Someone once asked a famous road-racing driver if he ever drove off the road. After thinking for a few seconds, he responded: “Not intentionally.” Well, some people just don’t know what they’re missing. Organized off-road racing took off with the formation of the National Off-Road Racing Association in 1967, and today off-road motorsport events routinely attract hundreds of entrants in numerous classes for just about any type of vehicle, from trucks to motorcycles and everything in between.
General Tire’s Team GT
General Tire, a major player in the world of off-road racing with their rugged Grabber tires, recently announced the drivers and teams in their Team GT lineup for the Best in the Desert (BITD) 2014 racing season. Featured drivers in class 1500 are Justin Loftin, an off-road expert and NASCAR Truck Series driver, who picked up three wins on his way to finishing second overall in class in last season’s BITD series, and C. J. Hutchins, who finished first in class in last year’s Las Vegas to Reno race and third overall for the season. Returning for their second year with Team GT will be Harley Letner and Ray Griffith.
Team GT also sponsors or partners with a number of other distinguished teams, including Camburg Racing, Azunia Racing, KC HiLiTES, Banning Motorsports, Jeep Speed, and TrophyLite.
General Tire “Vegas to Reno” presented by Fox
General Tire is the title sponsor of this year’s “Vegas To Reno” desert race, the longest off-road race in the United States. Last year, 284 vehicles in 13 different classes, from motorcycles to modified trucks, started just outside of Las Vegas. A little over nine hours later, 174 finished near Reno after covering more than 500 miles of punishing terrain in brutal weather conditions.
This year’s race festivities will be August 14 through 16 with the 540-mile race starting on Friday morning, August 15 near Las Vegas. The course will remain open until 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 16 to give the less-powerful classes an opportunity to finish.
Race fans are encouraged to come out and see the start and the finish, but since the “Vegas to Reno” race takes place over land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, all areas of the race course, except for the fourteen pit areas, are closed to the public. There are no tickets available and no one is permitted to venture outside of the pit stop areas. Since the temperatures are routinely above 100 degrees for the event, we’re guessing many people will be more comfortable following the race online or on TV.
Visit the Best in the Desert website for general information and the Race DeZert website for their live streaming coverage schedule. If you can wait, the race will be shown by NBC Sports on October 2, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. EST and on cable channel MavTV on September 24, 2014 at 12:30 a.m. EST.
Desert racing and short course off-road racing
General Tire is heavily involved in short course off-road racing as well as desert racing. Desert racing, like the “Vegas to Reno” race, is pretty much what the name implies—a course (usually a point-to-point course) is marked out over the desert terrain and entrants are flagged off individually at intervals to race against the clock to the finishing point. As you would expect, the driver with the fastest time wins. There’s no standard distance and desert courses range from 250 miles on up.
Short course off-road racing is conducted on a circuit course, usually less than five miles in length, with the class entrants starting at the same time and racing against each other for a fixed distance or time. The course may use natural or manmade terrain and there are usually areas for spectators.
Like lots of things in life, off-road racing is not as simple as it sounds. Desert and short course terrain varies tremendously and the vehicles must be designed to cruise over, around, and through sand, ruts, washes, gullies, and dirt, with some washboard “whoop-de-doos” thrown in for good measure. Meeting all of these demands gives four-wheel off-road racing vehicles an ungainly look unlike that of any other category of racecars. But don’t be fooled by their looks: they’re very good at doing what they were designed to do, which is to go as fast as absolutely possible over all kinds of terrain.
Team GT racer support programs
General Tire Team GT offers support programs to all racers using General tires. All race teams registered with an off-road race sanctioning body are eligible for General Tire’s Racer’s Net discount tire program when purchasing General tires.
Team GT also offers one of the best contingency award programs in off-road racing. Racers using General tires may win cash awards of between $200 to $2,000, depending on the race series, for a class win, and $5,000 for any class championship in the BITD racing association.
“I feel we have a really h5 Team GT lineup in the off-road space this year,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for General Tire. “The level of experience and depth of talent is remarkable. We’ve made a lot of history in the BITD Series with Team GT and we’re looking forward to writing another chapter in 2014.”1
Qualified drivers and teams can apply for sponsorship from General by submitting an application on the General Tire website. Thanks to the support and sponsorship of companies like General, up-and-coming off-road racers have the opportunity to show off their skills and stake their claim to join such off-road racing legends as Walker Evans, Ivan (Ironman) Stewart, Mickey Thompson, Steve McQueen (yes, that Steve McQueen), and Parnelli Jones in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Just like General’s motto says – “Anywhere is possible.”
1. General Tire Announces 2014 BITD Lineup, February 7, 2014
All images courtesy of General Tire