Get a truck, get a crew, get to the track, fly over the tabletops and hang the rear out through the turns. Sounds easy to go racing in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, doesn't it? Give it a shot and you'll find out that just surviving in this rough-and-tumble form of motorsports isn't as easy as it looks. Winning at short-course off-road racing is another thing entirely.
“First and foremost, it starts off with aligning yourself with the proper sponsors and then the proper team of experienced people,” says Rob MacCachren, who has proven over the last almost three decades he knows how to get it done in off-road racing, whether it's in the desert or on the short courses. “I've been racing a long time, and I have learned what I need to go fast. Whether it's the motor builder, the transmission builder, the tire company, the shock company…over years of experience, working with different people, I've learned it's about finding the right products to put on the truck and then the right people to make it all happen.”
MacCachren was a latecomer to the series last year, but quickly showed his stuff, winning Unlimited 2 at the final round of the regular season and then taking the Rockstar Energy Lucas Oil Challenge Cup at Lake Elsinore in December. One of the few other people who might know a bit more about winning is Carl Renezeder, who claimed both the Unlimited 2 and Unlimited 4 titles in 2009.
Renezeder admits it's easier to be competitive sooner than it used to be, thanks to the way information travels: “When I first started racing, the information was all based on your experience and it was very close-mouthed. Nobody really knew what the other person was doing; some people were on to certain things and others didn't really know. Now it seems, like with this generation as a whole, information travels so quickly that a new guy has exactly the same type of technology as I do. He or his team already understands the motor packages, the tranny converter, the gearing, and suspension setup. You can come into this sport right now and have a truck as good and maybe even better a truck than I have.”
One area critical to development in Unlimited Lite, according to Chris Brandt, is the engine. There's no doubt that power, and lots of it, is key to winning in short course, and Brandt says that is especially true in UL, where power is at a premium anyway, at least compared to the U2 and U4 fire-breathers.
“Your setup has got to be on, but the biggest thing in the Lite class is the motor,” Brandt explains. “You can go different places and buy a motor, and it's a good place to start; but you've got to develop the motor. Otherwise, we're all running around with the same thing; there's no competitive edge.” The Lite class has a greater diversity of manufacturers involved, making engine development both more critical and difficult.
No matter how a driver achieves arrival on the podium, winning a title isn't going to happen if it's win, DNF, second, DNF, win, win, DNF…. Some drivers who had a bit of bad luck last year, such as Brandt, who finished third in the points, or Rob Naughton, the second-place finisher in Lite, will tell you that too many finishes out of the top five will sink your chance in a hurry.
“You have to have consistency,” says Greg Adler, who finished third in the U2 points in 2009. “The way the points are, it's almost similar to a NASCAR deal where you have to be consistent and you have to be in the top three or five every race weekend. You can't have too many crashes or mechanical issues. You have to have a great team around you with a great truck. You have to be up front and challenging for race wins.”
Maybe this winning thing isn't so difficult after all, to hear some fairly simple explanations. A hunch says it's a whole lot easier said than done.For more on Lucas Oil Motorsports and its race-proven lubricants, go to LucasOil.com/motorsports.