We at Life Blasters have been on sort of a Rally tip as of recently, with Bohan coming off of his second piece of Rally America, I thought I’d make a trip out to Las Vegas to check out Global RallyCross. Last weekend was the 5th event in the 6 race season for GRC. Tanner Foust had a slight lead in the standings coming into Las Vegas even without having won a race yet.
I arrive to Las Vegas Motor Speedway early Saturday morning with my good friends from GoPro. They were here as GRC’s official camera for event coverage and a special piece on Bucky Lasek. From the sound of it, this video should be very good.
Soon after we arrived I met up with my good friend Larry Chen and we headed up to the Media center to set up base camp. Larry has recently sold all of his Canon equipment and is now a pure Nikon film shooter. Deal with it.
We soon found ourselves in the pits where teams would finish up on some last minute work on the cars. Here is a familiar livery. Rhys Millen, I’m sure, was pretty excited to come back to Vegas and was looking to double his money after his win here last month at Formula D.
Placed next to Millen’s Hyundai Veloster, I found his very heavy duty skidplate. GRC is serious business and those jumps are no joke. These cars need all the protection they can get, coming off of a 70 foot long jump.
As I walked through the pits I found a few more cars that stuck out to me. Brian Deegan’s Ford Fiesta’s look had a bit more sinister feel to it.
I can’t imagine anyone would enjoy driving with this thing nipping at their heels. Rawr!
Brian then began to describe what it must feel like to be behind the wheel of the 550whp Fiesta.
As I walked around more I found a few more Fiestas lying around. This one is piloted by Top Gear America host and former Formula D champion Tanner Foust.
I don’t think this car needs much introduction.
Teams used this time to put in some last minute work on the cars before practice.
Well there’s your problem! You’ve got a full grown man under your car!!!
You’d think that a Best Buy vehicle would have some sort of aftermarket stereo deck, amps, or sub woofers.
The pits always serve a great place for people to take their pictures with their favorite drivers and cars.
Soon the cars headed out to the track to begin their practice sessions.
Drivers would do some whatever stretching or exercise they needed to get the blood flowing before the made their way onto the track. Deegan found jogging in place to work best for him.
I don’t see HANS devices too often in drifting, but then again, Formula D drivers aren’t taking their cars off any sweet jumps.
Ken Block likes to get a good stretch in before he hops into his Fiesta.
Ken knows all bout Gittining! Show us your #gittining on instagram!
Soon, we were ready for lift off.
Richard Burton was one of the first drivers to spread his wings for practice.
The absence of Sam Hubinette in Formula D can be explained partly by his presence in GRC. This season, he has been piloting the Scott-Eklund ENOS Saab 9-3. This first corner of the track will be laid with dirt come the competition rounds, but not for practice. This would prove a very interesting as drivers basically wouldn’t be driving drift until their first competition rounds.
After turn 1, we have a straight going into the chicane.
After the chicane is the tabletop.
Drivers would then make a dash to the end of the straight and turn around for the jump.
After Toomas Heikkenen’s crash at the X-Games GRC event, they decided to put foam barriers in front of the landing in case a car is unable to make the gap.
Drivers are allowed one shortcut lap per race, which is a hairpin underneath the jump instead of going over it. They are allowed to take this shortcut whenever in the race they decide to.
This was the first time I’d ever seen cars jump like this in person. It was pretty fun for me.
The suspension travel on these cars is ridiculous! They must be to absorb a lot of the impact on the landing. When the car is pressed all the way down on the landing, the wheels tuck fully under the fenders!
After a few hours of practice, the cars headed back to the pits
After the GRC practice, the course was cleared to get ready for the NASCAR truck series to start their race, which Travis Pastrana was also driving in! It must be very tiring to drive 146 laps in a NASCAR truck and then send his Dodge Dart flying through the air right after. This guy is quite a competitor.
Drivers took the last few moments before the race to collect themselves and focus.
NASCAR is one of the most exciting and terrifying things I’ve ever shot! They are going so fast and the cars are so loud! It was amazing!
How wild must it be to drive this close to a car at around 160 mph?!
This was unlike anything I’ve ever shot before.
After a few short laps, the sun began to set behind the mountains above Las Vegas.
Simultaneous with the sunset was the rising of the moon! It just so happened to be a full moon that night. What luck!
Travis Pastrana seemed to be doing well.
The efficiency of the pit crew is just as important as the driver himself. These guys work fast!
Unfortunately for this car, something went wrong while he was in the pits as he was sparking off of his front right wheel!
The chief called him back in so they could inspect the damage, but it was too late. Whatever was wrong with the car to begin with forced the car to hit the wall. This was not the worst of the crashes that the night would see.
These two made contact with each other then the wall and spun out of control for hundreds of feet until they slowed down to a stop.
But the show must go on. After the track was cleared of course.
Nelson Piguet, Jr. gets the win!
Right after the NASCAR guys got out of the way, the GRC drivers made their way to the grandstands to start their autograph session.
Look at these rockstars.
Autograph session is always a good time for kids to meet their lifelong heros.
Then it was time for the driver introductions. Unlike Formula D’s short and sweet intros, they spent a good 1-2 minutes on each driver talking about their car and accomplishments. A little frustrating. When the got to Ken Block, it took them a good minute to figure out who the driver of the Monster Energy Ford Fiesta was. Ken was a little unsure of how to feel about the long awkward silence as they tried to find out who he was! Hahaha!
Tanner was given the inside line on the start as he was the top qualifier.
The addition of the dirt definitely made the course a lot more exciting, when four or five cars would push through there to get the desired line into the chicane.
Stephen Verdier was looking really good as he made his rounds over the jump.
Richard Burton, however, did not feel comfortable going up on the ramp on one of his laps, so he locked up all four wheels and tried to stop, but it was too late. He flew off the ramp and landed nose first into the pavement below. He seemed to be alright but paramedics took him away in the ambulance just to be safe.
While all of this was going down, the GoPro team used this break to check on the cameras. Get back to work, you two!!!
It wasn’t long before the race was back on.
Bucky was cutting his landing much closer to the edge than the rest of the group. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but it was definitely nerve racking watching him land. However, because of this he wasn’t going so high, was was sticking some very smooth landings.
I guess this is why they have those skid plates.
Watching three cars jump over a 35-foot table top in just over a second was pretty exciting.
But this was much more exciting.
In the end Tanner Foust took 1st place, followed by his teammate, Brian Deegan. They also sit 1-2 in the season standings, though they are not the only drivers in the running for the championship.
This round was especially big for Tanner because it wrapped up the 3 round Discount Tire/Americas Tire Cup, winning him the $25k prize. Wow, looking back on this reminds me of what a long day this was. It was totally worth it though. Hope you all enjoyed! See you at Irwindale for the last round of Formula D.