deJong Becomes First GRC Lites Competitor to Drive Supercar on Race Weekend
When Andreas Eriksson designed the car used in the GRC Lites series, he hoped to provide a development platform for the next rallycross superstar. On Saturday’s Global Rallycross practice at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, GRC Lites experienced a historic first: a driver got behind the wheel of a Supercar on a race weekend for the very first time.
With neither Travis Pastrana nor Bryce Menzies available, Mitchell deJong stepped into Menzies’ #99 Pastrana Racing Dodge Dart for a brief shakedown session on Saturday. Though the track itself was closed due to rain, deJong brought the car across speedway grounds and practiced launches in a parking lot.
“The power is unreal and unlike anything I’ve ever felt,” deJong said after the shakedown session. “Total adrenaline rush!”
Pastrana practiced his car in Thursday’s open test, but Menzies’ car had not yet seen track time in Charlotte. With all three drivers part of the Red Bull family, deJong was the most natural choice to put in the car for a shakedown session. He spent his time behind the wheel adjusting to the extra power in the Supercar, which can produce up to twice the horsepower of the Lites cars.
“We’re excited to have given Mitchell his first experience in the Supercar with the Red Bull Dodge team,” said Pastrana Racing team manager Blair Stopnik. “He was gracious enough to help us out, and he did a great job. It was great seeing his expression driving such a powerful car. I look forward to seeing him in a Supercar one day, and I appreciate his willingness to help us out.”
deJong has finished second in the past two GRC Lites races and currently ranks third in points. His focus remains on chasing the GRC Lites championship, but the possibility of more shakedown sessions remains open in the future.
Photo credit: Matthew Kalish