INSIGHT: Travis Pastrana's Dodge rallycross program
The sideways-sliding, big-air, full-contact sport of rallycross seems like it was invented for a guy like Travis Pastrana, the action sport star with a reputation for fearless exuberance in the face of any challenge. Heading into his second season behind the wheel of the top-spec Red Bull Discount Tire Dodge Dart, with a full season of experience behind him and new teammate Bryce Menzies, he's hoping the 2013 season will bring his team the championship title Pastrana Racing seems destined to achieve.
â€œWe're excited and we're ready coming into this year,â€ said Pastrana, as he prepared for the long journey south to Brazil for the April 21 rallycross season opener at the X Games.
The 2012 season was admittedly frustrating for Pastrana, who debuted with a brand-new team and car. A spotty finish record marred by bad luck â€“ including a ghastly, sudden shoulder dislocation and a couple of on-track clashes that sent Pastrana's Dodge Dart spinning out of contention through no fault of his own â€“ left the action sports legend in the unaccustomed position of underdog in the series. He finished the year a mid-pack 10th in the championship.
But last year's overall results are a poor reflection of the team's potential. While the rival Ford teams entered the season with many years of development behind their rallycross cars, Pastrana Racing started the 2012 season from scratch and faced all the usual challenges of working with a brand-new chassis that had not previously been campaigned in the production-based sport. Even so, the Dodge Dart was fast out of the box, proving able to qualify well and take the all-important hole shot into the first corner from a standing start. In just its fourth race, everything came together and Pastrana took his Dodge Dart to a confident win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Rallycross as we've come to know it, featuring high-horsepower cars racing door-to-door on mixed dirt and paved courses with huge jumps, has only been in the United States since 2010, when it debuted at the X Games in Los Angeles. It has an established history in Europe, where it was conceived in 1967 as a playground for retired rally cars. While the racing format shares the sideways, mixed surface, big air action popularized by World Rally Championship competition, rallycross has evolved into a condensed, track-friendly version of the sport. It favors powerful cars and combative race craft as drivers progress through a series of short heats to a winner-take-all final. The competition cars are production-based, but incredibly specialized, 600-horsepower sprinters that run 0-60 in under two seconds â€“ faster than an IndyCar.
Rallycross has been an ideal fit in the action-sport Olympics known as the X Games, the premier competitions in skateboarding, BMX and motocross. When the X Games went global in 2013, rallycross went with it. The Global Rallycross Championship's first four rounds will be at X Games events held in Brazil, Spain, Germany and the U.S. before the series moves to more conventional motorsports environments, including the recently announced stops at Bristol Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, to finish the season.
The sport's growing domestic popularity means it is evolving fast, and Pastrana Racing's Dodge Dart is a reflection of that increasing sophistication. With a season of experience behind it, the team is continuing to grow, benefiting from European expertise to gain horsepower and torque from their Mountune-built two-liter, turbocharged engine, as well as working closely with engineers at Dodge's Street and Racing Technology division to take advantage of the resources afforded to the factory supported team.
â€œWe've looked at every single area of the car that I felt we could improve,â€ said Ian Davies, the new lead engineer for the Pastrana Racing squad. â€œWe intend to use SRT facilities and resources a lot more this year and we're gaining valuable information about what our current car does and building on that.â€
Davies, who moved from Ken Block's team to Pastrana Racing this season, anticipates that gains made in suspension and chassis development will be apparent on the dirt-heavy course in Brazil. A wind tunnel session in Detroit, along with testing at the team's off-season headquarters at the DirtFish rally school in the Pacific Northwest, have also increased team confidence heading into the first race of the season.
â€œI got two weeks of testing in,â€ said Pastrana. â€œWe've done work with the suspension since last year and we're confident with the handling and durability of the car.â€
The team has high hopes for rallycross rookie Bryce Menzies (LEFT), the just-announced driver who will pilot a Dodge Dart with Pastrana Racing for the full 2013 season.
