Rally Car Racing Brings New Type of Fan to X Games

July 30, 2011
By K. Becks

It has been eighteen years since action sports fans have experienced a summer without the X Games, but it hasn’t been quite so long for all the gearheads paying attention to the events in Los Angeles.

Six years ago, ESPN and organizers of the Summer X Games made one of the better decisions since the inception of the event: adding rally car racing to the list of competitions.

Both the summer and Winter X Games were built on sports whose target audience is the 17-35 year old male population. With the installment of more women’s events, the younger female population has also been sucked into the entertaining world of action sports. However, until 2006, it seemed as though the X Games would be unable to further expand their audience.

Enter rally car racing into the mix.

The inaugural rally car event couldn’t have gone much better than it did. Travis Pastrana brought name recognition to the fledgling X Games competition, winning the gold medal by beating Colin McRae, who also had name recognition due to a rally car video game series bearing his name. With Pastrana on board, it was clear that rally car racing was going to stay on the X Games lineup.

The benefit of rally car racing to the X Games is twofold. Since Pastrana began racing in 2006, other X Games athletes that made a name for themselves in other sports, including Brian Deegan and Dave Mirra, have begun car racing careers. In addition, world class rally car drivers such as Marcus Gronholm and David Higgins have come to the U.S. to participate, as well as former IRL champion Kenny Bräck. The unique combination of established X Games athletes with drivers who made their living in rally car racing makes for a star-studded event, and gives older athletes such as Mirra the opportunity to extend their X Games career. It gives both action sports fans wanting to see their favorite athlete as well as traditional racing fans a reason to watch.

The rally car events also give fans of events that are objectively scored an incentive to tune into the four day event. The majority of the events at the X Games are decided by a panel of judges who give competitors a score based on their run, which is a subjective measure similar to that used in figure skating events in the Olympics. The way to determine a winner in rally car racing is simple; cross the finish line first and you are the winner. The method of deciding medal winners in the racing events alone are enough to attract the attention of some sports fans that may not be partial to the subjective scoring system used in many of the other X Games events.

In 2010, another rally car event was added to the X Games schedule. SuperRally pits five cars against each other on a track less than a mile long, creating a mad dash at the start and usually resulting in more than a few instances of cars trading paint. After the first year of the newest rally car competition, it was clear that SuperRally was one of the most entertaining events of the entire X Games.

The X Games have tried introducing new events in the past with varied success. However, it seems to have hit the jackpot with rally car racing. In its five years of existence, rally car racing has continued to attract more and more big names in the sport, which only reaffirms the claim that these are the best athletes in the world competing in their respective sports. In all likelihood, rally car racing isn’t going to be dropped from the X Games any time soon.

This is good, because to put it in X Games lingo, rally car racing is rad, dude.

- K. Becks

2 Responses to Rally Car Racing Brings New Type of Fan to X Games

  1. Jestine Timpson on August 13, 2011 at 8:21 am

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  2. Guest on September 3, 2011 at 6:17 am

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