By Patrick Rall
I originally sat down to write a piece about how Travis Pastrana and Bryce Menzies had their best outing of the 2013 Global RallyCross season last night at the season finale in Las Vegas but a more crucial piece of news has derailed my intentions. During last night’s broadcast, an interview with Travis Pastrana revealed that the contract between the Chrysler Group and Pastrana Racing would come to an end after the conclusion of the 2013 GRC season and during this interview, Travis didn’t make it seem very likely that the contract would be renewed.
As a huge Global RallyCross fan and a diehard Dodge lover, I quickly reached out to my contacts at the Chrysler Group to ask about the future of the Dodge Dart rallycross program. I heard back this morning and the news was about as bad as it could be.
“Chrysler Group will not be participating in the GRC in 2014.”
That simple statement likely doesn’t seem like much to most people or even most racing fans but as someone who has so much interest in the sport of rallycross and in seeing the Dodge brand succeed in motorsports – this came as a shot to the heart that would make Bon Jovi cringe. This simple phrase confirmed that the Dodge Dart will not participate in the 2014 GRC season…at least not with factory backing. Considering how poorly Pastrana and Menzies did in 2013 with factory backing compared to the dominant Ford Fiesta race cars, it is unlikely that any teams with a real shot of competing next year will rush out to buy Dart race cars for next season so there is a very good chance that the Dodge Dart rally program is dead.
Now, my contact did specify that Chrysler wouldn’t be participating in the GRC for 2014 which means that the company could look to field a new team or teams for 2015 but that is a long way off and it comes as little consolation to Dodge fans like myself (and so many DF members) who have watched the Dodge motorsports program all but vanish. It came as a disappointing bit of news when Dodge pulled out of NASCAR in the same year that the company won their first driver’s championship in decades only to be followed by the Ram brand pulling out of offroad truck racing after years of incredible success…but at least Dodge fans had the quickly growing world of Global RallyCross. With the demise of the Dart rally program, all we have is the world of endurance racing where the Vipers continue to struggle and the NHRA – which has shrunken so much that both General Motors and Ford Motor Company have pulled backing from the world’s most prominent drag racing league.
The entire Chrysler Group is headed in the right direction with strong sales growth each month over the past few years but the slow death of the Dodge Motorsports program seems like an unfortunate decision from a brand – and company – that is so quick to taunt its modern and historical performance capabilities.
So to the awesome Dodge Dart Global RallyCross program, rest in peace. You left us far too soon.