Category: Fan POV

FAN POV: The Big Finale in Las Vegas

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

By Audrey Guistiniani

The big finale for Redbull Global Rallycross at Las Vegas was one of the most exciting races of the season. This year the track was located at The LINQ, a dining, shopping and entertainment district right in the heart of the Vegas Strip. The track was right at the foot of the 550-foot ferris wheel called the High Roller. The wide track was excellent. It had high speed corners, long straights, interesting hairpins and the joker turn, which made for lots of surprises. It was around 38% dirt. The atmosphere was amazing.  As soon as I walked in I could feel the excitement.  Kids and adults wandered around the open paddock talking with the drivers about their techniques or just congratulating them for their performance.  It’s always nice to see how the drivers are available to the growing number of fans attending the races.  I was able to see how everyone works together to make a victory happen.

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Both days were interesting as I watched the drivers try to figure out how to take the corner before the jump. That particular corner was very dusty and deep on the first day, but was quickly fixed by the second day. The beetles especially had big success. This was the first time I able to see them perform. It was very impressive.  I knew that VW is doing very well in rally, and now I get to watch them in rallycross.

The first start during the final began with a hit between Speed and Lasek in the first corner. Fortunately, both could line up for the restart and continue racing.  Specifically, it was great for Bucky Lasek who took third on the podium that evening.

It was a big win for both Ken Block and for Joni Wiman.  Block won the event and Wiman took second in the round, giving him enough points to win the championship. Emma Gilmour, who did a great job all season, made history as the first female in GRC to race in the final. I was also able to witness a big victory for Mitchell Dejong in the Lites series.  DeJong won both the race and championship.

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

This season is over now, but GRC continues to grow and is getting more and more popular. GRC is the series to enjoy racing with simplicity and fun.

 

Photos by Audrey Guistiniani

Fan POV: For This Fan, Los Angeles Round Was More Than Just a Race

Karen in the center  - photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross
Photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

Photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

Fan Point-Of-View by Karyn Krukow

Detroit’s loss became Los Angeles’ gain in early September. The Port of Los Angeles became host to a double-header when the race in the Motor City was canceled, turning what was once a two-day event into three. The home race (due to it being held in the same city as the home offices for both GRC and Red Bull) was the first one held in Los Angeles not associated with X Games.

As a fan who has been to both events, I have to say that I preferred the stand-alone race since the entire event is devoted to rallycross – there are no other distractions taking place at the same time or venue. In fact, the only distractions were the ocean front, which meant views of ships coming in and out of the harbor and seal sightings in addition to cars practicing and qualifying at sunset. Red Bull picked an awesome location.

One of the most notable things that happened at the event was the debut of the VW Beetle driven by Andretti Autosport driver Tanner Foust. It was the first time this Beetle raced stateside against other cars on the track. I must confess I wasn’t entirely sure about this deal with the Beetle. I mean come on, a Beetle? But I changed my opinion after seeing its potential. My full conversion came when I saw Tanner not only keep pace with Ken Block while driving the Beetle, but also driving faster at times. That Beetle is a beast, and once it’s fully dialed in, watch out!

Tanner, if you are reading this, sorry for being a doubting Thomas!

Geoff Sykes - Photo by Karen Krukow

Geoff Sykes – Photo by Karen Krukow

One of the highlights of the race experience is being able to roam the pits during down time. You never know who you’ll run into or what shenanigans the drivers are up to. More importantly, you get to witness the hard-working teams putting the cars back together post-race. Seeing Bucky Lasek zipping around on a mini-motorbike chatting up fans is something I won’t forget. Same thing with spotting Steve Arpin hitching a ride on the tire golf cart, and watching Geoff Sykes sign parts of his car and hand them over the fence to fans was hilarious. That was a first for me.

