So far this season, the Global RallyCross Championship has been more notable for seriously injuring its competitors than giving them a chance to race. One race featured more red flags than a Chinese military parade and others notably few chances to pass.
This weekend's GRC match in New Hampshire finally brought together all the elements that should make the series fun to watch. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
If you missed Saturday's race you can go to ESPN3 and skip through all the filler.
GRC, for those unaware, is an Americanization of the many European originals that pits high-powered, fairly unrestricted rally cars against one another on short tracks. After qualifying, drivers compete to make it to the final race through a series of heats (and a loser's last-chance qualifying bracket).
Sounds awesome, right? This year it's had its highlights (like Ken Block racing to 2nd in the X-Games on three tires), but most of the talk has centered around the two big crashes at the X-Games. There's also been a fear that the tracks were both too dangerous (thanks to ramps) and too boring (thanks to a Tilke-like lack of passing and no dirty). And then there's that rampant red-flagging due to mis-starts.
I don't have enough intel into the decision-making process with the GRC rule-makers to know for sure, but I've heard from a source that the drivers have been vocal in getting them to address the problems.
Whatever happened, it started to work yesterday. Each heat went off with only a limited number of red flags. With one exception, the battles didn't end with everyone crashing out. The ramp was still there, but padded like a training bra at a Jr. High dance. There was dirt, there were jumps, there was honest-to-God passing.
And then there was Travis Pastrana. Everyone likes Pastrana. He's got a wide goofy grin that hides all the broken bones, bruises, and bad finishes he's had this season. If there's a living embodiment of this season he's it. Each race so far this year ended in some sort of external or internal tragedy.
Whenever someone would ask he'd say "we've got a great car and a great team" but I started to wonder. Was it just bad luck?
Apparently so. In the best heat of the GRC this year, the final saw Pastrana overcome a hard-charging Tanner Foust and hold off Samuel Hubinette for a tight victory.
At the end of the race the winners were: Dodge, Saab, and Ford. Where else are you going to find that kind of finish?
More like this fellas.
Photo Credit: NHMS