State of the World - Hawk Performance World Racing League 2014
With Thanksgiving upon us and just one race left in the inaugural year of World Racing League, we look back on a season full of fun and success. But it wasn’t us. You made this happen, and you proved that the WRL formula is a winner.
Just under a year ago, at a time when the mention of “amateur endurance racing” raised visions of crapcans in everyone’s heads, we shopped the idea of a new kind of endurance series around to some friends. One without gimmicks or campy names, without budgets or pure novice drivers on the track. We envisioned a simple rulebook outlining a defined, multi-class structure that would allow virtually any race-prepared production-based car to compete on a level playing field. We saw it as club-level racing, but geared around endurance events. The response was positive, and with input from several interested racers from various backgrounds, we hammered out a name and a set of rules that serve as the basis for what you see today.
Oddly enough, the epicenter of WRL wasn’t in my home state of Texas, but rather in St. Louis. Thanks to Izzy’s Custom Cages, our Facebook page grew almost overnight from the 40-some odd friends I invited from my personal page to over 300 “Likes”. Then-sponsor VRO.com pitched in its mailing list, and we were off and running!
Setting the 2014 schedule so late in the year proved to be an adventure, and we were forced to take a couple of dates that weren’t exactly ideal, but beggars can’t be choosers. Being a track manager helps when working with people in the same business but it’s not a magic hat from which rabbits appear. With that said, every track we visited was as excited to have us as we were to be there. Shoot, Mid-America had us on their schedule before we even talked to them!
Then came the big surprise. Grassroots Motorsports Magazine got wind of what we were doing and introduced us to Hawk Performance. Hawk saw the direction we were headed and quickly jumped in as title sponsor. As more people in the racing business saw that WRL was truly something different, attention and appreciation followed.
Amid those humble beginnings there was a dream that someday cars from virtually every make and model year would be racing wheel-to-wheel in a multi-class environment. A race where Corvettes, BMWs and Porches battle all day long for the win in the GP1 class, while Miatas, 240SXs, late-model Fiestas and Civics fight it out in GP2 and GP3. “Someday” showed up on our doorstep much earlier than expected. By our third race we had already seen a C5 and several Spec Boxsters, and before Summer was out a team asked for permission to campaign a 2013 Subaru BRZ.
Don’t misunderstand the significance of that. We love seeing Triumphs, RX-7s and Hondas, on the track, even the occasional Opel or 626! For many of us those are the cars of our youth, the cars in which we started driving and racing. That’s why we created a power to weight class structure – we want any properly built race car to be able to race with us regardless of age, make, model, etc. and still ahve a shot at the podium. it's also one ways we keep a lid on the cost of racing; Allowing you to run something you have in the garage already, or picked up cheap off of RacingJunk.com. In fact, you’ll see WRL national staff running a ’92 Acura Integra, originally built for SCCA F Production in GP3 next year. Not because we have an affliction for front wheel drive hatchbacks, but because it was a solid car purchased for far less than the cost to build, and spare Honda parts litter the countryside.
So why would we be giddy about Corvettes and Boxsters? There has been some confusion about what World Racing League is, false notions created in part by uninformed media and misguided promoters of other series. The truth is that WRL was never intended to be another crapcan series. We wanted to create an entirely different kind of animal with a different look and feel. Yes, we do have much love for what Jay Lamm and LeMons started way back when. Pure grassroots racing that virtually anyone can access with no experience required has been a boon for the autosports industry, bringing in young blood that the big clubs seemed to have forgotten about. Crapcan racing has been a good way for many to get started in road racing. But what’s the next step up from there for teams built around endurance events? And what about the experienced club racers who want to run their cars in true endurance races but don’t identify with the crapcan genre? You can’t fit a $40,000 Spec Boxster into a $500-car series, nor would the owners of some of those cars feel comfortable with pure novices on track. Amateur racing needed something to fill the gap between the free-for-all fun of the two crapcan series, and the pro-level big money series, but at the same time stayed clear of the membership dues, fat rule books and perceived barriers of club racing. A weekend of challenging, fun and affordable racing that appeals to a wide array of drivers and cars, but without junkyard imagery, contact, politics, spending wars or 100+ cars on the track.
And racers responded positively from the very first race, with support coming from every segment and level of the amateur motorsports scene. Slowly at first, as people adopted a wait and see attitude. But at our October race at Hallett, half the field had no crapcan affiliation (note, that didn’t stop some of the budget series teams from collecting their share of podium hardware!). That’s just about where we expect to be; A diverse collection of well-built race cars driven by experienced teams that want to compete in true endurance racing at a high level.
Where do we go from here? The 2015 rules are out and some minor tweaks will be added before January 1. Novice requirements get more stringent and more narrowly defined. Classes have been massaged to compensate for the level of competition that’s developing. Age restrictions for drivers and cars have been relaxed while non-contact rules get a little more bite. Likewise, we’ve posted a sneak peak at the 2015 schedule – twice as many races, expanding the series to the east and northwest next year. We’ve imposed a 25 car per mile cap on entries to help keep races drama-free. Hawk and the rest of our sponsors are excited about continuing their support. We will have our own safety gear store with a rewards program, and shirts, hats and other WRL gear will be available. There is even more good news that we will roll out before the new year, some of which we’re so eager to announce that it’s all we can do to keep quiet!
Whether you’ve raced with us, or you’ve been waiting for us to get close enough to make the tow, all of what we have accomplished this year would not have been possible without your support and input. Thank you. You investment in terms of spreading the word and entering races will benefit you and everyone else as we grow (make sure you forward this on to everyone you know)! We’re not big-time race promoters or some faceless corporate entity. We’re just racers like you who want a series where we feel we fit in and can have a fun weekend with good people. Our goal is not to be the biggest or broadest-focused series in racing. We just want to be viewed as one of the best. With your help, we’re getting there!