Ken Block’s daughters sold lemonade on behalf of the Keep A Breast Foundation’s “Save the Boobies” cancer awareness campaign at the event. It was heartwarming to see them following their father’s lead in supporting the charity. Yes, Ken followed through with his pledge to wear the specially designed pink DC driving shoes featuring the “I Heart Boobies” slogan we all know.

Wandering around toward the end of day two I ran into Rhys Millen hauling his own tires. My comment made in jest, “They make the boss work? What?” was met with a smile from Millen and a simple reply, “I offered to do it this one time so the team could eat dinner.”

Karen in the center  - photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

Karen in the center – photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

When I attempt to put the experiences of three days of racing into perspective, what stands out most was the teams’ level of dedication backing up the drivers. The drivers always give credit to their teams but rarely does it come from the fans. Watching them piece these cars back together day after day for the event was astounding. Their talent and abilities to do the repairs under such time constraints is admirable. It’s given me a new appreciation for the effort that goes into racing.

On Saturday night I walked through the pits to leave for the day. Every pit had car parts littering the floor, with team members getting ready for a long night of various repairs. When the gates were open at 8 am Sunday morning you could see the drivers practicing, meaning the teams likely did not get much sleep. On behalf of the fans, thank you to the teams for your hard work and dedication to your drivers and their cars.

I would like to thank Rallycross360.com for asking me to write this fan point-of-view for the Los Angeles race. For me it was an opportunity to show that fans should not just go to see the best type of auto racing, but to take in the whole experience. It’s a great series where the drivers truly love the interaction with their fans. I can’t wait to see it grow even more in popularity.

Fan POV: A Rally Nut’s Quick Perspective

Tanner Foust taking the win in New York - photo by Andy Casson
Tanner Foust taking the win in New York - photo by Andy Casson

Tanner Foust taking the win in New York – photo by Andy Casson

I became interested in rallycross when I was 13 and went to my first international race in ’79 in Ypres, Belgium. Originally from England, I’ve seen my share of rallycross events over the years. Now flash-forward to 2014 in New York at round four of a Red Bull Global Rallcross event. Rallycross here in the States is still a relatively new sport, but thanks to Red Bull GRC it’s gaining momentum and people are taking notice. If you’re a newbie to rallycross or someone who’s followed it for years, you can’t help but get caught up in the excitement surrounding the GRC events. For first-timers, it’s cool to have an event in a major metropolitan city. It’s not just about the manic cars, it’s about the people…the rally community. I was able to catch up with old “rally” friends and meet some new ones.

Photo by Andy Casson

Photo by Andy Casson

I arrived early at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, and the weather was great with low cloud coverage and the temperature wasn’t too nutty for a usual New York City summer day. Access to the event was very straight-forward and there was more than ample parking. Some access was limited, such as the VIP areas and certain sections of the outer fencing for the media folk and photographers.

In the paddock, I found it nice to be able to walk around and see all the high-tech cars being prepped and checked over. Both the GRC Lites and the Supercars were easy to view and it was fascinating to watch the crews as they worked on the cars adjusting tires, suspension settings, and so forth. There was easy access to the drivers of both Supercars and Lites. They walked around the paddock chatting with the fans and signing autographs. I was able to meet Tanner Foust and tell him that he is actually taller in real life! Sunday was special for me because 2014 Rally America champions David Higgins and Craig Drew had arrived straight from their win in round six at the New England Forest Rally.

With David Higgins & Craig Drew

Andy Casson (middle) with Craig Drew and David Higgins

Many of the teams were doing promotional giveaways such as posters of drivers, stickers, and key chains. On occasion, Royal Purple would shoot free t-shirts into the stands for the fans to grab. There were scheduled autograph sessions near the start/finish line on Saturday and Sunday. That made it very easy for fans to get autographs from their favorite drivers.

The schedule of the various races was simple and easy to follow. Watching the free practices was good fun and the cacophony of sound from the cars firing up and launching at the start was thrilling. (I would highly recommend that little rallycross fans use ear plugs or headsets.)

