NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600: Pit Notes #5
Call it racing for the ADD crowd. Global Rallycross drivers Ken Block, Tanner Foust and Rhys Millen visited the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center Thursday, exposing the sport they love as a true adrenaline rush for the race fanatic with a short attention span.
“It’s got all the sweetness of racing – you’ve got crashes, you’ve got sideways sliding, you’ve got jumping, you’ve got cars that are incredibly fast, it’s just that they’re in small cars, which don’t normally get raced in the US,” Foust said. “I actually completely forgot your original question but I’m going to keep talking anyway.”
Global Rallycross will attempt to win over a new crowd – of 18-35-year-olds and beyond – during Saturday’s heat races and main event. Sixteen drivers will wrestle 600-horsepower, all-wheel-drive cars made by Ford, Dodge, Subaru, Saab and Hyundai around a three-quarter-mile track complete with hairpins, chicanes and water features. The street-legal vehicles have tremendous get-up-and-go, bursting from 0 to 60 in two seconds.
“We have very dynamic, fast, repetitive sprint races, very similar to supercross,” Millen said. “You’re going to get a high turnover for new excitement that captures the audience, and for the younger crowd that maybe possess ADD or something like that, we keep them entertained with short bursts.”
And although Rallycross racing is an established sport in Europe, it’s a relative unknown in America, giving the drivers greater accessibility. Perhaps the best illustration of that is the driver autograph session that will take place alongside fans in the grandstands prior to the start of Saturday’s feature event. Fans also have a chance to see the Rallycars behind-the-scenes action by stopping by their garage/pit area, located outside Turns 1 and 2.
“The format is perfect for the American public, and (this weekend), it will be seen by more Americans than ever before, all in two days,” Foust said. “It’s an amazing time for Global Rallycross and a great time for us to expose our sport to a new group of people.”
NEWMAN WANTS WINGS – Ryan Newman isn’t running Friday’s Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he wouldn’t rule out the idea of running the event in future years.
“I would entertain it, but I would do some extensive testing,” Newman said. “Those cars are a beast. These cars here, the Sprint Cup cars, are tough, but the hand-eye coordination you have to have with a winged sprint car is probably four times tougher.”
Like his Sprint Cup team owner Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman grew up competing on short tracks across the Midwest in USAC sprint and midget races. But he said he has never tried racing a World of Outlaws car on dirt.
“I did a test with a winged sprint car on pavement once, but never on dirt,” Newman said. “They’re a lot of fun.”
SERVICE AWARD DEDICATED – Charlotte Motor Speedway has created “The Tony Plummer Excellence in Service Award” to honor a man who was committed to exceeding his customer’s expectations and, through his relentless dedication, succeeded in this pursuit.
Tony Plummer worked as a Windstream technician for 43 years – a large portion of which he serviced the speedway’s account. He died March 26.
Plummer knew the speedway like the back of his own hand, said Marcus Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager.
“He knew what was needed in preparation of our events and took ownership in his role as a key player,” Smith said. “In times of adversity or challenge, Tony’s presence was reassurance that the situation would be resolved expediently and completely. He always had a smile on his face and his confidence was comforting.”
Smith presented the inaugural award to Plummer’s widow, who thanked the speedway for recognizing him.
“If he were here right now, Tony would say he was just doing his job,” she said.