Nitrocross Utah Preview

August 17, 2023Joe Moore

The 2023-24 Nitrocross Season continues this weekend in Salt Lake City Utah. Find out everything you need to know below.

Championship Standings

Photo Credit Louis Yio

Fraser McConnell took an all-important early championship lead winning round one in Oklahoma. Kevin Eriksson sits second in the championship, 11 points behind McConnell. Reigning champion Robin Larsson sits third in the championship, just a mere point behind Eriksson. Championship creator and 2021 champion Travis Pastrana sits in fourth place, 8 points behind Larsson. 2022-23 runner-up Andreas Bakkerud rounds out the top five in the championship, sitting 9 points behind Pastrana. The current championship standings leave a lot to the imagination. If things this season play out the same as last season, however, McConnell will take home the championship. As Robin Larsson won round one last season and would later go on to win the championship. With the win in the first round proving critical. Nevertheless, this is Nitrocross and anything can happen.

Returning Home

Photo Credit Nitro Rallycross

Nitrocross will return home for the first time in over a year. Nitrocross, formerly Nitro Rallycross, debuted at the Utah Motorsports Campus track back in 2018 as a one-off event. The event saw Timmy Hansen take home the win. The track was also used for the 2019 one-off event that saw Kevin Hansen win. It was also used during the 2021 Nitro Rallycross season. It was absent from the calendar during the 2022-23 season due to scheduling issues. The track was a favorite amongst fans. With the track including a 130 ft gap jump that goes over a tabletop jump that goes over a tunnel for the joker lap. Although all three won’t be in use at the same time. As Group E will use the tabletop under the gap jump for the joker lap. While other classes will use the tabletop jump as the standard lap and the tunnel for the joker.

Same Track New Look

Photo Credit Nitrocross

The Nitrocross Utah track will look slightly different from the track used in previous years. As Nitrocross has decided to put tarmac on most of the track. The decision was made to help manage dust levels during the event without the need for a water truck. It also will help the surface stay pretty consistent throughout the event, five or take a bit of excess gravel getting onto it. Don’t worry if you’re a gravel lover, however. There is still going to be a gravel section on the track because it wouldn’t be Rallycross without a bit of dust and gravel. 

Daly Returns 

IndyCar driver Conor Daly will once again drive a FC1-X this weekend. Many thought Daly’s appearance at round one in Oklahoma was a one-off. It looks like things have changed, however. Daly will once again join the DRR JC team this weekend. Daly finished last in the round one final. Meaning he sits 8th in the championship, 9 points behind Kris Meeke.

New Format 

With Nitrocross going to a separate round on each day of the event there will be a new format this weekend, sort of. The only difference between this format and the one from last season is there will be no battle brackets. Battle Brackets were a favorite amongst fans. With the head-to-head battles providing a different type of action from the drivers. It also gave fans a chance to see more of their favorite drivers throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, they aren’t staying with the new format. Nitrocross is bringing back racing under the lights, however. Something that originally debuted in Arizona last season. The venture proved to be successful nearly immediately. With a later start time allowing fans from not only North America to tune in, but fans from all over the world. 

What Else Will Be Taking Place?

Nitrocross and Nitro Circus have brought out all the stops this weekend. With the weekend including a Nitro Circus show, music, and other entertainment away from the track. On the track, fans will get to see drivers compete in the 1,000+ horsepower FC1-X. Along with Nitrocross NEXT, SXS, Van Prix and Baja Buggies. With the voice of Rallycross Andrew Cooley taking the wheel of one of the vans in the van prix. If you’re in Utah this weekend and have nothing else to do, Nitrocross Utah is the place to be. 

Lia Block In NEXT 

Photo Credit Louis Yio

Lia Block will once again race in the Nitrocross NEXT class. She currently sits fourth in the championship, 8 points behind Jimmy Henderson. Seeing as this is Lia’s home event she is one of the favorites to take the Nitrocross NEXT win this weekend. Although she won’t have an easy time doing it. 

Another ARA Star Added To The Mix

Photo Credit Mike Boyd

Lia Block won’t be the only ARA star in the Nitrocross NEXT class this weekend. As Patrick Gruszka who sits second in the ARA championship will also be at the event. Gruszka, who is skipping the Ojibwe Forests Rally which takes place next weekend, has decided to dip his foot into Rallycross. Expect Gruszka to be in the battle for a round win by the end of the weekend. As he is an extremely talented driver who once he learns the car will likely do well if everything goes right for him. 

Pastrana Will Not Race

2021 Champion and series founder Travis Pastrana will not drive in Utah this weekend. As Pastrana is giving up his seat to Cleetus McFarland. Pastrana did drive the open practice before the event, and his Instagram post only says he’s giving up his seat Saturday for round 3. Pastrana will drive on Friday for round 2.

New Liveries

There will be a handful of drivers using new liveries on their FC1-X this weekend. Travis Pastrana/Cleetus McFarland will use a new livery. Their VSC teammate Conner Martell will also use a new livery. The Osbergs MSE crews of Oliver and Kevin Eriksson will also use a new livery this weekend. The new OMSE livery is a lot more noticeable than the previous one, as it is bright yellow.