Since Red Bull Global Rallycross went down in a smoldering heap, Americans have been deprived from experiencing top class racing on a mixture of dirt and tarmac. Fortunately with the announcement of Americas Rallycross and the FIA’s World Rallycross making their way to Circuit of The Americas in Austin this year, fans can get a taste of dirt in the Texas heat.
I have spent a handful of days behind the scenes, covering all the action at COTA leading up to ARX’s first race at the famous F1 track, and got to experience plenty of what fans enjoyed on a spectacularly hot Saturday. I could use the exercise.
The Series Setup
The series brings out two classes of rally cars, in the ARX and ARX 2 divisions. ARX 2 introduces several talented and upcoming drivers, looking to make an impression on the growing teams in the ARX class, which features a handful of household rallycross names like Scott Speed, Ken Block, Tanner Foust, and Travis Pastrana - who recently went nuts jumping a motorcycle in Las Vegas and also competed in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
The top class ARX cars are monsters. AWD drivetrains, 2.0-liter turbocharged engines that kick out 600-horsepower, and acceleration from 0-60 MPH in under 2 seconds (faster than an F1 car).
For those familiar with racing at Circuit of The Americas, you’ll be happy to know you don’t have to hike all around the 3.4-mile track to see the rallycross action. Instead, this mixed-surface 1/2-mile course is packed into the stadium section between turns 12 and 16, cutting across the infield and even running the wrong way in some parts.
Fans get to see all the action from the turn 15 grandstands, and also have easy access to the concessions, parking, grand plaza (which has all the concessions, merchandise, restrooms, and promo setups you could ever desire). The paddock is also open to fans of any ticket level, so they get to see what goes on behind the scenes, unlike many other race series that make their way to Austin. I have to say, this is a really good move on COTA’s part.
How’s The Racing?
The action on track is pretty solid. These guys bang up each other’s cars in every single practice heat, qualifying session, and race while taking no offense. I love it.
One drawback is that the course’s short distance, and the ARX 4-lap per session format, mean that each heat, qualifying run, and race is over within a couple minutes, so there is a bit of downtime. When Americas Rallycross returns, and when FIA World Rallycross makes its inaugural appearance this September, I hope they throw a few more laps into each session.
The Race Itself
For the opening Americas Rallycross weekend in Austin, VW’s Scott Speed took the win, while Ken Block and Tanner Foust finished third and fourth, respectively. In the ARX 2 class, Conner Martell scored the win Christian Brooks was second, and Cole Keatts was third.
When FIA World Rallycross makes their first appearance at Circuit of The Americas September 29th and 30th expect another weekend of dirt and carnage that should make for another good series welcome to stick around in Austin.
More racing at COTA is good no matter what it is, and ARX seems promising. You should check it out yourself.