Ah… where to begin.
Another year, this being my third as part of the wonderful traveling circus that you may know as Red Bull Global Rallycross, is in the books. It’s been a year of triumphs and tribulations, successes and struggles, fairy tales and failures, much like any other.
But of course, no two seasons are alike, and this one in many ways will stand out in my career as especially memorable. To start, we became the first racing series to run on an active military base when we visited Marine Corps Air Station New River on the Fourth of July weekend, just months after a good friend of mine was honorably discharged from the Marines at the completion of his service.
We returned to Bushy Park in Barbados, this time as a standalone event, and brought GRC Lites along for its first trip outside of the United States.
We added new events in Fort Lauderdale and Detroit, came back to Daytona, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, and finished off in Las Vegas for the fourth year in a row with a spectacular finale full of surprises.
And like I always say, I’m just fortunate to play a part.
Bar none, I think we have the best team in all of racing. The folks making this show happen behind the scenes eat, sleep, and breathe Red Bull GRC, and not once would anyone on our team ever question anyone else’s effort. I’d name names but I know I would miss too many folks. There’s not a racing series in the world that wouldn’t benefit from having our people on board, and quite frankly, I don’t know if anyone else could work the kinds of miracles that our folks do. They’re interstellar.
We’ve got a dream team of partners helping us make it happen. From Red Bull, which goes bigger and bigger every year; to Royal Purple, one of our key partners since I came on board that enables me to run the Fan Favorite contests every year; to NBC Sports, which has helped us grow to the second-highest rated motorsport on US television behind NASCAR; to our manufacturers, suppliers, and all of our other sponsors, thanks for helping us take what we do to the next level.
I’m of course grateful to our competitors for allowing me to indulge in their insights. Writing about this sport is what landed me my dream job in the first place, and though I’ve expanded and evolved my role in some ways since then, journalism will always remain my first love, the thing that keeps my job from ever becoming dry or monotonous.
I’m grateful to our fans—the folks who ride or die with their favorite drivers, bring used car parts to our autograph sessions, and get their foreheads and other body parts signed. It’s really you who we’re working for. When I write stories, make social posts, and create polls, it’s to keep you engaged and interested. Ask anyone about the projects I push hardest on and their answer will always be the stuff that you see. My job is to make you a part of the experience, or at least tell you what you need to know.
I’d also like to extend a special note of gratitude to my ever-patient family and friends, as well as my girlfriend Emily, an absolute saint of patience for putting up with all of the travel I do on a monthly basis.
But finally, I’d like to dedicate this last section of this letter to the haters.
See, I’m the kind of person who is, and has always been, fueled by doubters. Negativity. The constant struggle to be better, day in and day out. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me up at night. What makes me comb over every word I write twice, and what makes me utter curse words every time I see an error after I’ve already hit “post.” Like the athletes I grew up idolizing, I will not let myself be less than my best—and if I have an off day, I will come back harder tomorrow.
There are plenty of people who don’t like what we do, and that’s fine. Different strokes. I personally prefer American football to soccer (too much diving), IndyCar to Formula 1 (even with those aero kits), and skew towards parity over dominance (what’s the fun in knowing who’s going to win before going in?).
The strength of my conviction doesn’t make my opinion right—it just makes it my opinion, one of many on the Internet, which gives everyone an equal voice these days.
What’s sad, though, is the people who feel the need to hate change for the sake of hating change, and demean the hard work that hundreds of people put in over tens of thousands of hours to make this thing happen. No, you don’t have to like it—but take it for what it is, and more importantly, for what it wants to be: a highly competitive, top-tier racing series that happens to understand the value of putting on a good show.
I’m not sure when or why “entertainment” became a dirty word, or how trying new things became so sacrilegious that people are so eager to dismiss others’ years of hard work. Evolution in motorsport brought us the SAFER barrier, wheel tethers, and the HANS device, phased out the open-face helmet, forced the implementation of cleaner and more efficient technology (NASCAR has fuel injection now!), and is on the verge of closing our cockpits fairly soon. None of those things are bad things. They’ve all made racing better, even when they flew in the face of tradition.
Just remember: you can’t make an omelet without cracking some eggs. But you can’t hatch the ones sitting in your refrigerator, either.
So thank you, everyone. You’ve made this a year to remember. Bring on 2016—I couldn’t be more excited.
The above text is the sole and unedited work of Chris Leone and does not reflect the opinions of Global Rallycross, its employees or partners.