Scott Speed will join Subaru Rally Team USA for the 2019 Americas Rallycross season, the Japanese manufacturer announced today.
The shock move means that the American will leave the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team that he has raced for in all but one season of his rallycross career.
The ex-Formula 1 driver will partner former World Rally stars Chris Atkinson and Patrik Sandell, who have been full-time drivers for the Vermont Sports Car-run team since 2017.
“I’m excited to officially announce my racing plans for the 2019 season. I’ve raced all over the world – Formula 1, NASCAR, Formula E, and a four-year rallycross championship run, including the inaugural ARX title this year – and I’m thrilled that the next chapter for me will be here in the US with the Subaru team in the Americas Rallycross series,” said Speed. “Subaru is a team on the rise in ARX, having been part of rallycross in the U.S. since the beginning.”
“At every race I’m amazed at the crowds of fans that show up to support the team,” said Speed. “I’m also excited to join Patrik Sandell and Chris Atkinson – two of the top drivers in the sport, who showed serious pace in the WRX STI this season. With the development they’ve put in I know this team can win, and I’m looking forward to bringing home another championship.”
Speed will swap Volkswagen for Subaru next year – Credit: Subaru Rally Team USA
Speed has won the last four US rallycross championships, taking three-straight Global Rallycross titles between 2015-2017, and the first season of the succeeding Americas Rallycross championship this year.
Across his six-year rallycross career to-date, the former-NASCAR campaigner has won 18-times – 16 times in GRC, including the non-championship X Games round in 2015, and twice in ARX.
Speed’s first victory came on his debut in Foz do Iguaçu, driving GRC’s Olsbergs MSE-run ‘Star Car’ for guest drivers in 2013. The success of that one-off appearance led to Speed switching to the discipline full-time.
He moved to Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross ahead of the 2014 season to partner Tanner Foust and had been there ever since.
The future of Volkswagen’s US programme meanwhile is currently uncertain. Speculation suggests that the German manufacturer will pull its support for the team in 2019, although IndyCar outfit Andretti Autosport could continue to run the team privately.
Fourth rallycross driver championship in a row for Speed
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’ Scott Speed claimed the inaugural Americas Rallycross (ARX) title at the inaugural World Rallycross USA held at Circuit of The Americas. Teammate Tanner Foust did all he could in the last round by taking the victory and maximum points in Texas.
Foust won Semifinal 1, having taken a point out of Speed’s Championship lead at the Intermediate Classification, but by winning Semifinal 2, Speed was assured of the title as long as he just started the final to claim the one point required to be the champion. He did indeed take the start, on the front row alongside pole man Foust and went straight for the joker as Foust took the hole-shot into turn one ahead of Loenbro Hoonigan’s Steve Arpin. In the No. 43 Loenbro Hoonigan Ford Focus RS RX, Ken Block immediately pulled off the grid with a technical issue as the lights went green.
Subaru Rally Team USA’s Toomas Heikkinen and Patrik Sandell followed Speed into the turn one joker, Sandell making a last-moment change of decision to take the non-standard line. Arpin took his joker on the third lap and was passed by Speed, but held onto third. Foust then took his joker on lap 4 but held onto the lead to take his second win of the inaugural ARX season. Speed finished second and Arpin claimed his first ARX podium in third.
Heikkinen finished fourth in his debut for Subaru Rally Team USA and Sandell finished fifth in the last round and third in the championship point standings. Subaru’s Chris Atkinson and Xite Racing’s Oliver Bennett had a first-lap-fight in Semifinal 1 and GC Kompetition’s Liam Doran had a battle with Sandell in Semifinal 2 but finished the race with a puncture.
Scott Speed and Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (VARX) become the first team and driver champions in ARX. This is the fourth driver championship in rallycross, in a row, for Speed and the team’s fourth collectively.In ARX2, DirtFish Motorsports driver Conner Martell won the second semifinal to lock down the ARX2 championship. In the final, he took the hole-shot from the pole position into turn one while Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Christian Brooks was forced out wide, allowing DirtFish’s Fraser McConnell and Keatts Motorsport’s Cole Keatts to move up. McConnell climbed into the lead when Martell was forced out on lap two by a puncture, but it was Buhl Sport Detroit’s Alex Keyes, who had taken the joker on the first lap, who moved forward to sweep the weekend at COTA with a pair of victories. Jamaica’s Fraser McConnell finished second and 18-year-old Brooks finished third. Martell and DirtFish Motorsports secured their first championship in rally or rallycross. The official rally school of ARX secured the team championship with consistent performances from its drivers, Scott Anderson, Fraser McConnell and Scott Anderson.
