When you think of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the month of May might be the first thing that comes to mind.
But while the team has been a fixture at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing for over two decades, it has more recently become a major force in the Nitro Rallycross championship, where it has just taken a dominant 1-2-3 finish in the series’ first-ever all-electric season.
“I’m still kind of dizzy by the whole thing,” team owner Dennis Reinbold tells RACER. “I mean, even though I’ve been here for several days, you get in here and you deal with so many different things throughout the course of a race weekend that you get caught up in, and then finally it’s over and all the dust settles. You look around and, and here we are. We did a great job.
“I’m relieved right now and just proud of my guys. How hard these guys work and what they put in, the time and the effort they put in, paid off. So it feels great, it really does, it feels good to be champions.
“It feels good to be 1-2-3. We didn’t expect any of that, but we expected to be good. We knew we’d be competitive and do a good job, but we just had really, really good chemistry all year long and that paid off. It’s like any kind of team sport that you put together, so it’s been fun to see that come together.”
DRR’s all-conquering top-level rallycross operation is the result of years of work. It debuted in the second tier category of the former Global Rallycross series in 2016, winning what was then known as the Lites title at the first attempt in 2016 with Cabot Bigham.
It remained a frontrunner in the category for a number of years, and briefly dipped its toes in the old top-level combustion Supercar class in partnership with SH Racing in the meantime. A full move into the top class for the 2021 season with European powerhouse JC Raceteknik – with whom it remains partnered with today – proved to be tricky, and the team’s quartet of Audi S1s failed to podium all season.
The campaign was nevertheless educational, with the team having one eye on the future the whole time.
“Last year we did the supercar effort on purpose to get back into supercars,” explains Reinbold. “We had been out of Supercar for a while, so we wanted to get back into it to prepare for this new electric car. And so my expectations last year were pretty low – we met those, that’s for sure.
“But it was a learning curve for us so that we could be prepared and really we felt like we had a good opportunity, as good as anybody else, to compete with this, with this new car.
“So we worked hard to learn it and worked hard to prep it really well and get it ready and once you do that, you hand it off to the drivers to bring home and these guys exceeded my expectations. All three of them.”
The team began the 2022-23 season with back-to-back victories in the UK and Sweden with Larsson and Andreas Bakkerud respectively – the latter being an unprecedented 1-2-3-4-5 sweep with Larsson, Johan Kristoffersson, Fraser McConnell, and Ole Christian Veiby following Bakkerud home.
McConnell added to the haul in round four at Glen Helen Raceway in California before Larsson took another in the second race in Phoenix in November. When the series returned to Glen Helen for three season-ending races earlier this month, Bakkerud and Larsson once again returned to the winners’ circle, either side of a win for Vermont SportsCar’s Travis Pastrana.
Overall the team had more wins than any other – six from 10 – and was the only team to claim points-paying victories with more than one driver. In what is a single-make category using the first-year FC1-X electric racing car, DRR JC clearly adapted best, but Reinbold says there’s no secret ingredient to the team’s overwhelming success.
“I don’t think there’s a secret ingredient other than just get good people around you and work together as best you can,” he insists. “I mean, it’s difficult to have multi-car teams and share the information openly and work hard to make sure that each car’s ready to go every time.
“So in this sport, because the turnaround time’s pretty quick and you’re going to hit something, you’re going to have issues every time you go out – hopefully not every time, but it seems like you’ve got to be prepared for that – so preparation has been incredible, and just diving in to help put out a fire where it erupts is what we’ve been able to do pretty well.”
With the intense but successful 2022-23 season now in the history books, the team now turns its attention to what’s next – although that doesn’t mean there’ll be much of an off-season. The JC side of the team has races to contest in Europe, while DRR’s focus is on the Indy 500 with 2014 Indy winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and Stefan Wilson.
“April’s not going to be much fun because it’s more fun to go to a race track and compete,” Reinbold said. “In April we don’t have a race, so we have to wait till May. So it’s okay. After every Indy 500 we start working on the next year, so we’ve been doing that at the same time as putting this together.
“It’s been a big year prepping for Indy as well as launching this brand new car and learning it for our team. So we’ve been busy, we’re on a good roll, so we’ll keep trying to capitalize and grow as much as we can.
“The 500 is the next box to tick. That’s it. 1-2-3 here, we only have two cars in the 500, so we’re only asking for one-two there! It’s not a big deal, right?”
As for the team’s Nitro Rallycross program, that is set to expand to four full-time cars for the 2023-24 season, after running a fourth (and on one occasion fifth) entry on a part-time basis this season for the likes of Veiby, Kristoffersson, and Andrew Carlson in the first half of the season. Reinbold’s also expecting the competition to up its game.
“I think it’s going to be great. The racing’s going be competitive,” he says. “(But) that’s all history, just like our championship is tomorrow. We’ve got to work on the next season.”