2016 Season Review: GRC Lites Part-Time Drivers
In its fourth season of competition in 2016, the GRC Lites field reached new levels of depth and competitiveness. A record six drivers took race victories during the 11-round season, while the Daytona event set a new record for entries when 15 drivers started in the doubleheader. All told, 22 drivers made starts during the 2016 season, including 13 who joined the series for the first time.
Today, we wrap up this year’s season reviews with a brief look at four of those newcomers, each of whom made their debuts in Lites during the year. All four made it to at least one main event, while multiple contended for the podium during their limited appearances:
Harry Gottsacker (T-12th, Lites; 85 points)
Running the first half of the 2016 season, Gottsacker worked hard to find his stride, though the results weren’t quite what he had been hoping for. In particular, the Texas native struggled at the Phoenix and Daytona doubleheaders, missing the final in all four rounds between those events. But he scored a pair of fifth place finishes elswhere: one at his hometown event in Dallas, and the other in his final start of the season at Marine Corps Air Station New River.
Parker Chase (T-12th, Lites; 85 points)
Due to an exceptionally strong start to his sports car season, Chase elected to skip the Lites opener in Phoenix to continue to chase that championship. As a result, his home race in Dallas also served as his first career rallycross start, and he placed sixth in his debut. Chase showed plenty of potential in his four starts in the series, making it to the final three times and wrapping up his abbreviated season with a podium result at MCAS New River.
Trenton Estep (15th, Lites; 57 points)
Estep was tapped to fill Parker Chase’s vacant seat in Phoenix, as the two drivers had worked together in karting in the past. Making his rallycross debut in the opener, Estep did plenty to prove that he was the right choice, leading off with a fifth place finish on Saturday. On Sunday, the rookie proved he could run for podiums: he finished second in his semifinal and even led a lap in the main event before settling into seventh place at the checkered flag.
James Rimmer (21st, Lites; 25 points)
Joining Conner Martell as DirtFish Motorsports expanded to a two-car effort for the first time, Rimmer ran the final three races of the season in Seattle and Los Angeles. An unfortunate incident in the last chance qualifier in Seattle kept Rimmer from joining Martell in the final at his hometown event, but the experienced stage rally driver rebounded in Los Angeles to make his first career Lites main event. When all was said and done, he finished a respectable seventh.
Photo credit: Louis Yio (1, 3, 5); Larry Chen (2, 4)