Off road vehicles and the sport of ‘off roading’ have a large and enthusiastic following across the country and, in fact, around the world. It’s a variation on the old ‘my car’s faster than yours!’ jibe, only in this case it’s ‘my car can go where your car can’t!’ Combine this competitiveness with the typical American love of the outdoors and our country’s astounding natural beauty and you have the sport – and accompanying lifestyle – of off-roading.
True off road vehicles are much more than mere SUVs. These beasts have to survive anything the wilderness can throw at them. Boulders, rivers, mud, sand or snow – a good off road vehicle will eat ’em all for breakfast and keep on rolling over hill and dale. When official competition between off road vehicles takes place, it’s usually either Rally Racing, Desert Racing or the relatively new sport of Rockcrawling. The latter is a sight to see, as spindly vehicles, with some slight resemblance to Jeeps, crawl over incredibly rough courses made up of huge boulders and wind-carved rock formations with the agility of overgrown spiders!
Now, your standard off-the-rack SUV or Hummer isn’t any slouch when it comes to mild off-roading, even though precious few sold in urban areas really get tossed about in conditions displayed in their television commercials. Off-roading is as much about image as it is about exploring the wild, less-travelled terrain where pavements are non-existent. When you’re an off-roader, it’s all good!
This section of Autoracing.com delves into the wide world of automobiles, and explores the reasons why cars and trucks have become much more than simple tools of transportation.
- Sports Cars provides fresh insights as well as basic information on these exciting adrenaline-pumping vehicles. Find out how sports cars first came to be, and learn how they have evolved over the century that cars have traveled our highways and byways.
- Touring Cars introduces you to the world of touring car racing and explains what exactly a “touring car” is. What it isn’t, is the good ol’ Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation!
- Muscle Cars rips the lid off these rip-snortin’ tire squealing beasts and discusses the amazing transformation of classic muscle cars from bargain-basement big-engined stockers to megabuck machines that bring spectacularly high bids at high-powered car auctions.
- Off Road explores the off the beaten track world of four-wheel drive vehicles and SUVs. From rock crawlers to beach buggies, it’s all here in Off Road at Autoracing.com!
- Production Vehicles tells the story of the daily drivers we all use to commute to work and play. Perhaps surprisingly, they don’t have to be boring “plain janes”.
- Racing Manufacturers explores and explains the companies who produce some of the racecars we love to watch. What makes a NASCAR stock car different from an actual stock car? You could ask a racing manufacturer – or just browse our Racing Manufacturers page.
We’re sure you’ll find Autoracing.com’s Automobiles section interesting, informative, educational and entertaining. We love cars just as much as you do, and it shows! Come on over… you’ll enjoy the ride!
Many racing drivers find that nothing gets the blood pumping quite like a good off-road race. The Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race is the best of the best. It is noted for being the best part of the Australian Offroad Racing Championship. The grueling race tests the mental prowess and physical fitness of the driver, as well as the strength of their machinery. It is little wonder then, that the race draws all the big names of off-road racing to Alice Springs each year.
The Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race takes place on the Queens Birthday Long Weekend in June each year. This year that falls on June 6 to 9. The race has a somewhat unique point-to-point format and starts and ends in Alice Springs. Along the way competitors hurl themselves along the old Ghan Railway to Finke where they spend the night before scurrying back to Alice Springs in pursuit of the checkered flag the following day. Competitors drive a whopping 230 km in each direction. The route has a reputation for being the most difficult off-road track available and the winning driver is invariably crowned â€˜King of the Desert’.
More â€˜regular’ drivers might find the sound of the race daunting – yet 2008 has seen hundreds of entries flood in once again. The auto field will feature around 80 cars and the entries were closed on May 30. Additionally, a whopping 449 bikes and 51 quads are scheduled to start the event. Just how many manage to make it to the finish line remains to be seen. It seems there should be a lot of healthy competition between the bikes and cars this year, just as there has been in previous years.
