Reigning Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites champion Cabot Bigham has opened up about why so many single seater drivers are making the move to rallycross competition.
Bigham moved into Red Bull GRC’s second category last season after winning multiple races and the West Coast championship in FCC Pro Formula Mazda.
Of course, he’s not the first driver to follow such a path. Scott Speed and Joni Wiman, who share the last three Supercars titles between them, both started out in open-wheel racing, as did 2015 Washington DC winner Nelson Piquet Jr. to name just three.
“Formula car drivers are flocking to GRC, there is no doubt,” said Bigham, who drove for experienced IndyCar outfit Dreyer and Reinbold Racing in 2016. “I can personally say that what attracted me was the dirt, turbos, and handbrakes. So what if I like getting sideways?”
“Formula car drivers grow up racing mostly on the tarmac,” he added. “This teaches incredible hand and feet precision. Aerodynamic influence also forces drivers to have a solid knowledge of mechanical grip. With these driver traits most drivers can find success.”
It’s not just what happens on track that plays a part in bringing single seater drivers into Red Bull GRC. Bigham also said that the series’ appeal to younger audiences attracts drivers, and makes it somewhat easier to find backing.
“Drivers coming from open wheel are attracted to the marketability of Global Rallycross. GRC has such a young demographic reinforced with a strong [TV] network package,” he said. “Formula car racing is substantially more expensive than Rallycross. As a result, when these driver’s see the seasonal costs, it’s hard to not look twice. Not to mention how easy it is to pitch to your partners.”
“The type of racing is also a lot more action packed and fun to watch. From my personal experience growing up as a driver, my family has never been so entertained with my career,” Bigham revealed “Traveling as much as a racing driver takes a toll not only on you but your family and friends as well.”
Last year Bigham impressed by winning the Red Bull GRC Lites championship at his first attempt, beating reigning champ Oliver Eriksson and fellow single seater convert Miki Weckstrom to title. Despite the vastly different nature of rallycross compared to the more familiar Formula Mazda, Bigham said that he expected to be competitive right away.
“I expected to challenge for the championship out the gate,” he insisted. “I know the quality of driver Alex Keyes, Oliver Eriksson and Tanner Whitten are. It was very clear to me from videos in the 2015 championship that these drivers were talented.”
“I made sure to train the whole off-season, picturing beating the competition. I would sit in the sauna for thirty minutes and just try to stay awake enough to visualize laps,” he added. “The hard work I put into the offseason in 2015-16 was the direct reason for my results from Phoenix to LA. I never expected to walk away with the championship, and I didn’t by any means.”