BRISTOL — Austin Dyne expects the intensity to be turned up several notches at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Los Angeles driver will compete on the high-banked short track today in Global Rallycross, although there will be some notable differences from when he raced in March as part of the NASCAR K&N Series. Besides a vastly different type of race car, it’s not the same circuit. The track has been modified with a dirt ramp on the backstretch and a gravel path through the middle of the infield.
“This was definitely my favorite track when I was racing the K&N East Series earlier in the year,” he said. “I’m sure in the rally car it will be fast. I’m just not sure how the cars will react to the banking. I know the stock cars are lot more stiffly sprung. These are more conventional. I think it will be good racing.”
It will certainly be a unique show, the first time the GRC has been teamed with Monster Trucks in a doubleheader.
For the fans, the rally cars are vastly different than anything else that have raced at Bristol. They’re different for Dyne as well. He started in go-karts, moved to the Skip Barber open-wheel driving school and later raced Late Model stock cars at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway before moving to the NASCAR touring series.
He was the K&N West Series Rookie of the Year in 2012 before moving to the East Series this season.
Today, he will race in the recently-formed GRC Lites division, although Dyne admits he’s at a disadvantage.
“It’s completely differwent than anything else I’ve ever done,” he said. “I had more fun the last race than I’ve had in a race in a long time. I’m just looking forward to getting more seat time and trying to catch up to these Europeans. Rally started there and they’ve been doing it since they were 10-11 years old. I think I can catch up to them, it just might take a few races.”
Dyne, 21, said Global Rallycross appeals to the younger audience which all sports are trying to attract. He has been a fan of it since watching the X Games. He loves racing all kinds of cars although the driving techniques can be vastly different.
“You basically have to do everything opposite as you would in a stock car,” he said. “We don’t have front and rear differentials in these so they feel really weird compared to a stock car, but they’re a lot of fun to drive.”
The Sylvania zXe Series is the main series competing and Toomas Heikkinen of Finland is its most recent winner. He captured the victory last week at New Hampshire when leader Tanner Foust crashed on the final lap.
“It was so tight with me and Tanner,” he said. “We were together the whole race. Even on the last lap, I didn’t know if I would beat Tanner, but he made a little mistake in the corner. I really didn’t expect any mistakes from him.”
Heikkinen, who leads the standings by 25 points over Foust and 29 points over Brian Deegan, has two consecutive GRC wins. He is the only driver to win his heat race and finish on the podium in all four races this season.
His OlsbergsMSE team has four wins overall, winning X Games Brazil with NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Scott Speed behind the wheel. For Heikkinen, he’s ready to tackle a modified version of one of NASCAR’s most famed tracks.
“We should have a lot of grip at a couple of places,” he said. “We will just have to see how the cars work here. I look for it to be amazing.”
In addition to the aftermentioned drivers, other extreme sports stars like Ken Block, Dave Mirra and Bucky Lasek are entered in the event.
The legendary Bigfoot returns to BMS for a second straight year for the Monster Truck Madness portion of the day. Bigfoot driver Dan Runte, a 10-time monster truck champion, said Bristol is the perfect showcase for both see racing and the freestyle competition.
“Just the opportunity to be at Bristol, I’ll run the truck as hard as I possibly can,” Runte said. “The magnitude of the facility makes you want to run wide open. It’s an honor to do a show at a place like this.
“I would recommend Bristol to any fan that hasn’t been to a monster truck show. The way the facility is built with seating so close to the action, it guarantees they’ll see what these trucks can really do.”
Gates open at 2:30 p.m. today with fans able to attend the Monster Truck Pit Party/Global Rallycross Paddock Party. Rallycross racing begins at 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. Monster Truck action is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m.