Scott Speed and his Volkswagen Andretti team produced a second-half season surge that provided the Mooresville resident with his first Red Bull Global Rallycross championship in just his second full-time season in the Supercar Series.
“We were lucky that the last half of the year we really ran flawlessly,” Speed said. “We made zero mistakes. We had no crashes. We really ran clean races and I think that’s what ends up being the secret to success there.”
Reliability issues with the team’s new Volkswagen Beetle at the beginning of the season resulted in Speed competing in only one of the first five races. That left him with a tremendous mountain to climb in the standings. By the season’s mid-point, however, he had made it to fifth and trailed the leader by 80 points. At the Barbados event in October, Speed recorded his sixth podium finish of the season and took the points lead. He eventually claimed the championship by 56 points.
“We had the speed from the beginning of the year,” Speed said. “We had to get the reliability under control and once we did that we went to work on the car, as you normally will, to find a little extra speed.
“Rallycross is very much a contact sport and you don’t really know what’s going to fail on the car until you get it out there and race it. As we started figuring out what the week points were on the car, we restructured those points, fixed them and throughout the last half of the year the car ran flawlessly.”
Championships are nothing new to the 32-year-old Speed. His first titles came in karting. He later took championships in Formula Russell, Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup and Formula Renault 2000 Germany. He’s also a three-time X Games gold medalist in Rallycross, capturing his third straight this year at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. However, Scott said having his family with him in Las Vegas to enjoy the Rallycross season finale and championship was “probably the most special moment I’ve had in my life.”
“I think that, above anything, makes winning the championship so meaningful,” Speed said. “Watching my little (4-year-old) girl totally understand what’s going on and watch how happy she was and how proud of her daddy she was, was just amazing. It was the best thing I’ve ever had in my life. She’s just as competitive as her daddy, too. She hates to lose.”
The former Formula One and NASCAR driver signed a two-year contract with the Rallycross team owned by Michael Andretti about three months before the season ended. Even though some might have questioned Speed’s decision, the Manteca, Calif., native is comfortable with it.
“After seeing the sport from behind the scenes and being involved in it, I feel like it’s the future of motorsports,” Speed said. “It’s the fastest growing motorsports in the country. I believe it’s the second most watched racing (on TV) in this country, just behind NASCAR. It’s got so much momentum behind it that now I’m sitting back, smiling, thinking I made a really good decision. It’s a really great spot to be right now. I feel like I got a bigger head-start on everyone because at the moment everyone I know is trying to get a ride in GRC.”
Concord to host 3 PASS South races
Concord and Hickory speedways are integral parts of the 2016 PASS South Super Late Model schedule with each track hosting three races. That means nearly half of the 15-race schedule will be at the two historic tracks. The series’ first visit to Concord Speedway’s half-mile track will be March 19. It will return to the facility May 27 for the Old Glory 125 as part of the Charlotte area’s Memorial Day festivities. The series champion will be crowned at the facility as part of the North-South Shootout Nov. 4-5.
Hickory Motor Speedway, the longest tenured facility on the PASS South circuit, will host the Easter Bunny 150 on March 26. The series returns to Hickory June 18 and again on Sept. 24.
GoPro Motorplex food drive
GoPro Motorplex’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive will continue through Nov. 23. Anyone bringing five, nonperishable food items to the Mooresville facility will receive a rental kart race for $15. The normal fee is $25. There is no limit on the amount of canned foods a person may donate. Donations go to the Mooresville Soup Kitchen.
The Off-Road Championship Series will open its 2016 season for its PRO classes in April in Charlotte.
The exact dates will be announced later. This year TORC visited The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in July. In 2015, Mooresville’s Jarit Johnson finished eighth in the PRO 2 standings, while his younger brother Jessie, who lives in Cornelius, placed 12th in the PRO Light division. The men are the younger brothers of NASCAR six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
Olsbergs MSE Wins Title
Mooresville-based Olsbergs MSE claimed the top two positions in the final Red Bull Global Rallycross GRC Lites standings. Oliver Eriksson earned the championship, while teammate and Mooresville resident Austin Cindric placed second.
In Supercars, Olsbergs MSE’s Sebastian Eriksson placed second in the standings, while teammate Joni Wiman finished fifth.
Deb Williams is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.