Hype News: GRAND-AM Officially Adds B-Spec Races To 2012 Schedule

Posted on 01.31.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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!

Press Release:

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.

 

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Hype Video: Rhys Millen Hoons Golf Course In Hyundai Veloster Rally Car

Posted on 01.26.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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.

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Forza Motorsport Hype: Hyundai Veloster DLC Pack (With Video

Posted on 01.18.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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.

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Hype Feature: B-Spec: The Soul Of Racing Returns

Posted on 01.04.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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.

B-Spec_Regulations_2_web_December-2011

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Hype WTF?! Video: Rally Drivers Dave Mirra & Brian Deegan To Fight Each Other?

Posted on 09.15.11 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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?

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X Games 17 Hype Video: Tanner Foust Weighs In On Rally Cross Popularity Vs Drifting, Confirms Indy Car Effort

Posted on 08.01.11 | admin No Comments

While at X Games 17 this weekend we went out of our way to annoy Top Gear USA Tanner Foust until he agreed to grant us a short interview.  During which we got him to weigh in on the possibility of Rally Cross becoming more popular than drifting.  He also surprised us at the end by mentioning that he is putting fourth an effort to make it into an Indy Car race before the end of the season.  Some digging was done after the interview and it looks like he may be trying to put together a one-off drive for the Las Vegas Indy Car race.  Scroll down to check out the full interview.

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X Games 17 Hype: The Night Before Rally (With Video)

Posted on 08.01.11 | admin No Comments

X Games 17 Rally has come and gone but we were on site to bring you as much of the action as possible. We are starting off by answering the question “What do the rally cars do the night before X Games?” The answer: They jump! A special jump session was set up to test out the 50 foot gap jump made entirely from dirt and gravel. We were there to take a few shots and we even compiled a short video of all the jump action. You can see a few pics and the video below. For a full photo gallery just visit our Facebook fan page.

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Hype News: ESPN Releases X Games 17 Rally Street Course Details, Rendering Of Layout

Posted on 07.07.11 | admin No Comments

ESPN blew some minds earlier this year when they revealed that instead of returning to the LA Colosseum, all rally events would take place on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.  From that point imaginations were running wild trying to contemplate what streets around the Staples Center would be used, where the jump would be, the ins and outs, etc.  Well today ESPN has answered all questions by finally releasing hard details about the street course including a basic rendering of the layout.  The X Games officials have created a 3,100 foot course (or 6/10ths of a mile for you math geeks) with six turns.  Building the course will require 5 MILLION pounds of concrete barriers, 700 feet of dirt (which includes the 70ft jump for the joker lap), and about 1,000 hours of build time to complete the course.  The course will also require shutting down three streets including Figueroa.  To accommodate the spectators, bleachers will be erected outside of the Staples Center.  We would venture to guess that there will likely be a video screen erected as well to make sure none of the action is missed.  Despite the fact that construction of the course is slated to start soon, drivers will not be able to test the course until the day before competition!

If you want to see a rendering of the course layout, click the thumbnail below for an image that we blew up slightly.  You may have to squint a bit but you can see all the turns and joker lap path, as well as the course’s position in relation to other land marks such as the halfpipe, etc.

[Source: ESPN]

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Hype News: X Games RallyX To Literally Hit Streets Of Los Angeles

Posted on 04.25.11 | Andrew Beckford 1 Comment

I first heard this as a rumor at the first round of Global RallyX and I wish I had reported it because it turned out to be true!  It was announced today that the RallyX events for Summer X Games 2011 will literally take place in the streets of downtown Los Angeles!  The exact course details haven’t been released but expect the drivers to go through portions of the Staples Center then outside into LA Live and back into the the Staples Center.  It should make for some pretty interesting pictures!  I can’t wait!

Press Release:

Enduro X Discipline to Make its Debut; Rally Disciplines Move to Downtown Street Circuit

ESPN will kick off its 17th annual action sports competition to be held in Los Angeles July 28 – 31 and will debut the new discipline of Enduro X, as well as the first-ever rally street circuit running through the downtown area.  In its ninth year in Los Angeles, X Games 17 will feature more than 200 athletes at competition venues and event spaces including STAPLES Center and Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in an effort to further consolidate events to one area and better enable fans to catch all the X Games action from downtown Los Angeles.

Enduro X will feature both men’s and women’s disciplines, showcasing riders’ talent on an all-terrain obstacle course. Riders will race through sand, mud, logs, rocks and other terrain features in a blend of motocross racing and traditional Enduro, battling not only each other but also the challenging course for their shot at X Games gold.  The new addition will be one of eight Moto X competitions taking place inside STAPLES Center, while the downtown Los Angeles street circuit will offer a unique and exciting setting for the disciplines of Rally Car Racing on Saturday and RallyCross on Sunday.

“Having RallyCross at last year’s X Games was a huge step for the sport, but racing through city streets is how motorsport began,” said three-time X Games rally gold medalist Tanner Foust. “Being in the car, ripping through streets, cranking the handbrake through intersections while door-to-door and jumping next to buildings is going to be truly epic! I can’t wait!”

ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will combine to telecast 25 hours of live X Games 17 competition. In addition to the 25  original hours in high definition, the Worldwide Leader in Action Sports will also televise 18 hours of X Games action on ESPN 3D. More than 25 hours will also be distributed on ESPN3.com. Outside the United States, X Games 17 will be seen in more than 121 countries and territories to more than 106 million homes, including live telecasts in Africa, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Middle East, New Zealand and South America.

Tickets for X Games 17 will be available for purchase June 23 at all Ticketmaster locations and the box office at STAPLES Center.

Additional information on all X Games 17 events will be forthcoming on www.xgames.com

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Hype Video Interview: Ken Block Expecting Baby Boy Hoonigan, Wants To Do Gymkhana FOUR

Posted on 04.01.11 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

After his magnificant crash at the WRC Rally Of Portugal, Ken Block decided to hop on a red-eye flight back to the states to spectate at the first round of Global RallyCross at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale. I caught up with him to get his thoughts on the event and ask him about his 2011 plans which include welcoming a new hooigan into the world.

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