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Driver Toomas Heikkinen of Finland, during a heat in the RallyCross Supercars race Thursday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

Muddy race at NHMS

Sloppy fun for RallyCross drivers, fans


LOUDON -- The rain showers made for a perfect, muddy day at the Sylvania Silverstar zXe Global RallyCross Championship races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The races, which came to the speedway for the first time last year, are a smaller, faster sort of "X-Games" event done on specially set-up dirt tracks.

"All the jumps and the mud, it makes it very fun to drive these courses, and I do it just for the fun," said Nelson Piquet Jr., son of a legendary racer who drives in both NASCAR and RallyCross races. "It's very interesting to the fans these days."

The speedway brought the races to the track to appeal to younger racing fans, NHMS General Manager Jerry Gappens said.

"We want to reach out and bring in the younger generation of fans into racing, and this seems to appeal to many of them that may not be as interested in a 500-mile race," Gappens said.

Judging by the hordes of young fans who lined up to see the races, the track's strategy worked.

"I get bored (by NASCAR races) because it's always one big line of cars; there's no room to pass or anything," said Robby Douglas, 12, of Derry, who races go-karts, bandaleros, and hopes one day to be a RallyCross and a NASCAR driver.

"It's a lot more exciting," said Logan Labraney, a teenager from Center Harbor.

Al Voghel, 25, of Wolcott, Conn., said he'd love to try it.

"I'd have to win the lottery, but I'd love to be out there," said Voghel, who has been coming to Loudon for many years, and has enjoyed the addition of RallyCross racing.

"Those drivers are hard-core. I love it when they go airborne," he said.

Jason Smith, 9, of Allenstown, also wants to try RallyCross.

"It looks like a blast," he said.

dseufert@newstote.com

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