Travis Pastrana Has Big Plans for the Future of Nitro Rallycross [EXCLUSIVE]

Travis Pastrana

Getty Travis Pastrana set expectations for the 2022 Nitro Rallycross season.

The first full season of Nitro Rallycross came to an end in Florida on December 5 with Travis Pastrana winning the championship over teammate Scott Speed. The offseason has just begun, but Pastrana has already begun planning for the 2022 season and how they can improve while potentially adding in even more drivers from other series.

Fresh off his championship season, Pastrana talked to Heavy about the first full Nitro Rallycross schedule, what he learned while working with a top team designing the tracks, the exclusive partnership with Peacock, and where the series will go in the future. He also explained the impact that adding Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott had on the series’ public exposure.

“It exceeded all of our expectations,” Pastrana told Heavy. “Definitely, we learned a lot. There’s a lot we can do better. It was awesome that we got the car count. It was amazing that we got just the teams and all the drivers that came in. I mean, two previous NASCAR Cup champions with Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott driving.

“I think it definitely exceeded my wildest dreams on the amount of people that want to do this kind of racing, the amount of people that are excited about it. I think the viewership did amazing for where it was on Peacock. They have that live stream. It was awesome.”

Busch & Elliott Showed That Other Drivers Can Compete in NRX

The inaugural Nitro Rallycross season featured numerous drivers with experience in Rallycross, but Busch and Elliott both achieved some success. They each made positive strides throughout their respective weekends and reached the final event. Busch capped off his weekend in Arizona with a fourth-place run while Elliott took eighth at The FIRM in Florida.

Now that the two drivers have shown that they can achieve success, Pastrana expects to see considerably more interest in Nitro Rallycross as the 2022 season approaches. He even has received calls from Clint Bowyer and other drivers that retired from full-time competition.

“Considering when Kyle made the final and didn’t die, didn’t get hurt, didn’t crash the car, I think that opened a lot of people’s eyes to say ‘Wow, I can do that,'” Pastrana said. “Or ‘I can maybe try this and maybe my IndyCar deal or my NASCAR deal will allow this.’ So I think that’s what’s really cool, and I was super thankful for Kyle  — and actually Scott Speed for kind of setting that up — to jump in just to show everyone else that it was something that was feasible.”

Whether or not more drivers jump in and compete in Nitro Rallycross, Pastrana accomplished a different goal with Busch and Elliott joining the stacked list of drivers. They proved that champions can “still have fun” in a variety of vehicles.

“I think that’s something that racing hasn’t been for a lot of the top drivers and riders and everything around the world. It just stopped being fun,” Pastrana said. “And if racing stops being fun and the drivers stop having fun and that excitement level goes down, then the fans stop being excited. It just doesn’t mean as much. So I think, hopefully, this will be the fun sport.”

The 2022 Season Will Feature a Major Change

When the Nitro Rallycross drivers return for the 2022 season, they will embark upon a new era. Instead of driving a Mini Cooper, Audi, Subaru, or Honda, the top competitors will climb into the all-electric FC1-X.

According to DirtFish, Olsbergs MSE and electromobility specialist QEV Technologies collaborated to develop the supercar for Nitro Rallycross. This SUV-like vehicle will be faster and more durable than the current supercars with combustion engines, and it will provide a level playing field for drivers such as Tanner Foust, Timmy Hansen, Kevin Hansen, Steve Arpin, and Kevin Eriksson. These drivers will have even more opportunities to compete for wins while their teams will have fewer expensive repairs.

“Everyone for the next two years — 2022, 2023 — will have the exact same platform,” Pastrana said. “If you know you’re in on the exact same equipment as anyone else is, I think that’s going to be extremely helpful. This new electric car is built so durable. It was built specifically for Nitro Rallycross, it was built for the jumps and the terrain, so I think it’s going to be awesome.”

Pastrana has not revealed when the Nitro Rallycross season will begin or where the race weekends will take place. However, he has accomplished his goal of showing that the series can succeed on its own and get even bigger in the future.

“We have a proof of concept and it doesn’t have to piggyback on Nitro Circus or anything else. It is its own series. We’re out looking right now for sponsorship to put on a better show. I think the racing was great. … Phoenix, I believe we had freestyle jetski stuff, but we want to have t-shirt cannons and DJs and a band.

“We want to make sure that the racers can come because their families want to come.  And I know with two little girls, I only go on my vacations where they want to go. Hopefully, we can turn this into more than just a race season. It can be something for the whole family.”

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