If you're ever invited to watch the X Games do yourself a favor and skip the events and just watch them on television. If you're ever invited to an X Games party do yourself a favor and suck down a lot of energy drinks so you can enjoy as many of them as possible.
I'm not sure what to call the X Games Rallycross event this year. I can tell you that the traditional X Games format of two cars racing head to head was boring, almost painful to watch. It just sucked, like watching an autocross you aren't competing in. Liam Doran won in a Citroen, which is kind of cool, and I keep hearing I should have a beer with him which must mean something.
On the other hand, the proper Global Rallycross on Sunday was pretty much Awesome with a capital A, but probably better if you sat at home and watched it on TV (more on this later). There were 8 or 9 cars on track for the final race which came after 2+ hours of four car heats was a good time in the sun.
The heat races were cool, but seeing almost the entire field on track at one time rocked — even if it was only the factory teams. I believe the heats pretty much weeded out the privateers Conley, Keeney, Van Way, and Verdier –- but Global Rallycross is legit and primarily contested by serious factory backed teams with mechanics that fly over from Europe to wrench on the cars. Even being in the field to compete for the final is an honor.
So why is it better on TV? Because you really couldn't see anything in person, which I understand is very different from how the first three Rallycrosses of the year went down. For those you could see most of the track from the viewing areas.
I had a media pass which restricted me from being in any of the spectator grandstands or really anywhere that allowed me to watch the race, seriously, I would have been better off buying a ticket. I found out later that they finally gave tickets to some of the media that complained and decided to let five people at a time go to the top of the skateboard jump.
And to top it all off, spectators weren't allowed in the rally paddock, or at least that's what everyone on Facebook keeps telling me, which meant I couldn't hang with anyone that showed up. So if you bought a ticket, you watched cars go over this synthetic jump (see a real jump at 0:17 here) and make a slow corner, or you went to the back of the track and watched some cars through a chain link fence, but you certainly weren't going to be allowed to see the cars in person or talk to any of the drivers.
It was pretty bad. So I blew the whole thing off and partied. And it was one of hell of a party.
The first day started off with a tour of Jay Leno's incredible garage, which I totally tagged.
After the tour, our night progressed to the JW Marriot Hotel lobby bar where most of the X Games were hanging out with a ton of half-dressed porn stars. Yes, someone actually booked Adultcon for the same weekend at effectively the same convention center and hotel. At first we thought this how motocross, BMX and skateboarder dudes roll as the porn stars seemed to fit right in with all the crazy ripped athletes in flat brim hats.
Also, while drinking in the bar, a Facebook friend of mine recognized me and bought us all a round of beers! So awesome Jairo! Thank you for the beers! As a side note, I'm convinced X Games is really a conglomerate of flat bill hat companies trying to regain the ground they lost in the 1970's when trucker hats faded.
A major highlight of the trip was when we were shown this awesome speakeasy in a parking garage only a block away from the hotel, which made some of the best drinks we've ever had. My American Express card hates me. Then the same ESPN that wouldn't let me have two media passes so I could have a photographer somehow threw the sickest party at a little bar across from the hotel where we saw Sebastian Bach and Billy Idol play for a few hours with a full open bar.
"We Are The Youth Gone Wild!" and "Rebel Yell" were pretty spot on for the weekend. Thank you ESPN. And no we weren't supposed to be there. A friend got us tickets. Thank you friend!
I crashed in another friend's room the first night and when they left for a meeting in the morning I took all the hotel room furniture and relocated it to the wall ninety degrees to left. I thought it was pretty funny. This friend then got even by stealing all our toilet paper and ordering like 6 cheeseburgers and a bunch of salad to our room late night and then quietly slipped out the door.
Bastard. I'm not sure what was worse: gorging on a ton of cheeseburgers and lettuce because it showed up and we didn't know what to do with it (which resulted in a food fight), or waking up after eating a ton of cheeseburgers and lettuce and realizing there isn't one damn square of toilet paper anywhere and the room is trashed. Thank you friend.
As for our other shenanigans, we handed out Caswell stickers to everyone in sight and people starting tagging things like madmen. I personally found Ken Block's team rental car in their hotel parking lot and lit it up with CASWELL. The best part was that I got a message first thing in the morning from Ken's team saying they heard I was here but hadn't seen any Caswell stickers…15 minutes later they went out to the garage to find their car. AWESOME!S
Another friend hooked us up with tickets for the final X Games party thrown by Wasserman Media Group (the guys that rep Pastrana and Block and a bunch of other cool people) and their sponsors. It was pretty sweet. I decided to tag almost everyone in the party: Foust, Mira, Block, Higgins, and most of the team principals and some of their sponsors. Some of the athletes seemed annoyed and another guy there told me it was so 1990's... juvenile. I thanked him and told him racing should be more fun, that it's serious enough on the track.
Ken and his guys seemed to understand and quickly jumped in and started tagging me as well as some of the others with their Tire Slayer stickers. So much fun.
As for the racing earlier that day, I'm not even sure who won. I wasn't looking at the finish when the first car crossed because behind them was a train of high-speed carnage. Cars missing huge sections. Smoke pouring out from everywhere. At one point in an earlier round, Foust literally drove a tire off his car and was still managing to keep Gronholm behind him, which was pretty sweet. Tanner can drive.
So I just looked up the results on and found this awesome video, which I guess is what you see if you stayed home and watched it on TV. And yes, Deegan won, Tanner Second, Gronholm third. I've had flats before, but never really had to race on it and never against guys like Gronholm. Pastrana was all over the place, like the patron saint of X Games.
He broke his leg attempting his Travis something or other on his motocross bike. It was like two 720's and a helicopter in one jump. Totally nuts. So did he quit? No, Vermont Sports Car rigged up hand controls and he raced his Subaru after a quick late night practice at the police academy. I know Travis didn't finish because I saw his car when leaving sitting trashed in the middle of the track after a pretty substantial accident. Again didn't see what happened. Better to watch on TV.
But the racing I did see was amazing. I have never watched so many cars come sideways into a corner at once banging into each the whole way, shooting dirt everywhere, until the outside guys clips the wall, loses his rear bumper, and chaos continues forward. It is hands down the closest thing I have seen to a racing video game.
I am building a car for next year it is that good. It looks like so much fun. I've been to races before and been like "yeah that's ok, looks like fun," but one lap of the finale and you're hooked. It's part racetrack, part rally, and 100% awesome. I like it.
I strongly recommend checking out Rallycross and watching these guys do battle in person. Just do it at a real Global Rallycross event, not X Games, or you'll get frustrated and end up drinking in front of a TV at bar like I did — which isn't so bad when your bartender is an LA Laker Girl and really fun.
Photo Credit: Brenten Kelly/Bill Caswell