By now you’re well-versed in my…“eccentric” taste in weird forms of racing that don’t “exist outside of my imagination.” A minor setback, at worst. And while Endurance Drifting, Flying GP, and Perpendicularcross will probably never exist, today I came up with a “brilliant” idea that could just work.
Okay, no. It probably won’t work, either, but let’s just all sit back a moment, adjust the 3D glasses we’re wearing over our normal glasses, and allow ourselves to dream about the greatness of the Ultimate Versatility Tour.
You’ve probably heard of One Lap of America, the exhaustive blitz of several of the United States in just a week, covering 3,380 miles and stopping at various race tracks to test every discipline of tarmac racing, from autocross to drag. The key is to bring a car that’s good at everything. The other key is to stay awake.
But what if we took the concept a step further? The Ultimate Versatility Tour would consist of several races, all 2-3 weeks apart and in various locations. But one of them is a rally, and another is a desert race. We won’t see many Vettes or Lambos, save perhaps the LM002. But we could see some very clever engineering.
Events would consist of (but are not limited to) the following: drag, autocross, endurance road course, banked speedway, rally, hillclimb, and Baja-style desert. I thought about adding rock crawling, like King of the Hammers, but that would be pretty restrictive for the types of vehicles we might see.
I envision two classes. Participants in Transmod are allowed to modify their vehicles extensively between events. Chassis, engine, and transmission would need to remain the same production unit throughout all events, but suspension, brakes, steering, and even aero can be modified extensively. Bill Caswell would join this group, and I have to admit that his Baja E30 probably lent some inspiration to this idea.
The great challenge of One Lap lies in covering the liaison stages in time for each event. There’s virtually no stopping save for gas and the like. When you get tired, your co-driver takes over. With UV, this is removed, as there would only be two or three weeks between each event, but Transmodders would be faced with the unique challenge of rebuilding their cars twice a month. Obviously the autocross car wouldn’t be too different than the hillclimb car, and the events would be ordered by similarity so you wouldn’t have to tear your desert car down for endurance and then build it back up for rally.
The second class is Single Mod or Unimod, whichever you guys think sounds cooler. Vote in the comments. These are the teams who would have to pick a single car, build it at the beginning of the season, and stick with it the whole time. You can’t pass on an event, either. You have to complete (or come within reasonable distance of completing) every event, or you’re disqualified from earning points for the whole tour. So you can’t just wreck your solo-tuned Miata at the beginning of the desert course, mutter an audible “aw shucks” and rack up the points from all the tarmac courses, without ever having to build up your suspension.
I think Unimod would be just as interesting as Transmod, because not only would it produce some of the most versatile vehicles on the planet, it would also hone your driving skills. No matter what vehicle you pick, you’ll need a reasonable degree of suspension travel to conquer the rally and much more for the desert race. That means you’ll really need to know your stuff for autocross, where your rig will be floating like a loan from your cool, rich uncle.
Subclasses would probably be a necessity, too, for displacement and power, and/or cost.
Each race would award points for places, just like any other racing series, but in different amounts. The desert race, for example, would be worth more, poised to make or break you. This would encourage people not just to tune everything to gravel rally and rumble along the desert course at 30 mph, hoping they don’t break something.
This is just a beginning, of course, but aren’t those always the best times for racing series? When people are just figuring things out, coming up with creative ways to work around the still-thin rule book? I think so. I’d be interested to see what people would bring to these events, and how far they would mod their single car choices.
As for me, if I were Transmodding, I’d probably choose a Subaru. I’m a little biased, as I own an ’02 WRX, but the Impreza is a proven tarmac car when lowered and stiffened, and can obviously conquer the rally stage. I’d definitely lose to the trucks and SUVs in the desert section, but their higher COG would hurt them on the pavement.
In Unimod, I’d probably fall back on power with something like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, generously lifted and stripped out for weight savings. Or I might break down and go with the simplest solution, the Local Motors Rally Fighter.
What would you pick? Now is your chance to shoot holes in this idea. I promise I won’t be mad. I’m not even sure how I came up with this on the day after the 4th. Fire away.