Scott Speed’s career has taken him to very different worlds, but it’s clear that he’s found a home in rallycross.
The ex-Formula One and NASCAR racer has taken to this new discipline rather nicely. In his first Red Bull Global Rallycross outing last year at X Games Brazil, he won the gold medal driving the series’ Star Car.
He would go on to claim another win at Charlotte and finish fifth in the GRC standings despite also committing himself to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series duties with the small Leavine Family Racing team.
So how does this compare to his exploits in F1 and NASCAR?
In a recent interview with Complex Magazine, Speed said that regardless of the car, racing is all about finding the fastest way back to start/finish.
However, GRC does have one key difference.
“The only real difference is four-wheel drive, which makes GRC quite a bit different,” he said. “The four-wheel drive allows you to drive as hard as you want and it fixes a lot of mistakes. You can basically overcome a lot of different problems and keep a car in control that looks like it’s out of control.
“You can basically just point the where where you want and the car will just go there. That’s why those World Rally guys look so impressive going through the trees all sideways.”
As for adapting to the rallycross tracks themselves – compact courses with an array of different surfaces to contend with – Speed says that with the four-wheel drive at his disposal, dirt and tarmac drive relatively similar.
It’s the gravel that makes for, in his words, “kind of an unnatural feel.” Having been brought up in a proper racing background where going forward sideways usually means lost time, Speed has had to learn that going sideways in the gravel is actually a good thing in this form of racing.
“”I’d say that my style out there, if you compare me to a guy like [Andretti Autosport teammate] Tanner [Foust] or Ken Block, is a lot more tidy and looks more in control, which is, I think, better on the dirt and the tarmac,” he said.
“But in the gravel, you actually need to have the car as sideways as you can because the sidewall of the tire digs into the gravel; you’re gaining more grip by adding yaw.”
It may not be what he’s used to, but Speed’s certainly gotten the hang of it as his early-season results can attest.
You can see if Speed goes three-for-three to start the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship by watching Volkswagen Rallycross DC this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.