“Never has going so slowly in a Ford Fiesta ever felt so fast and so much fun!”Michael Taylor, Co-founder, TrackWorthy Group Ltd.
I was fortunate to be invited to drive a rallycross car on a rally course and experience this for the first time, first hand. Never has going so slowly in a Ford Fiesta ever felt so fast and so much fun. The main objective of rallycross racing is to get the car around the course on a single timed lap as quickly as possible. Where the high fun factor comes in is that, if you are doing this with any kind of speed, you are going sideways most of the time.
The KWRC is an automobile rally club sanctioned by RallySport Ontario (RSO) and the Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS). For 2017, their rallycross series is comprised of five events at the Humberstone track.
KWRC race organizers set up the course Each driver races against the clock to set the lowest overall time on a single lap of the course, which KWRC race organizers set up. The course takes the drivers on and off the track on surfaces that include dirt, clay and mud; it stretches through a field, around many pylons and other stationary objects, and concludes at the finish box on the dirt oval. On most race weekends, drivers set their lap times in three morning sessions and three afternoon sessions for a total of six timed runs.
We were at the Humberstone track on a beautiful, sunny, summer-like weekend in September, and the course was extremely dry. It was so dry, in fact, that the cars kicked up too much dust, according to complaining neighbours, who forced an end to the day’s racing one run prematurely. During the lunch break, organizers sent a water truck to dampen the course with the hope of mitigating some of the dust. This resulted in a very slippery track; but, unfortunately, the effort was insufficient to combat the unusually dry fall.
On the much more frugal end of the scale are the 20-year-old Subaru WRXs running on 15-year-old gravel race tires. The total investment for those drivers, including the car and parts, is just over $1,000. Regardless of budget, all 30 drivers participating in the weekend’s racing seemed to be having the times of their lives.
KWRC annual membership fee is just $30, and the entry fee per race is $100.
The Driving Experience
I had never before driven a rallycross car on a rallycross course, so, during the mid-day break from the action, Sean drove and I sat shotgun for a few familiarization laps. Then it was my turn. As Sean had an afternoon of racing ahead, the last thing I wanted to do was damage or break his car. But Sean encouraged me to have fun and push the car, so I did. From the moment I got behind the wheel and launched out of the start box the joy began.
During my familiarization I tried to decipher the course, gain a little speed, and not hit anything. With each lap, my pace quickened and so did the fun factor. I cannot emphasizes enough how much fun you can have going so relatively slowly around a rallycross course. I covered most of the course in second gear–only once, for a very brief moment, did I get into third gear. The main reason for all of the adrenalin is the fact that the car is so loose during acceleration, braking and, especially, cornering. The faster I went around each corner, the more the rear end of the car slipped out, and that is what’s so much fun: balancing the throttle, throwing the rear end of the car around each corner, counter-steering to your heart’s content and kicking up all of that dust. It is an absolute blast.
Sadly, the first race of the five-race KWRC Rallycross series was cancelled due to bad weather. But, after that unexpected start to the season, Sean has been the quickest in the two-wheel drive category each race weekend. Unfortunately, in race number 2, Sean also racked up the most penalties, which relegated him to last place. On our race weekend, Sean finished first in his two-wheel-drive class and fourth overall out of the thirty cars participating. Sean is now in second-place in two-wheel-drive standings and will be fighting for the championship at the final race of the season at the end of October. With a win in the final race Sean should clinch the two-wheel-drive championship in his rookie Rallycross racing season.