ARX at COTA 2019

This year in ARX has been a rather eventful one. Before the year started, we saw Scott Speed make the move from the VW Beetle to the Subaru WRX STi. As the season started, we saw Scott take a podium 3 out of the 4 races. He was on the path to dominating the season till he had the unfortunate event accident where a hard landing caused fractures to three vertebrae. 

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Round 5 of the ARX series was once again at the Circuit of the Americas. The layout was the same as last year using the area of turns 13 to 15. This year’s event was only one day compared to last year’s 2 day racing event since the track was also being shared by the WRX series. 

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Starting with the inaugural season of ARX3, the 200hp powered machine brought some intense racing. The SIERRA cars are a great stepping stone to the larger ARX series. The spec cars help showcase the driver’s skills and help the ARX teams find talent for the upcoming years.

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Usain Bolt isn’t the only fastest person to come out of Jamaica, enter Fraser McConnell. With his Jamaican flag livery, he spent the majority of the weekend at the front and comfortably took the podium for the ARX2 weekend. 

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With Speed out for the rest of the season, it was Tanner Foust’s race to win and gain the lead of the championship. Starting with Q1, Foust’s Beetle seemed to be dialed in to the track’s layout. The launch from the Beetle was unmatched all weekend by the rest of the lineup and helped Foust avoid any turn 1 incidents.

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The Subarus were back this year with a change of color. Back was the famous blue that was used in their dominating WRC cars. With 5 different WRXs, it seemed as if they were battling with each other instead of attempting to catch the VW. It makes you wonder if quantity is better than quality. 

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The Ford Fiestas seemed to be struggling to get the power down. On their practice launches, you could see that they struggled with large amounts of wheel spin. After they finally got some traction, Ford driver Steve Arpin managed to put a couple of the Subarus in his rear view mirror and finish in 3rd.

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The weekend ended with a very close battle for first. Foust’s Beetle seemed to hesitate on the start and saw Andreas Bakkerud’s Subaru in the lead. It wasn’t till the third lap where some bumping moved the Beetle up in first. Bakkerud contested the position with some bumping of his own, but the Beetle managed to keep the lead and take first place.

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I’d like to address the future of the ARX series. From a logistics point, even though the use of the track is condensed, the audience numbers didn’t seem sustainable for a future COTA event. On paper, the ARX series seems like a great idea, take AWD cars on a track that has some tarmac and some dirt. In practice, it seems to be missing something. That something could have to do with the layout used at COTA. Now I don’t have the answer to the problem as it seems as though turn 13 to 15 would be the only section that would work. I would ideally like to have turn 16 to 18 work and see the cars taking the tower turns sideways. The only problem would be getting them to loop back to complete a lap. Whatever the solution is, we hope it can attract more people to the sport and continue the series in Austin.