Last year’s winner, Australian Hayden Bentley, had his entry for this year’s race in very early with hopes of claiming the victory a second time in a row. However, he is facing tough competition with Brad Prout, Shannon Rentsch and Mark Burrows also getting ready join the field. The 2008 Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race should be action packed to the last minute so make sure that you get in on the action!
In the 1970’s ABC’s ‘Wide World of Sports‘ became rated as one of the best sports shows in the United States at the time. In the series called ‘Superbikers‘ ABC was commissioned to find the ultimate motorcycle racer of all times and this would take place at California’s Carlsbad Raceway as a yearly event.
The Carlsbad race track was cleverly designed with the purpose of enticing a variety of talented riders from flat-track to off-road and road-racing worlds, including names such as Jeff Ward and Kenny Roberts. The ‘Superbikers’ show lasted till 1985, but was forced to stop production through cuts and new management that took over. This shortened the life of such a young sport in the USA, however, the Europeans adopted the sport, which gained much popularity in European countries such as France. By 2003 the forgotten sport was revived in the United States with the timely birth of AMA Supermoto Championships.
Supermoto is the combination of road racing and motocross on race tracks made up of about 30% dirt and 70% tarmac and is commonly referred to as Supermotard due to its major popularity in France, as mentioned.
In 1991 the first ‘Nordwest’ supermoto was released by ‘Gilera’, an Italian manufacturer, from then on others have followed within Europe bringing out manufacturers such as KTM, CCM Motorcycles, Husqvarna and Husaberg AB. Although these are widely available, motorcycles for Supermoto are still predominantly custom made with a combination of road-racing rims and tires and off-road motorcycles. This also applies to riding apparel, made up of both off-road and road race equipment. A distinct difference that is brought out in this particular sport is the great importance of skill rather than the general performance of the bike, thus slower speeds of between 100 mph and 161 mph are reached through short and winding Supermoto tracks.
Supermoto is a very dangerous sport and should not be taken lightly. Injuries occur quite frequently and may even lead to something more serious, such as paralysis or death. This reality is not far from mind of any of the professional riders, thus when considering Supermoto racing, proper investigation is strongly recommended along with lessons from a competent Supermoto instructor. Several manufacturers have created training lessons specifically for this, such as the CCM Supermoto trackday program.
Since 1967, off-road enthusiasts have been converging in northern Baja Mexico to partake in the legendary Baja 1000. A race that covers a 1000 miles of rugged terrain from Ensenada to La Paz in the south. For many this weekend in November is the highlight of the off-road racing season and the winner reaches legendary status by crossing the finish line with the fastest time.
The race is a timed event and the start is staggered to make the start equal for all who enter. Just about any type of vehicle can be entered into the race with the most popular being the dune buggie. Recently a majority of the winners has been the factory sponsored truck teams, but the crowd favorite has always been the Baja Bug. With the conversion of a Volkswagen Beetle to an all terrain vehicle, this little car has been a mainstay at the event since its inception.
This is not a race for the novice. This race takes skill, a good vehicle, and guts the size of Baja itself. Whether on motorcycle, dune buggie, Baja Bug or like Erik Carlsson in 1969 and ’70 a stock front-wheel drive Saab96, you need to have the endurance for this grueling race. The drivers of these vehicles will experience punctured tires, over-heated engines, and exhaustion, but to win you must possess a determination that is beyond sane.
The people of Baja Mexico are hospitable, warm, friendly, and inviting, unfortunately for the drivers the terrain is not. For many of these drivers deal with desert heat, getting airborne from the many hill and bumps that line the course, and a sore rear from the uneven terrain that is off-road racing.
If you plan to visit Baja and witness this amazing event, book your hotel early for this is one of the most popular events of the year in the area. When arriving, you will be welcomed with a smile from your host, scenery unlike any you have seen before, cold beer, great food, and you will be able to witness a test of endurance that is the Baja 1000.