I’ve been a racing fan for a long time.

I’m the kind of nerd who had an Autosport subscription back when it was a weekly print magazine and I probably couldn’t really afford it, what with simultaneously trying to pay for college textbooks, put myself through school, and also working full time.

Questionable financial decisions aside, I just felt like I had to, you know? I mean, how else was I going to keep up with the latest Formula One and WRC news? And better still, learn about other new (or at least, new-to-me) racing series that I’d never heard of before? And that I maybe wasn’t likely to hear about at all since I grew up in Chicago?

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Board Walk Sign, WIldwood, NJ. Photo by Janaki Jitchotvisut.

I’ve also traveled for races just as a fan, not as media. Like the return of Formula One to the US for the first time in a bazillion years at Indianapolis in 2001. Or the inaugural WRC Rally Mexico round in 2004. I’m a regular visitor to Road America, which is (in my opinion) one of the best tracks in the US. 

And given that history, I’ve come to some conclusions about what makes racing great. What draws you in, and keeps you engaged (at least, if you’re me). One of the biggest things sounds dead simple, but it’s maybe more difficult to find than it should be in some racing series today. 

You know what it is? Fun. 

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Wildwood, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

Yes, there’s lots of business involved, and some of it is quite serious. But when the balance is tipped so that the racers and teams aren’t having fun anymore, usually neither are the spectators. And that’s when a racing series starts to have problems. Because the spectators could very well take their attention (and their money) and spend it elsewhere. 

So when Red Bull graciously invited me out to its 2024 Beach Scramble SXS event in Wildwood, New Jersey, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Sand? Yes. Moody weather? Also yes, and I’m glad I packed my rain jacket and umbrella because I needed them both. But racing-wise? I watched some videos of the event in past years to do my homework ahead of time. 

But videos alone can’t really prepare you for the real experience.

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - RBCP - Action 6

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

What Is The Red Bull Scramble Series, Anyway?

It’s a series for side-by-sides, and it comes in two classes: Pro and Sportsman. The Pros are, as the name suggests, professional racers competing against one another. Since there’s not much else like the Scramble Series, they come from a bunch of different disciplines, and all meet in the paddock to race side-by-sides.

The Sportsman class is an open class, where any racer with a machine that meets the criteria and successfully registers for the limited number of spots available in the class can compete. In 2024, Red Bull told us, it had the most registrations it’s ever had. A total of 100 spots across the two categories were available. The registered racers not only filled up the roster, but also had 18 more on the waitlist in case any spots became available.

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Pre-Gridding. Photo by Janaki Jitchotvisut.

Naturally, Red Bull brings some of its athletes who compete in other series to race in its Scramble events, too. In 2024, Red Bull newcomer (but crucially, not racing newcomer) Corbin Leaverton was leading the Red Bull Scramble series at the time. He was joined by Seth Quintero, AJ Jones, and Scott Speed on race day. Shane Van Gisbergen also joined in the fun on practice day, though he didn’t compete on race day.

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - RBCP - Scott Speed and Shane van Gisbergen

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Scott Speed and Shane van Gisbergen.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

Both Quintero and Jones are seasoned off-road racers with serious racing chops. They’ve both competed and won stages at the Dakar Rally. Jones has even won his class twice (in two different classes; SSV T4 in 2022 and SSV T3 in 2023). That made him both the youngest and the first American racer to win Dakar twice, though Ricky Brabec has since matched his number of wins (albeit in the motorcycle class) in 2024.

While Scott Speed is no stranger to rallycross, the 2024 Beach Scramble was his first SxS Scramble event. On both practice day and race day, he seemed incredibly focused and eager to soak up all the knowledge he could about getting there and giving the Scramble his all. 

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - RBCP - Scott Speed, AJ Jones, and Seth Quintero

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Scott Speed, AJ Jones, and Seth Quintero.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

As three-time Australian V8 Supercar champ and current NASCAR racer Shane van Gisbergen told me, he’s keen to race just about anything. That’s not really a surprise, though; it’s something that a lot of racers share in common. 

Racers, as it turns out, just want to race.

Stock SxS vs. Race-Prepped SxS

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - RBCP - Action 8

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Onboard View.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

While side-by-sides often have at least two seats (hence the name), racers can go solo or have a copilot during a Scramble event; it’s entirely up to them and their strategy. On Practice day, though, I had the chance to hop in for a quick ride around the course in both a stock and a race-prepped machine to see the difference.

The stock one was a four-seater, and I was one of three people carted around the course by AJ Jones. It was a spirited ride, but we went pretty gently over the jumps, and felt planted all around. 

And then I hopped into a two-seat race-prepped rig with Scott Speed. 

Get the best news, reviews, columns, and more delivered straight to your inbox.
For more information, read our
Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The experience was about as different as driving a minivan compared to riding a superbike. Can you modify the hell out of a minivan and make a super stealth creation that can still comfortably seat eight people? Sure, but you won’t get the same visceral, hair-raising experience of an R1 M. They’re completely different beasts, and that’s how it should be.

