Dirty Driving: Red Bull Global Rallycross Takes Over Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

Tanner Foust rolls through a corner on the Global Rallycross course Saturday at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

THOMPSON – Typically during competition at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, when dirt and rocks get kicked up onto the track it means it’s time for a caution flag to slow down the action.

Saturday the dirt was flying all day at the track, but there was no slowing down for anyone racing.

Red Bull Global Rallycross rolled into Thompson Saturday for their inaugural event at the facility.

The series takes traditional rally car racing and energizes it into a stadium type extravaganza. It puts intensely technically advanced cars through the rigors of competition on pavement, dirt and through high flying jumps.

“We’re pretty pleased with it,” Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park general manager Josh Vanada said. “It seems that the word got out there. We’ve got a lot of customers that are normally here for our oval events that got drawn in. We’ve drawn in quite a few customers from both the road racing discipline and the short track. I think we’ve introduced ourselves to some other folks and the TV coverage will take care of introducing us to a lot more. We’re really happy with what’s come together here.”

Rallycross legend Tanner Foust, who competes for the Andretti Autosport team, was happy to see a long line of fans waiting for autographs Saturday at Thompson after his Supercar heat race.

“I think we’ve established a little bit of a fanbase [in the Northeast],” Foust said. “It’s great to bring it back. It’s one of the most populated parts of the country. The whole point of Rallycross is bringing the race to the people. So we’ve got to go to the more populated areas. There are a lot of race fans here and, even though it’s our first time here, you see a lot of families, which is the key to the future of the sport. It’s about having kids come out and have some fun with their family.”

Foust, a native of Los Angeles, spent his youth growing up in Scotland, where he was introduced to traditional rally car racing. He’s been a part of the growth of Rallycross in the United States for nearly a decade.

Red Bull Global Rally Cross hosts 12 events in eight different markets this year. Outside of Thompson the series has already visited Memphis and Louisville and has events scheduled later this year in Los Angeles, Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlantic City and Ottawa, Canada.

“I think Rallycross sells itself,” Foust said. “It’s exciting. It’s got all the best parts of motorsports all packed into three minutes. It’s got drag racing starts, lots of pushing and shoving, sliding, jumping, all that good stuff all in a very short format where you can see the whole track from one seat. It’s really a sport built for a young demographic and for spectators. Which is why I got involved in Rallycross in 2009. We worked pretty hard to bring it over to the [United States] and I’m glad to see it grow.”

At Thompson the series competed on a track that combined the oval course and road courses at the facility with off road touching mixed in to bring it all together.

“This course is chaos,” Foust said. “We’re going from one of the oldest paved ovals in the country, to a road course and then connecting the two with a lot of gravel. One of the things when you build temporary tracks, sometimes the dirt, it’s hard to keep it one place. These cars are great at excavating dirt. So it is a chaotic little track that is super fun to drive. It’s making for some pretty brutal racing. So hopefully we keep the cars in one piece today because we’re coming back Sunday to race again.”

Foust won Saturdays Supercar main event at Thompson, which was broadcast on NBC. A second full event will be held at the track Sunday.

Vanada said the Thompson management is hoping to make Global Rallycross a regular part of the annual schedule at the track.

“We want to start conversations about definitely renewing our agreement with [Global Rallycross],” Vanada said. “… I think it’s a good fit here and good venue for what [Global Rallycross] is trying to do so we’d definitely like to have them back.”

Click here for more on this weekend’s Red Bull Global Rallycross event in Thompson

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