Off-road racing is a type of auto racing that is held in off-road locations such as mud, riverbeds, sands, snow, and other natural terrain. Different vehicles like cars, trucks, motorcycles, and buggies are used in this type of racing. One of the most popular off-road racing events is the Baja 1000 that is held in Mexico.
Different Formats of Off-Road Racing
Off-road racing has different types or formats depending on a specific country. In North America, there are two main formats of off-road racing which are desert racing and short course racing.
- Desert Racing
The association responsible for desert racing is the National Off-Road Racing Association or NORRA. It was founded by Ed Pearlman and Don Francisco in 1967. During that time, it was the first racing sanctioning body that was devoted exclusively to off-road racing. The first ever desert racing was held in 1967, which is the Mexican 1000. It began in Tijuana through Ensenada, and finished in La Paz. NORRA ran this race for about a decade. The very first event laid the foundation of vehicle classes as well as rules which shaped off-road racing in Baja for the next 40 years.
Desert races are mostly set up on government recreational lands. These lands usually have tracks that run from 25 to 1000 miles. Different classes of vehicles run a different number of laps. This can depend on the size of the engine or on the setup of the suspension system.
There are smaller organization of desert racing that are growing rapidly and one of the most popular is the Best in the Desert series. It is known for the Vegas to Reno race, which is the longest off-road race in the United States measuring 1000 miles.
Another popular desert racing event is the Mojave Off-Road Racing Enthusiast series which started in 1997 as a small family oriented race series. This racing series has drawn many competitors.
- Short Course Racing
Short course off-road racing is a type of auto racing which involves the racing of modified vehicles. This race is held on a dirt road closed course of a short length like tens of kilometers or miles or less. It has two forms, one involves the race vehicles on an outdoor dirt road course, and the other for is stadium racing where vehicles race a much shorter course inside an arena.
The world championships for short-course off road racing are held at Crandon International Off-Road Raceway. Some of the examples of a short course off-road racing series are, The Off-Road Championship and Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. They are also the two major organizations promoting short course off-road racing in the United States as of 2014. Both of these series feature professional off-road drivers and race teams.
In many countries, a simpler and shorter track format is popular at fairs and it is called Tough or Tuff Truck Competition. Tracks in this type of competition are much shorter and usually, competitors make individual, timed runs.
There are also some grassroots organizations in short course racing and one of the longest lived is the Mid America Off-Road Association. It promotes short course off-road racing in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
Aside from desert racing and short course racing, there are also other formats of off-road racing in North America such as hill climbing, the Frozen Rush where off-road trophy trucks race on snowy ski slopes, and other form of racing that does not occur on a specific paved track.
Off-Road Racing in New Zealand and Europe
The format of off-road racing varies from country to country. In New Zealand, off-road racing has its own class structure and it has a multiple-round national championship. Taupo 1000 is New Zealand’s flagship off-road racing event. It is a two-day, stand-alone, 1000km international endurance race that is held every other year. This off-road race event began in 1992 as the made for television Bridgestone 1000. It included teams from Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. Les Siviour of Australia won in that first event representing Team Nissan.
In the sports history of New Zealand, the most popular off-road racer is Ian Foster of Henderson, Auckland. He had 21 back to back wins, representing Team Tamiya in an unlimited Class 1 race car. He was also one of the co-founders of the sports organizing body called ORANZ.
In Europe, autocross and rally cross are what they call off-road racing. Desert rallies, on the other hand, like the Paris-Dakar, are called Cross-Country Rallies.
For Scandinavian countries, off-road racing can refer to Formula Off Road, which is a type of motorsport that involves modified vehicles through a difficult uphill terrain.
Off-road racing is one of the amazing motorsport racing that is held in different countries and is supported by many automobile enthusiasts.