I have been attending auto racing events for many years now, but due to my geographic location it was usually a once a year event. I have lived in Baltimore, MD for 25 years of my life. The first races I ever attended were the Grand Prix of Baltimore American Le Man’s series races which lasted for 3 years then that ended due to city and promoter mismanagement. I was without a race series until I discovered Red Bull Global Rallycross.
Red Bull Global Rallycross began in 2011, but the series did not visit my area until 2013 with the Washington DC event at RFK Stadium. I have attended that race ever since though I finally found a race series to fill my void, it was still a once a year event.
That was until this year.
I attended the Washington DC race with the rest of the RightFootDown crew which we heavily covered with photos and video, but then I found time to follow the race series to their next race in Atlantic City, NJ.
I could not help but feel like I was following a band on tour.
I had never visited Atlantic City before, so my wife and I decided to make a full day trip to enjoy the beach and the racing. We arrived in Atlantic City and I decided to grab my media credentials and head for the beach.
We had lunch and since we were in Atlantic City, we took the opportunity to gamble. We went into the Caesar’s Casino and we each hit the slot machines with one US dollar in hand. My wife turned $1.00 into $3.09, I turned $1.00 into $16.40.
We cashed out to head to the race, our tolls home were paid for. The start to a great day!
Leaving the beach, we made it back in time for all of the Supercar Heats. It’s not difficult to make the comparison to visiting the Dew Tour. The Dew Tour had the same vibe as GRC and I recalled my time visiting Ocean City, MD watching extreme sports while hanging on the beach. GRC brings a youthful exuberance that isn’t matched at most other motorsports events, save for perhaps drifting.
When we returned to the venue, it was in between sessions, so we hit the paddock. If there is not a race heat, I love to roam through the paddock. If you attend a GRC event, I highly recommend it. The ability to watch race teams prep/fix the cars in between the session is a huge part of the experience. I like to check out everything down to the tools they use.
The paddock is where my event began.
I was roaming through the race team’s tents and I found myself standing in front of the Subaru tent. I am a big fan of Subaru Rallycross driver Bucky Lasek. I feel like his career grew up at the same rate that I grew up. When I was a kid, I was playing as him in Tony Hawk Pro Skater; and now he branched out and made the jump to auto racing. Bucky Lasek is also from my home town of Baltimore. I was fortunate to meet Bucky at the DC race, but he had already left his paddock to line up for the next race heat. But walking through the Subaru tent with my Baltimore Orioles hat on I found out Bucky was not the only one from Baltimore. Subaru hypeman Fred Cornell yelled “Let’s Go O’s!!!” from across their tent, I acknowledged him from a distance, but that would not be my last positive encounter from with him, more of that to come.
Next, we made our way to the DirtFish tent, DirtFish has a team in the Lites feeder series. A nice lady in a DirtFish shirt who I will describe as “DirtFish-Mom” approached my wife and I and asked if we wanted a t-shirt. We said of course, she went out of her way to find us shirts in the sizes we requested. So shout out to you DirtFish-Mom!
We watched multiple race heats and kept returning to the paddock to check out the damage done to the cars and see the race teams work fast to repair them and get the cars back out for the next race heat.
During one of the semi-finals, Sverre Isachsen’s Subaru exhaust caught fire while coming off the track. For this race course set up, as cars to exit the track they have to pass the area where the series keeps all the race fuel. The safety truck chased him down all the way to the Subaru tent. The fire/smoke was so low he probably did not see it, but it was a crazy thing to see a smoking car driving through the fuel area chased by a safety truck. Just an example of the things you’ll see at GRC that you won’t see behind a fence in another race series.
After the car was deemed “safe” it was great to able to watch the Subaru team going crazy trying to get the car fixed and race worthy. It was a mad house, everyone was running around, but you could tell they all had a purpose and a job to do.
I can’t say it enough, I love the access of Red Bull Global Rallycross events. The Honda team was fixing Kevin Eriksson’s rallycar literally right in the paddock walk way. Find another race series that allows the fans to get that close. Sure, other series have grid walks and paddock access, but I have yet to find one where I can walk within inches of a guy working on their race cars suspension/brakes between races.
What’s cool is that, while it’s a competition, the teams seem to enjoy being around each other. All of the pit crew and spotters hang around the same area when the final race is about to start.
The race is brutal on the cars. Tires blowing, bumpers being torn off, it’s an amazing scene. Tanner Foust was in the lead for a majority of the race but he blew a tire and his teammate Scott Speed took the lead and finished on top, just as he did at the GRC DC event.
After the race, we made our way back to the Subaru paddock because the Subaru crew had to retire early from aforementioned destruction. From going to the DC race, I know that Subaru gives out a bunch of swag and potentially even broken race car parts.
We had a front row spot and I tried to position us where the swag giveaway was likely to occur. Soon after, my wife and I were surrounded by yelling Subaru fans. Fred Cornell, who had earlier recognized that I was from Baltimore, was the one who distributes all the gear. Being 6 foot 6 in the front row, I was definitely going to snatch something out of the air. I can almost get a hand on everything he throws. Bags go this way, hats go that way, shirts over here, polos over there. Eventually I am able to grab a Subaru bag for my wife and a pit crew polo for her as well. I snag another Subaru bag, but I am not greedy so I throw it further back to let other fans get something good too.
Swag was not what I wanted; I wanted race used car parts.
Once the swag was done, he began to hype up the race used car bits. Eventually, there emerged a half of a sidewall of a tire Bucky Lasek blew during the race weekend, which was signed by Bucky. The whole time I am pointing at my O’s hat and pointing for him to give the tire to my wife. Point at hat, point at wife, point at hat, point at wife, meanwhile I cannot hear my thoughts from screaming
SU!!! BA!!! RU!!!
He looks at me slowly hands the signed tire piece which I hand to my wife as he looks for a big high five which I deliver and he yells “Let’s Go O’s!”.
I loved the racing, loved the cars, loved the sounds, loved the race teams, but Fred made Atlantic City feel like home away from home. Props to you Fred!
If the next Red Bull Global Rallycross race was on the East Coast, I can confidently say I would have followed it for a third race, but sadly the next race is in Seattle, Washington so my last top on the bus tour is Atlantic City.
Until next year……