Jenson Button hopes that the new Nitro Rallycross series can “reignite” US rallycross and create “a proper championship” again after a few disappointing years for the discipline.
Button, whose father John was a renowned rallycross racer in the UK throughout the 1970s, previously attended a Global Rallycross race in Las Vegas (pictured above) and harbored an interest in competing in the discipline in America.
While he admits it didn’t exactly come close to happening, Button told DirtFish “I can definitely see myself racing in rallycross”.
“I haven’t really done much off-roading, I’ve done a bit in the trophy trucks but it’s very different. I think I’m more well-suited to cars, rallycross, rallying than I would be to trophy trucks,” Button said.
“But that’s why it was exciting. I drove a Mini a few years ago, it was current at the time. It wasn’t a 2-liter it was a 1.6 so 450 horsepower but it was awesome! I absolutely loved it! So much power, [you] could really throw the thing around, I really enjoyed it.”
The 2009 Formula 1 world champion also drove an Olsbergs MSE Honda Civic Coupe at Sebring in 2017 as part of a group test with a number of other, more seasoned rallycross and rally drivers, and he was instantly on the pace.
“I really enjoyed it,” he recalled. “There was lots of drivers that came to drive when I was driving, a lot of guys from World Rally, some that came from GRC, so to go out there after not much time and be competitive with them, it was pretty special for me.
My heart’s definitely in it, I think it’d be a lot of fun, but at the moment I’ve got a lot on my hands. But it’d be a nice treatJenson Button on rallycross
“To be fair, most of the course they had was on concrete. There was only two corners on dirt and a jump – so I’m going to be stronger on concrete than I am on the dirt. But the pace was really good and I felt like I could match anyone that came out to play.
“My heart’s definitely in it, I think it’d be a lot of fun, but at the moment I’ve got a lot on my hands with Extreme E and also the advisory role with Williams, and Sky so I’m a busy boy, I don’t have any more time for anything else really.
“With how busy I am with everything else I wouldn’t be able to really do racing in Europe – too many long flights,” he added when asked if any potential rallycross foyay would be in Europe or US. “But I’d love to at least jump in one soon, it’d be a nice treat.”
While a full rallycross campaign in the near future is unlikely for Button, he does however see a bright future for the discipline in the US, especially with the news that NRX will be introducing an electric category from 2022.
“I love that and I think you’ll get a lot more people onboard, teams and especially sponsors that want to push the electric route and manufacturers hopefully as well so I love it,” he said.
“In terms of the show that they put on, I think it’s pretty special. It’s a shame that it kind of stopped, because it’s proper exciting.
“I remember watching rallycross here, it must’ve been five, six years ago and the grid was rammed! It was a really, really big grid of cars and over a few years it dwindled down to a few, which is a real shame to see.
“You’d have like six cars racing which isn’t what you want. So that’s a shame and they have to work out the reasons for it.
“Hopefully Nitro Circus can reignite it and we’ll see a proper championship.”