Think 2020 couldn’t get worse? Lucas Oil announced today that the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and its Regional series have both been discontinued.
Short course off-road racing has been hit hard in the past few years. Now, another major series – the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) and its Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Series (LORORS) – has come to an end. “After considerable discussion,” reads the first line of the release sent out today, “Lucas Oil Products has made the difficult decision to discontinue ownership and operation of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.”“Lucas Oil has made the decision to discontinue owning and operating both the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Series,” said Director of Race Operations, Ritchie Lewis. “This year, Lucas Oil made an incredible financial effort to keep our off road commitments to our employees, promoters, racers and sponsors, during arguably one of the roughest periods of time for our country. As we look ahead, there are too many variables that could impact the financial commitment and overall health of the series going forward, which necessitated this difficult course of action.”
LOORRS was started in 2009 after the original short course series, the Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) series, went bankrupt in 2008. It was the West Coast answer to the World Series of Off-Road Racing (WSORR), a predominately Midwestern series, that had just been established in 2007 but was replaced by The Off Road Championship (TORC) in 2009 when WSORR also went belly up in 2008. From 2009 to 2017, there was a boon of short course racing across the US with LOORRS hitting much of the West and TORC racing the Midwest and the East Coast.
There were hints that something was about to bust in 2016 when Mountain Sports International (MSI) took full ownership of TORC, but everything continued to march on. However, in 2018 something finally did happen and TORC announced that it would not have events in 2018. There was a brief replacement by Lucas Oil known as the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League but that, too, faded away by September of 2019 and only a few short months.
There was a new Midwest short course series born from that, the Championship Off-Road series that started in 2020 despite the pandemic and appears to be well into planning the 2021 series, so it’s hopefully not all bad news for short course off-road.
The West Coast will not have an answer for the 2021 season. Many of the drivers were already competing in open desert racing, so they will continue racing off-road in some form in 2021. If there is no new season, though, the specialized vehicles for short course won’t be easily adapted for that type of racing. Short course trucks are designed to be lower than an open desert truck. They are made to be lighter and that makes them slightly more fragile.
Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t weak as they bang doors and land jumps lap after lap, but their closed racing environments are groomed and prepared after every round of racing during their events. It would take much modification to convert a short course truck to race in the punishing environments of the open desert. It would be such a fruitless endeavor that it would be financially wiser to just build a new truck.
Unless another series or sanctioning body steps up and purchases the series from Lucas Oil, there will potentially be no short course racing on the West Coast outside of what a racetrack sets up as a weekly or monthly series.
There is always hope, but a series isn’t funded on hope alone as CORR, TORC and now Lucas Oil has proven.