Industry studies show growth in the side-by-side market is steady in comparison to its two wheeled competitors. That growing strength extends past the dealerships and into the racetrack.
In the early 2000s, several short course series were divided between West Coast and Midwestern regions with the Championship Off Road Racing and World Series of Off Road Racing. By 2008, Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series acquired the West Coast events, previously sanctioned by CORR, and The Off-Road Championship series took over the WSORR’s Midwestern events. TORC dissolved in March 2018, announcing that it will not hold any events for the year, which re-energized the LOORRS competitions.
Racing since the pivot of the dynamically changing industry, Corry Weller began in the CORR in the Super Stock Class. Just finishing round five of the LOORRS schedule at the second annual GEICO Off-Road Shootout presented by General Tire on June 23-24, Weller is now leading the Prod Turbo class.
“When I started racing, the only UTV that was out was the Yamaha Rhino, so we were all racing the same vehicles and there were a ton of them getting into short-course and desert racing,” Weller said. “Then the RZR 800 came out, the Kawasaki Teryx and the industry started to really boom. With so many OEMs involved in the UTV industry it has continued to get bigger and more competitive, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.”
With the momentum growing in the LOORRS competition, Weller notes the changes she experienced within side-by-side racing.
“I think every type of racing has its cycles and this is no different. I wasn’t around for WSORR, but I was there when CORR told us all there would be no ‘rest of the season.’ We all wondered where we would race then LOORRS was born right around that time,” Weller said. “LOORRS did very well in picking up the pieces from CORR, but the UTV class started to fizzle out due to the very high costs of building a race motor that would win races.”
Weller continued, “We started the SR1 class, which picked up the UTV numbers considerably in LOORRS, but the UTVs were moved to the Lucas Oil Regional Series in 2012, where they continued to grow each year. TORC didn’t have any UTV racing until 2016, when they started two UTV classes and had good numbers right off the start. In 2017, a ton more UTV racers came out to race, and now in 2018, UTV classes are generally the largest on the West Coast as well as in the Midwest.”
There’s more to off road racing than the short course, Weller explained.
“In the desert, the UTV classes have been growing every year, and now have huge numbers in BITD and SCORE, as well as local desert series.”
With the growth of the side-by-side industry gaining steam, Weller believes it is in a healthy place as OEMs field factory teams and competition between brands begins to develop.
She commented that the growth of the industry should spark growth in the OEM’s engine limits for competition to keep up with the trends.
“I don’t know if the current growth trend can continue at the pace it has been over the past 10 years, unless the OEMs can bump the current UTV cc limit beyond 1000cc, if that happens, I don’t see an end in sight to the UTV industry and racing as a whole,” Weller said. “Now that Lucas Oil has taken over the Midwest short course racing scene, I think racing will be very strong over the next five years.”
Catch Weller in her next race at the K&N Filters Silver State Showdown presented by Toyota in Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, NV on July 21.