Red Bull GRC Top 10: 2016 Lites Fan Favorites
It’s the night before Christmas, so we’ve got a little bonus for you, Red Bull GRC fans: today’s top 10 list expands to 11 names as we look back on your favorite GRC Lites drivers! (OK, we’ll be truthful: there were actually so many worthy candidates that we had a hard time narrowing it down to 10, and we probably could’ve included 15 or 16!)
From social posts and Snapchat takeovers to our annual Fan Favorite Driver of the Year poll, you had plenty of opportunities to engage with and support your favorite Lites drivers, and you certainly took them. We’ve factored all of that into this list, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have to leave plenty of worthy drivers off. If your favorite driver isn’t here, never fear—you’ll have another chance to support them in 2017!
11. Cabot Bigham
The 2016 GRC Lites champion had one of the most unique branding initiatives in all of Red Bull GRC this year. Encouraging fans to “Follow the Ham,” he made drivers do that on track as well; the blue-and-orange Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car won two races and totaled five podiums.
10. Alex Keyes
When you win enough races over the course of your Lites career, you’re bound to stake a claim to being on this list. Keyes now has five—three as a rookie in 2015 and two this year—to make him one of the most successful drivers in class history.
9. Conner Martell
Martell became Mr. Coast to Coast in 2016, relocating from his home state of Vermont to live in Washington with the DirtFish Motorsports squad. It was clear that the Pacific Northwest accepted him as their own, as droves of screaming fans cheered him on to victory in Seattle.
8. Miki Weckstrom
A racer’s racer and the latest in a long line of open-wheel transplants in Red Bull GRC, Weckstrom led the Lites class with seven podiums in 2016. That kind of performance, not to mention one of the cleanest liveries in the sport, was enough to impress plenty of fans.
7. Tanner Whitten
One of the original drivers of the Lites car before the series’ inception in 2013, Whitten has spent half a decade building up his fanbase and pursuing his Supercar dreams. He’s become one of the Supercar class’ most intriguing prospects, and made his debut there in Los Angeles.
6. Blake “Bilko” Williams
The freestyle motocross star has brought over plenty of his fans to rallycross since joining Lites late in 2015. He’s also been responsible for some of the funniest social media posts in the Red Bull GRC sphere, including the “Austin Powers” video from MCAS New River.
5. Colin Braun
Braun may still be in his 20s, but he brings a wealth of experience—and fans—from his time in everything from sports cars to stock cars. He was already among the best-known Lites drivers in the paddock at Daytona, as he once set a qualifying record there in a NASCAR truck.
4. Travis PeCoy
A big part of Lites’ youth movement, PeCoy grabbed his first podium in Atlantic City and was among the top five point-scorers in the second half of 2016. But he was also a popular driver among the fanbase, especially those following him from his off-road truck career.
3. Cole Keatts
Another off-road truck transplant whose fans followed him to Lites, Keatts landed a ride with the famed Olsbergs MSE X Forces in 2016. The Idaho native saved his best for his home race in Seattle, where he posted the first top five finish of his rallycross career.
2. Christian Brooks
All three AF Racing Team drivers are on this list for good reason: friendly personalities and crafty, aggressive moves on track. Brooks is no exception, but he’s got another asset: his neon yellow livery was also chosen by Red Bull GRC fans as their favorite in the Lites class in 2016.
1. Alejandro Fernandez
The Lites Fan Favorite Driver of the Year three years running, Fernandez is always a safe bet when it comes to fan polls. Between his aggressive style on the track and his support of organizations like Racing for Kids off of it, he’s earned the favor of many of Lites’ biggest fans.
Photo credit: Larry Chen, Louis Yio