Each October, the off-road community gathers at the Fairplex in Pomona, California, for a showcase like no other. Hosted by Family Events, the Lucas Oil Off Road Expo reels in a diverse mix of desert racing, rockcrawling, and sand sport enthusiasts from every corner of California-and some from neighboring states too. For most, Off Road Expo is the annual happening you simply do not want to miss. For others, especially those with industry-related businesses, the Expo is like a yearly barometer, giving those with a stake in the community an indicator of where things are going. For 2010, show attendance was up considerably over years past. Check out our highlights.
Rebel Off Road showed off their latest JK build, the Command Vehicle. This rig is powered by a RIPP-supercharged 3.8L V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic and a 4:1 transfer case. The axles are both Currie RockJock Dana 60s with chrome-moly shafts and ARB Air Lockers. Exterior protection comes from Poison Spyder Customs front and rear Crusher Flares and corners, while a RockBrawler front bumper with a stinger guards the nose. RockHard 4x4 rockers and rear bumper round out the body protection package. Flex comes from Rebel's own bolt-on coilover conversion using King 2.0 coilovers and hydraulic bumpstops. The Jeep clears 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires mounted to 20-inch KMC Spy wheels with TrailReady beadlock rings. Info: Rebel Offroad, 866/900-8841, www. rebeloffroad.com
Gibson Performance Exhaust's booth got our attention with two of the hottest sand supercars ever built. Both creations are by Buckshot Racing of La Habra, California. The vehicle on the left is known as the X2-R. It sports a 440ci LS-based engine with RH heads and twin turbos helping to produce a dyno-tested 1,400 horsepower. The car on the right is known as the X-4 and features a GM-based 600ci big block, supercharged by Whipple producing an outrageous 1,800 horsepower-yes, we said 1,800. Both vehicles are street-legal, plated in California and driven weekly by their respective owners. Gibson builds some of the slickest exhaust parts available for the sand sports industry. Additionally, Gibson showed us their new JK exhaust system featuring larger diameter tubing and a pair of high-flowing, smog-legal headers. Info: Gibson Performance Exhaust, 800/528-3044, www.gibsonperformance.com
The guardian angels of the FastAid organization, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial assistance to injured racers, hosted a very special ceremony to honor the victims of desert racing's darkest moment, the California 200 tragedy. Survivors of the eight who died in that race were present to express sorrow and light candles of remembrance as a focal point during a moment of silence. Additionally, a memorial sculpted from steel was debuted displaying the names of all eight victims. Info: FastAid, www.fastaid.com
4-Wheel Parts had a small army of sales associates on hand to take orders and make deals on site with show attendees. They even had Rick Russell on hand to autograph DVDs at the point of purchase. Info: 4-Wheel Parts, 877/474-4821, www.4wheelparts.com
General Tire held a press conference on Saturday to announce their involvement as the title sponsor of the Jeepspeed series for the next three years. Shown in conjunction with the announcement was this example of the next generation of Jeepspeed racers: a newly constructed WJ owed by Todd Jackson and built by T&J of Orange, California. According to the new Jeepspeed Class 1700 guidelines, any six-cylinder Jeep vehicle can race as long as it has an engine displacement of four liters or less and has a maximum of 10 inches of front wheel travel and 14 inches out back. All vehicles in this series race on DOT-legal General Grabber tires. Info: Jeepspeed, 714/538-7434, www.jeepspeed.com
The most highly regarded vehicle of the show was this 2011 Stewart Race Works Chevy Silverado. This $600,000 luxury Baja prerunner was finished just two weeks prior to the show, and the unnamed client who commissioned its construction had not even seen it in its completed state. Featuring the latest powertrain package from Kroyer Racing Engines, this 750hp masterpiece is the latest of just a dozen or so that exist in the world today. Commonly known as super-runners, these one-off works of art represent the ultimate in go-fast technology blended with amenities that would make a queen envious. During a phone conversation with Race Works owner Craig Stewart, we were told that without such a highly skilled and dedicated crew of fabricators and mechanics, his company would not produce such awesome vehicles. Info: Stewart Race Works, 619/449-9728, www.stewartsraceworks.com
For those of us with a soft spot for realistic toys, HPI Racing had a booth with an assortment of scale remote control cars. This booth was a huge hit with the kids. Info: HPI Racing, 949/753-1099, www.hpiracing.com