Wait is over for Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series 2020 curtain-raiser

Richard James

Wait is over for Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series 2020 curtain-raiser

Lucas Oil Off Road

Wait is over for Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series 2020 curtain-raiser

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After numerous attempts to get the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series season underway that began with the cancellation of Round 1 at Glen Helen in March initially due to weather issues, and then the COVID-19 pandemic that led to two dates for an opener at Wild Horse Pass in Arizona cancelled, and then finally a firm date, but as it turned out, not location, for this weekend … the first race of 2020 will take place at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino without spectators.

“Part of the reason we go to Glen Helen is simply fan count, because Southern California has such a large fan draw,” says two-time Pro Lite champ Ryan Beat who is moving to Pro 2 with a new truck this season. “But if you take that away…. Still, I’m excited to go back racing and thankful to be able to race again. I’m looking forward to showcasing what we’ve got going in Pro 2.”

More than 100 entries across eight classes will compete this weekend. Because the event has to run without fans in attendance, the series will offer a free livestream of the racing, which begins at 4:30 ET on both Saturday and Sunday for the Pro classes.

Aside from the lack of packed grandstands, the main difference this weekend will be the absence of Pro 4. While the unlimited Pro 4 trucks are the fastest in short course off road racing, the class had been experiencing dwindling entries in recent years, fielding five trucks for most of last season. The other change is that the weekend will feature racing on two variations of the Glen Helen course, with the racers tackling the traditional layout with its diabolical whoops section on Saturday and the slightly longer course, which was first used for the second Glen Helen race last season, on Sunday.

New season, new livery for RJ Anderson.

With no Pro 4, Pro 2 stands alone at the top of the heap for the Pro classes. For 2020, the class will still be a mix of Unlimited trucks and trucks built to the new 410ci engine rules. Instead of using split starts as last year, the series has slowed down the Unlimited trucks with restrictors and a bit more weight, so the trucks will race heads-up. Defending champion Jerett Brooks will be using his old Unlimited truck for the first race of the season while his new truck is being finished. To reign again, he’ll have to contend with multi-time champion Brian Deegan, also starting the season in an Unlimited truck; Beat, RJ Anderson; and Doug Mittag, moving to the class from Pro 4. Missing will be the man who has ruled the class for most of the last 10 years, Rob MacCachren, his truck left idle after his primary sponsor left four-wheel sports.

“To be honest, I’m not paying attention to who is racing Pro 2 and who isn’t,” claims Beat, who has competed in Pro 2 for another team in the past. “I’m focused on myself and my program. I know if we go out and give it 110 percent like we did Pro Lite, we should do just fine. Pro 2 is the cream of the crop and I’m excited to put myself in that category and battle with the best of the best.”

With Beat moving to Pro 2, Pro Lite is guaranteed to have a new champion in 2020. The smart money is on it being a battle between Christopher Polvoorde and Brock Heger, who has come oh-so-close to the title in a couple of previous seasons. However, there are several drivers that have shown a lot of promise and could provide a surprise challenge, including Cole Mamer, Ronnie Anderson, Jimmy Weitzel and Dave Mason Jr. Coming into the class from Mod Kart is Mason Prater, running out of Beat’s expanded team. Matt Brister is adding Pro Lite to the Pro Buggy effort he’s campaigned for a few years, and newcomer Carson Parrish, a quad racer also running under Beat’s tent, is joining the series.

Expect Polvoorde to be among a crowded Pro Lite battle. Image by Richard James

Pro Buggy should be a good fight between defending champion Eliott Watson and three-time champ Darren Hardesty Jr. returning to the series after a year’s hiatus. Brister and Trey Gibbs will be there to keep the fight tough and honest.

Production 1000 UTV has been one of the most popular classes in LOORRS in recent years and a source of great competition. Defending champion Robert Stout will be running a partial season at best, leaving the only other champ the class has known, Brock Heger, a slightly easier path to reclaim the title. However, he’ll need to contend with Myles Cheek, Robby Hornsby and Dallas Nord, all of whom have proven they have what it takes to get wins and possibly contend for a championship. Then there’s the wild card of Bradley Morris, a veteran of short course off road racing but new to the class. On the turbocharged side-by-side front, it looks likely to be another fight between Corry Weller and Ronnie Anderson. Trey Gibbs appears to be adding the class to his Pro Buggy effort and could be a contender as well.

The 2020 season has been full of false starts, and with little confidence in what the rest of the year will bring, the series could see many racers struggling to make it to the track or other alterations to the schedule. But the season is finally getting underway, and the racers are ready.

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