Extreme ENitrocrossRace of Champions

Action sports dominate Team USA’s ROC 2023 lineup

3 Mins read
Credit: Louis Yio/Red Bull Content Pool

With the Race of Champions on 28/29 January 2023 set to take place on the snow and ice of Sweden, it only makes sense for the Americans to bring some of their finest off-road personalities. Travis Pastrana will race ROC for the ninth time, while Tanner Foust will join him in his third try at the event.

The duo previously joined forces in 2009, where they fell to Germany’s Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel in the Nations Cup semi-final.

Pastrana needs no introduction as an eleven-time X Games gold medalist who has competed in virtually everything off-road from rallying to rallycross and motocross to the Stadium Super Trucks. He was originally supposed to represent Team USA alongside IndyCar driver Jimmie Johnson at the inaugural snow ROC in 2022 but had to skip due to injuries suffered in a BASE jumping accident. Had Pastrana been able to race, the United States would have had a pair of off-road veterans as Johnson began his career in stadium trucks and desert racing. Instead, the Americans procured an all-IndyCar duo as Johnson and Colton Herta made the final round of the Nations Cup before losing to Team Norway.

Although Pastrana missed out on ROC 2022, he was still there in spirit via the Nitro Rallycross FC1-X, which made its racing début at the event before becoming the NRX headlining category Group E this year. Vettel, who is once again competing for Team Germany alongside Schumacher’s son Mick in 2023, received an invitation from Pastrana to race in the series following his second-place finish in the individual ROC.

Pastrana is currently fifth in the Group E standings with two victories at ERX and Wild Horse Pass. He founded NRX in 2021 and won the inaugural Supercar championship.

Of his eight ROC attempts, perhaps his most notable came in 2005 and 2006. The former saw him reach the individual tournament’s semi-final despite suffering a broken leg in a motocross demonstration crash prior to the ROC, while in 2006 he ran the entire Nations Cup solo due to injuries to his team-mates and reached the final.

“I’ve always loved the Race of Champions, even if I have quite a track record of injuring myself down the years: I once raced in Paris with a broken leg and this year I broke my pelvis BASE jumping the week before. So I guess I can’t claim to have mellowed much over the years,” quipped Pastrana. “I might now have to make a mental note to make sure I stay fit enough to be there in January. Then I’ll really look forward to racing with Tanner, having a blast on the snow and ice and hopefully winning Team USA’s first ROC Nations Cup since 2002.”

Credit: Sam Bagnall

Like Pastrana, Foust is an American off-road icon with success in multiple disciplines. He raced against Pastrana in Nitro Rallycross in 2021, finishing sixth in points, as well as its spiritual predecessors Red Bull Global Rallycross and Americas Rallycross; Foust won the former’s Supercar title in 2012 and the latter’s in 2019. 

He currently competes in Extreme E for McLaren alongside Emma Gilmour. In the team’s maiden season, Foust and Gilmour placed sixth in the championship and notched their first podium with a runner-up in the season finale in Uruguay. The two will return to McLaren for 2023.

Foust first represented the Yanks in 2008, where he was knocked out of the quarter-final by David Coulthard of Britain.

“It’s an honour to be coming back to the Race Of Champions again. It’s been too long since my last visit but I’m thrilled to have a chance to compete against such an amazing line-up of motorsport greats from all over the world,” commented Foust. “I’ve done some ice racing too so I hope I can use that experience to help Team USA take on the rest of the world and maybe even surprise the Nordic teams. Either way, to hang out with Travis is always guaranteed to be memorable.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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