Path To Brazil: New Crew, Base of Operations Highlight Revamped Pastrana Racing
Now in its second year of Global Rallycross competition, Pastrana Racing will retain Travis Pastrana and Bryce Menzies in its two Dodge Dart vehicles in 2013. But behind the scenes, the team features a brand-new crew that includes a new home base and new lead engineer.
Pastrana Racing will operate out of DirtFish Rally School, the Snoqualmie, Washington-based rallying haven that hosted a GRC round in the series’ inaugural season in 2011.
“We’re running the two-car team for Travis and Bryce,” says Lee Clark, CEO of DirtFish. “That first started the back end of last season—Pastrana Racing were looking to develop the car in the offseason. They recognized that the Dodge Dart had enormous potential, and they wanted to look to an organization that had the capability to take the Dodge Dart further. As an organization that’s unique within the US, we were at the top of the list.
“So our responsibilities within that, as technical partner, we are responsible not only for the preparation and maintenance of the vehicles through the season, being at the races with the team, but also for the development of the vehicle in the offseason before we get to Brazil and the season starts, and the development of the cars through the season and into next year.”
“(DirtFish) is awesome,” Pastrana raves. “It’s pretty far out there, but that’s kind of cool—when you go out to watch rally, in Washington, Oregon, those places, (or) Vermont and any of those mountain areas, they’re just awesome terrain, awesome for rallying. It’s pretty cool because we can go up there and there’s dirt, there’s pavement, there’s concrete, you’ve got some areas that are inside these huge sheds—you always have something that’s dry. We had a lot of wet practice up there that we didn’t get last year.”
“I’ve been up there two times now and their facility is amazing,” continues Menzies. “We went up there for two days—it’s been raining every time we went up there—but we tested for two days straight, in which we made a lot of changes to the car and got some more seat time. I feel a lot more comfortable in it.
“I’m happy that we actually got some time to test the cars before we go to Brazil, to make the right changes and see if we can get these cars to the top of the box.”
One of the biggest advantages that working out of DirtFish affords is the opportunity for the team to do a significant amount of testing. Compared to last year, when testing time was at a premium, Pastrana and Menzies have had much more time in the Darts this year.
“We’re using their extremely nice and very customizable facility, where we can really plan out what we need to test,” says Blair Stopnik, Pastrana Racing team manager. “And there’s a piece of that property that we can fine-tune and adjust for what we need to test. So we’re able to work on the car, roll it outside, and test right there. We’re really changing the way we’re doing things this year, we’re really putting a lot of emphasis on just running the cars, and DirtFish has allowed us to do that.”
“We have a unique facility—we have almost 60 miles of configurable courses that include paved, tarmac, and gravel-based roads,” notes Clark.
At the head of the team will be Ian Davies, who had been chief mechanic for Ken Block and the Monster World Rally Team in 2012. With Davies at the helm, Block scored two top seeds and three heat wins on the way to fifth in the GRC standings.
“I talked to some of the other manufacturer people who were looking to come into the sport anew, but that was always going to be a much longer term situation,” Davies notes. “(Pastrana Racing) already had cars, they’ve got Red Bull backing and Dodge manufacturer backing, which means that when you come into the team, there was going to be some money to do something when you got there.”
“Ian is making a lot of great strides and has a lot of great ideas,” Stopnik adds, “and we’re really fortunate to have his experience.”
Menzies says, “(Ian) has a lot of knowledge, and we’re really looking forward to it. We all get along really well, we work together really well, these guys have a lot of knowledge with rally cars. So it kind of helps me out, where my background is off-road and I’m new to this sport.”
Photo credit: Michael Whelan