"Build it and they will come" is a great adage, aside from one caveat: it gives no indication of how long one may have to wait after building "it" for "they" to come. What was founded as the Global RallyCross Championship (GRC) began in 2009 as a way to serve usually sprawling rally racing in stadium-sized venues, where fans of the motorsport and/or those involved with it (Rally America and WRC pros, along with rising X Games stars) could enjoy heated competition without leaving their seats. As a component of Summer X Games competition, rallycross had proven a smash hit. And if as a standalone series the GRC didn't enjoy the same crowds when it was first built, as the saying promises, they are starting to come.
Red Bull GRC's "Supercar" competition roster (the fastest, most powerful cars) in 2015 reads a lot more like the professional racing series it has become than the X Games event it was born from. Only a handful of X Gamers' names remain among more than a dozen career rally wheelmen, and those who've stuck it out have become seasoned professionals in doing so. Ken Block and his Hoonigan Ford Fiesta ST led the championship points race by a large margin coming into the eighth/ninth-round competition doubleheader at the Port of Los Angeles, but a slew of mechanical woes kept him from qualifying for final-round racing for the first time all season on Saturday, and limited him to a lowly ninth-place final finish on Sunday.
Taking the win both days was veteran racer Scott Speed in his no. 41 Andretti Rallycross Volkswagen Beetle, who in doing so became the winningest driver in Supercar history and the first ever to sweep a double-header. Following Scott in second place was Tanner Foust, also in an Andretti Rallycross Volkswagen Beetle (no. 34), giving VW their first-ever 1-2 finish in GRC. Patrik Sandell, in the no. 11 Bryan Huerta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST rounded out Saturday's podium in third.
Sunday's final Supercar competition brought a bit of deja vu, with four of the top five finishers from Saturday finishing in a slightly different order on Sunday: Scott Speed taking first, Tanner Foust dropping to third, and Brian Deegan squeezing into second with his no. 38 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST. The only Subaru (the company that presented the weekend's two rounds) of the event to finish among the top five was Sverre Isachsen and his no. 11 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI, claiming fourth on Saturday. Despite the weekend's Supercar upsets, Ken Block and Ford remain atop championship points charts, with Scott Speed and VW closing in fast.
In GRC Lites competition (cars with less power, though not noticeably slower than Supercars), for the second year in a row, two Olsberg MSE teammates swept the pair of GRC Lites final races in LA: Oliver Eriksson in the no. 16 car on Saturday, followed by Austin Cindric in the no. 77 car in second place, and Austin with a win of his own Sunday, with Oliver claiming third. Lites championship competition is a bit closer than Supercar, with Austin Cindric and Miles Maroney (no. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, taking fourth Saturday and second Sunday) tied for first, with Oliver Eriksson only five points behind.
Back to those accomplished racing drivers who lend credence to the GRC's emergence in the world of motorsport; we're proudly sponsoring one of them. Brian Wong, driver of the no. 89 World Stage Racing Hyundai Veloster (the one with "Super Street" plastered on the sides), made his Supercar competition debut in LA after running in Lites amidst a season of NASCAR Nationwide Series racing (ALMS, Porsche SuperCup and Carrera Cup Asia, and NASCAR West before that). At 26 years old, Brian's been racing professionally for more than half his life and will become a serious threat in GRC Supercar after his judicious start in LA - mark our words.
If the spectatorship in LA was any indication, people from all walks of life are realizing the GRC is every bit as fun to experience in person as it is to watch on its NBC Sports telecasts, especially with the vendors, pit/paddock, and fan interactions that complete any GRC event. For complete event schedule and telecast information, series details, and points ladders, hit up the GRC website.