Sunday, 23 February 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Taking it to another level, rallycross with Scott Speed

Last year Scott Speed burst onto the rallycross scene in spectacular fashion, winning his first ever race at X Games Brazil. He later went on to win in Charlotte and finish fifth in the Red Bull Global Rallycross standings in what was a fantastic season for the Californian.

In what was a last minute deal, Speed secured a one-off drive in the 'Star Car' Ford Fiesta for X Games Brazil. It was both a car and discipline he'd never tried before, yet despite an impressive resume that includes stints in Formula One and NASCAR, the instant success came as a surprise to the former Toro Rosso driver.

"It was a big shocker for everyone! This was a very last minute deal and it wasn't by any stretch a proper effort." he tells me. "I did not expect to go in and win obviously." The instant success led to him retaining the seat for the rest of the season, a seat that was set to feature a different driver at each round.

This year Speed is back for another crack at Red Bull GRC with Andretti Autosport, a move that will surely offer him a strong platform to challenge for the title.

"It's all been raised to another level." Speed says. "It's a proper race team with proper engineers...once we get going we'll be operating on a totally different level."

Running with two-time Red Bull GRC champion Tanner Foust, Speed will campaign a striking new Volkswagen Beetle in 2014. The car will debut at the X Games in Austin in June, the second round of the season. Until then they'll be racing a Marklund Motorsport-built Volkswagen Polo, a car that contested the entire European championship, as well as all four X Games events last season. Speed got his first taste of it earlier this week during a two day tyre test.

With the wait for the new Beetle, Speed admits it's not the best position to be in, despite knowing how to win in an old car as he did in 2013, but he insists that his new squad is intent on learning in these early days.

"It's not an ideal situation because we're basically running used cars that we're trying to learn from. In all honesty, we have to learn anyway, so it's not a total waste but it's not going to be as optimum as our Beetle by any stretch."

"I think that it's definitely not going to be as good as our Beetle will" he continued. "Our Beetle's being developed and there's a lot of effort going into that and when that car comes out, it's going to be a bullet."

Whilst Andretti Autosport may be new to Red Bull GRC, Andretti Sports Marketing's involement in Red Bull GRC streches back to 2012 where they promoted the event at SEMA. Last season they helped with all of the X Games events and the Vegas race.

Andretti and Volkswagen’s commitment to Red Bull GRC is one of several coups for the ever expanding series, with Ford, Subaru and Red Bull all tied to the sport in addition to a new TV deal with NBC which Speed believes will propel the series into being one of the most viewed in America. That could also attract drivers from other forms of motorsport, which in turn will benefit the seasoned Red Bull GRC runners too.

"This growing so much and being more of a legitimate racing series is bringing more guys like myself with a motor racing background. And I think that's going to help all of those guys, the guys like Tanner and Deegan" Speed tells me.

With Andretti also running a massively successful IndyCar operation, there's the possibility some of those drivers could have a go at try Red Bull GRC too, and Speed thinks they'll be strong straight away.

"I expect at some point we'll probably get one of the Andretti IndyCar guys in for a few races and I'm sure when they come in they'll do extremely well," he predicts.

Without a doubt, Red Bull Global RallyCross is something that is not only growing, but something that is set to continue to grow for many years to come. Speed tells me it's that strong, ever growing nature of the series is what persuaded him to walk away from a comfortable NASCAR career to drive in GRC.

"I was able to run for teams that had no money but the series [NASCAR] was healthy enough that just by starting a race the team could make enough money in prize money that covered expenses and therefore I had a job, a very easy job. So to cut that security, financially, that was a hard step that I didn't take lightly. But after seeing how far the series had come last year and where it's going this year I truly believe that the sky is the limit for this series. 

Read my exclusive interview with Scott Speed HERE

Images © Red Bull Global Rallycross - Mattew Kalish, Alison Merion Padron, Colin Dyne


  1. Seems like a really great guy and I'm very much looking forward to the GRC this year, it gets better and better as it goes on. My girlfriend was at the Charlotte event last year and had an amazing time, meeting drivers and everything. This motorsport has so much growth potential!

    1. Thanks Jonny. Red Bull Global Rallycross has arguably the most potential of any series on the planet at the moment and, like Speed, it's that potential that has drawn me to it. The fact that it's a new series that's entertaining, a little different, yet still has big names like Speed, Foust, Deegan, etc is really appealing to me.

      The only way is up for Red Bull GRC and I hope I can do my bit to spread the word and help the rest of the world see that.