Think what would happen if off-roaders took their built-out trucks and ran amok around a dirt track. You’re probably already thinking of something along the lines of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS), or perhaps The Off Road Championship (TORC). While both of those series have their fans and raucous action, the prohibitive costs associated with them bar the average Joe from slinging dirt in short-course events.
To allow us regular dudes and dudettes to flex our skills over tabletops, dragonbacks, and ramps, we turn to Tuff Trucks. The biggest one here in SoCal just took place at the ongoing San Diego County Fair, and saw its fair share of spills and thrills mixed with loud trucks and amped-up drivers.
The site of the action was inside the Del Mar Arena, located on the eastern end of the fair. WGAS Motorsports, the event promoter, had its staff working from the middle of the night to 4 a.m. on Saturday. They crafted a unique and well-laid-out course that was sure to test each and every driver, along with their truck or SUV. In all, over 50 trucks and buggies made their mark upon the dirt during the course of the weekend.
WGAS’ Lloyd Massey wore many hats during the event, handling everything from the planning to announcements to results. “San Diego County is a Mecca to off-road vehicles, so naturally we see just dozens of guys going at it here,” he said. “It’s always a great time out here.”
After watching the runs on both days, we had to agree with that statement. The contenders all shared parts, tools, and beer out in the pits, but it was a different story as they lined up at the start one by one. The instant the green flag went down, all that could be heard was a screaming motor barreling toward the obstacles.
Interestingly enough, the makes and models of both trucks and SUVs skewed toward Ford and Toyota, and most popularly toward the Ford Ranger at that. It was not uncommon to see the Fords sporting twin traction beam front ends, complemented by all manner of motors stretching as far back as the 1980s.
And though they all raced on more or less the same dirt, not all shared the same experience. Perry McNeil of McNeil Racing could attest to this notion after his first run on Saturday, where his quasi-Raptor 1992 Ford Explorer came back looking worse for wear after it took off from the second-to-last ramp.
“I caught the lip of [the ramp] when I was going off of it,” he said. “It kicked my back end up and the front bumper caught the dirt and flipped me over.” He and three other passengers were taken for a ride in that moment, and fortunately all of them emerged without injuries.
McNeil and his crew didn’t miss a beat, however. A Hi-Lift jack was deployed to force the crumpled roof back into decent shape, the windshield was removed, and all of the rolling gear was inspected to make sure it could still perform. Before we knew it, there was McNeil going at it again at the 5pm session, as well as both of the afternoon sessions on Sunday.
It’s that spirit and love of fun that keeps the crowds coming back to Tuff Trucks every year, and we at Off Road Xtreme are more than excited to see what happens in 2016 when the Fair comes back around. If it’s anything like what we saw, it’ll be nothing but good times and ground-pounding trucks.