Nitrocross Calgary Return Features Debut of Volkswagen ‘Baja Bugs’

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Calgary Nitrocross action heats up this weekend at GMC Stadium.

But with unseasonably warm weather forecast to impact the original dates, organizers have opted to leave the racing machines idle for a few days.

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The race is now scheduled for Sunday, from 4:55 p.m. to 9 p.m., and was changed from the configuration scheduled for Friday and Saturday to accommodate ice rink construction, which has been affected by the current surge of temperatures.

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“Nitrocross has been preparing to deliver a world-class racing experience in Calgary, pushing the limits on the ice,” Nitrocross said in a statement Tuesday to announce the change from a two-date show to a one-day adventure. “To ensure the best possible conditions for our riders and a spectacle for our fans, we have made the decision to reschedule the event.”

Either way, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone knows you’ll fall in love with the new class of racing machines at the return of Nitrocross Calgary.

They are revved-up Volkswagen Beetles or, as they are known on the Nitro Circus circuit, ‘Baja Bugs’.

Eat your heart out, Herbie.

“The most fun you can have with your clothes on,” Cerrone said, of driving the Baja Bugs. “It reminds me of a crazy crash car experience, you know?

“You’re racing heavy 1960s and 1970s Volkswagen Beetles. And I want to call them ‘Battle Bugs,’ since we crash into them all the time. But it’s kind of fun and nostalgic.”

And to look too.

Calgarians can do it that Sunday when Nitrocross returns for its second year at Stampede Park.

“It’s kind of a crowd favorite, it’s like a novelty race going on,” Cerrone said. “Fans love seeing the bugs that are out there; it’s a cool, nostalgic experience, and it’s something they can feel like they can come in and do.”

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Drivers race in revved-up Volkswagen Beetles, known on the Nitro Circus circuit as ‘Baja Bugs’. Photo supplied

The Nitrocross stop in Calgary, the only one in Canada this year and the only track that features ice, is the eighth of 10 on the season schedule, which ends with Rounds 9 and 10 in Las Vegas in March, when champions are crowned.

Crowds at GMC Stadium have reached more than 20,000 in 2023, and organizers are hoping for the same for fans this weekend.

It doesn’t matter, because whoever is there will surely enjoy ‘Cars That Fly’. Tracks That Thrill’: the Nitrocross motto.

“Calgary still takes the cake – they are the craziest fans,” said Jamaican driver Fraser McConnell, who was the winner of the E Class Battle Brackets last February at GMC Stadium. “I can’t wait to come back.”

Nitrocross, formerly known as Nitro Rallycross, is the ultimate fusion of short racing and action sports.

Founded in 2018 by global icon Travis Pastrana and the boundary pushers at Nitro Circus, Nitrocross is a disruptive motorsports property featuring specially designed tracks with massive jumps and banked turns for intense, fast-paced action.

In Calgary, ice and snow barriers (weather permitting) offer additional upgrades, adding drama to an already action-packed event, thanks to 1,000-horsepower spec cars (which put everything into action). drivers’ hands and feet) and exceed 160 km. /h and negotiating tight curves, sky-high jumps and fierce competition.

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Nitrocross offers thrill-seeking fans the adrenaline-filled excitement and electrifying action of the Group E class, featuring the most explosive electric race car ever built. Also part of the show are drivers of the younger generation, jumping into the cars of NEXT, the Nitrocross development class.

Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone
Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone appears in the 2019 photo during his UFC career. Photo by Ernest Doroszuk /postmedia

And then there are the Baja Bugs.

“At some point in everyone’s life, your crazy Uncle Larry, or someone you knew, owned a Volkswagen,” Cerrone said. “You can remember those times. They’re different than the NEXT cars and the Group E Class: they’re a little bit out of reach for people, because they couldn’t really easily get into one of those cars and race them. So mistakes are actually something that anyone can compete with.”

Seven drivers in total, all Americans, have been competing in the Baja Bugs class of Nitrocross in their first campaign.

American Ryan Rodríguez leads the group with 1,191 points.

Cerrone, a 40-year-old UFC Hall of Famer, has 1,114 points, hoping to make up ground on Rodriguez and others by navigating the slippery conditions of GMC Stadium.

“I’ve never run on ice before; this will be the first time for me,” Cerrone said. “But I love it. I’ll race any day in any condition… I don’t care. But I don’t know what to expect. I’ve heard it’s like Velcro: studded tires really give you a lot of traction.”

Off the track, there’s a fun festival atmosphere around GMC Stadium, with live music and entertainment, interactive games and remote-controlled car racing for customers.

Fans can also get up close and personal with the cars and their drivers thanks to access to the paddocks at the Nutrien Western Event Center next door.

“My entire career I’ve been nothing more than a thrill seeker,” Cerrone added. “If that makes you pucker, I’m going to try to do it.

“These bugs from Baja California? “They are a good time.”

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