GRC Supercars Season Review: Scott Speed
If there’s a single driver in motorsports who has been racking up the frequent flyer miles over the past few years, it’s Scott Speed. After leaving Formula 1 for a return home to the United States, Speed has driven in everything from NASCAR to IndyCar, but nowhere has he seen more success than his debut season in Global Rallycross.
It took a single race for the open-wheel and stock car transplant to find the top step of the GRC podium, as Speed took the gold medal at X Games Brazil. Originally enlisted to appear solely in Brazil as part of a one-off deal, Speed’s performance impressed so many that he was given a deal to compete in all nine races.
The highs were high: a second win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, a home race for Speed and his family, and five heat victories over the course of the season to go with his gold medal.
But the lows were similarly low: missing the final in Munich and Bristol, a struggle to make it to the final in Los Angeles, and pulling off early in the Las Vegas season finale when most of his rivals conceded that his road racing skills made him the driver to beat.
“In these things, you can be fast—we were pretty fast at Bristol but we didn’t even make the final—so you’ve got to be lucky not to get in any crashes,” Speed said after his second victory of the year. “We stayed out of trouble and got lucky (in Charlotte).”
Lucky or unlucky, it’s hard not to be impressed with the way Speed adapted to yet another form of motorsport.
Interestingly enough, while the majority of his background saw him compete on paved tracks, Speed’s two race victories came on tracks that were almost completely comprised of loose surface material. But his road racing background shone through on the speed charts, as a third seed in Los Angeles and second seed in Las Vegas proved that he could adapt smooth racing lines and tire management to rallycross.
It will be interesting to see if Speed can replicate his initial success in 2014. While two victories and fifth place in his rookie season are nothing to be ashamed of, any driver to make his way to Formula 1 won’t be satisfied with anything less than a championship trophy on his bookshelf at home. So should be Speed in 2014.
Photo credit: Larry Chen (1); QBA/QNIGAN.com (2); Matthew Kalish (3)