Alright, so I just spent about an hour or so trading wins on the "Criminal Record" race (totalled about 40? 45?) with some patient soul and ended up getting those upgrades that were gated by WIN X AMOUNT OF TIMES and everything unlocks. Categories don't mean anything.
Some upgrades are gated by your player level, however.
so that's how you've raced ahead on the crew leaderboards for races ;)
In my opinion, you're underestimating how incredibly fickle the internet hivemind can be...an e3 presentation with nothing but games (what else is there going to be, that was the point of the reveal presentation), with some really solid exclusive new (or old, Rare anyone?) IPs, some good game play and a reasonable price point will have the online community singing their praises....
...But...thats only providing they sort out this incredible used game marketing catastrophe in a way that benefits us/doesn't change from the current way.