To the average person the word “rally” typically elicits some sort of political context, especially here in our nation’s capital, Washington DC. Especially during campaign season. But this weekend, DC was home to the 2015 RedBull Global RallyCross series and hopefully quite a few DC citizenry were exposed to a whole new meaning of the word. Hosted in the expansive parking lot of
RFD RFK Stadium, this was the 7th event in the GRC series, and RFD was there to cover it for you. So please take some time to watch the video, take a look through our thoughts on the experience and enjoy our GRC mega-gallery below.
Full Disclosure: While the event may have been presented by Volkswagen, we were fortunate enough to have our friends at Ford send us to this year’s Global RallyCross. We appreciate their ongoing support, go check out their RallyCross page. Also big thanks to RedBull who arranged our media credentials whose only limitations were “don’t climb over the fence”; as you can see, we got very close! We look forward to covering the GRC again next year here in DC!
The GRC Experience
If you have never experienced highway speeds driving through a parking lot, I highly encourage it. Legally, of course. RFK stadium has hosted many fast car events, much like its replacement down the road, FedEx Field. I have been lucky enough to slide my own car, as well as other people’s cars, through many interesting courses set up over the years at autocross and manufacturer events. But I have never had the chance to drive a 600hp AWD rally car through a fast course like the one set up by RedBull. Oh and there were jumps.
Upon entering the facility, you are immediately greeted by a giant RedBull DJ truck setting the tone for the day. And then you hear the cars, the angry hornets nest of cars buzzing around the nine turn track. We arrived early on Saturday, day two of two, during “supercar” qualifying. Supercar, for those new to GRC, is the designation for the the 600hp AWD featured series. They are mostly Ford Fiestas, but you’ll spot a few VW Beetles, Subaru WRX STI and a Chevy Sonic or two depending on the event. They bring the big names as well, names like Ken Block, Tanner Foust, and Scott Speed. When I first arrived, I decided to wander a bit as a non-credentialed spectator. No media jacket or fancy passes for this guy. I want to be amongst the people. So I saw a sign for the paddock and decided to see if I could sneak my way in. So clandestine. Much ninja. But if you watch the video, I just walked in. No security, no gates, just rally cars being prepped to race, just feet away. I know some other series have moved to this type of setup, but I’m not certain that it’s included with every ticket the way the GRC is. And it was spectacular, especially for a gearhead.
Elsewhere, the setup wasn’t over the top as I expected. As you can see from the map above, there was a lone RedBull Airstream trailer that sold merchandise, there were a few beverage stands, and a lineup of local DC food trucks to choose your food from. There was no sideshow, no one doing flips on BMX bikes, and at no time did Felix Baumgartner jump off of anything. The show is in the paddock and on the track. And a great show it was. We picked up our media vests and went down to the where the action was. I finished my day sweaty, sunburned, deaf, and with little bits of tire stuck to my arms, but we got you all some great shots.
As the name implies, the Lites are lesser vehicles, but no less fun to watch. This feeder series to the Supercar league is filled with scrappy teams stringing together a tight budget to go rallycrossing on a big stage. This is basically a spec series, the 300 hp engines and other components on the two-frame Ford Fiestas that every team uses, are sealed and they can only make minor suspension adjustments to their cars. This makes of incredibly close racing and, as you can see in the video some insane damage.
1 #61 Alex Keyes Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
2 #16 Oliver Eriksson Olsbergs MSE
3 #24 Miles Maroney Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
4 #126 Alejandro Fernandez AF Racing
5 #99 Joachim Hvaal Olsbergs MSE
6 #69 Blas Zapag Rhys Millen Racing
7 #42 Nur Ali AF Racing
8 #77 Austin Cindric Olsbergs MSE
9 #15 Tanner Whitten DirtFish Motorsports
10 #07 Collete Davis River Racing
OK, the Lites were entertaining, but imagine twice the horsepower and twenty times the larger-than-life personalities. That pretty much sums up the Supercars. Their paddocks are crammed with onlookers trying to catch a glimpse of the drivers. Ken(ny from the) Block was standing outside of his large black Hoonigan emblazoned trailer while the techs worked frantically to prepare his Ford Fiesta. He seemed jovial and in a good mood, much like his online personality. Some people draw a lucky straw when it comes to professions, I have to imagine this is one of them. I didn’t manage to see Foust or Speed, two of the other recognizable names at GRC until the event started, but I’m sure they were around. I met Tanner once in LA during the first Top Gear USA pilot taping, I can report that he was a nice guy. Short, but nice.
You’ll hear a din starting to surround the paddock as the supercars get fired up for testing and eventually to move out towards the staging area. Throughout qualifying, the semis and the final, the supercars were one hell of a show. Again, if you haven’t taken a look at our video coverage above, do it! You’ll get a sense of just how crazy and loud the RedBull GRC is.
1 #07 Nelson Piquet Jr. SH Racing Rallycross
2 #18 Patrik Sandell Bryan Herta Rallysport
3 #43 Ken Block Hoonigan Racing Division
4 #00 Steve Arpin Chip Ganassi Racing
5 #34 Tanner Foust Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
6 #93 Sebastian Eriksson Red Bull Olsbergs MSE
7 #41 Scott Speed Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
8 #14 Austin Dyne Bryan Herta Rallysport
9 #360 Jeff Ward Chip Ganassi Racing
10 #31 Joni Wiman Red Bull Olsbergs MSE
So after coming in second to Patrik Sandell last year in DC, Nelson Piquet Jr. stands victorious on top of his Ford Fiesta after this year’s round of the RedBull Global RallyCross. Hope you enjoyed our coverage, scroll down for the mega-gallery of high res pics taken by RFD’s own Josh Taylor.