Path to Brazil: Meet Scott Speed, Driver, Star Car
The Global Rallycross Star Car will make its much-anticipated debut at Global X Games in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, on April 21. Different drivers will take turns racing in the Star Car throughout the year, competing against the best drivers that GRC has to offer.
The first driver to race the Star Car will be Scott Speed, who has driven across the globe in a lengthy career that has seen him reach the upper echelons of motorsports in both Europe and North America. Speed has been successful in both open wheel racing and stock cars, winning two European Formula Renault championships in 2004 and winning his first NASCAR race in 2008.
Speed continues to race in NASCAR, but will fly to Brazil during an off weekend to make his first Global Rallycross start. In the meantime, he sat down to talk about adapting to another form of motorsports and his anticipation for the weekend:
First things first: tell us a little bit about your racing career, and how Global Rallycross now fits into that.
Currently, I’m running a relatively part-time schedule with LFR Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, and with that schedule, there are options to do certain things as I’m not racing every weekend. I’ve always been up for trying different things in racing. When I left Formula 1, Red Bull gave me the option to do whatever I wanted, and I was drawn to NASCAR because it was something totally different. And I enjoyed that process of switching from open-wheel racing to NASCAR racing so much. I’ve always been open to looking for other things I can try. So when this thing came up, obviously the series has grown, it’s gotten bigger and bigger, and I’ve always had my eye on this series and how it’s coming. And when the first race was on one of the off weekends that we had, I immediately began working on something to be able to try it.
How did the opportunity for you to race in Global Rallycross come about, and why was Brazil the right place for you to make your debut?
The opportunity came about because I’ve been able to find a little bit of help. And Global Rallycross have this Star Car that they’re running, trying to get different athletes from other forms of racing in, and it just worked out where I was able to fit that mold.
What makes Global Rallycross unique among all of the different forms of racing you’ve competed in?
For one, there’s jumps, ha! So right away, that’s the one thing that stands out. I think that from a car standpoint, four-wheel drive, lots of power, really, really quick gearbox—zero to 60 in a really, really fast time. There’s not necessarily a lot of top speed, but there’s a lot of acceleration. So I think the four-wheel drive aspect, and the aspect of running on dirt, asphalt, wet—all different kinds of conditions—certainly is a lot different.
You’ll be driving in the Star Car, something new to the series for this season. What do you like about the concept?
I think it’s great for the people watching, to increase the level of respect that they have for the guys that are doing this full-time. When you have someone in racing like myself, that was racing in Formula 1, and has gone into this different form of racing, I’m assuming that it’s going to validate the abilities of the guys that are doing it, the Ken Blocks and Tanner Fousts, those guys where this is what they’ve done. I’m sure they’re really good at it! And someone like myself, having raced Formula 1, coming over there to try it will be interesting. I’m assuming those guys are really going to show me a lot!
Have you had a chance to drive a rallycross car yet? If so, what do you think of it, and if not, what are your thoughts on getting ready to drive one for the first time?
I have not, yet. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have, a lot of guys have been very helpful in that transition as well. But when I get down there, it’ll be my first time in it. So outside of watching videos and speaking with people who have done it, that can help, there really hasn’t been anything. It’ll be a fresh start, which is exciting for me.
Have you given any thought to your strategy for the Brazil race weekend? Are you going to feel out the car at first or push from the beginning?
I’m going to do me, I’m going to do what I’ve always done. I don’t really have a push really hard or play conservative button, so to speak. I just kind of do my thing—I go fast! So we’ll see. Typically, it’s better to drive too hard and back things off than approach on the conservative side.
If things go well for you in Brazil, is rallycross something you’d consider doing more of in the future?
Yes, absolutely. There’s definitely an open mind going into this, and certainly some possibilities and options to do some more in the future. Especially with my schedule being the way it is, it’s very conducive to running something like this, at least occasionally, where there are off weekends for me.