SCCA has announced the creation of a new “Open” category for its increasingly popular RallyCross program. While RallyCross has been known for running relatively fast and loose with its rules, the new category will take that one step further, allowing competitors to build their own chassis for competition in the dirt.
Currently, SCCA’s RallyCross category structure looks something like this: Stock, Prepared and Modified, with each category broken down into front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive classes – nine classes in total.
Stock-class cars are allowed simple bolt-on performance improvements, including cat-back exhausts, any DOT-legal tires, alternate shocks and a new front swaybar. Prepared takes the modification level up a notch with engine-back exhausts, any tires, any swaybars, and more. The Modified category, meanwhile, gets all of that, plus competitors can strip the interior, replace bodywork and change suspension pick-up points.
With the creation of the newly announced Open category, split into two-wheel and all-wheel drive classes, RallyCross got even more interesting. This category will now allow competitors to start with an automotive-based four-cylinder or rotary engine and build around it. From the looks of the rules SCCA has teased us with, the only requirements for Open cars are that the chassis must have a minimum track width of 42 inches, a minimum of a 72-inch wheelbase, and a maximum height measuring 90 percent of the average track width. The vehicle must also have body panels and fenders, and the roll cage structure must meet SCCA’s Club Racing rules.
While the move to add an Open category may surprise some, SportsCar magazine actually hinted at this possibility in its September 2017 issue during an exclusive interview with Stephen Hyatt, the chairman of SCCA’s RallyCross board.
“For the first time in years, we’re getting ready to expand our class structure,” Hyatt told SportsCar in that interview. “For years, there were eight classes, then we split Modified so we had nine classes. Now we’re in the process of making a 10th class.”
Hyatt went on to describe the category as it was envisioned during the planning phase of its creation. “We’re going to have minimum height, width and length standards, and a safety design. It’ll be a production-based drivetrain with a maximum displacement in a frame that somebody built.”
At the time, Hyatt estimated the Open category would run as a pilot program for the 2018 season, turning into a national class by 2019. It appears the timeline has moved up, as SCCA has announced the category will graduate a year early in 2018.
In that same interview with SportsCar, Hyatt also hinted at more potential rules changes on the horizon. “Right now we pretty much don’t allow someone to touch the batteries or motors [in electric and hybrid-powered vehicles],” he said. “We’re creating a subset of our Mod rules for what we will allow hybrids and electric vehicles to do in the Mod classes.”