Daly joins Dreyer & Reinbold for Nitrocross opener in Oklahoma

Daly joins Dreyer & Reinbold for Nitrocross opener in Oklahoma
Daly joins Dreyer & Reinbold for Nitrocross opener in Oklahoma

Conor Daly will race in this weekend’s Nitrocross season opener at the Visions off-road festival in Oklahoma for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

In what will be his first race outing since departing Ed Carpenter Racing in the NTT Data IndyCar series, Daly will drive for the championship-winning team alongside Fraser McConnell, whose return was announced last week.

“I’m incredibly excited to join Dreyer & Reinbold Racing JC and compete in the upcoming Nitrocross race in Oklahoma,” said Daly. “The chance to test my abilities in this intense, adrenaline-fueled series is something I’ve been anticipating. I’m grateful to the team for believing in me and providing this incredible opportunity. 

“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and showcase what we can achieve together. I also want to thank Travis Pastrana and Nitrocross for all of their help and effort in getting this program together.”

Team owner Dennis Reinbold was pleased to secure Daly’s services, saying that his varied resume will help the reigning champions to keep moving forward.

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“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Daly to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing JC for the first round of the 2023-24 Nitrocross season,” he said. “Conor’s proven talent and racing prowess make him an ideal addition to our team. We have no doubt that his unique skills will significantly contribute to our success in this thrilling motorsport discipline.”

Daly joins a field that also includes five-time World Rally winner Kris Meeke and Oliver Bennett (XITE Energy Racing), Kevin and Oliver Eriksson and 2012 Production World Rally champion and 2019 Race of Champions winner Benito Guerra (Olsbergs MSE), and Travis Pastrana and Conner Martell (Vermont SportsCar).

While it will be Daly’s first start in a rallycross-like event, he’s not a stranger to the discipline. Following the conclusion of the 2016 Global Rallycross season, Daly tested the Olsbergs MSE Honda Civic supercar in Los Angeles.

The test came about thanks to Daly’s relationship with Honda, whom he was then competing for in IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing, and while his race debut comes almost seven years after that first test, he did tell this writer at the time that he was a fan of the discipline and that he’d “definitely take an opportunity (to race in rallycross) should one present itself.

In the intervening years he has taken part in rallycross and off-road events on iRacing, and has also competed alongside 2021 Nitrocross champion Pastrana in NASCAR.

Built on what the series calls “a virtually blank canvas”, the track that Daly will compete on is the most dramatic the championship – formerly known as Nitro Rallycross – has constructed to date, and encompasses an overall elevation change of over 150-feet.

“This track has such amazing natural elevation,” said Pastrana. “We decided to work more with the existing terrain and make it fun and unique with elements we couldn’t build anywhere else.

“Our goal is to make multiple lines in almost every corner so different driving styles will shine through.”

The track begins with a tarmac start straight with a dramatic ascent into the mostly dirt course, leading into a banked hairpin turn, the biggest of its kind ever constructed for rallycross and rallycross-like competition.

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A sequence of five snaking hairpins follows, before a brace of sweeping bends onto a tabletop jump. There, the track splits, a left-hand turn going into the joker lap – which needs to be taken once per race – and a right that leads to a run under the tabletop. The main lap and the joker rejoin at the end of the lap, just before a left sweep before the banked turn once again.

The track is the 10th to feature in Nitrocross since it began in 2018 and Pastrana said it’ll continue to evolve over the coming years.

“We’re just getting started. Every year it will evolve,” he said. “The goal is to be able to run most of the track forward and backward. We will concrete some turns and pave others. 

“There will be an option to run a dirt section that we can change from year-to-year and run everything from Lemons cars to Supermoto to off-road trucks. MidAmerica in Oklahoma looks to be the best track on the Nitrocross circuit this year and it will only get better from here.”

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