Scott Speed is a name known around the world for podium-topping achievements in car racing — from F1 and Formula E to NASCAR and rallycross on the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team. Turns out, however, that Speed has another passion that influences his time on and off the race track: bicycles.
The East Coast, from the Seat of a Bike
This summer, Speed and a few friends loaded their road bikes onto Speed’s kitted-out Volkswagen Atlas, complete with a VW Accessories bike rack, and plotted out a different kind of a race: 7 days, almost 200 scenic biking miles on the East Coast (including 70 on the Wachusett Fondo), and then 900 miles of driving for Speed to return home. It was a beautiful setting and the perfect vehicle for the journey.
The trip centered around the Fondo event, created by cyclocross champion and Speed’s friend and cycling mentor, Tim Johnson, for the benefit of a variety of non-profit charities. On that part of the ride, bicyclists tackled nearly 5,000 feet of climbing, including five sections of gravel, as they traversed the less-traveled North Road up Wachusett Mountain.
Other bicycling miles took Speed and friends to scenic points from Virginia to Maine, from stadiums to secluded wilderness areas. The unpredictable weather ended up as the deciding factor as to where the group traveled and added to the adventure.
Scott Speed’s East Coast Biking Journal
DAY 1: FORT LEWIS MOUNTAIN — OUTSIDE ROANOKE, VA
28.94 BIKED MILES
When driving from Charlotte, North Carolina to Washington, D.C., you’re going to hit traffic. Why not ride while it dies down? Pulled off the freeway and there was a bike shop that we were able to park at. Ended up in a valley with a great road, not a lot of traffic, and beautiful scenery. Stopped on a whim, and it ended up being a great ride to kick off the journey.
Fun Fact: Part of the Appalachians, Fort Lewis Mountain was named after a 19th-century fort and rises to a peak of 3,260 feet. Speed climbed more than 1,500 feet on this nearly 30-mile segment.
DAY 2: LADY BIRD PARK TO RFK STADIUM — WASHINGTON, D.C.
21.2 BIKED MILES
Met up with Jon Rourke at a local coffee shop in Arlington, Virginia; he is the team manager for the Trek Factory Race Program. (“I like biking, he likes rallycross.”) He showed us around D.C., I got to do my first urban cycling [riding on D.C. streets], and then we stopped at Summit Point Karting at RFK stadium for a little on-track competition. I beat everyone.
Fun Fact: The ride around Boothbay taxed the bicyclists’ legs, with lots of ups and downs on a route that hugged the area’s waterfront. A break was much needed and the guys traded in two wheels for four.
DAY 3: HEATH, MA WITH TROY FENDERSON
17.22 BIKED MILES
Had to avoid a massive weather system, so we headed east to Heath, Massachusetts, a mecca for riding hills. The cycling was terrific — one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Slept in a hand-built cabin with no electricity and no water. Slept there in a sleeping bag on a small foam mattress. Was almost meditative; had a profound impact on me.
DAY 4: PORTSMOUTH, NH
24.35 BIKED MILES
We drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and rode around there; an epic ride. A place on the coast where both my traveling buddies had lived within a mile of each other, but never knew each other. In the past, both have wanted me to check out the area and how great it is in New Hampshire; we finally had the chance to check it out. An epic ride along the coastline that was not to be missed.
DAY 5: BOOTHBAY, ME
19.64 BIKED MILES
Rode in Boothbay, Maine with Ted King, who raced in the Tour de France. He now has a podcast, which he had me on. My first podcast ever. To be able to ride with a cyclist at the top of his game is truly inspiring and gave me the motivation to hone my own skill as a cyclist. I do not know if I will ever get to his level, but it’s incredible to see what can be achieved at the top of the sport.