â€œBryce is a thinker, a modern-style driver, and he's smooth; and we've got Travis, who we all know is Travis,â€ observed Davies. â€œThe two compliment each other when you have them working together.
Menzies is an off-road racer who debuted under the microscope of the high-profile X Games Los Angeles as teammate to Pastrana in 2012. He returned to the team for the final round in Las Vegas last fall as a substitute for Pastrana, who was forced to sit out due to a shoulder surgery. With little pre-competition testing, Menzies showed he was able to wheel the car, but he didn't make the final in either of his races and he says he's still climbing a steep learning curve.
He has the credentials to succeed. Since he started racing off-road buggies six years ago, the 25-year-old Menzies progressed rapidly to the top of his sport, amassing an impressive trophy collection along the way. He enters the 2013 season defending back-to-back TORC championships in the short-course off-road series' Pro-2 category, for highly modified rear-wheel drive trucks. He is also a threat in desert racing with the 2011 SCORE Trophy Truck Championship title to his credit, along with multiple top finishes. Rallycross and off-road campaigns mean he's got a busy season ahead of him, and he says he's looking forward to the challenge of learning his new discipline.
â€œIt's definitely a different style of driving,â€ said Menzies. â€œI'm used to racing side by side and bumping, but cars are more fragile than the trucks. In short course, fenders and fiberglass flies off, in rallycross stuff breaks.â€
Once he adapts from the huge-travel, soft-suspension rear-wheel-drive trucks to his lower, stiffer, all-wheel-drive machine, his years of door-to-door experience should leave him well prepared for the full-contact nature of rallycross. Plus, his expertise on loose surfaces should benefit him on the dirt â€“ of which there should be plenty this season. Organizers have just confirmed that the course for the first round, in Brazil, is 90 percent dirt. The mix is generally closer to 60 percent pavement and 40 percent dirt, and the 2012 configurations were tight and asphalt-heavy.
Pastrana, who learned to race rally cars on the way to four back-to-back Rally America championships between 2006 and 2009, is also looking forward to mixing it up on loose-surface tracks. â€œI'm pumped we get a lot of dirt this year,â€ said Pastrana. â€œThe car was built for dirt and jumps.â€
Pastrana is the most celebrated freestyle motocross rider in the world and a stunt performer whose antics provoke inevitable comparisons to Evel Knievel. He's been unforgettable since he hucked his bike into San Francisco Bay to celebrate his first X Games gold medal win in 1999, at age 15. For his Nitro Circus DVDs and TV shows, he has jumped out of an airplane without a parachute, back-flipped a motorcycle off the edge of the Grand Canyon (that time, with a parachute) and skimmed a motorcycle across the surface of a swimming pool â€“ all just for kicks.
After countless injuries on two wheels, he moved to car racing in the form of rally competition in 2003, calling it safer: â€œaction sport with a roll cage.â€ After dominating the Rally America championship, he stepped away from regular off-road competition and began eyeing NASCAR. He started his first full season of Nationwide Series competition in February with a top-10 result at Daytona, and is intent on improving at every round. He will compete in three of the four X Games rallycross competitions in 2013 (Brazil, Barcelona, and Los Angeles) and as many regular-season races as he can without missing events in the packed Nationwide schedule that is his primary focus. The two rallycross rounds set after September could be a question mark as well: he and his wife are expecting their first child this fall.
Pastrana says both he and Menzies have the advantage of seat time this season. â€œAny time you're in a car â€“ in a vehicle, in a truck, in a go-kart â€“ it all helps,â€ he said. â€œYou learn something every time you're driving. Even on a motorcycle, a lot of that experience crosses over quickly.â€
Ultimately, though, the 2013 season is going to be about battling flat-out in a series with new courses and configurations, where nobody has a home-track advantage. With continued vehicle development and the right attitude, predicts Pastrana, the championship is within reach.
