Preparations for the 2021 Nitro Rallycross season stepped up this week with a test for Subaru Motorsports USA where Scott Speed gave NRX pioneer Travis Pastrana useful pointers for track design.
Speed’s feedback, given at the Utah Motorsports Campus test, was incredibly useful as series organizers look to make adjustments and improvements before the season kicks off in the fall.
Speed had to sit out of the final part of the 2019 rallycross season after breaking his back on a seemingly innocuous jump at the Nitro World Games, and Pastrana is keen to not see a repeat.
“[We’re] making some adjustments and kind of going over the track design with Scott Speed,” Pastrana said.
“Scott’s one of those guys that’s exactly [the] opposite of me. He broke his back out here two years ago, it’s definitely something that we can’t have in Nitro Rallycross, we’ve got to make sure it’s safe.
“It has to be exciting, it has to be big but hearing his ideas on what he’s afraid of still and things that he thinks we can improve going forward to make things more safe and also more raceable is going to be really really [useful] and going forward we’re going to make some great changes to this track to make sure Utah Motorsports Campus kicks the season off correctly.”
Lessons learned from the test will inform NRX organizers how it will construct the other tracks on the schedule, with four other established venues set to add permanent rallycross tracks designed by Pastrana.
It will represent a huge departure for US rallycross which, for the most part, has relied on temporary courses for the last decade.
It’s so exciting to have NRX coming as the sort of world premiere championship for rallycrossScott Speed
“[We’re] trying to figure out how to simulate a little bit of what we’re going to experience,” Pastrana said.
“Working on how to build better courses, what’s fun, what the cars can do, distances between jumps, basically getting all the amounts of dirt we’re going to need to build the jumps as well as some of the dimensions of some of the corners.
“We can help make the build process as quick as possible once we get going on those other four tracks.”
Subaru also took the opportunity to test new aerodynamic and engine packages on its WRX STI while the warm weather at the high-altitude track also allowed the team to run through race simulations ahead of the September season opener.
“It’s the first time we’ve actually been back to the track since 2019’s Nitro Rallycross,” said Pastrana. “It’s actually in really good condition.
“We’ve got a little bit of grass growing but the biggest thing for us is there’s all-new aero packages, all-new motor packages and we just wanted to get out here and make sure the car flies well, [and] the car doesn’t blow up.
“It’s higher altitude than almost anywhere else we test so it’s pretty hot out there, it’s going to be hot when we’re doing the race, so [we’re] making sure that all the systems are go for the Subaru team.”
Speed meanwhile is looking forward to getting the season off to a start. Following his injury, the demise of Americas Rallycross, and the lengthy COVID-enforced layoff for much of the motorsport world, Speed hasn’t raced competitively since August 2019.
“It’s so exciting to have NRX coming as the sort of world premiere championship for rallycross,” said Speed.
“Obviously the last couple of years, coming here to the World Games was always the token event that everybody kind of looked forward to and now we have a whole championship of that style of racing with those competitors.”
Before NRX gets underway, Speed will return to action in the Superstar Racing Experience stock car series at Eldora Speedway this weekend and Lucas Oil Raceway next weekend as one of the series’ designated part-time ‘ringer’ drivers.