NITROCROSS LAUNCHES 2023-24 SEASON WITHHIGH-ADRENALINE ACTION AT VISIONS OFF-ROAD
FRASER McCONNELL TOPS GROUP E
Lane Vacala Scores Two NEXT Wins,
Kainan Baker Takes the Double in Side-by-Side
(Los Angeles, CA / Tuesday, June 20, 2023) After months of anticipation, Nitrocross kicked off its 2023-24 season Friday and Saturday as part of Visions Off-Road 2023, held at MidAmerica Outdoors in Jay, Oklahoma. The event debuted MidAmerica’s massive new track, designed by Nitrocross mastermind Travis Pastrana, delivering wide-open racing punctuated by intense, door-to-door action and high-flying thrills. The competition culminated with five finals in a packed second day, with Fraser McConnell (JAM) topping the podium in Group E, while both Lane Vacala (USA) and Kainan Baker (USA) took home two trophies in NEXT and Side-By-Side, respectively. Fans also enjoyed old-school Baja Bugs and, off the track, wild pit bike racing and a pyro-filled Nitro Circus show.
Group E Recap:
McConnell kicked off Group E’s sophomore campaign with his second win in Nitrocross’ marquee class, driving with confidence and conviction from the first green light to the final checkered flag.
But McConnell’s competition was fierce: Pastrana appeared primed to make a run at the podium after taking the Top Qualifier spot, but then nearly missed out on the final after a big crash with Kevin Eriksson (SWE) in the second LCQ. Defending series champion Robin Larsson (SWE) was also a strong threat, along with rally veteran Kris Meeke (GBR), who during the initial practice sessions was three seconds faster than the rest of the field. INDYCAR star Connor Daly (USA) held his own in his Nitrocross debut, at one point taking Pastrana down to the wire in a spirited Battle heat.
In the intense final, with the stakes peaking along with the high temperatures, McConnell met the moment. As fans thronged outside the course to watch, he edged Larsson by just over a second to take the win and then hoisted the Round One trophy presented by UFC President – and Nitrocross investor - Dana White. Afterwards, announcer Andrew Coley said that the Jamaican phenom should no longer be considered up-and-coming, but rather fully arrived as a top contender.
McConnell reflected, “I came into this season really hungry… I was really eager to start off with a bang. The field is so packed [though], everyone is so good. I just wanted it so much today, and they were going to have to really fight me to take it from me.”
Of the track, McConnell said, “The downhill start [of the track] was mega. It’s like dropping off a cliff. That was special.”
Summing up what this victory means, McConnell added, “It’s so good to get this. I’ve been working toward it. It’s all about self-belief, positive affirmation, and hard work. I always remember that when I want an off day - that these are the rewards when you put the time in.”
After repeatedly knocking on the door last season with seven P3 finishes, Vacala stepped up to the top of the podium for the first time Saturday with two wins in Nitrocross’ developmental class (due to track conditions caused by excessive heat on Friday, the day one final for NEXT was rescheduled to Saturday).
Vacala second victory came in dramatic fashion however, since Lia Block (USA) crossed the finish line first after a hotly contested final. However, after the race officials ruled that there had been too much contact and Vacala was awarded the win. However, Block impressed in her NEXT debut, with a strong performance that rivaled Casper Jansson (SWE) - a two-time NEXT winner - scoring the fastest time in her first practice run and winning her first heat.
Round One final results:
Round Two final results:
Nitrocross newcomer and Oklahoma native Kainan Baker, who raced in five events at Visions Off-Road, put an exclamation mark on his busy weekend with a pair of Side-By-Side trophies (like NEXT, both Side-By-Side finals took place Saturday due to the excessive heat on day one). The field’s depth of talent stood out, with rising talents Ben Maier (USA) and Tyler Remmereid (USA) both doubling on the podium and Gray Leadbetter (USA), the first female Off-Road Class Champion, finishing just behind them.
Round One final results:
Round Two final results:
Transformational New Track
The massive all-new course at MidAmerica Outdoors was purpose-built to Pastrana’s design, featuring a mash-up of his craziest ideas all rolled into one. Cars launched off tarmac before taking a 150-foot descending start resembling a huge drop in at a skate park. The surface then switched to dirt in the form of a steep banked hairpin turn – the biggest berm in rallycross – followed by tight snaking corners, leading to an over-under Joker lap split, building up to a flying finish.
Championship Quest Begins:
Nitrocross 2023-24 will encompass 10 rounds, spanning nine months set in six locations, ranging from the desert Southwest to the frigid Canadian Rockies. This weekend’s results provide a crucial head start in the hunt for the series title and the Ken Block Championship trophy.
Next up, Nitrocross returns to where it all began. Utah Motorsports Campus outside Salt Lake City will host a double-header on August 18-19. UMC, Nitrocross’ spiritual home, will once again feature its signature over-under jump, topped by a daunting gap stretching over 100 feet.
McConnell, who raced at UMC in 2021, is eager to follow-up his Oklahoma performance. “Utah for me is Nitrocross. That gap jump could not be more iconic. I still have it as my phone screen saver! I am more than excited to go back there and hit it, especially now in the FC1-X.”
Tickets to Nitrocross’ second stop are available now at Nitrocrossracing.com,
For fans that cannot make it out to the track and experience Nitrocross in person, Rumble, the leading platform for live-streaming action sports, will livestream the pulse-pounding action.