Yesterday, I went out to the Marine Corps Air Station New River, where the most recent Red Bull Global Rallycross race was held. Aside from there being a lot more helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft around, it was set up like most rallycross races, which is to say, not great for spectators. Luckily for Red Bull, I gave it some thought and have some ideas. You’re welcome.
Rallycross races use small-ish tracks that are partially tarmac and part dirt, with jumps and exciting turns and all that good stuff. The one at this most recent race was 65% pavement and 35% dirt, but that ratio is malleable. It’s an extremely exciting form of racing, with nimble, extremely fast cars tearing ass all over the place, making dramatic turns, catching air, banging into one another, throwing up clouds of dirt and dust and making fantastic noises, and generally being pretty much everything you want in a race.
Watching these races in person, however, isn’t exactly easy. Normally, there’s some bleachers set up around at least one side of the track, which offers an okay view of that particular stretch. The other side of the track is tiny and distant, and in the case of yesterday’s race, that was the dirt portion with the jump, one of the most exciting parts to watch.
Sure, there’s several articulated cameras that give great views of the action, but what’s the point of watching it on some sun-bleached screen when you’re actually right there? There’s got to be better ways to let the fans watch and engage with this exciting, visceral form of motorsport, and I think I have some only mildly terrible ideas.
Some of these would require more, and possibly permanent infrastructure — well, one of the ideas, but I think the experience delivered would be worth it. These ideas are all designed to drop fans right into the action, as safely as possible, though they’re not without risk. These could be great optional, value-added ways to view the race that people could decide to do or not.
Okay; here’s what I’m thinking. First, the one that requires some infrastructure:
1. The Gopher Dome
Ever been to the gopher house at the zoo? Of course you have — you’re probably planning on having your wedding there. You know those little clear domes they have to stick your head in so it puts your view right at gopher-level? That’s what I’m thinking!
Inset in the track would be some heavily reinforced little ramp-like observation ‘domes’ — sort of like skylights in the ground. You go into a room underneath a section of the track and step up into a nook that lets you pop your head into the armored glass-and-steel cupola.
Think of the view you’d have of the cars tearing ass right at you! It’d be like all of the excitement of a squirrel’s last few moments on earth without all the tiny body crushings! Plus, drivers could choose to avoid the domes or drive over them like a little ramp to catch some air. A dozen or so of these on the track, maybe one in the dirt right under the jump, and you’ve got a stellar spectator experience.
2. Tethered Balloon Platform
From above is a pretty good way to watch a GRC race, but unless your high school reunion is on Krypton or you have a recreational helicopter, this is just not an option for most people. But it could be!
Utilizing tried-and-true hot air balloon tech, an aluminum observation platform could hold 3-5 prone spectators, who would be belted, face-down, onto the platform. A winch would lower the platform as needed, and remote control of the burners on the balloons could allow a ground operator some control over the platform. In case of high winds, the whole unit could be winched back down pretty quickly, I’m guessing. Or hoping.
Sure, there’d likely have to be some pretty detailed waivers to sign and safety inspectors to pay off, but it can’t be much more dangerous than any carnival ride, right? I mean, other than it’s right over a track of screaming cars?
3. Take the Bus!
Hell, why are we floating over the action or peeking up under it when we could be right in it? A ruggedized 4x4 tour bus could be out there on the track, with an upper deck filled with racing seats with 5-point harnesses that could be filled with racing fans eager to get right in the mix.
Sure, they probably should have helmets, but what a remarkable experience they’d have! The bus would keep mostly out of the way of the racers, but even if not, it’d add an extra exciting element to the race.
4. Colossal Mining Truck
Okay, if you like the bus idea, but still have safety concerns, how about this: one of those massive, colossal mining trucks fitted with a full seat of bleachers up top. It could drive out right in the middle areas of the track, and slowly make a circuit around. It’d be so slow the racers would just treat it like a slowly shifting stationary obstacle — and if they hit it, the fans would be totally fine. I’m sure there’s a used one available on Craigslist if anyone at Red Bull wants to try a test.
5. Use Supernatural Powers To Enter The Mind of Animals Released on the Track
Okay, this one is a little controversial, and would really only work in Red Bull GRC races held in areas with significant populations of people capable of utilizing the black arts and various forms of magic.
For this exclusive, VIP-level fan experience, fans capable of entering the minds of animals (sometimes called warging) would enter the mind of a given animal — say a sheep or a stray dog, or maybe even a bird — and the animals would be released onto the track. While in their trance-like state, the fans would see and hear and smell and feel everything the animal does, giving them the most immersive experience possible.
When the animal is inevitably hit by a car and killed, the ultimate race experience will be had, as the fans will experience the exhilarating terror felt by the poor beast right before death severs the magical sensory connection.
I’m not sure how large the overlap is between GRC fans and practicing wargs, but for those that fit into both camps, you really can’t beat the experience.
IMPORTANT: We do not, in any way, condone murdering non-magical normal animals for something like this. Only truly evil magic animals that may or may not exist. In fact, for the non-magical world GRC market, maybe Boston Dynamics can be convinced to loan some of their Big Dog robots and some VR helmets, so us muggles can try this, too.
So, Red Bull, I believe you know where to contact me if you’d like to move ahead on any of these ideas. I think there’s so much more that can be done for the fans of GRC, and this is how we start.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.