The past weekend saw the return of Formula 1, Indy Car, and World Touring Car. It also saw the birth of an official Rally Cross (AKA Rally X) series in America. The first round of the Global RallyCross Championship officially kicked off at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale. Those who watched the Summer X Games last year had a taste of Rally X as it was part of all the action in downtown Los Angeles. The LA Colosseum was filled with dirt, complete with jumps and tunnels on a course that took the cars inside and out of the venue. In fact, one of the key parts of Rally X is the infamous jump. So, you may be asking “how did they pull that off at an asphalt oval NASCAR track such as Toyota Speedway?” With a pile of dirt and a team of earth movers, that’s how! They brought literal tons of dirt to the in field of the oval and constructed a 70 foot jump for the AWD class cars to take on. It was certainly an amazing sight.
Many were anticipating this event as its rumored to be the “next big thing” in motorsports since drifting. With big names like Tanner Foust (who is taking a break from drifting this year to focus on Rally X), Ken Block, Dave Mirra, and Brian Deegan involved Rally X already has the star factor working for them. Bringing in the “X Games crowd” is a huge advantage for Rally X and the sponsors are taking notice. For example most people in the states have never heard the name Marcus Gronhom before despite his fame in other parts of the world for kicking major butt in WRC. However, he was able to land a full title sponsorship from Best Buy for the entire 2011 Rally X season. There have been drift teams courting Best Buy for years but in the end the retail electronics company went with Rally X as their second foray into motorsports involvement. To give you an idea of the gravity of this move, the only other motorsport team Best Buy sponsors is in NASCAR.
The Competition was broken into two main classes: AWD and 2WD. The AWD class had the likes of Tanner Foust and WRC legend Marcus Gronholm in AWD Ford Fiesta’s similar to those used at X Games last year. The AWD class also had Rhys Millen competing in his new Hyundai Veloster rally car with his teammate Marcus Dodd in his own identically prepped Veloster as well. The 2WD class consisted mostly of privateers and up-and-comers. However Jeremy Barnes from Mazda showed up with Mazda Senior VP of Product Development Robert Davis on hand as his crew chief. What was their competition vehicle of choice? Not some crazy AWD modded Mazdaspeed3, or even an RX-8, no. They brought the very same B-Spec Mazda2 that ran in Thunderhill! Jeremy actually did pretty well but during the last heat of Friday he had a misunderstanding with the back of a Ford Focus which ended his weekend. He was ok but the Mazda2 was pretty much done. If you were looking forward to driving it at the next Mazdaspeed press day you are unfortunately SOL at this moment!
When the dust settled after the main competition on Saturday it was Marcus Gronholm who took the AWD class victory by edging out Tanner Foust. Matthew Johnson took the 2WD class victory in his Nitro Circus sponsored Mazda RX-8.
Check out more photos from the event on our Facebook page. Also stay tuned for a few interviews from the event!