Q&A With the Voice of Rallycross, Andrew Coley

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(November 2, 2018) – The inaugural season of Americas Rallycross (ARX) was broadcast live around the world on Facebook Live and YouTube, garnering over 1.2 million viewers in just four events. CBS Sports Network, the 24-hour national cable network, hosted four one-hour highlights shows featuring ARX and ARX2 throughout the spring and early fall.

The man behind the mic on commentary for the first year of ARX was the “Voice of Rallycross” Andrew Coley, who has commentated on the FIA European Rallycross Championship the FIA World Rallycross Championship since 2013.

We caught up with Andrew to get his thoughts on ARX and ARX2 in 2018.

What was your on-track highlight of the season?

“Probably the first lap of the final from Silverstone, in particular the fight between Scott Speed and Liam Doran. They were side by side for about half a lap off the start, through all types of corners and even exchanged paint in the air over the jump! A great way to kick off ARX I think.”

What was your personal highlight of the season?

“Meeting American rallycross fans in person at COTA. It was really cool how many came over and said how much they were enjoying all the live streams of the racing. I hadn’t realized what an impact the coverage had had, and I think that’s been a huge step forward for the sport this year.

And having beers and food on Rainey street in Austin with a few faces from ARX, always fun to work with a completely new championship.”

Which was the best race to commentate on?

“As above probably the final in the opening round, but there’s been great action all season. Scott Speed and Ken Block’s on track squabbles, Timo Scheider’s hood flying up and he still finished the race flat out, Chris Atkinson rolling the Subaru and carrying on to the flag. Plenty of stuff for me to get over excited about as always!”

How was it working with co-commentator Bucky Lasek?

“Super fun. I was aware of Bucky from rallycross of course, but also from playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater...he’s a super famous skateboarder. But he really, really loves cars, wrenches on his own Subarus and even can do bodywork and paint, so he knows how to drive and he knows how the cars work, which makes him a great expert commentator. But my favorite parts were our crazier on air chats about things like Captain Caveman! (You’d need to have seen the race in question to get that one!) He always comes up with something informative, but also fun and entertaining, which makes great TV.”

What similarities and differences did you notice between ARX and World RX?

“Mostly similarities with the racing thanks to the format for ARX being the same as it is for World RX. The biggest differences are off the track, were the drivers say exactly what they think about their competitors which is pretty funny at times! They’re all really good at the media side which in my experience is a given with American competitors, and you can see the same in drivers who’ve competed over there a lot...Sandell, Atkinson etc.

They also all come to pre grid REALLY late so they’re harder to grab for on track interviews!”

The title fight was close at the end, did you expect COTA to be so dramatic?

“Scott Speed had a decent lead coming in to the final round, so no, I didn’t. But he started having one of those horrible weekends where it looks like the wheels are coming off at the last minute...bad draw for Q1, then double jokered by accident which is extremely rare for Scott, and admitted it was his own mistake. But he showed his class by pulling it all together on day two to take the title, and the look of relief on his face said how hard he’d worked for it!”

For you, what was the difference that made Scott Speed Champion instead of Tanner Foust this year?

“The first blow for Tanner was a not ideal draw for Q1 at the first COTA round; he ended up outside Scott all weekend, and with the same car for the starts that pretty much forced him to joker early...and that cost him in the final as he caught traffic really early. The second was his crash in Canada which cost a couple of points in qualifying. They were two wins a piece come the end of the season though, with nothing between them on pace.”

You also commentated on the ARX2 support category this season, what did you think of the sport’s young drivers?

“ARX2 was brilliant this year, and they actually got a lot of racing thanks to the double header formats in Canada and at COTA’s final round. Conner Martell was a brilliant first champion and the standout driver, but I was really impressed with how many of the drivers had the pace to run at the front. Hopefully a few will make the step up to Supercar soon!”

There were some amusing press conference with the drivers through the year, did you enjoy them?

“I’ll be honest; press conferences aren’t always that fun and are a bit repetitive, but they do a job for the journalists who attend the event. But the ARX ones were hilarious all season; banter over who had fastest reactions, biggest jumps and so on! Steve Arpin was fantastic at the last one of the year when he got his podium; he’d been ‘celebrating’ a little before the presser, turned up with a beer for me, and then spoke beautifully about the charity his team supports, really moving. Great stuff all year, a pleasure to work with all the ARX drivers.”

What would you like to see from ARX into the future?

“More rounds and more cars, and I’m confident both will come! Now there’s faith in the strength of the series I think people will see it as a great career option. With so many quick drivers in ARX2 as well there’s a nice pyramid building in the States already. Roll on 2019!”

Tiernay Oliver