Dodge Rallies the Dart

Gary S. Vasilash

Chances are, when you think “Dodge” and “Motorsports,” you automatically bring to mind the brand’s cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series or the long-time participation in the NHRA events, where Dodge-based funny cars are standard on the circuit.


But what’s interesting is that Dodge and SRT Motorsports announced yesterday that it will be supporting 17-time X Games Gold Medalist Travis Pastrana—known for his abilities on two wheels as well as four—in the 2012 Global Rally Cross Championship (GRC) Series. (Pastrana won his first gold at age 15.)

Pastrana will be driving a Dodge Dart.

GRC is a spin-off of the X Games rally events. It combines rally racing with “extreme” sports, as in having 70-ft jumps over racing traffic. There are seven races in this, the second season of GRC, including two at the 2012 X Games in L.A.

Dodge Rally Dart

No ordinary Dart, this is powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 16-valve turbocharged 600-hp engine. There is a Sedav four-wheel-drive gearbox capable of in excess of 550- lb-ft of torque. (The consumer 2013 Dart? 184 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Certainly not bad, but. . . .)

Said Reid Bigland, president and CEO, Dodge Brand, “At Dodge, racing is an integral part of our heritage and embodies our competitive sport, so we’re very excited to announce the next chapter in racing for Dodge with our all-new Dodge Dart.”

But here’s where it gets interesting. Pastrana, 28, is one of those people who is well-followed in the social media world, with some 3.5-million Facebook followers. He is the, um, ringmaster of Nitro Circus. The guy is wired.

Which brings us to this comment from Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of Chrysler’s SRT Brand and Motorsports: “Travis is a living example of what action sports activities are all about, so he fits in perfectly with the youthfulness and passion for performance of the Doge brand and the SRT Motorsports team.”

Which one could interpret as: Dodge is going after a younger crowd, so let’s follow what Ford is doing with its Octane Academy and get into the rally world, strong.