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Riding Dirty: Global RallyCross Twin Peaks

Seems we’ve developed something of a reputation; Griot’s Garage likes clean cars. Fair enough. But when we recently had the chance to see high-horsepower rally cars battling door-to-door in the dirt, there was no way we were going to miss it. Armed with cameras and a love of anything that rolls (or flies) on rubber, we headed to the races.

RallyCross takes the most interesting elements of traditional rally racing (mixed surfaces, jumps, tight corners) and drops them onto a short circuit, making for nonstop action and great spectating. While the sport’s been developing in Europe since the late 60s, it’s relatively new on this side of the pond.

The Global RallyCross Championship, a new series for 2011, pits small, production-based cars (both 2WD and AWD) against one another through a series of timed heats, progressing to a final race. The series dovetails with the upcoming X-Games rally competitions, so drivers are also vying for invitations to those races.

The second of three races in the series, dubbed Twin Peaks, was held April 15 and 16 at the Old Mill complex in Snoqualmie, Washington (also home to the upstart DirtFish Rally School). The industrial constructs of the Old Mill, set against the fog-capped Cascade Mountains made for a great backdrop. We attended Saturday’s races*, and were first struck by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. Thousands of spectators were undaunted by chilly temperatures and a sometimes-biting breeze.

The action was virtually non-stop as drivers battled through heats. The unique format includes a so-called “Joker Lap” (which each driver must complete at least once per race), and this section of the track incorporated a massive, 70-foot gap jump. Needless to say, the jump made for high drama throughout the afternoon.

The compact circuit meant almost all the action was visible from any given spot, and there was something happening wherever we looked. Look over there, Eriksson’s lining up for the jump, and wait… what just happened over here? Mirra’s left rear wheel has sheared off at the hub and he’s still driving it? Engines pushed to max-rpm, wastegates barking loudly, dirt and gravel literally flying through the dusty air. Standing trackside was pure sensory overload.

RallyCross no doubt has a big future in the United States, and The Global RallyCross Championship Series seems poised to make waves. We had a great time, and look forward to the next one that passes this way. Big thanks to the organizers for a fun racing experience, the drivers for riding the ragged line, and our fellow spectators for showing that the Northwest knows how to “rally” around a good automotive event!

Watch our video on YouTube.
See our complete set of photos on Flickr.
Read the full race report.
Watch the event replay: ESPN, May 14, 1:30pm PST.


* Full disclosure: The event organizers provided us with five complimentary tickets to this event.


4 Comments

  1. I caught a little of the coverage on TV. Certainly looked like an interesting racing setup. I’ll make sure to keep my eye out for upcoming coverage.

    So – when should we expect the Griot’s sponsored car out there? 🙂

  2. Kyle H. says:

    You even caught the wreck on film, nice!

  3. Pingback: Riding Dirty: Global RallyCross Twin Peaks | Everything Automotive

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