Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross drivers Tanner Foust and Scott Speed have given the new Americas Rallycross series their seal of approval following the season opener at Silverstone last month.
ARX was formed over the winter by IMG, the company behind World Rallycross, and will hold a four-event season in 2018, filling the void left by the now-defunct Global Rallycross series.
Foust, who won the ARX opener, as well as the last three GRC races, has been a mainstay in US rallycross since the sport made its way across the Atlantic last decade and knows better than most of the pressures faced by everyone in starting a new series from the ground, up.
“Kicking off a new series like this is a big gamble for anybody, you don’t know which cars are going to be able to make it, which teams are going to be able to make it,” he told The Checkered Flag. “We rely on sponsorship to pay for all this stuff, so it takes a huge commitment from the manufacturers to say ‘yeah, you know what, we believe in this sport and the teams and the drivers and we’re going to make it happen’”.
“Rockstar is a company I’ve been with now for like, 11 or 12 years,” he added “It’s incredible for them to jump in and say, ‘yeah okay we don’t know exactly what you’re doing next year but we’ll go along for it’”.
“It’s personal relationships, it’s not just business relationships. It’s people in those companies understanding the sport and understanding the value of motorsport in general and having the same idea about how cool rallycross is that makes the world go round for us so that’s the biggest hurdle – starting something new like that.”
Arguably the biggest difference between ARX and GRC is a switch to the same race format as numerous rallycross series in Europe, with qualifying races and six-car finals as opposed to timed qualifying, multiple heat rounds and a 10-car final.
Foust’s team mate Speed won the last three GRC titles and has never competed in rallycross in Europe, but despite the big change in race procedure for him, the ex-Formula 1 driver is a fan of the format.
“I like the consistency factor because that’s what I did growing up, I can string laps together I don’t just do one fast one,” he said. “I’m in control of my car so that’s better for me. I think that’s going to be an advantage for us, to have to race smart.”
“The only caveat to that is sometimes you get into situations that are outside of your control with guys running into you and that’ll be the case no matter where you’re going racing.”
For the remaining three ARX rounds, Foust and Speed are just two of six confirmed full-time entries, but Foust is confident that with the series now established, more drivers and tracks will join the championship in the coming months.
“We have some of the same drivers, and some similar cars, but I have a feeling once we get into Texas and later in the year and even into 2019 we’re going to see a lot more of the European teams getting their green card in the US and joining the ARX series,” he said.