Photo by Andy Casson

Photo by Andy Casson: Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek

So, the summary of my experience at a Red Bull Global Rallycross event is this: GRC has made it easy and fun for the fans. When I go to the events, it’s all about my interaction with the people and enjoying the atmosphere. It’s a great outing for family and friends and a fantastic way to be up close to some great drivers, teams, and fast machinery.

Would I go again? As Oliver Twist would say, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

For more fantastic photos, you may visit Andy’s photo album at http://www.hellofish.net/hellofish.net/home.html.

FAN POV: EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN…WASHINGTON, D.C.?

"When's the Rockstar version of the Beetle coming?"
Photo from RedBullGlobalRallycross.com

Photo from RedBullGlobalRallycross.com

by Laurie MacPherson

Having attended a few GRC races by now, I wasn’t sure what to expect in D.C. with the race being held in the parking lot of the famed RFK Stadium. The pictures on social media made it look good, but how good was it really going to be? I was excited to find out.

I bought the VIP pass which gave gate and paddock access and entrance to a special viewing area and a separate grandstand with its own bar. It was a nice touch, but it seems this was a one-off for this event and isn’t being offered for subsequent races. It did feel cool to walk around with a VIP pass.

Volkswagen and Red Bull spared no expense on the whole event. The signage was amazing, the track was great, and everything looked really, really GOOD. The drivers arrived early in the week and spent time doing charity appearances. The Volkswagen boys, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed, appeared to spend some time at VW headquarters and doing signings at local dealerships. I liked this approach. Nothing felt rushed and the drivers appeared relaxed and ready to race on Saturday morning. This was a different vibe than seeing them fly in overnight and jump in a race car first thing in the morning.

"When's the Rockstar version of the Beetle coming?"

“When’s the Rockstar version of the Beetle coming?” – photo by Laurie MacPherson

One of the best things about GRC races is the relaxed atmosphere of the pits. If you want to meet your driver you can. They’re all gracious and so thankful for the support they receive from the fans. Although Tanner Foust has quite a female following, it’s fun to see grown men turn to little boys when they get to meet him too. I can’t even count how many times I heard, “I just want to shake your hand,” or “It’s so cool to meet you,” and Tanner responds with an easy smile and a sincere “thank you.” It’s refreshing to see at a professional car race, or any sporting event for that matter. I think this accessibility is a huge draw for the fans – getting to meet your hero is worth the price of admission.

The heats and final went off with only a few problems, the biggest being both VW Polos suffering fatal issues during the seeding and qualifying heats on Saturday. The cars and the drivers spent the rest of the day on the sidelines. VW mechanics worked hard, even machining a brass hammer into a bearing for an engine overnight. Luckily they were up and running the next morning and were able to compete in the semifinals, with both having to start at the back of the grid.

Sunday also brought the unveiling of the new 600-horsepower VW Super Beetle. A mechanic for Scott Speed was very excited, saying, “Wait for the Beetle, it’s substantially better than the Polo.” That said, everyone seems unsure when it will actually hit the track. The one they unveiled had Scott Speed’s 7UP livery on it, causing everyone, including Tanner Foust, to wonder where the Rockstar version was.

The race itself was the most successful to date. All 11 cars started and all 11 cars finished, a testament to good planning, clean driving, and a great track. Patrik Sandell eventually came out on top, his first win in his Kobalt Tools Ford Fiesta. The win was also a big success for the OMSE team.

It’s obvious to me that the GRC folks are continuing to evolve, improve, and promote the sport…AND IT’S WORKING! It was more than a demolition derby this time and still remained just as exciting. Hats off to VW, Red Bull, and the GRC folks for putting on a top notch event.

They’ll all gather again in a few weeks at Nassau Coliseum in New York. The next race that I get to attend will be on my home turf in North Carolina at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. Nothing beats the sound of those strong little cars with all that power springing to life and the pop, pop, pop of the anti-lag that you can feel rattle your spine. It all becomes a bit of an addiction after a while. I’ve whet my appetite this summer and now I’m ready for more.

