When thinking of the Stampede grounds in the winter, most Calgarians don’t think of a car racing track. But last month, GMC Stadium played host to a Nitro Rallycross event that featured snow, ice and roaring engines.
Sweden’s Kevin Eriksson edged three other drivers to win the Super Final race in front of a record-breaking crowd.
Nitro Rallycross began in 2018 in Utah and has since grown into a full international series, with races in Sweden, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Rally racing is vastly different from other motorsport races, because every series has something different. From paved roads to ice, all the races have different formats and cars used and often feature extreme conditions like sharp turns and difficult terrains.
“It’s motocross with a roll cage, it has all the excitement of racing cars, door to door and added a bit of action sports, a bit of Nitro,” said Travis Pastrana, the series founder.
Pastrana is well versed in the world of motocross, having won several X-Games gold medals in the discipline.
Since its inception, Nitro Rallycross has had races on a number of different tracks and surfaces, but this year marks the first time the series has had races on snow and ice.
The series decided that Canada was to play host to both races. The first was in Trois-Rivières, Que. on Jan. 20-21. The Calgary event followed just two weeks later on Feb. 4-5 and Pastrana said it was the perfect sport for racing.
“We love motors and we love being outdoors and we love having fun, and that’s kind of what Calgary is known for,” he said.
Over 40,000 Canadians showed up over two days to watch the race. This was the largest two day attendance in the history of Nitro Rallycross, drawing many spectators, even ones new to motorsports, like local Sarah Stone.
“It was so fun to see all of the drivers kill it and enjoy a family-friendly event with friends,” said Stone.
The two day event ended Sunday with the four-car “Super Finals” featuring Pastrana, his teammate Connor Martell, Kris Meeke, and Kevin Eriksson.
Martell collided into a track maker on the first lap, causing him to be unable to finish the race.
Eriksson, who is from Sweden, was able to get an early lead which expanded to a 15.579 second lead when he crossed the finish line first.
This let Pastrana and Meeke to battle it out for second. Meeke was able to beat Pastrana to the line, capturing second place.
Pastrana was very grateful to finish third in his Ken Block tribute car. Block, a close friend of Pastrana and fellow extreme racer, passed away in a snowmobiling accident in early January.
After the win, Pastrana headed to the airport to fly to Daytona Beach, Florida, to compete in ‘SpeedWeeks’ prior to NASCAR’s Daytona 500.
In his first attempt at the Daytona 500, he finished in spot number eleven while driving the number 67 for 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Michael Jordan.
The season finale took place at Glen Helen Raceway in Los Angeles, from March 17-19.