Way too long, that's what it had been. The last time a green flag flew to start a CORR race in SoCal, it was a different world. Mr. Clinton still occupied the Oval Office, and 9/11 was only significant because it was the day after 9/10 and the day before 9/12. Yes, it was a different world.
CORR's absence from SoCal wasn't necessarily a bad thing. With both the Mojave and the Baja close at hand, Southern Californians still had ways to both watch and participate in high-speed off-road racing. The rest of the country, on the other hand, had far fewer opportunities to experience the thrill of high-speed, big-air off-road racing, so CORR's presence in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Kansas served to keep off-road racing alive and well across the balance of the lower 48. Just the same, with CORR standouts like Scott Douglas, Carl Renezeder, Evan Evans, Josh and Jason Baldwin, and Curt, Todd, and Kyle LeDuc based in SoCal, it seemed only fitting to have CORR return to the corner of the country so synonymous with off-road racing.
The long-awaited return finally happened in late '05 with the Nissan Off-Road Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. On two back-to-back weekends, some 30,000 fans made their way to Chula Vista International Off-Road Raceway. Even with the Mojave and the Baja nearby, the fans had a unique opportunity to witness a brand of off-road racing that's a genre of its own. The differences? Desert racing is fast and furious, but most of the time, the battle is between a single vehicle and the terrain. Race traffic is encountered but is not typically heavy unless one or more vehicles get stuck on a one-line hill climb (think Simpson's at the '05 Baja 500). By contrast, CORR's fast and furious action includes both obstacles on the track and heavy race traffic. CORR racing is door-to-door from the drop of the green to the flying of the checkers. Then there's the sound. A single 800hp Pro-4 engine emits a throaty roar that brings goosebumps to the skin. Line up a whole starting grid of 800hp Pro-4 machines, and the collective sound pierces the skin deep enough to rattle the bones. It's both frightening and phenomenal.
Extra hype was piled on top of the door-to-door racing in the form of star power. Want some names? Motocross champ Jeremy McGrath, Monster Garage and West Coast Choppers icon Jesse James, NASCAR's Boris Said, IRL's Roberto Guerrero, and Supercross and freestyle MX poster boy Travis Pastrana each tried his hand on the CORR track.
In addition to the traditional CORR classes, desert trucks came out to play at Chula Vista. These long-course machines were treated to an extra section of track that let them wind up to Baja speeds before taking a trip back to the infield in front of the stands.
CORR's president, Jim Baldwin, commented, "We are at a crucial point with this series, which is poised for growth and ready to move to the next level. The 2006 season will have great racing in some new venues, and continue to have great racing in some existing venues. From a sponsor standpoint, interest within the series is at an all-time high as is support from many of the ancillary companies involved with the sport. It's truly an exciting time for Championship Off Road Racing!"
Our comment? Welcome back, CORR, welcome back.