These days Tanner Foust is a pretty well known guy in gear head circles and even a little beyond that. He gets recognized on the streets, signs autographs, and rumor has it has done well enough to buy himself a few toys. I knew him back when he was drifting a humble 240SX for McKinney Motorsports back in the early years of Formula Drift. He has definitely come a long way since those days and deservedly so. If there is one thing about Tanner that has never changed since the early days is that he always has a lot of F’ing jobs. If I did not know what he looked like and someone told me about all the jobs he had I would think he was Jamaican (note: I am Jamaican, I can make that joke).
If he is not hosting Top Gear USA, he is racing rally cross on the other side of the planet, if he is not doing that then he is stunt driving for a Hollywood blockbuster, if not that he is risking his life for the sake of the challenge. “Busy” is a major understatement when it comes to Mr. Foust. So, to help his fans get some inside perspective on Tanner’s career, he got together with Rockstar Energy Drink to produce a web series called “Life In The Foust Lane”. In this series cameras follow Foust on all his adventures and all the while we get some insight from the man himself about what he is up to.
In this first episode Tanner takes us behind the scenes of his role in Ford’s Octane Academy, we also learn his philosophy on rental cars and their abuse therein. It is a pretty entertaining way to spend eight and half minutes! Watch for yourself below.
We were a bit behind the 8 Ball this year on our X Games coverage due to extremely difficult media conditions but we were still able to bring you a few nice shots of the action that took place on the streets of LA over the weekend. In case you live in a cave on another planet, you probaby already know that WRC-hero Sebastien Loeb won X Games gold with the Gymkhana Master Ken Block grabbing silver and last year’s winner Brian Deegan grabbing bronze. Shooting conditions aside, it was a great show and I think it helped expose even more people to Rally racing. Here is hoping that things get even better next year. Now hit up our Facebook page to see our gallery of shots!
One of the biggest stories of X Games 18 Rally X so far is the horrible crash that happend to Toomas Heikkinen on Friday. The young driver went too slow on the ramp, thus shorting the 50ft gap jump and running head-on into the other side. The incident caused a big stir and the rumor around the Rally paddock was that all the drivers who came over from Europe banded together and told X Games rally officials that they would refuse to drive unless jump was changed from a gap to a table top style jump. Wether the rumor is true or not the jump was in fact changed yesterday. I decided to haunt the paddock and talk to as many drivers as I could to see what they really thought of the jump modification. The result was a mix-bag of opinions, all of which you can see below.
It should be noted that after the change to the jump was completed practice went underway late Saturday and during the session Marcus Gronholm suffered a crash into a barrier just after successfully completing the jump. Marcus hit the barrier so hard that he was knocked unconcious. However reports are that he is now awake and under observation in a local hospital.
The Subaru Rally Cross team has just let the world know that their new partner is lifestyle clothing brand PUMA. To celebrate the now three car team got chased by a helicopter on a closed course while hooning their 600HP STi’s. Oh, did I just glance over the three car team thing? My bad. There are now three drivers under the Subaru/PUMA banner. One of them is returning drive Dave Mirra. I will let you watch the video to figure out who the other two are. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Recently, two-time Formula Drift Champion and Dodge Challenger pilot Samuel Hubinette announced that he would be taking a break from drifting in 2012, limiting his participation to a few demos and maybe a few professional rounds. He cited his departure to his sponsors having a “change in interests” and that he would focus more on other motorsports.
There have been rumors for a while that Sam would make a full-time transition to the fast growing sport of Rally X and that Dodge may go with him with the new 2013 Dodge Dart but nothing has been announced or even acknowledged by Dodge Motorsports.
Today, I got a press release in the ol’ inbox from Chysler’s PR ninjas announcing a live webcast press conference event next monday with the CEO of the Dodge brand Reid Bigland and the CEO of Dodge’s SRT/Motorsports arm Ralph Gilles to announce a “new driver” as well as a “new venture with the 2013 Dodge Dart”.
Could this announcement confirm the rumors? Is Dodge going to take the new Dart to Rally Cross with “The Crazy Swede”?
Well you can ask the big wigs at Dodge and SRT yourself on March 26th starting at 9:30am E.T.