DAY 6: ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
27.72 BIKED MILES
Acadia National Park in Maine is the most beautiful place in the world. The most beautiful bike ride I’ve ever done in my life. It had everything: 5 miles of dual-lane carriageway, a whole lane to yourself as a bike rider, unbelievably pristine coast. Big rocks and cliffs. We lucked out with the weather, blue skies and gorgeous. Rode there for the day.
Fun Fact: While on the Acadia National Park segment of his ride, Speed likely saw the peak of Cadillac Mountain; it’s the highest point on the East Coast.
DAY 7: GRAN FONDO IN FITCHBURG, MA
70 BIKED MILES
Rode and afterward drove home to Mooresville, North Carolina, the longest stretch of the trip. Overall it was great — rode with some fantastic cyclists; great VW for the journey. The Atlas was perfect, and after I rode Sunday, it was a great way to spend the next 900 miles going home from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, to North Carolina.
Fun Fact: Speed nearly tripled the original distance — the 70 miles of the Wachusett Fondo — logging about 200 miles on his bike with a changing group of friends and cyclists.∟
The Car-Bike Continuum
There’s a natural connection, of course, between race cars and bikes — the pursuit of speed and endurance is part of the lure for a professional driver such as Speed and for any dedicated bicyclist. Speed started to develop a two-wheeled passion when he was living in Italy, racing F1, because everyone else around him was doing it. The cycling culture in Europe is akin to that of baseball or football in the U.S. It’s a recognized sport with massive participation, both on amateur and professional platforms.
Challenges On and Off the Track
During his summer East Coast adventure, Speed had time to reflect on his racing journey and his time on a bicycle. Through the years, he has learned that managing a personal physical challenge — he has ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel disease — means he must stay in tune with how he feels, what he eats, and his daily physical demands. Speed’s pursuit of health and his pursuit of speed go hand in hand. “I don’t see my body that much differently than a race car,” he says. “The inputs are just different. My food is my fuel, and learning about how to perform well physically is a lot of fun.”
Speed attacks everything he does with 100 percent effort but has to be careful about any stress his body may take during training. He’s continued to adjust his routine to maintain his health, seeking the advice of friends and experts to tweak his diet. For example, Johnson suggested he add simpler foods — oatmeal, rice, potatoes — and it’s a change that seems to work for him.
His physical condition hasn’t stopped him from staying on top in the racing world. Speed racked up national attention as a five-time karting champion while in his teens. He is currently the points leader in the American Rallycross championship, earning his most recent win in an Oberto Circle K Beetle Rallycross.
Always Ready to Ride
Speed’s confidence and experience racing cars at speeds upward of 200 mph still doesn’t adequately prepare him for the trials he finds while straddling 15 pounds of carbon fiber on a bike, shredding roads on two wheels pumped up to 100 psi. But he loves a challenge, including managing micro inputs (tiny adjustments in bike weight, for example) — very much on the mind of any serious cyclist.
While Speed isn’t ready to turn in his racing suit for a cycling kit full time, he still logs an average of 250 bicycle miles a week, and his bike has become something more than a mode of transportation. “My passion for cycling comes from physically being able to do it,” Speed says of the activity that helps him stay fit, enjoy the outdoors, and cultivate lasting relationships with fellow cyclists. “It’s a great community . . . full of great people to be around.”
After winning the ARX round at COTA last month, Speed notches another victory in Trois Rivieres.
he Americas Rallycross (ARX) series inaugural season is shaping up nicely. The first season is rather short at only four rounds, and on Sunday, the third event of the championship calendar brought the competitors to Trois Rivieres, Canada this weekend for GP3R.
GP3R can trace its roots back to 1967 when members of Club Autosport Mauricien organized a race on the streets of Trois-Rivieres in Quebec. Since 2014, the race weekend has featured the FIA World Rallycross Championship and now, in 2018, it also hosts the fresh ARX series.
After Round 3, Speed has solidified his championship lead over his teammate with 86 points to Foust’s 77. Subaru Rally Team USA driver Patrik Sandell is sitting in third place with 58 points. Block, while grabbing second place at COTA and third in Canada, is sitting in fourth place overall with 49 points mostly due to only racing select events this year as he sat out the first round at Silverstone. Chris Atkinson rounds out the top-five with 49 points, the same as Block.
The next and final event of the 2018 Americas Rallycross Championship inaugural season will bring the drivers back to Circuit of the Americas on September 29-30.