Saturday, July 13, 2024

Nitro Rallycross rebrands to Nitrocross

Nitro Rallycross was originally born to be the next American rallycross series, but evolved to the point where the racing seems to more resemble more a cross between its original discipline and short course off-road racing. This growing deviation has become so apparent that the series has rebranded to Nitrocross for its third season, which begins in June.

“I love rallycross, with its action-packed sprint racing and door-to-door action. That core hasn’t changed. But we can’t be relegated to the rules historically in place for rallycross,” explained series head Travis Pastrana. “The Nitro Circus full-send mentality is also a big part of our DNA. We wanted to make sure that attitude came through loud and clear.”

Even from the inaugural season in 2021, Nitro RX had been attached to tracks that might be considered unconventional for rallycross. Glen Helen Raceway in California, for example, is an all-dirt track mainly known as a site for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and Great American Shortcourse. Although the series’ brief stay in Europe to kick off the 2022/23 calendar took place at rallycross sites like Lydden Hill and Strängnäs, it quickly reverted to short course-based tracks upon returning to North America; even the paved Circuit Trois-Rivières in Canada ended up a single-surface track covered in a snow, as was the Calgary Stampede.

Nitrocross’ home base at MidAmerica Outdoors is one of the more obvious examples. Located in Jay, Oklahoma, MAO’s portfolio almost exclusively consists of short course properties like GAS, the Ultra4 USA rockcrawling series, and the MAO Racing SXS and Truck Championship Series. MAO is also the site of Pastrana’s “dream track”, and will host the 2023/24 season opener on 10/11 June as part of the facility’s Visions Off-Road weekend.

Much of this shift can be attributed to action sports-savvy parent company Thrill One Sports & Entertainment, who also owns Street League Skateboarding. In July 2022, Thrill One was acquired by equity firms overseen by UFC president Dana White and skateboarder Rob Dyrdek.

Of course, the change does not necessarily mean Nitrocross is completely abandoning its rallycross roots. The Group E FC1-X is still considered the top electric rallycross vehicle today, while the champion will receive the Ken Block Championship Trophy; Block’s number #43 is also retired by the series.

“We are looking for nothing less than to raise the bar of our events,” Pastrana continued. “We need custom-built tracks and better entertainment at the venues. We want Nitrocross to be exciting for the competitors and for fans around the world. We are going to have the highest-flying series on earth, and I can’t wait to see what happens.”

Save for MAO, the ten-round season will mostly return to tracks at which the series has already competed. Wild Horse, Glen Helen, and Calgary remain on the schedule, while Utah Motorsports Campus is back after hosting the inaugural round in 2021. Utah was also the site of the Nitro World Games, which had Nitro RX as an event, in 2018 and 2019.

A location for the final round in late February or early March 2024 has not been immediately revealed.

After being on NBC’s Peacock service for its first two years, Nitrocross has signed a new streaming deal with Rumble for 2023/24. While Rumble is controversially known as a far-right video hosting platform, its partnership encompasses Thrill One properties as a whole and also includes SLS.

2023/24 schedule

# Track Location Date
1 MidAmerica Outdoors Jay, Oklahoma 16/17 June
2–3 Utah Motorsports Campus Salt Lake City, Utah 18/19 August
4–5 Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park Phoenix, Arizona 10/11 November
6–7 Glen Helen Raceway San Bernardino, California 9/10 December
8 Calgary Stampede Calgary, Alberta 2/3 February 2024
9–10 TBA TBA February/March 2024
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