Just as the 50th Rolex 24 Hours Of Daytona race was getting underway GRAND-AM made the announcement that B-Spec racing would be included as part of their 2012 season. I suspected that B-spec would become a part of GRAND-AM soon but I did not think it would come this soon! For now B-Spec drivers will be allowed to run at 6 events this year with the first being at Homestead Miami-Speedway at the end of April (27th-29th), then New Jersey Motorsports Park in May (11th-13th), followed by Mid-Ohio (June 8-9), Watkins Glen International (July 29th-June 1st), Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 8th-9th), and finally Lime Rock Park (Sept 28th-29th). For an amatur series’ first year that location list is pretty damn impressive!
Each B-Spec event will be in a sprint race format (30-45 minute timed races) and the events will not be “connected” as in each race is a stand alone event so there is no need to travel the country to race each one in hopes for a championship (unless you really want to). Instead GRAND-AM just wants local racers at each track to come out and do their best to win the day. I have to admit with the schedule they put together combined with the lack of pressure by not having to run a full year for a championship B-Spec is looking pretty damn attractive right now. I would love to put a car together in time for the Mazda Raceway event!
GRAND-AM To Add B-Spec Races Entry-Level Class Features Exciting Sub-Compact Street Stock Cars
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2011)
Currently, the six sprint races – planned for between 30 and 45 minutes in length – will run in conjunction with GRAND-AM weekends at Homestead-Miami Speedway (April 27-29), New Jersey Motorsports Park (May 11-13), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (June 8-9), Watkins Glen International (June 29-July 1), Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 7-9) and Lime Rock Park (Sept. 28-29). Each of those weekends will also feature North America’s most popular forms of sports car competition – the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
Regional racers who meet entry requirements are welcome at each event, with a concentration on event victories instead of a national championship. No currently licensed professional drivers will be allowed to participate.
A total of five manufacturers have committed to the new competition, with the following models involved: Mazda 2, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mini Cooper, and Kia Rio. Additional future manufacturer entries are expected.
One of the fastest-growing segments of the automobile business, B-Spec is among the most affordable classes for entry-level racers, and is expected to enjoy great support from club racers.
Cars will be 4-cylinder models, with a target cost range of $20,000-$30,000.
B-Spec features showroom stock racing cars utilizing stock engines and chassis, fitted with a competition roll cage, racing seat and other safety equipment; and manufacturer-approved suspension components, tires and wheels. Weight and other variables will be used to balance performance among competing manufacturers.
Each manufacturer will develop an approved performance kit which is subject to GRAND-AM approval. These will be the only alterations permitted to the respective cars. All practice sessions will also serve as qualifying to set race grids.
“This new form of GRAND-AM racing will attract new racers and in the process, new fans,” said GRAND-AM Managing Director of Racing Operations Mark Raffauf. “The cars are cool and the competition will be door-to-door, which should be a lot of fun for everyone – a nice fit with what GRAND-AM already has happening at every event.”
– GRAND-AM Road Racing announced today an exciting complement to its two existing sports car series, in the form of a new “B-Spec” level featuring sub-compact cars in six races this season.
A new video by Rhys Millen and the gang has been making the interweb rounds today. In his latest piece Rhys plays a few holes at a local golf course and uses his rally-spec Hyundai Veloster as the proverbial “golf kart”. It is a fun little video and worth a few minutes of your time. Check it out below.
I am a little late to the party on this but shortly after Hyundai announced the Veloster Turbo they digitally launched the car as DLC in Forza Motorsport 4. In the Veloster DLC pack you get a shiny new Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Rhys Millen Racing’s Veloster rally-cross car, and a walkaround of the new Veloster Turbo in Autovista mode. Most importantly this DLC pack is free! So, head over to the xbox live marketplace after popping in Forza Motorsport 4 download yourself some turbocharged Korean awesomeness.
