Speed’s Red Bull GRC title ticks several boxes for him, VW, Andretti

Photo: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross

MotorSportsTalk caught up with Scott Speed, the newly crowned Red Bull Global Rallycross champion for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, for his thoughts on the season that was.

In a two-part interview, we look back at where his 2015 season changed, and how important this title was for him, his career, and the team and manufacturer. Part one is linked here, and part two is below. 

The odyssey that has been the last decade of Scott Speed’s career has finally carried him to his first championship in 11 years, not just his first in Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Speed, now 32, was Red Bull’s top American Formula 1 prospect those 11 years ago, having won both the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup and Formula Renault 2000 Germany titles in 2004.

A third place in the inaugural GP2 Series season, plus a couple Friday practice appearances in a Red Bull F1 chassis at the two North American rounds in 2005, fast-tracked Speed into F1. When he debuted with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006, he broke a 13-year drought dating back to 1993 as the first American on a grid, in the form of one Michael Andretti.

But a season and a half of frustration, unfulfilled promise and no points scores later, Red Bull replaced Speed with a then-unheralded 20-year-old rookie named Sebastian Vettel. You know the rest of the story from there.

Speed shifted back Stateside to stock cars and despite some initial success in ARCA, struggled for parts of six seasons in NASCAR Sprint Cup. In 118 starts, he had four top-10 finishes, three of them on restrictor plate tracks, and a best finish of fifth at Talladega in 2009. He won once in the Camping World Truck Series as well.

Coincidentally, it’s been Andretti who’s provided Speed his newest home – and one where the environment is fully there for the driver to flourish.

After a year with Olsbergs MSE in 2013, Speed shifted to Andretti Autosport in 2014. The team had used Volkswagen Polos as a placeholder car until their new Volkswagen Beetles came online.

Speed nearly won the title in his first season with the team, but a 35-point penalty assessed at New York more or less took him out of contention.

Speed made sure to acknowledge how thankful he is to Andretti for the welcome home he has now.

“I can’t tell you how fortunate I am to be in the position I’m in,” Speed told MotorSportsTalk. “Motor racing is very much a team sport.

“You have to have the right people around you. It’s the best position I’ve ever been in before, here with Volkswagen and Andretti. I feel super, super fortunate.”

The good news for the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team, heading into the season finale at Las Vegas, was that they had the championship clinched regardless. Speed and teammate Tanner Foust were the only two mathematically eligible for the title.

Even though they’re teammates, Speed says they mesh entirely well.

“We just fit together really well. With our experiences, personalities, we just complement each other,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from him and we’ve been really good friends, which is hard when you’re teammates.

“It radiates through the team and helps the situation. That’s just lucky. You’re not gonna know until you start working with someone. So it’s a really good fit.”

Speed said he was surprisingly calm on race day, which was interesting given the rainy conditions seemed to throw a monkey wrench in what would be normal plans.

“Surprisingly calm, actually,” he said. “I’m always pretty calm, but I was ultra calm (Wednesday). “After the second heat, when we got wrecked by (Sverre) Isachsen, right after the Joker/jump, it would have been easy to get mad, but it was a case of, whatever, next race. We were focused what on we had to get done.”

Speed described the visibility, or lack thereof, of the Village Lot at the Strip course once the rain hit.

“Visibility was a big issue. It wasn’t the rain so much, but all the gravel came up. Like it was almost cement with water, so it stuck with the windows.

“One thing that was interesting… no one has run in the wet yet. So it was very good to note in the semifinals, that our Beetles are fast in the wet. In the final, Joni (Wiman) was the car to beat. But for everyone to be running in the wet for the first time, it was good to know we were there.”

He finished third behind the two OMSE drivers, Wiman and Sebastian Eriksson, in the final. But with Foust in ninth, Speed easily had enough to secure the title.

He reflected on what it all meant the next morning.

“It means a ton. It’s really our first year at it,” he said. “We went kind of rental cars as a learning experience, until our Beetles were ready.

“We knew right away they’d be fast. We knew we could work on them. It’s a bit of a contact sport. The car’s gotta be really tough. We accomplished that very quickly in a matter of races. Then we got to work on the performance of the car.

“For a company and team to come to the sport, and against other cars running rallycross for so long, it’s such a huge accomplishment. I have the best car, best engine, best team and best teammate. I think we have a bit of a dream team. Looking forward to next year and continuing our presence in this series.”

Indeed earlier this year, Speed re-signed with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, in a move that made sense for all parties.

“It became obvious halfway through the year we had the right people in place,” Speed said. “Myself and Tanner are the right guys for the job. The team felt that way as well.

“We all were pushing in the same directions. We all wanted it to happen. Honestly, it was just a bit of dumb luck that all the people fell in place.”

It was a needed boost for all parties in a still-challenging 2015. The boost for Speed occurred given his career travails; for Volkswagen, the title provided a small bit of good press to offset the emissions scandal that has rocked the company, and for Andretti himself, it was a title in a year where his IndyCar team struggled and when the race team as a whole was sued by his own additional company (Andretti Sports Marketing, now LST Marketing).

And Speed can say the meshing was dumb luck all he wants, but the fact was he excelled in arguably the deepest Red Bull GRC field yet en route to winning the title.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston


Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart

The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s