Andretti’s US RX pedigree raises the bar for Extreme E

The first American team to commit to new electric off-road series Extreme E has been unbeatable on the dirt

Scott Speed Andretti Autosport Volkswagen Beetle Las Vegas Global Rallycross Championship 2015

Andretti Autosport is one of motorsport’s most successful and most iconic organizations, with four IndyCar titles, five Indianapolis 500 wins, and victories in Formula E, sportscar racing, and Australia’s Supercars championship among the highlights on its extensive resume.

More importantly, for us at DirtFish at least, Andretti Autosport is one of the greatest teams in rallycross history.

In six seasons of top-level rallycross competition in the United States, Andretti has never gone a year without winning at least two events, and it took a clean sweep of titles across Global Rallycross and Americas Rallycross in five consecutive seasons.

Starting with Volkswagen’s Polo and then moving onto the iconic Beetle, it was an unstoppable force with ex-Formula 1 racer Scott Speed and rally, RX and stunt driving star Tanner Foust.

Scott Speed Andretti Autosport Volkswagen Polo Barbados Global Rallycross 2014

Scott Speed heads for Andretti Autosport's first RX win at the Global Rallycross round at Bushy Park in Barbados in 2014 (Image: Alison Padron/Red Bull Content Pool)

It’s that pedigree, along with its extensive Formula E experience – where it was a founding team and now runs the BMW works operation – that makes Friday’s announcement that it will compete in the inaugural Extreme E electric off-road series particularly interesting.

Extreme E is an all-new series that will feature electric SUVs racing in the world’s most dramatic locations such as by the ocean, in the desert, on a glacier, in the arctic, and in a rainforest.

It’s the latest all-electric series that’ll serve as a real world testbed for EV development, but with the added benefit of highlighting the impact that environmental changes are having on the world’s most incredible locations.

But why is Andretti’s involvement so intriguing? After all, it’s raced in pretty much every other series going, adding another string to its bow might as well just be nothing more than another day in the office for the team.

Well, the Indianapolis-based operation is arguably the highest profile racing operation to sign up for the series, joining Formula E rivals Abt and Venturi, DTM stalwart HWA, the newly established Veloce Technologies with origins in the esports world, and mobility specialist – but racing newcomer – QEV Technologies.

Of all of those, Andretti is the only one with off-road racing experience. And its arrival shows just how serious this new series is. It isn’t just the latest playground for electric racing’s elite. It’s the real deal.

Tanner Foust Scott Speed Andretti Autosport Volkswagen Beetle Memphis Global Rallycross 2017

The Andretti Beetles of Foust and Speed lead the way at the Memphis oval in GRC in 2017 (Image: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool)

That RX pedigree also makes Andretti the default favourite going into the new series’ maiden season in 2021 right now.

Sure, Abt and Venturi also have plenty of experience competing in a one-make electric series startup, but neither have been unbeatable on a loose surface like Andretti – which is the first American team to sign up for Extreme E.

Should Andretti carry over its rallycross success, and impeccable form from other categories, when it makes its Extreme E debut next year, the team – the first American outfit to get involved in Extreme E so far – will surely be buying yet another extension to its bulging trophy cabinet.

Coming up on Sunday: The key moments of Andretti’s rallycross years in pictures