Now, I’m quite certain that Speed wasn’t going at full race pace with a passenger. But he was still going plenty fast and I was able to record an on-board video of the experience that I shared on RideApart’s Instagram.


I’m pretty sure I still had sand in my teeth hours later. And while it isn’t the same as battling it out cage-to-cage against a host of other competitors, it did give me a much stronger idea of what’s involved in competing.

What’s Race Day Like?

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble. Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

Each class first competes in heats to determine who qualifies. There’s also a Last Chance Qualifier for the Sportsman class. Since fewer racers turned up for the Pro class, no LCQ was necessary during the 2024 Beach Scramble.

After the heats are run, the Pro and Sportsman divisions each have their main, long racing event. The course is around two miles long, and heats consist of 4-6 laps, while full races consist of 8-10 laps according to the official series rules. 

As everything begins, the excitement and anticipation is almost palpable. Through all the racing events that I’ve attended over the years, that seems to be a common theme. That undefinable frisson of energy you can feel, regardless of how much Red Bull or other caffeinated beverage of your choice that you’ve had that day.

It’s an interesting, yet strange mix of calm and absolute attentiveness. 

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble. Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

Watching the marshals, you can see that they’re at ease and don’t appear to be anxious (at least, not in a visually observable way). At the same time, you also know that they’re totally absorbed in focusing on whatever the task at hand is. 

As the competitors roll up to the pre-grid, you can see varying degrees of intensity on their faces. Some are serious, some are smiling, some are meditating, some are praying. All are going through whatever pre-race rituals they’ve developed for themselves, just trying to get their heads into the right space to do their best. 

You can both see it and feel it from the sidelines.

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Pre-Gridding. Photo by Janaki Jitchotvisut.

Then, they’re off, and for a moment, it’s all engines and chaos. Sand spurts up in the air as wheels spin it and send it flying. From my on-board experience, I know whoever’s driving is also getting a face full. From the outside, it’s still a fairly visceral spectacle as those sand roosts are impressive.

Throughout the heats, some racers go off, while others roll over. Thankfully, though, everyone is OK, and some are even able to rejoin the race after going off. There’s arguably less pressure in a series like this, which seems to equate to a more relaxed atmosphere and potentially more fun for those who are entering it, whether they’re pros or amateurs. 

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Flipped (But OK). Photo by Janaki Jitchotvisut.

One of the most fascinating insights I heard from racer AJ Jones was about the differences in sand. If you’re not a racer, or someone who spends a lot of time visiting different sandy areas, you might not spend a lot of time thinking about it. But not all sand is the same, and different surfaces will behave differently—especially when there’s also weather to consider. 

Racing in sunny, dry conditions in Baja is a whole lot different than racing in moody, rain-spattered conditions on the beach in southern New Jersey. There's a lot more clay in NJ, for one thing. And the course conditions were constantly changing due to the weather. 

That’s also true of a paved road course, but it’s different. There, whatever vehicles are racing might leave rubber marbles as their tires wear, or perhaps drop fluids if their engines go and/or there’s a crash. Those are more surface-level changes, though; not fundamental changes to the actual structure of the course.

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - RBCP - Action 11

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

In beach racing, the course itself is what changes as more and more competitors run heats and races. The sand packs down, or gets aerated and redistributed by tires. If it rains, it becomes more firmly packed; if it stays dry, it’s more likely to move around because it’s not weighed down by the water it’s absorbed.

At the beginning of the day, during the Drivers Meeting, everyone competing was informed that rain was in the forecast, yet the heats and competition would continue unless there was lightning. 

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Drivers Meeting. Photo by Janaki Jitchotvisut.

For spectators, it’s a pretty chill atmosphere, with loads of access to take it all in. In fact, during the podium ceremony at the Beach Scramble, the organizers invited family and friends to come have a drink with the racers after the event. Even if the weather was gray, the vibes were super chill and good all around.

When I attended the 2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble, it was intended to be the third race of the 2024 Red Bull Scramble series. Two more were scheduled to take place later in the year: the Red Bull Solstice Scramble in Wasilla, Alaska in July, and the Red Bull Farm Scramble in October in Garwin, Iowa.

Unfortunately, both races have since been canceled. That makes the 2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble the final event for the season, and officially crowned Red Bull’s Corbin Leaverton as the Pro-series champion. Devin Smith took the win in the Sportsman class.

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - RBCP - Pro Class Podium

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Pro Class Podium.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - RBCP - Sportsman Class Podium

2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble - Sportsman Class Podium.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.

It’s a fun day of racing if you’re in the area, and it’s the kind of thing that you really just need to see in person if you can. Or, if you’re an aspiring SxS racer, maybe you can even get in on the action yourself next year (Editor’s Note: RedBull, hit RA’s Jonathon Klein up). That’s not something you can say about most series, which makes this one extra special in the racing world.

Gallery: 2024 Red Bull Beach Scramble

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@rideapart.com