X Games 17

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Last weekend, we went to grab some coverage of the 17th annual X Games in Los Angeles. It was the first time I’ve been and overall it was a great experience. A buddy of mine, who worked on some of the structures/courses, hooked me up with Sunday tickets which was really cool.

Normally, I wouldn’t have been eager enough to go had it not been for the tickets and, of course, the fact that they recently added Rallycross and Stage Rally to the competition. As a footnote, rally is one of my favorite styles of racing because of the sheer unpredictability and skill level of the drivers. Its one thing to race on a track at 100 mph, but to hurdle through a forest at 100 mph takes an entirely different kind of nerve. Rallycross, in my opinion, is a way of bringing rally racing to the common public, especially here in the U.S. where rally is about as popular as soccer or rugby. The course is usually set up to introduce the dynamics of true stage rally. For example, a hairpin turn with a narrow back where the driver would have to stop the front of the car at the apex and swing the tail end around. Typically they integrate terrain changes (gravel to tarmac and vise versa) to challenge a driver’s sensitivity. There also might be jumps, drops and variable track widths to simulate uneven terrain. It is still a closed circuit course, so it’s run in a lapped format. Here is a map of the 2011 course layout, with the start finish line closer to Staples Center:

Of course, the best of the best were competing in their own sponsored fully-fit rally cars. The WRC Ford Fiesta Mk7 Olsberg, Citroen C4 Total, Subaru Impreza N13 and N12, Hyundai Veloster (making its’ rally debut), Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and the rare Scoda Monte Carlo were all present. Drivers included the favored Rallycross expert and two-time X Games gold medalist, Tanner Foust; Gymkhana star Ken Block, BMX star Dave Mirra, and of course the noteworthy Travis Pastrana who will do anything that might get him injured…haha.

We headed up to Staples Center in Downtown LA at around 7am, grabbed breakfast at Denny’s and then arrived a bit after 9.

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Mmmm…greasy Denny’s. Usually after Denny’s I get a combination of indigestion and diharrea, but this time that wasn’t the case thankfully…haha

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Spotted this slick Melbourne Red M3 on the 5 North…

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Upon arrival, we found the cheapest parking we could and went into the Nokia Plaza, where we were greeted with the lovely backfire of the rally cars. The sound is very distinct as most rally cars run slightly richer for the bottom-end power.

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Tim shot this as we were going along the various overpasses. Travis Pastrana (front) and Brian Deegan (back).

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Dave Mirra’s Impreza.

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General Tire/Monster Energy baja/stadium truck…

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X Fest Stage in Nokia Plaza…no one was playing in the morning…

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Various vendors and free samples in X Fest.

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Free Red Bull at their booth. I swore to myself they weren’t giving out any, so Sami had to go in and find some for us…

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After walking around for a while, we went into Lot 17 to check out the practice sessions.

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Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta MK7, aka “Hoon”-mobile. If I recall, this is the Gymkhana version with a different wheel/tire configuration. He also has his WRC Fiesta and his open class which he uses for Rally America.

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Travis Pastrana’s Subaru Impreza. Note that Travis was competing in the rallycross AFTER attempting a 720 in the MotoX competition the night before, and ended up breaking his ankle. Guy has some serious balls to be out in a car feeling out the pedals the next day…

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Subaru Impreza “Kick Buttowski” N12…

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Monster Citroen C4 Total, driven by Liam Doran, who won the rally race the day before. Although it’s slightly Prius-like, I really like the C4.

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Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm was in the Best Buy Fiesta…

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Brian Deegan’s Fiesta…

So after waiting for an hour or so in the GA area, we figured if we were going to get better shots, we needed to get to a better vantage point. So we left GA and went looking for different angles…

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Mark Higgin’s N13 during practice…

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Rhys Millen, pro drifter, made the cut and was captain of the new Hyundai Veloster.

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The “Big Air” ramp in Lot 7…god damn that’s quite a drop. No, this wasn’t used in the rally competition…haha

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Higgin’s lost a tire during practice…

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Tanner Foust getting ready to go…

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Ken Block…

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The Scoda launching…that thing was WAY LOUD…

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After walking the length of the track, we finally found that the convention center had a bird’s eye view of the course. We walked in on a bridal convention, but we made like wedding photographers and just minded our own business until we got to a good spot.

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We posted up but then fell asleep because I misjudged the start time of the race by a few hours. So we talked with random people that were at the bridal expo…they were wondering what was going on and why we were all up in their space.

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Sami taking a few shots of the city…

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So we thought we had the biggest lens…

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…Until those damn media professionals came in with their 600mm prime or whatever the fuck that is. Would you like some camera with that lens?

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F-18 squadron flying over to start the race…

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And here we go! There were a number of elimination heats and then a final run of 8 cars.

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Hyundai with 4-wheel steering…haha.

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Higgins had a little mishap…

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The two competing Evos weren’t performing very well. Like some of the others, they couldn’t keep up with the lighter/faster Group B cars.

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BANG!

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Pastrana put up a great fight for having his throttle foot injured.

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Higgins eventually damaged the frame/alignment and had to retire…

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In the final race, a full field of 8 cars were run.

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Brian Deegan took a quick lead and left the chaos for everyone else to deal with.

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Foust ran in a close second.

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Then Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm escaped the traffic and started chasing Foust for 2nd.

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In the end, Deegan ended up taking the flag and winning the gold medal. Foust and Gronholm finished 2nd and 3rd, making it a 1-2-3 finish for Ford.

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Liam Doran was my favorite, but he ended up crashing on the first lap and retiring…he still got the gold in basic rally though.

It all happened very quickly. I wish we could have been closer to the action…hopefully next year we’ll get our hands on some media passes. But yes, I definitely want to go next time, maybe for a couple of days to catch the BMX, MotoX and Skate competitions. Here are some highlights direct from ESPN:

Afterwards, we went to Baccali in Alhambra before heading home…great food!

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A great event and hope to go again next time…thanks for reading!

– Matt

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This entry was posted by fullcoupe.

One thought on “X Games 17

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