It takes a lot of confidence to wear a shirt with a picture of your truck and the words, “American Badass” emblazoned on it. Rob MacCachren has earned that confidence.
For nearly two decades he's been dominating in off-road racing, both desert and short course. Go back a little further and you'll find an 8-year-old MacCachren winning the 1973 Nevada State Motorcycle Championship. MacCachren has a history, and it's one he has every right to be proud of.
“I started racing in 1982 and short course racing in 1988,” he says. “I've had a lot of time behind the wheel and experience in different races, from Mickey Thompson to this type of short course racing. I guess doing it for so many years and surrounding myself with the right people who can help me get to the winner's circle has ultimately paid off.”
That work has rewarded him with desert racing championships in the double digits. He won the 40th Baja 1000 overall with Carl Renezeder and Mark Post – the first time a Trophy Truck won the event overall. That's in addition to two previous class wins in desert's toughest race. He won a Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group championship in the stadiums and he has five short course championships. Add to all that the words, “so far.” He's currently leading Pro 2 Unlimited in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series driving his No. 21 Rockstar Energy Drink Ford.
He came into the series at the end of last year and immediately made his mark with a victory at Primm, not far from his home base of Las Vegas. In 2010, he'll continue to keep a busy schedule, running not only short course events but also SCORE, SNORE and maybe the Vegas to Reno race. It's the way he wants it; MacCachren is a professional off-road racing driver, and it's what he lives for.
“Racing is my life,” he says, without embellishment or exaggeration. “It's been a passion of mine. I had an opportunity when the [NASCAR] truck series started…there were four off-road team owners that built eight trucks. I did that for about six months, and I never really had the passion for it. I decided off road was what I enjoyed doing. I've been fortunate enough to do OK in it, making money and being able to live. If I had put all this work into a real business, I'm sure I'd have a little bigger house. But the passion and surrounding myself with great people…. It's where I've made my home and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.”
It's that kind of passion and desire that leads a guy to rebuild a VW engine in the middle of the night somewhere in the heart of the Baja peninsula when the SCORE overall championship is on the line. Needing only to finish to win the title, his buggy's four-cylinder Volkswagen engine let go about three-quarters of the way from Tijuana to La Paz. So he put it back together and ran it as a two-cylinder until that fix let go 70 miles later. Some spare parts, aluminum plates, silicone and JB Weld later, the team made it to La Paz…45 minutes after the time limit. No finish, no title.
“That's the one that hurt the most,” he says. “Missed winning the SCORE overall championship and missed the highest payday – it cost us $35,000.”
It didn't put a damper on his enthusiasm for the sport, and especially the side-by-side action of short course racing. “The fans, unlike desert racing, get to experience and witness how the win happened. In desert racing, nobody sees it. Typically, the only people who know how the win happened are the two drivers. It's you and driver of the other vehicle at the finish line telling the story.”
He's told a few stories in his time. While racing is often considered a young man's game, this 45-year-old father of two has no intention of retiring soon. As he mentions Renezeder and Ricky Johnson – with whom he exchanged a few cross words after a heated battle at Miller Motorsports Park – as two of his toughest competitors, he laughs. “It's funny, because we're all right around the same age. There are younger drivers coming up and I get a kick out of it because the old dogs are schooling all the rest.”
He may get a kick out of it, but it's clear his passion is for tough competition, whether it comes from younger or more experienced challengers. He wants to race against the best, whoever that may be. But those who throw down in Rob MacCachren's classroom better be prepared for some tough lessons.