The Nitro World Games are, in a word, ridiculous.
And I don’t mean ridiculous in a “this is stupid” sense. I mean it in the sense of “what these athletes and their machines are able to do — and what they’re asking them to do — seems beyond the limits of human ability.”
But, having been in attendance myself in 2018, standing alongside fans and Utah Motorsports Campus staffers along the third-level balcony of the Grand Prix Building as the FMX Big Trick and Moto Quarterpipe competitions unfolded, and watching 3,000-pound cars soar through the air over a giant jump during Nitro Rallycross, there were several other adjectives that came to mind.
Insane. Thrilling. Unbelievable. Awe-inspiring.
And, yes, ridiculous.
I grew up in the era when ESPN made the X Games must-see TV every summer. I’ve watched more than my fair share of extreme sports competitions on television, always in awe but never quite grasping just how spectacular these athletes’ feats really were.
That was, until I was there in person last year.
As crazy as it looks when someone does a double backflip on a dirt bike during the X Games, it’s even crazier when you can see the whole thing unfold from start to finish. You see the athletes get up to speed across the paddock-area parking lot. You see just how steep that ramp really is. You see how high off the ground they really are, and just how quickly gravity starts to take over.
You see them somehow manage to land these crazy tricks. Or, you see them crash, and thanks to a number of constantly improving safety measures, they somehow bounce right back up, get back on their bike and go back for more.
As for Moto Quarterpipe? That takes the word “insane” and takes it to a whole other level. It’s nearly twice the size of any other quarterpipe ever built at more than three stories tall. The idea of riding a motorcycle up that thing is mind-boggling. To ride a motorcycle up that quarterpipe and then soar more than 45 feet in the air above the top of it, as 2018 champion Colby Raha did? There aren’t really words to describe it — at least, not words that can be printed in a family newspaper.
Nitro Rallycross is nuts, too. It’s road racing-meets-short track-meets-Dukes of Hazzard. Or, just another brainchild of action sports legend Travis Pastrana. If you know anything about action sports, the name Travis Pastrana alone should tell you that you’re likely to see something you’ve never seen before, and likely won’t ever see again anywhere else.
Add in the latest event to join the Nitro World Games weekend — flat-track motorcycle racing, thanks to the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship — and it’s sure to be a blast out at UMC on Aug. 17.
All this is right here in our backyard, and it’s actually fairly reasonably priced, as well. If you’ve never seen one of these action sports events in person, but have always wanted to, it’s the perfect opportunity.
I know I’m looking forward to it.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. The biggest thrill he’s ever gotten while driving a car is accidentally hitting a cattle guard too fast, briefly getting his friend’s minivan airborne. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.