All-electric rally car race coming to Calgary in February

All-electric Nitro rally cars race on a track in California.  (Nitro Rallycross - image credit)
All-electric Nitro rally cars race on a track in California. (Nitro Rallycross - image credit)

A new motorsport event featuring electric rally cars is coming this winter to Calgary's Stampede Park, where drivers will race door-to-door on an icy track featuring tight turns and snowy jumps.

At a news conference Tuesday at the Stampede grounds, event organizers and city tourism officials announced that Nitro Rallycross will roll into Calgary on the weekend of Feb. 4-5.

The two-day event is part of property's first international season, which has already held races in the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States. 

"It's cars that fly and tracks that thrill," said Nitro driver Fraser McConnell, of Jamaica, who was at the announcement event and will compete in the Calgary race. "It's just as exciting for the drivers as it is for the fans to watch."

Nitro Rallycross
Nitro Rallycross

Dubbed by its creators as the "next evolution of motorsports," Nitro Rallycross is the brainchild of motorsport icon Travis Pastrana and his action sports outfit Nitro Circus, known for staging high-flying events where BMX and dirt bike riders perform daredevil tricks and stunts from towering jumps. 

Pastrana will be one of the competitors in the Calgary race, as will former Formula One champion Jenson Button.

The drivers will race the new FC1-X, an all-electric rally car. Since all of the drivers will be in the same make of vehicle, the competition will boil down to who can better handle the snow and ice, tight turns and jumps on the Stampede grounds.

Nitro Rallycross
Nitro Rallycross

Brett Clarke, the president of Nitro Rallycross, described the FC1-X at Tuesday's press conference as a 1,000-horsepower vehicle. He joked that it'll bring "a new form of horsepower to the Stampede."

The racing weekend coincides with the city's Chinook Blast winter festival.

"We believe the timing of this race could not be better," said Carson Ackroyd, senior vice-president of sales with Tourism Calgary, at the news conference.

He added that last winter's Chinook Blast attracted nearly a half-million people. Tourism officials are estimating the combined events next February could generate more than $10 million in economic impact. 

"Calgary is the winter sport capital of Canada, and this event is another fantastic reason to visit our city," Ackroyd said in a statement.

Nitro Rallycross
Nitro Rallycross

Racing fans will be able to see the all-electric rally cars and the racing teams in an indoor paddock set up at the nearby Nutrien Western Event Centre, event organizers said. There will be food trucks, live music and driver autograph sessions on site during the weekend. 

Tickets for the two-day event are scheduled to go on sale Friday. Single-day tickets and weekend options are available, as are VIP packages.

As for McConnell, the Jamaican driver set to compete in the race, he's hoping his country's historic tie to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary helps him on the snow and ice. 

"Being in the same city as the debut of the Jamaican Winter Olympics is really special to me," McConnell said. "We're going to try to recreate history."

During those winter games more than 30 years ago, the Jamaican bobsled team made its historic debut, an event that was popularized in the Disney film Cool Runnings.