RallyCross: The need for Speed
Scott Speed won the first RallyCross event he competed in: X Games Foz do Iguaçu 2013. Of course, that shouldn't be too surprising, given that Speed has one of the most accomplished résumés on the X Games roster. The 32-year-old is a former Sprint Cup driver and one of a handful of Americans to have competed on the prestigious Formula 1 race series.
A calculated and smooth driver, Speed won his second X Games gold at Austin 2014, becoming one of only two people who've won RallyCross gold twice. (Toomas Heikkinen is the other.)
At X Games Austin 2015, Speed has the chance to be the first to win double gold at back-to-back X Games and the first to take three RallyCross golds. Judging by his 2014 season, he certainly could. Speed won three stops on the Global Rallycross Championships series — Barbados, X Games Austin and Los Angeles — racing a VW Polo, a car he basically describes as a rental. (It wasn't built specifically for rally racing.) He finished third overall on the series.
A new set of wheels in 2015 — a Volkswagen Beetle, a car he helped design for RallyCross with both Volkswagen and Andretti Autosports — could lead to further success.
"It's one of the most iconic car shapes in the world," said Speed, who qualified first with the vehicle at the final GRC stop in Las Vegas in 2014 before a flat tire ultimately relegated him to fourth place in the final. "It works really well for this. In RallyCross, you have to have something that's strong and durable, which is something we focused on. The car obviously has speed, and now we are working on making it more reliable. Everyone that knows GRC knows that it is a contact sport."
On a roster stacked with accomplished drivers from backgrounds like off-road, desert racing, open-wheel, rally, road-racing, dirt and stock car, Speed's open-wheel background is his biggest advantage. Not necessarily because the skills from open-wheel correlate to rally racing, but because F1 is one of the toughest series in racing and features some of the world's best drivers. Speed knows what it takes to be competitive in the most difficult of environments.
"Driving a RallyCross car is totally different than open-wheel," said Speed, who grew up in Manteca, California, but now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. "But since I've run at such a high level of racing, you are in positions where that experience outweighs everything. If you have four wheels, brakes, and a steering wheel, there is a way to make that go around a track fast, and I've done that probably a billion times more than anyone else in the [rally] series. Figuring out what a car needs to go fast is always the same."
This article originally appeared on ESPN.