The rise of extreme off-road racing shows how riders are ready to show off their skills and their vehicles’ capabilities. They don’t hesitate to put their bodies on the line and take the risk of overcoming challenging terrains, including endless rock fields, log crossings, and agonizing hill climbs.
This type of racing usually allows host organizations to throw as many challenges as possible at the riders. The off-road on which the race takes place may feature timed sections, Le Mans starts, course changes, and GPS navigation.
Emergence of Extreme Off-road Racing
Off-road racing includes a range of modified vehicles, such as trucks, buggies, motorbikes, cars and more recently the Side by Side/UTV class. The racing tracks are different than the ones you normally see at the Formula One championships. You need to race through mud, dirt, gravel roads, and sometimes, even snow.
This type of racing started at the beginning of the 20th century in North America. Back then, it was called NORRA or the National Off-Road Racing Association. The first-ever race took place in the Mexican desert. The organizers called the race, the Mexican 1000, which now goes by the name Baja 1000.
Desert races are now one of the most popular tournaments in extreme off-road racing. The tracks may extend from 25 to up to 1000 miles. There are different classes of vehicles that participate in these races. The engine size and suspension system play a crucial role in the vehicles. These two factors are most important if you want to win an off-road racing tournament.
The desert track has the longest route among the various competitions organized for off-road racing. Participants prepare for months and even years to ensure that their vehicles are well-tuned to perform smoothly in such tournaments.
Apart from desert tracks, the rise of extreme off-road racing notably became popular in short courses also. The organizers called them short course off-road racing tracks. They had racing circuits that were less than 5 miles long. The Crandon International Off-Road Raceway is a widely popular track that includes various jumps, gravel pits, washboard runs, and radii.
The short course races came into the picture in the late 90s but became popular after 2012. The U.S. Off Road Championship Series and Stadium Super Trucks became the primary racing tracks. More recently, the rapid rise of UTV popularity for recreational use has also translated to course racing. This is in part due to their solid construction as well as the availability of aftermarket UTV parts and performance accessories.
The inaugural season became a massive hit among off-road racing enthusiasts. Soon, the organizers focused more on making tracks that resembled street circuits and asphalt tracks.
Many countries are now adopting this type of racing tournament because they don’t require acres of open land. The tracks are shorter and simpler and even county fairs organize these competitions every year. They call them Tough Truck Competition. If you are looking for a few lengthier tracks in the short course races, you can try participating in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series or TORC: The Off Road Championship.
Countries Famous for Extreme Off-road Racing
What started off in North America is now a popular sport in many other countries. They have different tournaments with different tracks and sometimes, the rules are also not the same as other competitions. Some organizers choose timed races while others focus more on obstacle courses instead of simple tracks.
New Zealand is now well-known for hosting multiple-rounds extreme off-road racing tournaments. The flagship event takes place on a 1000 km track and the race continues for two days. This competition first started way back in 1992. Since then, more and more riders have shown their love for off-road racing and are now participating in these tournaments religiously.
Extreme off-road racing is also a spectacular sport in Europe. The organizers consider the sport similar to autocross, rallycross, or rallying. Both short course tracks and desert races take place in Europe. The annual beach racing event in northern Europe is a tournament that many riders look forward to every year.
The extensively-modified vehicles that you see in these races are a work of art. Riders spend thousands to build vehicles that are suitable for these tournaments so that they can become the undisputed champion. The growing craze among the riders, vehicle lovers, and supporters of the competitions shows that the rise of extreme off-road racing is well and truly a reality and will continue to attract attention in the future.