanely modified all-wheel drive 1965 notchback Mustang was emblazoned with Ken Block’s Hoonigan racing logos and racing #43. A Roush Yates V-8 engine pumps out a roaring 845 horsepower, and the body sits on custom Pirelli Trofeo R tires. Matte black graphics, roll cage, carbon fiber body panels… eh, you just really want to see the photos, don’t you?

2016 Ford Mustang SVT / GT350 caught testing at the Nürburgring

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There are some Mustang faithful that have worried that the globalization of Ford’s next generation pony car will be diluted from their vision of what a Mustang should be. Independent suspension has some concerned (while others applaud) as does talk of turbo charged four cylinder engines. We all know by now that the new GT will be properly powered by a V8 and most people seem pretty excited about the new look, but what else is coming down the pipe?

Well, for starters, it sounds like the GT350 moniker is going to make a return, with performance bumped by a dose of SVT goodies. The folks at TouriClips have caught a pair of what appear to the the 2016 Shelby GT350R model on track at the Nurburgring.

If you had any worries that the next generation might not be quite enough, this video should quell them. The flat plane crank Coyote V8, said to produce somewhere north of 500 horsepower sounds delicious.

Ken Block creates the Mother of all bikini girl passenger videos

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Somehow I know that I am going to be thrashed upon by some of my female colleagues for sharing this one, but OMG!

The 2014 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance: Part I

2014 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

The 19th Greenwich Concours d’ Elegance: A Festival of Speed and Style was held over the weekend of May 31 – June 1 in Roger Sherman Baldwin Park by the Greenwich Harbor. The Connecticut Concours is just the right size – big enough for an incredible selection of cars, yet small enough so that every car on the field has a chance to parade by the stand at the end of the day. Concours organizers annually assemble a show of unique cars which can apply to show once every three years. Concours proceeds benefit AmeriCares programs.

Saturday is the Concours Americana where domestic antique automobiles share the lawn with 70’s muscle cars. It was a warm but cloudy day, but the passing rain ended just in time for the parade and awards, while the clouds hung around for dramatic photos. [Read more…]

Ford interprets what kids want their Moms to drive

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Mother’s Day can be a tough one to shop for, so the folks at Ford sat some kids down and asked them what kind of car they thought their Mom should drive. Then they had artists bring those ideas to life. I don’t know about Mom, but I would totally rock the under water Pinto!

Lucky Fiesta ST driver at The Ring somehow avoids massive crash

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Yesterday we saw a perfect example of what happens when the driver of a front wheel drive machine lifts off the throttle mid corner, panics and drills the brakes. Today, we have another public lapping participant at the Nurburgring who with a bit of patience and a lot of luck, manages not to hit anything with his precious Ford Fiesta ST after running a bit wide at the exit of a previous turn.
[Read more…]

Mustang adds line lock but racing will still void your warranty

stanglock

In case you have missed it, earlier this week Ford announced that the 2015 Mustang will be equipped with an old skool drag racing tool: line lock. Line lock allows the front brakes to remain engaged, locking a vehicle in place, while the driver puts heat into the rear tires, (read:spinning them!). While this has obvious hooning benefits, primarily creating huge, smokey burnouts, line lock’s primary use is to allow a car to hook up and haul ass down a drag strip. Of course this has sent many internet based morons gearheads into a tizzy as they think Ford is giving them a license to go racing in their new ‘Stang. They couldn’t be more wrong.

For years, pretty much every owner’s warranty guide has contained a clause that says something to the effect of “taking part in any form of competition will render a vehicle’s warranty void”. The cats at Motor Authority did some reading and found the line “Racing your vehicle will void your warranty” in the Mustang’s paperwork, so they set out to find out exactly what that meant by speaking with some of the engineers involved in the project. Basically, what they are saying is that an owner can partake in a track day, but the first time there is actual competition, the warranty is kaput.
[Read more…]

Crazy Leo enjoys successful first WRC event in Portugal

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Crazy Leo Urlichich, the Canadian rally driver who came by his nickname thanks to his wild driving style, has successfully completed his first ever WRC event, in Portugal. Taking part in a driver search program called the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, saw the fan focused driver trading his signature orange and black Subaru for a front wheel drive Ford Fiesta.

Saying that the competition at an FIA World Rally Championship event is stiff would be stiff is somewhat redundant, but the DMACK Fiesta Trophy itself features some tough competitors including Max Vatanen, son of rally legend Ari Vatanen.
[Read more…]