Words and photos by Michael Chandler
When I think touring car racing, I think of BTCC or DTM. A series with a defined rule set, familiar cars built to similar specs, and strong manufacturer representation. When I look at the United States Touring Car field, and peruse the rule book, I don’t really see that. I don’t see DTM or BTCC. I see an organized series, with defined rules and multiple classes, but I don’t see a touring car series. At least in the traditional sense. And to be honest, I don’t mind.
I’m going to lose some of you here, and I’m ok with it because I think that this is the best analogy for the USTCC. In Forza and Gran Turismo (although this may have changed for GT, the last iteration I played in the series was GT4), in the campaign/story mode, you have some series where you can basically have a fully modified car racing against stock or lightly modified cars. I loved those series, because I LOVED lapping alright cars in something utterly stupid. Stupid like a Daihatsu Storia CX with a turbo so big, it needed a push from a competitor to get going. The USTCC has a lot of that ridiculousness in it! The GT class will basically allow you to build something pretty nuts, provided you can stay within some guidelines. They’ll even let you trot out a kit car or a purpose built race car, like an old V8 Super Car, GT3 Cup car, or a purpose built tube frame chassis. Granted that the tube frame car has a silhouette of a production based car less than 8 years old. Because of those rules, we can have the picture above.
There’s some other interesting stuff about the series. They have factory support from Honda, Mini and Mazda. Finishers get cash, granted you’re not in the Sportsman class. Drivers could win tires if they finish on the podium, and they give out other stuff at random. I’m certainly wouldn’t complain if I walked away from the race with a fist full of cash and some prizes. The USTCC isn’t a traditional touring car series, and I don’t know why they call themselves a touring car series. It’s not really a touring car series, but who cares? It’s an interesting little series.