Rallycross takes New Jersey by storm

Travis Pastrana races in the first U.S. rallycross event after X16, in New Jersey in late August. Subaru

X Games veterans Travis Pastrana, Dave Mirra, Tanner Foust, and Andrew Comrie-Picard are in New Jersey this weekend for rallycross, a new-to-America motorsport that saw its U.S. debut at X Games 16 this summer.

Rallycross features high-horsepower, production-based vehicles racing through a racetrack short course that has jumps, unbanked turns and challenging transitions between pavement and gravel.

Although new to the U.S., rallycross has been wildly popular in Europe since it started in the 1960s. Fans there say they love it for the hard-hitting, non-stop action and all the car-to-car contact. Think of it like supercross -- but with cars. The X Games version of the sport was called SuperRally; Foust took the first-ever gold medal.

Foust, who ran five events in the European Rallycross Series this year, is excited about the sport's jump across the pond and thinks it is a perfect fit for American fans.

"The new U.S. Rallycross championship is showing huge promise for the sport in the States," said Foust, who drove a Rockstar Energy/etnies Ford Fiesta to the Round 1 win in New Jersey in late August. "A few international driving stars are bringing some serious hardware to this event, so I'm expecting some great battles."

At the first round, Foust fended off some serious challenges by ultimate second- and third-place finishers Pastrana and Mirra in their Subaru Rally Team USA machines. They'll both be back in action this weekend.

But the wildcards include two European competitors: British rallycross star Liam Doran has shipped his 2009 Citroen C4 rallycross car from Europe to debut in the US, while Finland's Jussi Pinomaki will pilot an Oslberg MSE Ford Fiesta.

"I feel like I can achieve a lot for my career by coming here to the U.S.," said Doran, who finished third overall in the European championship this year. "All of these guys I'm competing against here are amazing athletes and some have even been my idols on TV."

Also debuting in the series this weekend is Rhys Millen, a professional stunt driver, veteran Formula DRIFT driver, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competitor and 2006 X Games driver. He's bringing an amazing 2002 Hyundai WRC car to the race.

The new series features three events this year at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J. 2011 promises a full season with a six-round schedule and events held nationwide.