Nitro RX to be rebranded as ‘Nitrocross’ for 2024
Nitro Rallycross will rebrand as “Nitrocross” for the upcoming season, with the series keen to promote its uniqueness and distance itself from more traditional rallycross, RACER can reveal.
The series began in 2018 as a single event at the Nitro World Games action sports competition before expanding into a fully-fledged, multi-round racing championship in 2021. But while it has attracted international talent in the form of both drivers and teams, Nitrocross has always presented itself as being an evolution of rallycross rather than simply another series of the mixed-surface racing discipline that has roots in Europe.
Nitrocross needs a separate identity from Rallycross - Clarke
As such, courses used in the series have been primarily dirt-based, with high banked turns and large gap jumps, with the tracks all coming from the mind of motocross star-turned-racing and rally driver Travis Pastrana.
“I love rallycross, with its action-packed sprint racing and door-to-door action,” said Pastrana. “That core hasn’t changed. But we can’t be relegated to the rules historically in place for rallycross.
“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. We are looking for nothing less than to raise the bar of our events. 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.”
The 2023-24 Nitrocross season will kick off at the “Visions Off-Road” festival in Oklahoma on June 16-17 on an all-new course designed by Pastrana, said to be his definitive idea for the ultimate racing track. Pastrana had originally planned to build the track in his home state of Maryland but the “Circuit 199” plan, as it was known, was scrapped after local opposition prevented the project from moving forward.
Instead, Pastrana focused on building a track in Oklahoma, at the MidAmerica Outdoors off-road facility in Jay. The track will feature 150 feet of overall elevation change, along with steep S-turns, a tight hairpin, a 120-foot gap jump, and a triple jump.
The series will then return to Utah for the first time since 2021 for a round at Utah Motorsports Campus — the original Nitro Rallycross venue that hosted the 2018 and ’19 contests as part of the Nitro World Games, as well as the 2021 season opener — in August.
From there, the season will continue at Wild Horse Pass in Arizona (November 11-12), Glen Helen Raceway in California (December 9-10), and a snow and ice event at Stampede Park in Calgary on February 2-3, which will feature on the championship schedule this year after inclement weather forced it to switch to an exhibition event last season. The championship will wrap up in either late February or early March at a venue that will be announced at a later date.
Last season there were stops in England and Sweden but series owner Thrill One is opting to solidify its U.S. market position after a string of well-attended events in the second half of last season. One U.S. venue that won’t be returning, however, is the popular ERX Motor Park in Minnesota.
“Any time you are mapping out scheduling, you always have to contend with availability, which is all the more challenging with an event of this scope (both on and off the track),” Brett Clarke, president of Nitrocross, told RACER. “For two years, ERX was a favorite venue for the drivers, particularly with its renowned dirt course, which lead to some of the biggest moments of the series to date.
“We knew, though, going into this season, that we wanted to return to Utah Motorsports Campus. It is the birthplace of both Nitrocross and the area is the spiritual home of Nitro Circus. It’s like our Indy Motor Speedway.
“We also wanted to look at the balance of surfaces across the various events, we knew we needed to add more pavement to the series to create more variety and challenge for the drivers.
“Taking all of those factors into account, unfortunately we just were not able to make ERX work for this season. But we look forward to having an opportunity to return in future.”
2023-24 Nitrocross schedule
June 16-17 – Oklahoma
August 18-19 – Utah*
November 10-11 – Phoenix*
December 9-10 – California*
February 2-3 Calgary
Late February/Early March – TBA Location*
* Doubleheader event
The season will be broadcast live and free globally on the Rumble streaming service, while for those looking to attend in-person, tickets for the opening round of the season are on sale now, with tickets for the Utah, Phoenix, and California events going on sale on May 23.
All-electric Group E class
The 2023-24 season will also be the second campaign that the series’ premier Group E class has exclusively used the FC1-X all-electric car. Producing the equivalent of 1,000hp, the FC1-X is capable of accelerating to 60mph in less than 1.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 180mph. The car was co-developed by Swedish rallycross team Olsbergs MSE and Spanish electromobility specialists QEV Technologies, the same partnership that produced World Rallycross’ RX2e development class vehicle.
Last season, the championship had five different winners from 10 rounds, with Kevin Eriksson also winning the non-championship “Nitro Stampede” in Calgary to take that tally to six from 11. Robin Larsson clinched the championship with his third round win of the year at the season-ending triple-header at Glen Helen, beating Dreyer & Reinbold JC teammates Andreas Bakkerud and Fraser McConnell, as well as 2021 champion Travis Pastrana to the title.
It also attracted a number of star names over the course of the season, with 2009 Formula 1 champion Jenson Button, 2020 NASCAR Cup champion Chase Elliott, 2022 Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric, five-time World Rally winner Kris Meeke, and five-time World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson all appearing over the course of the season.