Equal to how "extreme" became the worn-out, clich catch-all phrase of the action sports world in the '90s - skateboarding, BMX, and Moto X, to name a few - "crossover" has become such to today's youth-marketed, do-all car market. Scale down an SUV, or up a station wagon, and you're left with one; a vehicle that does many things well, but no one thing better than most. And although - for lack of a better term - extreme athletes who eventually cross over into automotive enthusiasm do expand the horizons of what they can do, in sharp contrast to their crossover automotive counterparts, the successful ones are beginning to show the world that they can do pretty much anything better than most.
One need look no further than atop the 2008 X Games 14 Rally winners' roster for evidence: Three of the top four names are also three of the biggest in action sports: Ken Block, co-founder of one the action sports market's most recognized brands, DC Shoes, and Dave Mirra and Travis Pastrana, together claiming damn near 50 X Games metals in previous non-automotive endeavors. The remaining name among theirs: motorsports' own golden boy, Tanner Foust, who, along with a handful of seasoned Rally wheelmen, did their best to keep success out of the hands of these "extreme" upstarts.
With over 18 years of Rally experience, from winning the Nissan Micra cup in his first year of competition, to dominating the Rally Great Britain and the WRC in more recent years, the former Roger Clark Award winner was heavily favored by some to drive away with X Games Rally gold in '08, especially after laying down some flawless runs in practice. Too bad Murphy's Law replaced the luck o' the Irish on the side of this Enviskillen native during Qualifying, as he nose-dived upon reentering the stadium in his first round, and destroyed his radiator support and steering rack, eliminating him from competition early on.
X Games Fact:
The jump measured 72 feet, 99 less than the world record of 171 feet, held by Ken Block.
Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP)
Piloting the only non-Subaru car in the entire line-up, seasoned rally vet ACP put on the hands-down performance of the weekend, when he undershot the main jump in Quarterfinal competition against Mirra, resulting in an end-over-end flip that left him and his co-driver unable to continue. As he later explained, the slightly nose-heavy weight balance of the EVO compared to the flat-four-powered Subies meant he needed a slightly faster entry speed than the 36mph everyone else was running. Oops. At least that K&N sticker looked great upside down!
The X Games' most winning (and possibly most frequently injured) athlete of all time decided to try his hand behind the wheel of a rally car in 2008, under the wing of Ken Block Racing. Misfortune struck early on for the BMXer, as a hard landing in qualifying ruptured the oil return line from his turbo, which later caught on fire for the duration of his run. After clearing that hurdle, Mirra slid into a wall during his Quarterfinal run, breaking his steering tie rod, and forcing him to three-point turn his way through the course to a win, after his opponent destroyed his own car in an end-over-end flip. It was in the Semifinals against Foust that Mirra encountered the only obstacle that he couldn't overcome; an awkward main jump landing that put him into a K-rail, and out of competition for the event.
DC Shoes tycoon and skateboarder-turned Rally driver (well, he still skates...) Ken Block manned up early-on, becoming the first driver to clear the main jump in practice. After all, when you already have a 171-foot car-jumping world record, what's a measly 72 feet? Ken fought his way all the way into Semifinal competition, where his chance to take out X Games favorite Pastrana was cut short at the starting line, when Block's Subie overheated and died as a result of radiator damage sustained in the previous run.
The defending X Games Champion had been Pastrana's chief rival, along with the late Colin McCrae, for as long as X Games Rally has been in existence. Climbing down from the podium of numerous rally and drift wins in the previous few months, if there was a driver we had our money on to win it, it was Foust. After McShea's untimely defeat in qualifying, Tanner met and overcame Travis Hanson in the Quarterfinals, and Mirra in the Semis with near-perfect runs. And just as we began counting our winnings, the rear quarter panel of Tanner's Subie tapped the wall exiting the stadium in his final run against Pastrana, costing him precious moments he was never able to recover.
Not saying the X Games are rigged or anything, but... homeboy looked as if he knew he had the win in the bag, heading into each run of competition. Gone is the haphazard Pastrana who smashed through the barriers at last years' X Games match-up against Tanner, and seemingly here to stay is a calm, collected, experienced rally driver. Admittedly his favorite event of the year, Pastrana tells that he will be sticking with Rally for the time being; a decision evidenced by his participation in Rally America, and rumors that he's bidding for a spot in the WRC. Even though we were all pulling for our boy Tanner, Travis earned this one. Let's give credit where it's due.
X Games Fact:
The crew completely leveled the moto x track and built the rally stage... Overnight!