ATLANTIC CITY — Despite the searing heat at Bader Field, 45-year-old twin brothers Reef and Ron Bates couldn’t wait to get near the smoldering asphalt and watch the racecars hurtle by.
“We’re big fans of rallycross racing,” said Reef Bates as he and Ron, both of Millville, watched the qualifying heats of the second annual Red Bull Global Rallycross event Sunday.
Thousands of fans packed the makeshift stands for a second straight day to enjoy the nationally televised day of rallycross racing, a hybrid version of motorsports popular in Europe that features jumping, bumping and a mixed pavement/dirt track.
Over a 48-hour period, the usually dusty Bader Field was transformed into a racing haven. There were broadcast towers, sponsors’ tents and gearheads staking out their preferred territory.
On Sunday, temperatures approached 90 degrees around 2 p.m., and the trackside numbers registered at 130.
But none of that was stopping Ron Bates from enjoying the access on offer, as all tickets included entrance to the paddocks and driver-autograph availabilities.
“It’s been better than I expected,” Ron Bates said. “Once you start walking around, you can go anywhere.”
But don’t get the idea that wandering race fans distract the professionals from the task at hand.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team manager Chase Selman offered smiles and handshakes to his garage visitors, but his focus definitely stayed on fixing his team’s Lite cars for the next rounds of competition.
“You make the physical repairs, but you also get the drivers their data and hope they improve their race craft,” Selman said.
Team managers and drivers alike were effusive in their praise for the Atlantic City track, a layout that looked toward the Borgata, Harrah’s and the marina from the left of the starting line.
“This location is amazing,” Selman said. “It’s a family place. It has a nice downtown, and the fans seem to love it.”
American driver Scott Speed won the Super Car event, extending his points lead over third-place Tanner Foust to 41 points.
“It’s our fourth Super Car win this season,” Speed said in the telecast on NBC. “We’ll try to build on that.”
Red Bull Super Car driver Oliver Eriksson, 18, spoke about the technical difficulties of the composite track.
“It’s very tough,” said Eriksson, who competed in the Super Cars final. “This course is all about the driver, which makes it challenging and difficult at the same time.”
Eriksson observed the pitfalls of the Atlantic City track firsthand after his afternoon qualifying run.
Back in the garage, his team quickly honed in on the shredded body above the rear tires.
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While rehydrating and eating in the corner of the space, Eriksson watched as the mechanics filed down the damage.
At that point, Eriksson was sanguine about his chances later in the day.
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“I’m picking up some pace and bounce,” he said. “Our results may get much better.”