Growing up, we’re told everyone is good at something. There’s a purpose and a hidden talent imbued in every creature, we just have to find it. Cars are like people in that way, but for two decades, the PT Cruiser has been a vehicle in search of a calling. It took a lot of spray paint, bruises and bumper shrapnel, but at last the mad geniuses of Nitro Rallycross have found that calling.
Nitro sent 10 PT Cruisers — supposedly the shittiest the Phoenix metro area had to offer for $500 or less — around the Wild Horse Pass Motorsport Park in Arizona back in mid-November. This was meant to be the lunchtime entertainment between Supercar and all-electric NEXT heats, but watching half a lap was all I needed to be convinced it should have been the headline event.
Sure, bargain rallycross — or folk racing as the Finnish call it — is nothing new, and you’d get more or less the same result if you replaced these masterpieces with Crown Vics or Corollas. But there’s something about this being exclusively a race of PT Cruisers that makes it way more delightful. Maybe it’s because they’re the least trackable-looking cars I can imagine; maybe it’s because this is assuredly the most excitement any of these mobster blobs have experienced in their long, sad lives. Or ever will, for that matter, because a third of them are destroyed by the end of this three-lap jaunt.
Crashes are funnier when PT Cruisers are involved. Unforced errors elicit more laughter. Jumps taken at full-throttle, which would be routine and expected of the Supercar-class machines, are viewed with mouth-agape wonder. These things were never built for anything like this, and that’s why the scenario works.
And it’s all made even better by the fact nobody seems to have any idea what’s going on. Not the drivers, who at one point pile up on a crest approaching what looks like an access road but might be part of the track; not the commentators, one of whom notes the drama of the leader spinning I’m pretty sure after he’d already finished the race. It’s pure chaos and everything goes wrong, much like Daimler Chrysler in the early aughts. Nitro doesn’t travel to my neck of the woods in the Northeast, but if it ever does, I think I may have to pay a visit. The Bruisers better be there, though — that’s non-negotiable.