Drivers gearing up for unique track at Calgary Nitro Rallycross event
Though the Calgary Stampede grounds are often associated with chuckwagons, it's a different kind of racing that will be taking place there this weekend.
Calgary is hosting a Nitro Rallycross event at Stampede Park’s GMC Stadium on Feb. 4 and 5, featuring a track that organizers say is "unprecedented."
Calgary competitors will face an array of winterized obstacles, including jumps and snow barriers, all set on an ice surface.
"There's some of the best drivers in the world," said Chip Pankow, Nitro Rallycross GM.
"We get drivers coming in from Formula One, we get drivers coming in from NASCAR, you get drivers coming in from Indy-car. They mix it up, they like to come in because it's so much fun to drive."
Pankow says rallycross is typically driven on dirt or asphalt and this is only the second time in it's history that it's been raced on ice.
Crews have spent weeks freezing the entire half-mile, and unlike other forms of racing, rallycross is fast paced.
"Rather than being a two or three-hour race, we have a race every 10 minutes, and the races are six minutes," Pankow said. "So there's battles, there's winners and losers, the winners advance.
"We always try to give the losers a second chance so there's a road to redemption and you can follow your driver throughout the day and see how they did – and that's what people really enjoy about it."
Calgary is hosting a Nitro Rallycross event at Stampede Park’s GMC Stadium. on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5, 2023. (Supplied) Robin Larsson is from Sweden and drives for RX Cartel JC.
He says he enjoys the challenge of racing on different tracks because track conditions are constantly changing.
The cars use spiked tires to help drivers gain traction.
Larsson is one of the first ones on the new track, which looks much like fresh ice at a hockey rink, but as more drivers make laps the ice will get chewed up.
"In the finals its going to be a completely different track from what we try now," he said. "So now you get the best conditions, so that's one of the challenge I really liked – that you … don't know what the next corner is going to be like."
Larsson drives an electric vehicle capable of going from 0-60 in just 1.4 seconds.
"The FC 1x was developed for this championship by First Quarter," said Pankow. "It's 1070 horsepower, it's got four electric motors, it's a full EV vehicle.
"We think it's the fastest electric race car in the world."
Jim Laurendeau, the Calgary Stampede's vice president of Park Development and Operations, says he's hopeful the two-day event is a success and Nitro Rallycross can return in the future.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek echoes that sentiment.
She went out on track for a ride along with one of the drivers, hitting speeds of 140 km/h, and even took to the air over a jump constructed in the rodeo infield.
"That was amazing," Gondek said.
"I told them they have to come back every year, and I think they said 'yes,' but I couldn't hear anything over my squealing."
The Nitro Rallycross championship finale will be held in Los Angeles, Calif. from March 17-19.
To learn more, you can visit the Nitro Rallycross website.
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