After consultation with a wide group of stakeholders and interested parties, IMG has taken the difficult decision to not extend the Americas Rallycross Championship beyond the 2019 season. We would like to thank our passionate fans, teams, drivers, partners and event hosts for their support and participation in Americas Rallycross.
As one series dies a rather ignominious death, another rises. Red Bull Global Rallycross quietly cancelled its 2018 calendar earlier this spring after a last-ditch effort to save the series by adding Polaris and changing over to spec cars couldn’t save it from financial issues. Through the ashes comes ARX Americas Rallycross, a new series from IMG, a large marketing corporation that boasts UFC in its portfolio and partners with diverse clients such as the international Frieze art fair.
Americas Rallycross Championship will launch May 25-27, 2018 at Silverstone’s Speedmachine Festival in the UK. Two teams from GRC will be racing in the debut – Subaru Rally Team’s Patrik Sandell, Chris Atkinson, and rally driver David Higgins, as well as Andretti Rallycross’ Tanner Foust and Scott Speed, returning in the Beetles. Rounding out the field are Philippe Maloigne, Andy Scott, Liam Doran, Timo Scheider, and Rene Munnich.
Other teams have indicated that they will join future races – Steve Arpin with Loenbro Motorsports announced he looks forward to racing in select races in partnership with Ken Block’s Hoonigan racing team. Arpin said, “The support from our owners, Paul and Jon Leach of Loenbro, our sponsors and our fans during our GRC run has been unbelievable. We have accomplished so much as a small, private team. We’ve earned a tremendous opportunity to work closely with Ken Block and Hoonigan.” He will continue racing in the Ford Focus RS RX.
The inaugural race will be streamed live – https://www.facebook.com/ARXRallycross– with highlights shown on CBS Sports.
The remaining races on the 2018 calendar will be in the Americas:
Round Two travels to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas July (TBD)
Round Three is in Trois Rivieres, Quebec August 4-5
Round Four is back in Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas September 29-30.
On the heels of Red Bull Global Rallycross’s announcement to change to spec cars with the Gold series, they have announced that the Platinum series to replace Super Cars for 2019. Also spec cars, GRC claims that it will lower the barriers to entry by lowering cost. According to the press release, “The new Platinum class vehicle will utilize a tube frame chassis that is lighter and more agile than current Supercars, with a higher displacement engine promising performance and endurance never before seen in top-tier rallycross racing.”
The cars will first be raced in a demonstration at the 2018 series finale at Lydden Hill in October. This also launches plans for the GRC Champions Cup, expanding to a complementary series in GRC Europe. The European season will run concurrent with the North America series, culminating in a championship race with drivers from both sides of the Atlantic. GRC CEO Colin Dyne says, “Our goal is to open up the competitive landscape to make it more accessible for drivers and teams to participate and showcase their driving skills. Plus, the addition of the GRC Champions Cup will bring together the best drivers from both continents to crown the ‘King of Rallycross’.”
In a surprising move, Red Bull Global Rallycross announced that a single, spec-series type rally cross car will replace Super Cars in the 2018 season. Now called Gold class, seven events will feature the cars. Looking forward to 2019, a Platinum-class purpose-built rallycross car will be introduced. The Gold series car has been created to level the playing field, so to speak, and highlight driver skill. The move may be perplexing to many fans of the series, however, as rallycross was originally launched with factory-built street cars bought from dealers then modified for racing. This approach appealed to brand enthusiasts and casual car fans alike, with a nod to the series’ roots in rally. The past three seasons have been dominated by Scott Speed of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross winning the championship – perhaps Volkswagen’s recent domination of the series was an impetus for the switch – but previous to Volkswagen’s championship streak, Ford consistently topped the podium.
Red Bull GRC is definitely expanding the series and horizons having introduced the off-roading Polaris RZR® RS1 and the new Polaris class debuting in 2018. The series is also putting “outside of North America” back into the Global part of its name by announcing the season finale at Lydden Hill, UK, the birthplace of rallycross.
