“Life is an Adventure. Come live your adventure with Best In The Desert!” Casey Folks

How to Get into Off-Road Truck Racing

Posted June 12, 2021

From short-course off-road races to the long ones like Vegas to Reno or the Baja 1000, it’s hard not to fall in love with the thrill and the speed of off-road truck racing. Whether you’ve already been off-roading or are a motorsports lover aching to climb behind the driver’s wheel for the first time, off-road racing is an accessible sport that you can enjoy at many levels. 

Plan Out Your Ideal Racing Classes and Races

If you’re new to the racing industry, then go to some races to get a sense of the difference between the racing classes and the races themselves. Rather than sticking to short course races alone, desert racing is appealing because of its long point-to-point competitions. 

Go watch some races and talk to anyone you can while you’re there. See if you can connect with some race car owners and drivers to get a sense of why they chose the class and the race that they did. This inside perspective can give you some valuable information that can help you to narrow down your desert race class options and choose the class that’s right for you. 

Get the Right Off-Road Truck

Your race car or truck will be one of the largest investments you’ll make, so you’ll want to ensure that you’re buying the right truck for your goals. Different race classes and events have different requirements when it comes to the size trucks and the equipment that’s allowed. 

For example, the Best In The Desert Class 1000 is open to one- or two-seat open-wheel cars with an unlimited suspension system, while Class 1100 is open to those cars with a twin beam front suspension and a limited displacement engine. The Class 4400 is for King of the Hammers type vehicles. The Pro Turbo UTV is for turbocharged production UTVs with an OEM engine, and if you have a Jeep, you’ll want to check out Class 1700, the Jeepspeed challenge. There are even classes designed for sealed Ford and GM engines. 

If you can narrow down the class that you want to enter, you’ll have a better idea of the specs to look for in a vehicle and what you need to modify and work on. 

Conner McMullen getting some air at a Best In The Desert night race.
Conner McMullen getting some air at a Best In The Desert night race. Photo cred: Harlen Foley

Determine Your Budget

Getting into off-road truck racing definitely requires an investment, and the bigger your budget, the more you’ll be able to do. Entry fees are just one of the expenses that you’ll face. Rather than overspending on a truck and not having the money to fix it up and build it up, it’s best to sit down and really work out your budget from the very beginning. Careful budgeting will mean you have the money to make those necessary enhancements, like adding on a roll cage, and that you’ll be ready to deal with unexpected expenses, too.

Be prepared – racing will quickly become a lifestyle, so if you have any way to build up your budget, you’ll be happy to have those extra funds as you discover how addicting racing can be. The more you can budget, the more you’ll be able to set yourself up for a win by buying a vehicle with the right horsepower.

Sam Berri on the podium at a Best In The Desert race
Being on the podium feels pretty great and is addicting once you get there! Sam Berri at the 2020 Laughlin Desert Classic. Photo Credit: Harlen Foley

Make Connections

In racing, it’s important to have good connections you can call on for advice and help when you need it. You can start building these connections in multiple ways. 

Consider volunteering for a race to get an inside look at how things run and to connect with racers, crew, and other volunteers. You also might want to work as a crew member, which can give you important experience evaluating and working on race vehicles. This knowledge will help you when it’s time to buy a truck of your own. 

As you make these connections and build your network, you’ll be better prepared to build your own pit crew as you get started racing. Your pit crew plays a major role in your success, so the better your network is and the more talented people you can work with, the greater your chances of winning a race. 

#70 Harley Letner/Kevin Thompson Trick Truck team coming in hot at Best In The Desert’s Parker 425. Photo Credit: Harlen Foley
#70 Harley Letner/Kevin Thompson Trick Truck team coming in hot at Best In The Desert’s Parker 425. Photo Credit: Harlen Foley

Learn More

There’s a lot to learn about the off-road racing industry, but there’s also a ton of information available – you just have to look for it. 

To get started, consider becoming a member of the Sports Car Club of America. Their website has some engaging forums, and you may learn of local events and groups that you can connect with. Off-road racing websites and forums like Race Dezert are also a great way to get to know the sport and join the community.

Best In The Desert Resources

Reading The Official Magazine of Best In The Desert Racing Association, DirtVenture is also a great place to learn more about car and truck racing. You’ll get an insider’s perspective on the industry and familiarize yourself with terms, events, and competitors. Following Best In The Desert’s Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube will familiarize yourself even more with the off-road racing world. Join us!

At Best In The Desert, we also offer a wide assortment of information on our website via our press releases and through our newsletters. Check out our upcoming race schedule and come join us at some events to connect with other off-road racers and get your start in the industry. 

Welcome to the Best In The Desert family, and welcome to off-road racing. The adventure starts here!