Red Bull GRC: Tanner Whitten joins DRR GRC Lites effort

Photo: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
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One of the top GRC Lites competitors in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series, Tanner Whitten, will return to the division for another season in 2016. He’ll join the previously announced Cabot Bigham at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The full release is below:

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR) welcomes Tanner Whitten, 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross feature winner, to its team for the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC) season. Whitten will drive select races in the No. 24 DRR Red Bull GRC Lites car and showcase DRR partner WIX® Filters primary livery at the legendary Daytona International Speedway June 17-19.

Whitten, 23, battled for the GRC Lites point championship in 2015 after recording a main event win at Belle Isle in Detroit and placing second at Daytona International Speedway in June. Whitten also recorded three podium finishes last year, five qualifying heat wins and one qualifying pole position. Whitten scored a fifth place finishing position in the 2015 GRC Lites Championship as a rookie.

The former late model stock car racer is scheduled to campaign in numerous 2016 GRC Lites events beginning in Dallas on June 4, Washington State on Sept. 17 and the Port of Los Angeles Oct. 8-9.

“Tanner Whitten is a remarkable young driver, and we’re excited to be partnering with him and the DRR team this race season,” said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager of WIX. “It’s this kind of passion and energy that WIX loves to be a part of each year. These opportunities allow us to continue our longtime support of racing and reach new fans. It’s a win-win.”

WIX products include oil, air and fuel filters that have been track-tested and proven in all levels of stock car, dirt track, off-road and drag racing. WIX uses motorsports as a grueling testing ground for scenarios involving high temperatures, fluctuations in pressure and rapid breakdown of engine oil.

“It’s exciting to be joining a very strong and proven operation with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team in 2016,” said Whitten, who was 2010 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen stock car series. “I enjoyed a good rookie season last year with the Detroit win and several podium finishes. The DRR team has proven to field very competitive cars in both GRC SuperCar and Lites divisions. I saw their machines last year in action, and I’m anxious to race with DRR in 2016. I can’t wait for my first race at Dallas next month.”

DRR will field two Red Bull GRC Lites machines in 2016, including the No. 2 DRR Red Bull GRC Lites entry with newcomer Cabot Bigham and Paratek Pharmaceuticals. Coming off a 2015 season with four race wins and eight podium finishes, DRR is poised for continued success in 2016. The DRR organization has been a successful team in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2000 and continues to expand its effort within both Red Bull GRC SuperCar and Lites series.

“We’re very excited to add Tanner to our 2016 driver lineup for the DRR Red Bull GRC team. Tanner is a team player and has quickly become a part of our racing family. It’s an honor to continue our partnership with WIX within the Lites series, and we’re thrilled to announce additional news about this partnership very soon so stay tuned,” said Dennis Reinbold, team owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Former Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice again will serve as a driver consultant and program manager for DRR’s GRC Lites program. DRR will continue to utilize many of his personnel from its IndyCar team, including engineering, mechanical, shock and damper, and management staff.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”