This is the first in our series on inspiring youth athletes to get involved with action sports. Stay tuned for more on auto-racing, Supercross, Motocross, and more!
This October, if you pulled up to the ERX Motorpark in Elk River, you would expect the weather to be freezing. Instead, Minnesota delivered sunshine and 75 degrees—a perfect day for families to come together and celebrate cars that fly.
ERX Motorpark is a hidden gem along Highway 169 in Elk River, Minnesota. The dirt and dust kick up from the gravel as cars pile in. With Red Bull stands and taco trucks lining the street, the nation's top drivers line up to take home the trophy.
You may ask yourself, why should we care about such a niche sport like Nitro Rallycross? There's something to be said about exposing your families to non-traditional sports such as Rallycross (RX) racing. It is an experience of seeing someone go “full send" and give it their all. In Nitro Rallycross, these drivers are giving their all at mind-bending speeds. Whether it's watching a team support their driver, the adrenaline rush of watching your favorite driver battle for the win, or the roar of the engines as they drift by you, RX racing can ignite a passion for all things on four wheels.
Inspiring New Generations
Scores of families—even some babies with noise canceling headphones—lined the stands to watch every heat for the day. The pits were wide open for all to get easy access to their favorite driver and ask questions. Master mechanics fine-tuned their machines as teams consulted and strategized in each tent throughout the pits. Subaru was the dominant car maker of the day, with additional nod’s to Honda, Peugeot, and Audi . Travis Pastrana, the ringleader of Nitro RX, and fellow Subaru driver Scott Speed, a four time RX champion, remain at the forefront of every race.
In the heat of the Supercar semi-finals on day two of the Elk River event, two boys walked up to Travis Pastrana’s team asking all about what lies under the hood. To the left of Pastrana’s tent, a dad and his daughter strolled the pits to stop in front of Scott Speed’s car to see how he felt about the latest run. No matter where you turn, the opportunity for families to learn more about the sport are endless.
Kids have been climbing into cars since the 1930s racing quarter midget cars. A quarter-midget is a special sized kart that is ¼ the size of a full midget kart. This historical time is considered the kickoff to youth auto racing which then exploded into a cultural phenomenon. From NASCAR to Indycar to Rallycross, there are multiple levels youth athletes interested in auto racing can strive for.
Famous drivers like Terry Labonte, Ryan Newman, Sarah Fisher, and Joey Logano all climbed into quarter midget cars around the age of 6. World renowned NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, also won his first championship by the age of 8 in quarter midgets.
In 1998, Australian Formula One (F1) driver Daniel Ricciardo first set his sights on a karting championship at age 9, working his way up to present day where he’s now a top driver racing for McLaren. Recently, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch made an appearance in the NRX series among many others. The beauty of Nitro RX is that all of these drivers from every type of car and track meet in one place. No matter where these drivers start or which path they choose, most drivers are only in search of one thing - being the fastest in the world.
Fastest in the World
Rallycross came on the scene in 1967 when Robert Reed, a producer for ITV’s World of Sport Programme, made this type of racing a staple for their Saturday afternoon sports segment in the United Kingdom. The combination of rallying and circuit racing mixing dirt and asphalt made high profile drivers want to join in. After all, RX Supercars can accelerate from 0-60 in two seconds, much faster than some of today’s F1 cars.
Inaugurated in 2014, FIA World Rallycross presented by Monster Energy holds a World Championship in the sport. The current holder of this title as of 2021 is Andreas Bakkerud who won using his trademark speed and sideways style.
Whether a parent figure passed the love of racing down to you, or you're just genuinely interested in checking out something new, Nitro Rallycross may be for you. From the rumble in your chest as cars wiz around every turn to the competitive banter among the drivers, there’s no stopping ‘the need for speed.’
Kicking into High Gear
While Nitro Rallycross is wrapping up its schedule this year, they are planning an expansion in the 2022 season to draw more families and spectators across the U.S. to the sport.
Announced over the Summer, Nitro Rallycross is set for a global expansion in 2022. It will stretch throughout Europe and the Middle East with sights set on all new tracks, drivers, and obstacles.
Want to see what all the buzz is about? Step into the driver's seat with one of our many youth auto-racing programs in your area. Maybe one day you’ll hold the keys to one of these Rallycross vehicles. Learn more