So as many of us has read earlier, Ford is pulling support for one of its NHRA series. Not a huge deal, all things considered, but it got me pondering about where Ford - and, by extension, other OEMs - could best invest its marketing and racing dollars. Obviously it would remain in NASCAR, because of the installed base, and it's done well in drag racing, the Craftsman Truck series, V8 Supercars (although with Ford AU going down the tubes, who knows what'll happen there), and they have some support in SCCA and a few other smaller series. But what about rally cross?
Now, for those not familiar with Rally Cross (which is understandable, since it's a grassroots hybrid of rallying/WRC and asphalt racing), there are numerous videos about it which well-chronicle its appeal. Top Gear has covered this from a couple different perspectives: TG UK covered it from a budget standpoint, and TG US had Tanner, in his wheelhouse, describing the Global RallyCross Championship held at Irwindale.
TGUK part 1:
TGUK part 2:
Also, of note, Car & Driver also had/has a series called "Battle of the Beaters", which, while arguably overdramatic, did have teams building rallycross-ready vehicles in 72 hours:
Which brings me to the point of my post.
RallyCross started as a grassroots effort, cheapish, fun, approachable, a lot like how 24 Hours of LeMons started. It's now beginning to hit the mainstream with WRC teams doing it (like in Tanner's video), which is arguably more spectator friendly (since it's a closed-track professional event with a parking lot for spectators, a real track and PA system, and vendors rather than a field somewhere where it's somewhat slapdash, despite months of preparation), but it loses its charm when cars costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to make and more to research and refine from multi-million-dollar teams competing. Now there's still small local groups doing it, and growing more with exposure from big names like Top Gear shedding light on it, but there seems to be no intermediate level of actual racing (since SCCA RallyCross is based on time-trials and doesn't always include asphalt, which, to me, is part of the largest appeal, since you have to set the cars up to be flexible), one that could benefit from factory support without the expensive purpose-built race cars like WRC, that is, make it a semi-pro competition like Karting or lower-level Formula series e.g. Formula Ford.
Thus, is there, as I believe, really a need for such an intermediate level? If so, would it benefit from continuing grassroots-style racing but with larger buy-ins and more purpose-built vehicles, or would it be better to have some factory support and development, grooming drivers to eventually join WRC or GRC as professionals?
*UPDATE* A few have pointed out GRC Lite, which, while it is a level below GRC, is still a bit more advanced than what I had in mind. To me, the intermediate level I'm proposing is just a bit above folks in fields with beaters with roll cages (but still "home-built" more or less), perhaps regional or national at most, but not international, where the factory helps with some of the expenses of the event and travel with sponsorships and such but without a full factory team or engineers at the driver's disposal. Like the SCCA RX but on both course textures and small race heats rather than time trials.