When the 2012 version of the X Games came to Los Angeles, the excitement over the 18th installment of the competition was through the roof.
No event garnered more attention than RallyCross, though, and that’s because action sports superstar Travis Pastrana was involved in the race.
At least, he was for a short time.
In the very first turn of the very first heat race, the odds-on favorite to win the whole event was sent careening into the wall and sent out of the race with a totaled car.
Pastrana told ESPN about the heartbreak he feels for the team and for himself:
This is our big event, and to have someone take it from me is devastating. I always say create your own luck, but when you're on the inside and you get the holeshot, you brake at the point where everyone has braked all day for the corner and someone decides to come in and not brake, that's a devastating way to end what could've been a fantastic week for the team.
Pastrana’s crash is the exact reason why the X Games should force changes to the way cars qualify for the main race of the week.
While the fans in attendance did get to see the debut of eight-time defending world champion Sebastien Loeb of France at the X Games, the real main event of Loeb vs. Pastrana for the title of best in the world was derailed.
If the X Games rules committee addresses the fact that their biggest star wasn't in the main event, this shouldn't be the last year Pastrana races in the RallyCross final.
What Changes Must Be Made
After watching these heat races, it is clear that the X Games should mandate some kind of NASCAR qualifying system. Instead of allowing the drivers to race each other to quality, have them get into the show on their one-lap time trail.
With one driver on the course at a time, there are no excuses for crashes, and the results of the run can just be used as the starting order. Those that didn’t qualify with a good enough time will be left out of the race.
While this wouldn’t stop the day from being ruined if Pastrana crashed again, adopting a rule change that says all previous gold medal winners have an automatic bid if needed would be a great way to ensure the big names make the cut—exactly what the past champions provisional rule does for NASCAR.