Nitro Rallycross Raises the Bar
Nitro Rallycross (NRX) has raised the bar on rallycross and fans are loving it!
Photo by Nitro Rallycross
American motorsport competitor, daredevil, and co-founder of the ever popular stunt-fest effectively titled Nitro Circus, the sanely insane Travis Pastrana introduced rallycross fans to a new version of the wildly popular world wide sport. Pastrana decided the sport he loves needed some outrageous new features to win more fans and create a crazy good time for the drivers in the series. His new format retains many of the same usual rallycross combinations such as a dirt and asphalt track, qualifying sessions, heat race, Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ), semi-final races, the fan favorite joker lap, and the door-banging chaos that rallycross brings to the table. But that's where the similarities end. Pastrana has put his own spin on the track features that raise the bar and turn the track into something not before seen in four-wheel motorsport racing. Stand aside drivers, your track may be the bigger draw for fans. There's no doubt that the talented drivers will be able to wow and amaze fans and bolster their own brands in the process.
Rallycross tracks around the world consist of a combination of dirt, asphalt and several turns and short straightaways. In 2011, the American based series Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship (Red Bull GRC) introduced a jump as part of the track design that quickly caught the attention of enthusiasts and newcomers alike. It started out as an open gap jump. But because of safety issues, it was eventually changed to a table top design. This also turned out to be a popular feature with fans. However, apparently size matters. Whenever the jump wasn't big enough or dramatic enough, fans made their not so positive opinions known on social media.
Pastrana definitely took notice of those fan opinions. After enduring many underwhelming tracks in the now defunct Red Bull GRC series, not all of the drivers were happy with those courses. Rallycross 360 was at many of those rounds and although many of the tracks were entertaining, we were also underwhelmed as the designers and track builders decreased the size of the jump. No matter the reason or the catapult that drove Pastrana to start creating his own version of a rallycross track, fans are glad he did.
Up until this year, Pastrana's NRX was a one-round competition, an exhibition race able to draw some of the top rallycross drivers from around the world. It quickly became a fan favorite to the extent that NRX has expanded by 500% with five rounds on the schedule.
This weekend we watched the first round of drivers being challenged out on the daring Pastrana-designed mile-long course at the Utah Motorsports Campus. Congruent with his daredevil spirit, he designed in a 50-foot tabletop jump, a tunnel, speedway-like banked turns, and a 100-foot gap jump that catapaults the cars approximately six stories through the air OVER the intersection of both the table-top jump and the tunnel. All of those features alone make the event worth watching. But the fact that the joker lap, table-top jump, and gap jump intersect is what made this race extra interesting and exciting to watch.
Photo by Nitro Rallycross
There may still be some naysayers or purists in the sport who see the track as a desperation move to resuscitate the genre, or a bit of a sacrilege in an homage to the past. But we believe that the naysayers are in the minority and that Pastrana's Nitro Rallycross will become a hit for rallycross fans around the world.