The general chronology goes something like this:
Sweden, sometime in 2008: Four-time Swedish rally champion Andreas Ericsson runs a successful team of Ford Fiestas in the European Rallycross championship. If you think you know what this means, you're probably wrong.
A Ford Fiesta is a front-drive econobox with a small, transverse four. That could mean anything from a 60-hp 1.25-liter engine, to a 120-hp 1.6 (when U.S. cars arrive, they'll only have the 1.6). The Fiestas in Ericsson's Olsbergs rallycross team, on the other hand, run 2.0-liter Duratec engines stolen from the Focus, which are turned north-south, attached to what appears to be Escort Cosworth drivetrains, and connected to all four wheels.
An American rallycross is an autocross in the dirt. A European rallycross is an explosion of rally bundled up and barely confined within the grounds of a racetrack. Roughly speaking, take every European rally car that has ever been banned for being too fast, turn up the boost, and then run 6 of them, wheel-to-wheel, in a sprint race that alternates between pavement and dirt.
Combine all that is great about stage rally and remove horsepower restrictions, weight restrictions, and the need to pace yourself to survive multiple days of racing, and you have an explosion of pent-up rally rage that is second to none.
Take a look, we'll wait:
(oh, and you may want to skip the first 2 minutes.)
My Swedish is not that great, but what I think we're looking at is Round 6 of the 2008 championship, where Marcus Gronholm joined the Olsbergs team for a taste of rallycross and kicked some ass. I believe the other orange Fiesta is Olsbergs team manager Andreas Ericsson. Anyone who actually understands Swedish, or whatever language that actually is, feel free to correct me.
European rallycross rules are not completely without restrictions on power. They do have to breathe through 45mm restrictors, which may sound small until you realize WRC cars make do with only 32mm restrictors. WRC cars manage just a hair over 300 hp through their restrictors, while the rallycross cars can do around 600. Oh, and they weigh around 2500 lbs. Put that in your Camaro and smoke it.
Sometime in 2009, Olsbergs debuts their new Fiesta, using the new bodystyle but only evolutionary mechanical bits. They win in only their second race.
Then Ford PR invites them to the U.S. to take on Pike's Peak and the X-Games.
Pike's Peak is famously unrestricted, so Ericsson uncorks the motors, cranks the boost, and starts bending connecting rods. A happy medium is found somewhere around 875 hp, running 35 psi of boost. He calls Marcus Gronholm and heads to Colorado.
The Pike's Peak International Hillclimb starts at 9,000 feet and ends at 14,000, so even at the start the cars are already back down in the 600-hp range (679 according to Erkisson). By the end, the turbo is damaged, the brakes are on fire, and one of the valve stems has melted, deflating a rear tire. Nonetheless, it's worth watching:
This video is where I come in. I watched, and I wanted to know more. How exactly do they get these Miata engines (the Ford Duratec is also known as a Mazda MZR) to 800-hp, and how do they harness that power and make it usable?
Turn the page, hit the jump, click on the little thing that says next page, whatever. Just go there to see whatever I've managed to figure out so far.