Red Bull GRC: Oliver Eriksson building off GRC Lites title defense

Eriksson (center). Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – The plan was never for Oliver Eriksson, the talented 17-year-old Swede in the No. 16 Olsbergs MSE X Forces GRC Lites entry, to win the GRC Lites championship in his first attempt at it.

But since he did, and since he’s still only 17, he’s become an even more well-rounded driver in his second season in the second division of Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Eriksson, who was on par with fellow teenaged talented teammate Austin Cindric last year, has now somewhat stepped up into a team leader role at OMSE’s GRC Lites program with rookie teammates Miki Weckstrom and Cole Keatts developing every week.

As Eriksson explained, the development has come naturally into his second season.

“The key this year was to be more consistent and make less mistakes. And keep my car in one piece,” the youngest son of OMSE team principal Andreas Eriksson told NBC Sports.

“I had some problems in Phoenix. But I’ve now learned to be directly fast in first practice. Now I’m faster to start. So that forces me to keep going and be more consistent.

“They try to learn a lot from me but I have a bit to learn from them, too. It’s a big responsibility, but I don’t feel any pressure.”

Eriksson said this second season in GRC Lites will serve as better preparation for any potential Supercars bow.

There aren’t any true rookies in Supercars this year, as there were last year when Sebastian Eriksson – not related – stepped up to OMSE’s Supercars program. Last year it was a Ford program but now it’s the new Honda Civic Coupe effort.

“It was the plan actually. Last year was more of a tryout year. I did some trial races in 2014 and I was always ready for a full season. But it was a learning season,” Oliver Eriksson explained.

“We ended up with the season win, which was over our expectations. Supercars would still be a big step. They thought I could still learn, so I am.”

As noted, the GRC Lites field has changed a bit this year.

Conner Martell, Alex Keyes, Tanner Whitten, Alejandro Fernandez and Collete Davis are among the returnees while rookies like Cabot Bigham, Travis PeCoy, Christian Brooks and the aforementioned Weckstrom and Keatts have made initial impressions in the early stages of this year.

Eriksson said it’s been an evolution for the class, since Cindric and Miles Maroney aren’t also back.

“It’s hard to tell. Last year was really competitive,” he said. “This year, some guys are still here, but the newcomers have come on quick. It’s harder to win this year. It’s a very tight field.”

That being said, Eriksson heads into this weekend’s GRC Lites doubleheader 16 points clear of Martell and Bigham.

He’s won twice in the first five races, and has three podiums.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series

After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi