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OFF ROAD

Off-Roading is a sport, hobby and passion shared by many. While some have their sights set on competing, others simply love following along others’ journeys as they navigate their way through some of North America’s most unforgiving off-road terrain. 

Read on to get a clear picture of what you can expect if you join the off-road racing world including the types of race classes available, how to obtain a vehicle that meets regulations, how to prepare for an off-race as well as what you need to bring to be ready for anything. 

What is off-road racing?

Off-road racing is a type of motorsport where different types of modified vehicles such as cars, trucks, motorcycles and buggies race against similar vehicles away from paved roads. Off road vehicles come in many shapes and sizes depending on the terrain they plan to venture across, and each compete in their own “class.” 

Among the most popular of off roading events are desert races along tracks anywhere from 25 to 1000 miles long. This is where thousands gather to compete specially modified vehicles in various off-road classes and events.

Short course races are another popular type of off-road racing and these are held on circuits less than 5 miles in length. 

Types of Off-Road Racing Classes

If you want to get into off-road racing, you’ll eventually need to determine what type of vehicle you’ll want to drive. Most races allow entries from multiple types of vehicles, competing against similar vehicles in what are referred to as “classes.” 

Here are several of the most popular racing classes (different associations will have different class names):

  1. Unlimited one or two-seat open wheeled cars
  2. Trick/Trophy Truck or SUV (these usually use long travel suspensions and high-power engines)
  3. Single or two seat buggies
  4. Full-size two-wheel drive trucks
  5. Stock production VW Bug
  6. Unlimited Baja Sedan
  7. Mini-Truck
  8. Jeepspeed
  9. UTV (Pro and Sportsman)
  10. Motorcycle (Pro, Expert, Amateur)
  11. Quad

This is by no means an extensive list and it is best to research different races to find out what types of classes they offer. For example, Best in the Desert Racing Association offers over 50 unique desert racing classes so competitors can get the right fit for what type of vehicle they want to race.

You will want to be sure to check with your particular race association in which you’ll be competing to ensure that your vehicle meets the requirements and regulations.

OFF ROAD CHECKLIST

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Securing a Vehicle for Off-Road Racing

By now you are probably realizing that off-road racing is more extensive than you could have imagined. Not only are there are numerous types of vehicles competitors can race, but a lot of time and money goes into getting these vehicles in proper racing form. 

Because these vehicles are specially built and customized to withstand the technical conditions that come with off-road racing, they don’t look like typical cars you’ll find whizzing past you on the highway. Some of the characteristics of these off-road vehicles include having low ground pressure, higher ground clearance, flexible suspension and large wheels with deep tread for proper traction.

This means you can’t just take any old car, truck or SUV to an off-road race and expect to race it. Instead, competitors often take what they have and “re-build” it with the proper specifications to turn it into an off-road vehicle capable of handling the terrain. You’ll want to do a lot of research such as reading Off Road Extreme’s picks for the “Top 5 Buys in Off Road.”

Some choose to do this on their own if they have the expertise to complete a safe and reliable vehicle, while others without the know-how or time hire out to get the work done. Competitors can also purchase a vehicle that’s ready to race. This can be costly endeavor and according to the Texas Desert Racing Association, you can expect to pay around several thousand dollars for a vehicle at the low end and upwards of  $300,000 for a tricked-out trophy truck. 

As you’re considering the investment you’re putting into the purchase or fix-up of your off-road vehicle, you’ll want to make sure you are ready to pay for the other costs associated with off-road racing. These include vehicle maintenance, race entry fees, fuel for the vehicle, any training or coaching you might get, and lodging for the duration of the event. 

Preparing for an Off-Road Race

If you are looking to compete in an off-road style race, you’re likely wondering what you need to do to get started.

As mentioned above, determining which type of vehicle you’ll want to race is an important step. But having the vehicle doesn’t mean that you’re ready to brave the terrain and grueling mileage that’s coming your way. Though you may have an idea of the type of vehicle that might be best for you, it’s best to wait and immerse yourself in the culture of off-road racing before doing so. 

And because off-road racing is such an investment, you’ll want to be confident that this hobby is for you. Part of the allure of off-road racing is the camaraderie that comes with it so getting to know other like-minded individuals is invaluable.

Here are our top tips and links to get started:

  1. Go to the Races – Chances are if you’re already looking into competing in off-road racing, you’ve already been to an event. Perhaps that’s where you caught the bug. But if you’ve only watched these races on TV or YouTube, it’s time to get yourself to see one live.
  2. Get Involved – In order to learn the ropes of off-road racing, joining an online forum is a good place to start. This is a great place to get familiar with the culture, meet others with the same interest as you and ask questions. Best in the Desert Racing also recommends volunteering as a way to gain understanding of how these types of races operate. 
  3. Collaborate and Get a Crew – Off-road racing isn’t done alone. Each competitor has their own support team or pit crew helping them along the way. Before getting in the driver’s seat, it’s a good idea to be part of someone else’s crew first. Once you’ve helped someone else achieve their success, you’ll have a lot more knowledge and connections to be ready to compete. And if you don’t quite have a full crew together, we suggest you check out Mag 7 for Pit Crew services.

At this point, you’ll have a good idea of what type of vehicle you’ll want to drive for your race and can start preparing for the big event.

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Best Satellite Phones for Off Road

Preparing properly is a huge part of being ready to compete in an off-road race. But it’s important to have the right gear when you show up in order stay safe and have a fun and successful race experience. 

One of the most important parts of staying safe is being able to communicate with your crew during the race. Because most of the racecourse will be out of cellular range, it’s important to have a satellite phone. This will ensure reliable connectivity in the event of an emergency, as your safety may depend on it. 

Iridium PTT kit:

The Iridium 9575 Extreme PTT (Push-to-Talk) enables you to use your sat phone as a walkie-talkie. Push-to-Talk is the newest feature for satellite phones and allows you to respond in a moments notice.

9575
Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone front

Iridium 9555 Kit:

The Iridium 9555 is the ultimate go-to satellite phone for all off-road racers. If you are looking for a satellite phone for your basic talk and text needs.

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