The line-up of the US team at December’s Wembley-based Race of Champions has been announced – and it features two drivers as much renowned for aerial feats as for going in a straight line.
Travis Pastrana, a nine-time motorcross and rallying gold medal winner at the X Games extreme sports event, who also holds three US rally titles, and reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion Carl Edwards will be lining up for their country on December 14.
They will take on a star-studded motorsport line-up including Michael Schumacher, Sebastien Vettel, Jenson Button, Andy Priaulx, Troy Bayliss, Mark Webber and SÃ©bastien Loeb.
Pastrana made history at the X Games in 2006 when he became the first man to perform a motorcycle double back-flip in competition.
And Edwards, a 14-times winner in NASCAR’s premier category and the winner of last year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series, does a celebratory back-flip off the side of his car every time he wins a race.
Pastrana has represented the USA in the Race of Champions for the past three years and single-handedly took the country to the finals of The ROC Nations Cup in 2006 after his team-mate was forced to drop out at the last minute.
In 2007 he raced alongside reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Jimmie Johnson.
Organisers have also announced they are testing a range of new cars for possible use at Wembley. They include the KTM X-Bow (see the video at the top of this post), a two-seater version of the standard ROC car and a Swedish ERPRO prototype featuring rour-wheel-drive and a motorbike engine.
A track similar to the one to be used at Wembley was set up at Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany earlier this month — one of several venues keen to wrest the Race of Champions away from Wembley in future.
ROC creators Michele Mouton and Fredrik Johnsson, plus former European Rally Champion Marc Duez, assessed the cars’ suitability.
Johnsson said: “The X-Bow is an exciting new sportscar, it looks completely unlike anything else, and the fact that it’s open means that spectators would really get to see the drivers working away in the car.
“The four-wheel drive car was impressive — the Hayabusa engine sounds great and the car looks spectacular, especially in the wet.”
Mouton added: “For all the cars that we use in the event, however, we’re looking for a range of factors — they need to look good for the spectators, but also be fun to drive and easy to adapt to, as the drivers will jump straight from one to another in the event.”
Last year Aston Martin Vantages, Ford Focus WRCs, Fiat Punto Abarths and Solution F Touring Cups joined the ROC cars at The Race of Champions.
Organisers say more cars are set to be tested in the coming months before the final line-up is decided.