When it comes to racing, I never thought that I would be interested. I assume the fastest wins and there was not much other than that. NASCAR is not something I grew up watching. Seeing cars drive around in circles just seems like something I could do for free on any Los Angeles freeway. So how I found myself screaming up and down like a maniac at the Glen Helen Raceway in Devore, is definitely a story to tell.
My first impression of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series was that this was going to be hot and not much to see, other than dirt and mud. I was right about it being hot – over 109 degrees, but there was far more to see than just dirt and mud. I thought I would have time to gather PokemonGo characters with all the free time I had. That was not going to work. This was Devore and you can bet the network coverage was not the best.
Once past the parking, I saw some of the largest tires I have ever seen. Sure that’s not interesting, but to get to the race track you need to pass Pit Crew City. There were lots of booths selling clothing, car accessories, food, drinks, and even Tonka trucks for the kids to play with.
The racers and their crew are friendly. These guys are happy to meet their fans and take pictures. I got to meet Racers Justin Peck #49 and Ray Griffith #53 and the whole Race Pro Tech team. These guys met with us after the race and shared some of the rules of the sport. Justin Peck has an entrepreneurial spirit that is infectious; owner of Giveaway Garage, Gear 49, Race Pro Tech and also has an autobiography in production. It was a privilege to learn about off-road racing from someone so passionate.
Next were the grandstands. These are regular bleacher style seating, first come, and first served. We scored a spot up high to see all the action. Water trucks were spraying the dirt track which evaporated very quickly in the desert heat. I settled in my spot and tried to catch a Pokemon Growlithe with no luck and spotty coverage. With fresh lemonade, I gave up and simply waited for the races to start. There are seven different classes of cars, J1 Kart, J2 Kart, Mod Kart, Pro 2, Pro 4, Pro Buggy, and Pro Lite. Some may look the same but the specifications on them are important to all the racers and their safety as I was soon to find out.
Like most sports in America, there was the National Anthem. At this event, the Lucas Oil Series honored first responders to the December 2nd terror shootings in San Bernardino. They presented a $5000 donation towards the SBStrong GoFundMe Campaign. An organization that helps raise money for the victims and their families. Then there was fire and loud music to let us know the races were starting. With the wave of a green flag, the first race began.
I started screaming when I saw the first cars jumping in the air and fire shooting out from below. Everyone was on their feet. It is pure adrenaline! As I mentioned before, this is not some race where the cars just circle around; Off-Road racing is as much about the mud and jumps as it is about who’s first. Off-Road is about teamwork. The drivers are assisted by an observer, using radios to give track data, how close competitors are getting. The crew inspects and checks up every detail of the cars before they go out, and fully inspect, repair, and clean every inch of the cars after.
“And they’re off!”
The races only last 16 regular laps. It is extended whenever a yellow caution flag is waved. The reasons for caution include collisions with other drivers, a rollover, crash into a rail or wall, and an object in the track. The adrenaline rush watching these races is amazing. The crashes and watching fiberglass body parts flying off of the trucks; it makes for an exciting time.
The race finishes with a traditional checkered flag after each race. the drivers are awarded trophies. The winners stand in front of a background with race sponsors scattered about, along with the name and location of the race. The announcer introduces each winning racer and allows each to say a few words about the race and to thank their crew and sponsors. It is an interesting tradition because the announcer starts with the 3rd place winner and works his way to the 1st place winner.
My initial impression was changed after seeing several races and meeting the drivers and crew. It is a good time filled with excitement leaving me with a desire to see more. The adrenaline packed racing is fun to watch and would be scary to drive, despite my experience with Los Angeles freeways.
The next in the Lucas Oil Off Road Series will be held on September 23 – 24 at the Lake Elsinore MotorSports Park in Lake Elsinore, CA. To find more information go to http://www.lucasoiloffroad.com/
Thank you for reading…
-La Vida Verde
Tina Curtis, Justin Peck #49, and me.