All-electric rally car race in Calgary in February

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A new motorsport event featuring electric rally cars will take place this winter at Calgary’s Stampede Park, where drivers will go door-to-door on an icy track with tight turns and snowy jumps.

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

The two-day event is part of the property’s first international season, which has previously hosted races in the UK, Sweden and the US.

“It’s the cars that fly and the tracks that rock,” said Nitro driver Fraser McConnell of Jamaica, who was at the announcement event and will race in Calgary. “It’s just as exciting for the drivers as it is for the fans.”

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

Dubbed by its creators the “next evolution in motorsport”, Nitro Rallycross is the brainchild of motorsports icon Travis Pastrana and his action sports outfit Nitro Circus, known for staging high-flying events where BMX and motocross riders perform dizzying tricks and stunts of dizzying jumps.

Pastrana will be one of the competitors in the Calgary race, as will former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button.

Drivers will drive the new FC1-X, an all-electric rally car. Since all the drivers will be in the same brand of vehicle, the competition will come down to who can best handle the snow and ice, tight turns and jumps on the Stampede grounds.

A Nitro rally car performs a jump during a race in Southern California. (Rallycross Nitro)

Brett Clarke, president of Nitro Rallycross, described the FC1-X at Tuesday’s press conference as a 1,000 horsepower vehicle. He joked that it would bring “a new kind of power to the Stampede.”

Race weekend coincides with the city’s winter Chinook Blast festival.

“We believe the timing of this race couldn’t be better,” Carson Ackroyd, senior vice president of sales for Tourism Calgary, said at the press conference.

He added that last winter’s Chinook Blast drew nearly half a million people. Tourism officials estimate that the combined events next February could generate more than $10 million in economic impact.

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

Nitro rally driver Fraser McConnell signs autographs at an event in Southern California. (Rallycross Nitro)

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

Tickets for the two-day event are expected to go on sale friday. Day tickets and weekend options are available, as are VIP packages.

As for McConnell, the race-ready Jamaican driver, he hopes his country’s historic connection to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary will help him on snow and ice.

“Being in the same city as the Jamaica Winter Olympics debut is really special to me,” McConnell said. “We will try to recreate history.”

At these winter games more than 30 years ago, the Jamaican bobsled team made its historic debut, an event popularized in the Disney film Cool races.

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