Coley's Column: Season 2 Kickoff

The following column was written by the “Voice of Rallycross” himself, Andrew Coley. Coley will once again have the call on ALL ARX events live on Facebook and the highlights coverage on CBSSN.

ARX (Americas Rallycross) Season 2 kicks off next weekend at Mid Ohio Raceway, and I’m excited. Yes, being the TV announcer for ARX (and the World Rallycross Championship too) means ‘being excited’ is pretty much a requirement of the job, but I’m particularly excited because 2019 sees a big step towards the growth of this brilliant sport in the USA. Basically because we’ve got loads of ‘new stuff!’

First up in an extended six round calendar we’ve got two new permanent rallycross tracks in Mid-Ohio and WWT Raceway at Gateway. For the existing teams it’s somewhere to go testing, for drivers looking to try the sport it’s a proper rallycross track to experience the unique mixed surface rush on. For the venues themselves it’s another form of motorsport for their already passionate fan base to come and watch. Win-win for everyone. (Well OK only one winner on track, but win-win for everyone else!)

Driver line-ups and cars have changed dramatically over the winter offseason, and form is a massive question mark. If you had to pick a pre-season favorite, there are only two choices based on last year; ex-teammates Scott Speed and Tanner Foust. Each won two events for Andretti Rallycross, with Speed eventually taking the title after a tricky last event at COTA.  The clue is in the word ‘ex’…the gloves are off now!

With Speed departing to join the Subaru squad we have an unknown quantity; so in theory that makes Tanner the favorite. But while Foust is familiar with the VW Beetle and we know it’s the current champion car, it won’t have had much development over the winter as this is, in theory, it’s last season of competition. Contrast that with Subaru Motorsports USA who have developed what looks like an entirely new race car…and in the testing videos on social media it looks like a weapon!

Speed’s teammates Patrik Sandell and Chris Atkinson have been a part of Subaru Motorsports USA for a number of years and will be hoping they can also capitalize on considerable investment in the offseason. The squad have a state-of-the-art new base from which to operate, along with the new cars in a fantastic classic Subaru blue and yellow color scheme.

Steve Arpin is back for 2019 with his Loenbro Motorsports squad, hot off the back of a season where his results improved at every round. Loenbro have retired the Ford Focus RS RX, and completely re-developed the shorter and more agile Ford Fiesta chassis, so they should be even more of a threat than they were last year.

We’ve got two new young drivers in Supercar, both of whom have stepped up from ARX2. Cabot Bigham joins Tanner Foust in the VW Beetle, while Travis PeCoy makes the step up to supercar alongside Steve Arpin. Both showed flashes of brilliance last year, which they’ll need if they want to win in supercar. I’m sure they’re relishing in the opportunity and the challenge, as well as the small matter of 600 bhp under their right foot…

Drivers stepping up to supercar from ARX2 is great news, and proves the feeder series works. For 2019 the minimum age for RX2 has been lowered to just 14 years old, with a mentorship program being introduced to help progress promising careers. The winner of ARX2 will also receive a supercar test along with free tires and entry fees for 2020. ARX3 joins the fun this year too, with Sierra Cars offering another opportunity for competitors to join the thrill of RX with a highly cost effective arrive and drive package.

So in summary, new calendar, new tracks, new driver line ups, new support classes, new prizes. But will we see a new champion? This time next week we’ll have a much better idea as we’ll finally be underway for ARX 2019! I hope to meet some of you at the tracks, and if not then make sure you’re across all the action live and as it happens on Facebook and YouTube, as well as TV highlights show on CBS Sports Network.

The ‘Ready to Race light’ is ON!! 5 days and counting.

Tiernay Oliver