Speed on his “headstart” for RX’s electric future

Speed's FE outings are a useful reference, but he still expects Subaru's boxer to stick around for a while yet


Scott Speed believes that his experience in Formula E will stand him in good stead as rallycross pushes towards an all-electric future.

The top level of the discipline is set to go all-electric in the coming years, with the World Rallycross Championship already setting out a framework for the adoption of battery-powered vehicles, while Travis Pastrana confirmed to DirtFish that Nitro Rallycross is also exploring electric options.

Speed took part in four FE races in 2015, claiming a podium finish on his debut in Miami, and is the only current US rallycross driver to compete in a top-level professional electric race so far.

“Oh hell yeah it’s relevant. It’s way relevant because it’s extremely different,” Speed said when asked by DirtFish if his FE foray would be relevant experience for a potential electric future for rallycross.

“For sure I have a bit of a headstart in understanding what challenges you’re going to face when you start running around in a car that doesn’t make any noise.

“It’s massively, massively different than you think and it’s something that, having done Formula E, you never get used to the sound. It’s extremely different and weird.”


Photo: Matt Stryker/Subaru Motorsports USA

But before the Subaru faithful worry about the disappearance of the famous burble of the boxer engine, fear not. Speed sees plenty of life left in the iconic powerplant – one that unlike other rallycross engines, is completely designed and developed in-house at Vermont SportsCar, which runs the Subaru Motorsports USA operation.

“We’re so Subaru. We’re running a boxer engine, it’s not like we just designed an engine like Volkswagen did that was purpose-built for a race car,” Speed said. “We didn’t get to design our engine from a piece of paper. We took what we had, an existing technology that’s been at the heart of Subaru for so long, and we have just continued to work on it to make it work for rallycross.


Subaru's engine shop

Photo: Ben Haulenbeek/Subaru Motorsports USA

“I think one of the biggest success stories from our team is how far they’ve come with our engine package.

“It would be easier for us to just design an engine that would just fit into the car perfectly,” he added. “There are drawbacks, but at the end of the day it’s the heart of Subaru.

“There are pluses to it too. Our engine gets to sit a little lower, there are advantages but we’re still years away from being at the same developmental point of our motor compared to everybody else and I don’t doubt that we still have more to gain, we’re still coming.”