Each season, Red Bull Global Rallycross drivers help fans experience the sport through new lenses by completing a series of blog posts about everything from their training routines to their on-track experiences. Throughout the 2017 campaign, Red Bull GRC and NESN Fuel will bring you insights from Cabot Bigham, Supercar rookie for Bryan Herta Rallysport and Weston, Mass., native.
My career has been fast tracked with the help of several talented individuals, still present in my life. Coming directly out of shifter karts and into Pro Formula Mazda was a massive jump. Whenever I brought up my plans to switch I was ridiculed for attempting the near impossible. It was certainly difficult, but the effort required to adapt is the reason I have found success in the past few years.
After my 2015 championship I decided to enter Red Bull Global Rallycross in the Lites field. This was another massive jump for me. I had never raced on dirt before, but thankfully the 70-30 — on average — split between tarmac and dirt helped level my sharp learning curve. One method responsible was the bit of reflecting I did on my 2016 GRC season.
I saw several opportunities for improvement. Never had I raced in a series that had such intense, short bursts of wheel-to-wheel action. It reminded me a lot of my 125 cubic-centimeter shifter karting days with SKUSA and Red Line Oil Karting, except with the introduction of suspension, a cockpit, dirt, jumps and a myriad of other factors. In 2016, I found myself getting frustrated over mechanical failures, unfortunate race craft errors and dynamic track surfaces. I now see that this is the nature of rallycross, and I have a new appreciation for that. I have decided to hone in on these weaknesses during my 2016 offseason.
Photo via Larry Chen
I have never been more excited to work alongside a team owner like Bryan Herta. He is well known throughout the racing community for being an easily approachable character and passionate role model for the sport. After visiting the heavy hitters at Bryan Herta Rallysport, I felt right at home. The entire organization is passionate, welcoming, and genuine. They have that hard working vibe that screams, “Don’t stop till you drop.” Additionally they are a team that understands the importance of having fun at ‘work,’ if you choose to call driving a 600-horsepower car work. My time spent with Bryan and the team during our pre-season test allowed time to develop genuine relationships. I am extremely excited to debut in Memphis with my new friends.
Our M-Sport Fiesta is truly a purpose-built race car “rocket ship” meant for blasting around and scaring the daylights out of its passengers. I write this from my hotel room in Indianapolis, where I spent the last few days testing our satanic demon of a supercar, which I have named Gon’ Ham. My initial reaction: “how is this legal?” Purely violent amounts of power and acceleration, combined with constant explosions out the tail pipe made me giggle with excitement. I found myself trying to simplify my adaptation to the car.
Day one was spent focusing on how to efficiently utilize the power. The entire three-day experience was certainly an eye-opener, but something that I had anticipated long before arriving. Wow, what an amazing machine. I don’t think I will ever be able to find it boring and if I do, somebody slap me. The amount of power, specifically boost, readily available should be illegal. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that. Driving this car genuinely spoils me. I fear that nothing will ever feel as fast from zero to 60 mph.
After the first two days, I was curious to see which muscles would be taxed the most. It turns out that my neck, core, back and legs were all in need of an Advil martini. This information is extremely useful. It will dictate how I train for the remainder of the year and specifically in the coming weeks before Memphis. The anti-lag setup in the car generates an astounding amount of heat, 1000 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. So now, I find myself dealing with new amounts of power, different suspension dynamics and even more cockpit heat; albeit a challenge that I am willing to accept, it is still a lot to digest.
I noticed how well the car handled and responded to changes compared to the Lites car. The team and I spent hours developing the car and matching it to my driving style. I can say with confidence that we have a solid package for the 2017 Global Rallycross season, and I am grateful to have been given this opportunity. Now, it is truly time to put the #HammerDown, until next time #HamClan…
Thumbnail photo via Louis Yio