â€œThese cars are built to go very aggressively and on the edge,â€ said Pastrana â€œThat's what's fun about rallycross. It's not a patience game. It's not waiting game. It's how fast can you react and get the power to the ground.â€
2013 Red Bull Discount Tire Dodge Dart - Pastrana Racing
Rallycross cars are some of the most versatile racers in the world. All-wheel-drive and fast on both dirt and pavement, they are powerful, honest machines built from production models and designed with an upright stance to maximize traction on standing-start launches: they accelerate from 0-60 in under two seconds. Cooling is rear-mounted, to reduce the risk of blockage and overheating in tight, pack racing on dirt and mud. Traction control is forbidden under the rules, although cars feature launch control and turbo antilag. Two-liter engines produce 600 horsepower and very high boost.
- Power: 600 hp
- Torque: 590 ft-lb
- Boost: 45 psi
- Weight: 2,900 lbs (with driver)
- Engine: Mountune-built two-liter, transverse
- Turbo: Garrett; 45 mm restrictor (required by the rules)
- ECU: Cosworth
- Transmission: Sadev 6-speed sequential
- Suspension: ThreeÂway adjustable
- Wheels: KMC Wheels
- Brakes: Alcon 6-piston caliper, front; Alcon 6-piston caliper rear
- Handbrake: Sadev hydraulic
- Exterior: Custom carbon and Kevlar body panels
- Digital instruments: Cosworth
- Cooling: PWR rear-mounted radiator and intercooler
- Safety: Custom roll cage built to FIA specs; Sparco seats, belts
â€¢ SRT is an entire brand fueled by passion for street and racing technology. Five hallmarks set SRT apart: awe-inspiring powertrain; outstanding ride, handling and capability; benchmark braking; aggressive and functional exteriors; and race-inspired and high-performance interiors.
For the inside line on everything SRT, there's only one place to go: driveSRT.com. It serves up fresh factory insider stories, gets the facts and figures on every SRT product, and goes inside the race team car haulers and talks directly to the drivers. Then it delivers it all to you fast and first.
Subscribe to Racer
- Thursday's press conference - Japan
- Tanak gets WRC car for Rally GB
- Bianchi 'ready' if Alonso leaves
- IMSA: Pre-Petit Le Mans Q&A with Scott Atherton
- F1: Stevens to get Marussia FP1 outing
- IndyCar 2014 Review: P20 - Carlos Huertas
- Who Will Win the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, part 1
- IMSA: New "IMSA Radio" service with Radio Le Mans starts in 2015
Video: The Insider Issue
FROM THE RACER CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship: Interviews and insights from Marshall Pruett.
Like us On Facebook
- Most Popular
- Recently Added
- Most Commented
- IMSA: 1.1 million view TUDOR Championship from Circuit of The Americas on FOX
- Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 1 presented by Honda Racing/HPD
- PRUETT: IndyCar dominoes ready to fall
- IMSA: Will Porsche customers desert the TUDOR Championship for WEC?
- F1: New study launched aimed at ways to make the cars harder to drive
- SELECT i.id FROM #__flexicontent_items_tmp AS i JOIN #__flexicontent_items_ext AS ie on ie.item_id = i.id JOIN #__flexicontent_types AS ty on ie.type_id = ty.id JOIN #__flexicontent_cats_item_relations AS rel ON rel.itemid = i.id JOIN #__categories AS c ON c.id = rel.catid JOIN #__categories AS mc ON mc.id = i.catid WHERE c.published = 1 AND ( i.publish_up = '0000-00-00 00:00:00' OR i.publish_up <= '2014-10-02 09:38:28' ) AND ( i.publish_down = '0000-00-00 00:00:00' OR i.publish_down >= '2014-10-02 09:38:28' ) AND ty.access IN (0,1,1) AND mc.access IN (0,1,1) AND i.access IN (0,1,1) AND i.id <> 56366 AND i.state <> -2 AND i.state IN (1) AND c.id IN (499) GROUP BY i.id ORDER BY i.modified DESC, i.title ASC
17030 Red Hill Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614
Creative Services Division:
Pfanner Communications, Inc.
Contact Pfanner Communications