Rules and Regs: Calls at X Games Austin Explained

XGames
Photo from Red Bull Global Rallycross - Patrik Sandell #18

Photo from Red Bull Global Rallycross – Patrik Sandell #18

The Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship at X Games Austin was an exciting event with some great driving, exciting moments, and some surprising outcomes. Throughout the past week fans posted reactions on social media regarding some of the decisions made by the officials. For instance, “Why so many red flags? Why was Sandell taken out of the race after the red flag? Why did Deegan get removed from the final?”

Fans are confused because they don’t understand how GRC works. But how could they? After all, the rules don’t exist for anyone to read (and therefore comprehend) outside the ring of racers, organizers, and officials. Global Rallycross is in pretty good company, though. NASCAR doesn’t post their rules for the fans to see. Frustrating? Fan reactions affirm that. But NASCAR has such frequent and broad coverage that even your grandma can’t help but know what makes that clock tick. GRC, on the other hand, being so new to America’s weekend motorsports visual vernacular, is suffering from a lack of understanding of its race-day rules.

That said, GRC does have a thorough and complete set of race rules. The officials that created and enforce them are experts with credentials ranging from the World Endurance Championship to Formula One. They know their stuff. Rallycross360.com was able to talk with sources who attended the X Games drivers’ meeting where these officials laid down the law. This source also provided confirmation as to why specific calls were made by race officials. Here’s a breakdown:

XGamesThe first controversy occurred in the second quarterfinal when there was an incident between Nelson Piquet Jr. and Sverre Isachsen. It appeared as if Piquet Jr. ran into Isachsen. However, according to race officials, at the moment of the incident in question Piquet Jr. had enough car to the inside of Isachsen to be owed “racing room.”   This is a rule that has always been in place. In fact, Toomas Heikkinen and Isachsen were both put on probation in 2013 after the Bristol event for similar situations. This rule was discussed during the drivers’ meeting at X Games and the drivers were reminded that whoever has a specific line entering a corner, the car in front must yield one car width plus one inch to allow the “line owner” to get through the corner.

The second incident fans questioned happened when Brian Deegan made what he called a “clean pass” in the first semi-final. It did appear to be a clean pass – in fact, it was an excellent pass. But unfortunately it was an illegal pass. All four of Deegan’s wheels left the track. When he passed Piquet all four tires went onto the red kerb (curb), thus leaving the track. This is also referred to as “short coursing.” Here’s the important part: By the time the infraction was called, it was too late to give Deegan a stop-go penalty and therefore he was assessed a five-second penalty. When added to his time, the additional five seconds put him out of the final. Deegan was upset and expressed his anger on national TV toward the officials. Naturally, his fans reacted negatively and screamed foul or even worse, bias.

The call that really frustrated fans was the one that took Patrik Sandell out of the final. Sandell was red-flagged because of a mishap with Austin Dyne. Once again, this NEW rule states that if a driver causes a red flag in the final, it is an automatic DNF. According to the information we received, if a driver is wrecked and causes a red flag but it’s not his or her fault and the car can be repaired, the driver may return for the restart. The driver responsible for wrecking another driver and causing a red flag may not return to the race. If a driver wrecks with no other cars involved and the wreck causes a red flag, that driver may not return to the race.

As the great sport of rallycross continues to grow and evolve here in the U.S., the fans will continue to learn and grow with it. Fans may or may not agree with some of the rules, but the rules are in place for a reason and X Games Austin was called “by the book.” It’s uncertain if the official rules will be made public but in the meantime we will do our best to get information and answers throughout the season regarding calls, rules, and regulations.

Linda Olsen

About Linda Olsen

Linda is a big fan of rally and rallycross. She writes and manages social media for Rallycross360.

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