Rhys Millen, Hyundai Let Us Hitch a Rallycross Ride
The weatherman says the temperature is in the mid-90s, but here I am at the Daytona International Speedway – a manmade humidifier with its own water supply – where the lack of wind and high humidity makes for some ridiculous heat. Worse yet, I’m donning a fire suit and helmet. Less than a minute after suiting up and I’m already about to vomit. Why am I subjecting myself to such torture? To ride shotgun with Rhys Millen in his Hyundai Veloster ahead of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross Daytona, of course. And, as if I wasn’t hot enough already, the GRC team straps me into the passenger seat where the only air conditioning I have (the door I just climbed through) is quickly closed behind me. PHOTOS: See More of the 2011 Hyundai Rally Car
I was the first one out on the track, so not having seen any previous runs, I had no idea what I had signed up for. All I knew was that there was a massive dirt jump staring at me from the middle of the course and that was all I could focus on. Rookie mistake.
Perhaps it was my attention to the tabletop jump or my sheer underestimation of the power these GRC Supercars possessed, but it took me a second to catch my breath after we launched from the start. The take-off in this 600-horsepower Hyundai is easily more g-forces than the launch control in a Nissan GT-R. If there had been a camera pointed at me in the car, it would have displayed my ear-to-ear grin, and as we drift through the first turn, my smile is only getting bigger.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Race Concept
After this turn comes a short straight through the finish line and a sharp transition to the dirt. At this point, I have no clue how fast we’re going, but to set the car up for the 180-degree turn, Rhys gets hard on the brakes. This is probably what it feels like to slam head-on into a brick wall.
From here, another tight 180 and the car is being positioned for the big jump. After the take-off, cornering and braking, the landing from the jump was remarkably smooth, but at that point, we’re still only about halfway through our first lap. Following the dirt section, the course comes back on to the speedway’s road course before a couple tight turns mere inches away from car-swallowing tire barriers. Then we're heading back through the start line with speeds approaching 120 mph.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
In total, we traveled about a mile in just over a minute, and our second lap proved to be even more exhilarating. By the time we pulled back into the pits, my face was starting to hurt from smiling so much. As I climbed out of the car, I reached back to give Rhys a high five and I notice that his smile is as big as mine.
While my wild ride in the GRC Veloster may have been over, it didn't stop there for Rhys Millen. He took home the gold at Daytona, squeaking out a win over Ken Block and Bucky Lasek. This win for the Hyundai team was just a cherry on top of one truly awesome weekend.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe RMR
Photo Credit: Jeffrey N. Ross for BoldRide