Growing up, I was a huge NASCAR fan. From the months between February and October my Sunday afternoons belong to “The Race.” I collected cars, played video games, and attended races. I wore t-shirts, jackets, and ball caps of my favorite driver. The one family tradition that we truly ever had was buying the NASCAR season preview book that showcased all the driver changes and different paint schemes.
This passion lasted up until around 2007. It was around that time the Car of Tomorrow came out and the video games started lacking. The cars became less competitive and the racing fell off. I watched for quite a while out of habit, but eventually I decided to find better ways to spend my time.
That’s not to say my racing interest ever fully went away. I still kept up with news and driver changes, would watch the occasional beginning or end of a race, and would check out the Radioactive YouTube videos and highlights. I bonded with one of my best friends over NASCAR back in the early 2000’s when we worked at Blockbuster. We spent hours discussing racing and playing the EA video games. Like me, his fandom began to wear off around 2007 and it wasn’t until last year when nostalgia took over that he really started to become interested in NASCAR again.
We talk about daily about NASCAR now. The discussions about current and past events stirred up some nostalgia in me. It made me want to like NASCAR again. So, I tried. I turned on the races for a few laps, but the spark just isn’t there anymore. The racing isn’t competitive and to be honest, it’s boring.
This isn’t my first time hoping my fandom would re-spark. I’ve tried several times over the years, but I would usually find myself enjoying other types of racing more. I haven’t sat through an entire NASCAR race in thirteen years, but I have watched a few IndyCar races. I like IndyCar better than NASCAR these days, because the races are shorter and the competition is more intense, but I wouldn’t describe myself as anything more than a casual fan.
The only racing I’ve truly fallen in love with is rally cross. Sometime around 2015, I was browsing commercials during a NASCAR race when I ran across the Red Bull Global Rallycross. I saw names I recognized like Tanner Foust, Scott Speed, Travis Pastrana, Bucky Lasek, and Ken Block all competing in modified rally cars that were jumping over jumps, beating the crap out of each other, and racing short and fast spurts. I sat bewildered at where this had been my entire life. It was everything I wanted in racing.
I never flipped back to the NASCAR race. Instead I enjoyed this new racing I’d discovered and after it ended I began my research on Global RallyCross. I watched weekly till the end of the season and began planning to attend an event that was being held in North Carolina. Unfortunately, that fell through but I’d discovered something new that I really liked.
I followed loosely over the next couple of years. Red Bull stopped posting the races on YouTube and my work schedule prevented me from watching the races as they aired so that hindered my fandom a bit. Still, I watched when I could and even began checking out the bigger rally cross organization FIA World RallyCross that took place overseas. I noticed the track designs seemed a bit more methodical and less chaotic and the racing was a little tighter. I liked it so much, I ended up following it almost exclusively for the 2017 season mainly due to the races airing live on YouTube and some excellent highlights were put together. It made it easier for me to follow, despite having a league here in the States.
One of the heat races from 2017 was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever seen. It was insane how much was going on and how fun it was to watch. Sure, one might argue it was a little excessive, but the unpredictability and chaos on the track gave me the most joy I’ve had watching racing in a very long time, maybe ever.
I didn’t watch any rally cross last year. The Red Bull Global RallyCross closed down in 2018 and last year was a transition year in my life and rally cross wasn’t on my mind. This past week, I’ve gotten on YouTube and began watching the events again. I don’t have the time to watch the entire events, but FIA does a fantastic job putting together complete and highlighted heats and finals which give you the whole race experience in well under thirty minutes. The races are so short, you don’t feel like you are missing out on much and I just love that about it.
My tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older. Racing has changed too. I hate that I don’t enjoy NASCAR like I used to, but I think it’s time to cultivate my love of rally cross.