At the root of all car lovers is a race car driver waiting to get out. At some point all of us have had daydreams of crossing the finish line at the Indy 500 or standing on top of the podium at the Monaco Grand Prix. Many of us have let our daydreams turn into a full on obsession with motorsports and have latched on to one form of racing or many as serious fanboys/girls. However, as much fun as it is to watch and follow racing there is nothing quite like doing it yourself. Yet the path to becoming a race car driver used to be quite hidden and has remained to be very, very expensive. Thanks to great programs like the Mazdaspeed Motorsports ladder and the Skip Barber Racing Series the route from armature to professional is a bit easier to find. Yet following that route has become more expensive than ever before. It is that fact that has many would be racers turning sponsorship acquisition into a second job (the first job is to fund any racing that they already do!). Anyone who has ever tried to seek out sponsorship dollars for a cause or sports knows that they have to deal with a marketing manager, advertising agency, or sometimes both. To even have a shot at getting sponsorship money to go racing one has to learn how to put together a sponsorship proposal, know lingo like “impressions”, study returns on investment, become an expert in social network marketing, have “media training”, and so forth. These days the path to racing winds through the dark woods of marketing so much that someone will become an MBA in marketing before becoming a race car driver. In the whirlwind of power point presentations, photoshop renderings, and excel spreadsheets it can be easy to forget why you wanted to become a race car driver in the first place. The heart of racing has become buried in the budgets of marketing departments of non-endemic corporations and is guarded by brand managers who are looking for a “marketable face, name, or story” over talent or passion. Where does “Joe Racer” who just go when he just wants to race for the joy of racing besides the local go-kart track or Xbox Live? The answer could be a new race class conceived by a collaboration between Mazda and Honda called “B-Spec”
How can B-Spec be a new entry way into racing? Well I was invited along with a small group of journalists to Willow Springs Raceway by Mazda and Honda so that they could explain it to us personally. Here is how they put it:
So there you have it. The passionate minds from Mazda and Honda want you to be able to get a “B-level” car such as a Mazda2 or Fit and with the purchase of a kit, some elbow grease, safety equipment, and a fabricator to put in a cage you can participate in a race in several sanctioned race series or (likely with sponsorship support) try to run a full season in one particular series of choice. Although sponsorship might be key go compete for a full season in a B-Spec class, there will be rules and regulations to keep a manufacturer from stepping in and becoming overly dominant. OEM participation will be limited to simply offering B-Spec kits to customers. So far there is an impressive list of OEM’s that will be a part of B-Spec but it is promised that none of those OEMs will dump a ton of money into any one team to get an edge over the competition. There are also rules to keep power as equal as possible among the eligible cars from each OEM. For example certain cars will have to run intake restrictors to keep their horsepower closer to the rest of the pack. Of course certain cars may still have advantages or disadvantages due to wheel base, suspension type, etc. However, no one car will have a disproportionate advantage over the others. The great thing about B-Spec is that SCCA is on board and making an effort to include B-Spec classes not only in their club racing series but in some of their bigger pro series such as World Challenge and even Rally racing. There is also a possibility of B-Spec being a part of Grand-Am endurance racing as well. So, theoretically with one car you could go to a number of different race disciplines without having to make many changes (if any) to your B-Spec car. The bottom line is not only does B-Spec make real racing accessible again to people who want to race for the love of racing but it also still provides a doorway into the professional ranks for those who still wish to seek that out as well. B-Spec has the potential to give racing’s soul back to the racers and with OEMs such as Mazda, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Nissan, Ford, GM, and most recently MINI race fans will get to see real manufacturer competition in America again.
By the way if all of this is getting you exciting about going racing but you have no experience have no worries. I drove B-Spec versions of both the Mazda2 and Honda Fit and they are both incredibly easy to drive in race-trim and with an impromptu coaching session from GrandAM driver Charles Espenlaub I was able to pull a decent amount of speed from both chassis. I would recommend a three-day school at Skip Barber to get race theory and technique down followed by a few SCCA races at the club level and you will have the confidence and skill it takes to try your hand in one of the premiere series.
As B-Spec unfolds in 2012 we plan to keep the site updates with any news and developments that will arise. If you are anxious to get your feet wet now I suggest looking for a Mazda2 or Honda Fit and contacting either Mazdaspeed Motorsports or Honda Performance Development as they will likely be first out of the gate to have B-Spec kits available. I might look into it myself! Stay tuned! In the meantime you can check out the full SCCA B-Spec rule book by clicking on the link below.
In the official “WTF” story of the day I got an email from DC Shoes to inform me that Subaru Rally Team and pro BMX legend Dave Mirra is in the process of training for a physical hand-to-hand fight with Ford Racing Rally driver and FMX rider Brian Deegan. Yes, you read right. Dave Mirra and Brian Deegan are going to fight each other. Why? I have no idea! It does not seem to make a lot of sense for two motorsport athletes to get into the ring with each other but that in no way means I don’t want to see who is going to win!
The two drivers are set to go toe-to-toe this Saturday (September 17th) at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, NV at an event called Ellismania and the event will be broadcast on FUEL TV (check with your cable company).
Who is my pick? Well as you can see in the video below Dave Mirra has been training hard for the event for a while now and I have seen both contenders in person and from what I can tell Dave has a height and reach advantage. However, anyone who knows Brian Deegan knows he is one tough son of a shotgun! So, really I don’t have a pick. I just want to see these two dudes beat the snot out of each other. Does that make me a bad person?