The 2018 season kicks off June 9-10 at Lancaster National Speedway in Buffalo, New York, the only east coast venue within shouting distance of Canada. It then heads to New Orleans, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Atlantic City, Seattle, then Lydden Hill.
Red Bull Global Rallycross has announced its 2018 calendar with four scheduled double headers and some new cities – including New Orleans, Louisiana. The final race has taken place in Long Beach, California the past several years; there will still be a race in Los Angeles in July, but in keeping with the “Global” part of the series, the final will be in Europe. The exact location has yet to be announced. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a race in Canada this season; the closest to the east of Canada will be in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In fact, that is the only East Coast race at all so far. There is a double header in June with no location indicated. The full calendar:
Round 1: Louisville, KY (May 19-20)
Rounds 2-3: To be announced (June 9-10)*
Round 4: New Orleans, LA (June 23-24)
Round 5: Los Angeles, CA (July 7-8)
Rounds 6-7: Indianapolis, IN (August 11-12)*
Rounds 8-9: Atlantic City, NJ (August 25-26)*
Round 10: Seattle, WA (September 15-16)
Rounds 11-12: Europe (October 27-28)*
Red Bull Global Rallycross’s Silly Season hasn’t been as tumultuous as previous years, but there still have been some interesting announcements since Patrik Sandell was snapped up to join Chris Atkinson for a new Subaru Rally Team USA lineup:
- 2016 Season champion Scott Speed has a new sponsor for 2017, teaming up with Oberto and Circle K.
- Loenbro has launched a multi-car team for 2017, with seasoned competitor Steve Arpin and another driver to be announced.
The GRC Lites program, conceived to be a feeder series and give young drivers rallycross experience, has been successful in doing just that. Cabot Bigham, the 2016 GRC Lites season champion, will try to fill Sandell’s racing shoes piloting the Ford Fiesta ST for Bryan Herta Rallysport. Looking at the field of 2017 SuperCar drivers, there are a several other familiar faces from GRC Lites – Mitchell DeJong was the 2014 GRC Lites champion and made his SuperCar debut in the 2016 season finale in Los Angeles and Kevin Eriksson is back with OMSE after driving the Honda Civic in SuperCars for the first time in Atlantic City in 2016.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will continue to field a three-car team in GRC Lites; Alex Keyes will stay with them for a third season, while Christian Brooks and Travis Pecoy join him after competing with AF Racing last year.
More announcements will be coming soon – and we’re looking forward to more information on the Canadian double-header. That nosey little bird has intoned that the location will be in Ottawa and while unconfirmed, TGB certainly hopes that this is true. Meanwhile, tickets are already on sale for the season opener at Memphis International Raceway in Tennessee April 28-29. Say hi to Elvis for me if you go.
Red Bull GRC has announced the 2017 season with a few surprises. Washington D.C., held in the lot of RFK Stadium for the past three years, is no longer on the schedule. Atlantic City is back with a double-header for 2017, and several new cities added – Louisville, KY; Thompson, CT; Memphis, TN; and Indianapolis, IN. Most exciting for TGB readers is a double-header in Canada – city not yet announced. The championship final will once again take place in Los Angeles as a single event. The full schedule:
Round 1: Memphis, TN (April 29)
- Round 2:Louisville, KY (May 21)
- Round 3:Thompson, CT (June 3)*
- Round 4:Thompson, CT (June 4)*
- Round 5:Canada (June 17)*
- Round 6:Canada (June 18)*
- Round 7:Indianapolis, IN (July 9)
- Round 8:Atlantic City, NJ (August 12)*
- Round 9:Atlantic City, NJ (August 13)*
- Round 10:Seattle, WA (September 9)*
- Round 11:Seattle, WA (September 10)*
- Round 12:Los Angeles, CA (October 14)
Teams are wasting no time with their driver changes in the new year – on day four of 2017, it was time to hastily update the Rallycross Silly Season Spreadsheet! Subaru announced a big change in their Red Bull GRC team, bringing in one big surprise and one a little more anticipated. First the surprise – Subaru has managed to spirit the seasoned Patrik Sandell from driving a Ford with Bryan Herta Rallysport to the Subie side. A competitor in GRC since 2013, the Swede is no stranger to the champagne spray with one win and five podiums in 2016 alone. Additionally, Australian rally driver Chris Atkinson who competed for the team in select GRC events last season has also been brought onto the team for the full 2017 season in the Vermont SportsCar WRX STI.
