Global Rallycross is Part Rally, Part Demolition Derby
If you’ve never been to or seen a Global Rallycross (GRC) event, picture a combination of rally, drifting, and a demolition derby, all of which is accompanied by the musical stylings of Skrillex or Diplo. This gives you a vague sense of what this form of racing is. Although to truly understand what GRC is and to get a mouthful of tire smoke and go partially deaf due to the exhausts, you’ll definitely want to attend a race.
What is Global Rallycross?
GRC isn’t like normal rally competition. Rally drivers normally compete in time-stage routes, where only a single car is out on the course at a time. With GRC, up to seven competitors can be on the course, much like other forms of auto racing.
Drivers compete on a shorter, autocross-style course that includes both pavement and dirt sections and often includes a jump somewhere in the middle. The tracks themselves are tight, with some sections only big enough to accommodate two cars wide. This makes the racing extremely entertaining for the spectators, and unbelievably difficult for the racers.
In GRC, the racing is broken up into heats so all the competitors aren’t racing at the same time. This gives the fans access to more racing, and enables the drivers to truly race their hearts out without worrying about 15 other cars on the grid. That however, isn’t the best part of GRC.
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Ramming is Racing
Unlike normal auto racing where bumping, rubbing, and often crashing is looked down upon, and has the distinct possibility of getting a driver thrown out of the race or fined, Global Rallycross doesn’t necessarily mind it when competitors use their bumpers. Throughout a GRC race, you’ll see bumpers fly off, competitors get spun around using police inspired pit maneuvers, and multiple cars get pushed into the walls.
The sport doesn’t necessarily encourage the behavior, but the officials won’t throw competitors out of the race because of it. At worst, a driver that goes on the warpath and rams someone maliciously will get a short stop/go in what’s called the Penalty Box, but that’s about it.
By the end of the weekend, the cars are bashed, bruised, parts hanging by zip-ties, or broken beyond belief. Yet, even when these parts break in the middle of race day, the pit crews can have entire sections of the car replaced within a matter of minutes. Given that ability to rise from the near dead, the cars are the true stars of the show.
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Imagine specifications you’d normally associate with supercars, specs like 600 horsepower under the hood, or getting up to 60 miles per hour in just 1.8 seconds. Now transplant those numbers into cars like a Subaru WRX STI, the Ford Fiesta ST, and the VW Beetle. Then add an anti-lag system that shoots three-foot flames out of the exhaust, and a sequential gearbox that allows the driver to get the car up to speed faster than a Veyron, P1, or LaFerrari.
The cars themselves are loosely based on production cars. In fact, they are barely based, on the dealer models, and feature heavily modified engines, suspensions that allow for massive jumps, and a full roll-cage that ensures the drivers protection in case something very bad happens.
The cars unlike other racecars and their fragile parts, can take a beating. In recent years, Hoonigan-in-Chief Ken Block actually finished a race on three wheels, with sparks flying all over the place after suffering a collision with another competitor. These cars are built to take all the punishment the drivers can deliver.
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The Best Form Of Racing Right Now
We’re not sure how else to convince you to watch Global Rallycross. If fire-spitting cars, crashes, jumps, and amazing racing isn’t enough to entice you, then we don’t know what will. While GRC is still very much a new form of racing, it is quickly becoming one of the best forms of racing out there.
When other racing series are flailing and employing hybrid and turbo technology that muffles the sounds of the cars, screwy grid systems, and all other manner of asinine regulations, GRC takes racing back in time when racers were racers, and they were given the opportunity to elevate themselves to legendary status.
The next race weekend starts tomorrow in Barbados, and will be broadcast Sunday at 3:30PM EST on NBC. We dare you to watch, and you’ll be hooked for life.
Photo Credit: Jonathon Klein for BoldRide