Travis Pastrana has shared the first details of Nitro Rallycross’s planned expansion for 2020.
For the last two years, the competition has been a one-round event that has taken place as part of the Nitro World Games action sports competition at the Utah Motorsports Campus. This year it was set to expand to a full championship, filling the void left by the demise of Global Rallycross and Americas Rallycross.
In an exclusive interview with DirtFish, Nitro RX pioneer Pastrana confirmed what was long rumored, that a full series is indeed in the works.
“This was kind of a build year for Nitro Rallycross which is kind of my main focus, really from the last couple of years trying to get it going and getting the sponsorship and working with tracks,” Pastrana tells us.
The course at Utah Motorsports Campus is what sets apart Nitro RX from other rallycross series: dirt-heavy with high-banked turns and gap jumps. The plan is to add more courses of a similar vein.
In order to test track concepts and prove to investors and sponsors that building more tracks would be a worthwhile endeavor, Pastrana has bought a 150-acre plot near his house that he’s using to build a test track.
“I’m building a rallycross track for proof of concept to show what I believe can be done,” he explains.
“But it will take a lot of testing until we get all the angles and all the jumps just right and we can then go forward from there.
“The biggest thing for me is courses. My goal is to bring it back to where the tracks are challenging, bring it back to the beginning of freestyle motocross where when we got there every track was unique, every track had elements where someone like a Scott Speed, who was really good at being clean and tidy and bringing that F1 or [Sébastien] Loeb style to rallycross, might struggle with gravel tires.”
Long-term, Nitro Circus wants to build a rallycross series that allows drivers and teams to compete at various levels without the need for sizeable and expensive manufacturer involvement.
However, in the short-term the series is aiming to attract car manufacturers to help it get off the ground. And in order to attract major carmakers, Nitro is needing to look at electric.
No rallycross series in the US has managed to successfully go down the electric route yet – GRC was the first series in the world to announce a top-level electric move but the series folded before the plans came to fruition.
“It’s a really interesting dynamic, with electric coming onboard,” Pastrana notes. “Nitro’s goal is to build this series so the manufacturers don’t have to be the main sponsors but definitely getting things off the ground and getting that car count.
“I think there has to be an electric plan, it has to work for the manufacturers.”
Another thing Nitro wants to achieve is to build an accessible feeder ladder to the top-level.
While rallycross in Europe has numerous junior categories for drivers to develop on their way to a Supercar ride, in America the only legitimate feeder category has been the relatively expensive Lites (or ARX2) series, which in recent years has been mostly populated with well-funded open-wheel drivers.
“You need that young blood coming up, you need that excitement and you see that in F1, you see that in a lot of the other sports because there’s a series,” Pastrana says. “You can come up all the way through from karting to F3, F2 and there’s so many different series.
“With [US] rallycross there just isn’t that program. With the Lites cars being [over] $100,000, that’s a steep price point for a vehicle that’s not as much fun as you can go have for $10,000.
“You can go buy a beater and go field car racing for less than that even, so for me it’s to make it make sense for the average driver to want to be a part of it.”
Top-level rallycross in the US has had a tough time in recent seasons, but Pastrana is positive that Nitro can learn from the mistakes of previous series and put together a category that will stick around for many years to come.
“I want rallycross to be the biggest sport in the US, as far as motorsports,” he says. “I mean, that’s a lofty lofty goal but I believe that with the right plan we can get it.
“There’s been a lot of failure, which doesn’t sit well with a lot of investors, so that’s why we’re building a track for proof of concept, and I believe we can make it happen.
“What I love about rallycross right now is that all the drivers are taking huge initiatives, we all believe in it, which is something I don’t think you see in other series and I think that’s why you’ve seen it continue on after it’s failed. It’s because we believe that with the right set-up it can go.”