“I enjoyed my first taste of rallycross last year with the team, and it’s clear to see the potential both the team and the car have,” explains Atkinson. “I’m excited to come on board full-time with the squad, and I can’t wait to get started. The guys are working so hard in Vermont in the off-season now to really give Patrik and I something very special to drive in 2017.”
Rally driver David Higgins has also driven in a few GRC events for Subaru, and will continue to compete in rally for the USA team. In 2016, the new non-profit ARA (American Rally Association) was formed, headed by Tim O’Neil. Subaru has put their faith in the new sanctioning body and will be a national sponsor for the first year, while fielding Higgins and teammate Travis Pastrana. Sandell and Atkinson are both competitive rally drivers as well, so perhaps we can look forward to some more cross-over between rally and rallycross in the coming year.
“…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.
Marking the start of the second half of the Red Bull Global Rallycross season, the series set up camp in Washington D.C. for the third year in a row. The clockwise track was once again constructed in the parking lot of RFK Stadium, embedded with crumbling chicane from the 2002’s ALMS Cadillac Grand Prix. The .899 mile track ran clockwise this year with ten turns, the Joker lap, dirt section, and the signature table jump right before the finish line. Not only is Washington DC a veritable swamp in the summer time, but DC was in the middle of the heat wave with thunderstorms threatening for race day.
Supercars speculation was high going into DC:. Nelson Piquet Jr., last year’s winner, was re-joining the SH Rallycross/DRR after finishing his second Formula E season. Patrik Sandell won in 2014 and was looking for the top spot on the podium, with two podiums already in 2016. Tanner Foust arrived in DC the stiffest competition with three wins under his belt and a podium in Dallas from the first half of the season. Scott Speed, with one win and three total podiums in 2016, also arrived fresh off a win at MCAS New River; but then Steve Arpin was raring to go in his second year with Chip Ganassi Racing (and his first win in GRC this year), and his teammate Brian Deegan having taken three podiums in 2016. OMSE Honda driver Sebastian Eriksson had three podiums in the first half of the season as well, and to put a bit more gas on the fire, Subaru Rally Team USA was arriving fresh for their first race of the year.
A Thursday evening thunderstorm did nothing to quell the humidity. While it left puddles all over the track and the paddocks, the dirt hazard and jump managed to be dry enough to form great plumes of dust during afternoon practice and evening heats, with Foust and Speed won Friday’s heats.
Friday’s most urgent race was between GRC semifinals and fast-approaching rain clouds – and the rain won. After the heats and semi-finals, the rain started. After about a half hour of downpours, the weather finally moved on – and the formerly dusty track was now covered in mud and puddles for the LCQ and main event. In other words – real rally conditions!
Scott Speed won pole position for the final, and the LCQ was indeed a mud fest with Steve Arpin winning. Speed and Sandell stayed in front for the whole final, while Tanner Foust and Brian Deegan fought for third place. Foust pulled of a pass in the final lap for third place.
Rookie GRC Lites driver Cabot Bigham took his first win (after two podiums in the season’s first half), with Oliver Ericsson taking the other two podium spots. After competing in her first Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites race last year in Las Vegas, Sandra Hultgren (Olsbergs MSE X Forces) returned for her first 2016 race, finishing eighth.
Check Red Bull TV for replays of the DC event, or to watch the upcoming race in New Jersey August 28.