Dirt Time Attack – Does Off-Road Need Its Version of Super Lap Battle?

I’ve always had this idea: is there a way to bring people who build and drive these amazing, street legal prerunners out and race them in a safe environment. While the 1400 and 1450 Classes as well as “prerunner fun runs” exist in open desert, it’s not quite what I had in mind. I’d like to see a short course environment where these trucks – in classes relevant to their build and even drivetrains – can compete without being a true wheel-to-wheel series in the way open desert kind of is. Though, I may have been beaten slightly to the punch on that.

This idea goes back to inaugural LS Fest West at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s dirt oval about three years ago. They essentially had a bit of a track challenge, where the LS-powered rigs would race in a timed format, but they would eventually race head-to-head. They weren’t wheel-to-wheel, but they started at two different ends of the course and would swap planes. I began contemplating and looking back towards my past where I covered sport compacts and “Time Attack” racing. They had a big event just after the SEMA Show called “Super Lap Battle,” which I covered last year. My thought was, “why doesn’t off-road have something like this?”

The Jump Champs Time Trials

Turns it, they kind of do. Despite their name, The Jump Champs have a Time Trial race during their big, yearly event. The idea is similar, but the classes are a bit laxer than you see with Time Attack racing that the paved guys do. Tire compound isn’t quite considered, drivetrain type isn’t either, but the classes are broken down into typical open-desert types with a few extras built in as well. It’s not the wrong way of doing it and probably helps at keeping the event simple. There is some advantage to doing it that way.

The Truck Cross at the Off-Road Nights Expo

That advantage was seen during the Truck Cross, which was held in conjunction with both The Jump Champs and Off-Road Nights Expo as part of the larger event. The more simplification allowed more vehicles to enter and have fun, which is the goal at the end of the day. The Truck Cross couldn’t take in a whole lot of vehicles just because there was more going on, so time constraints meant a leaner event as far as total vehicle count. Even so, the show was impressive and was a bit of a proof of concept in my eyes, but I feel like there could be more.

Time Trials at 4.0

The Jump Champs have version 4.0 of their annual event on May 17th to the 19th and the Time Trials will once again be a part of it. It seems to be a popular portion of the entire event weekend along with its namesake, “The Jump Champs.” I’m quite excited to see how it works out over the full event and if the Truck Cross is any indication, this should be quite fun, as well. It will also help me answer another question I have about “Time Attack on Dirt.”

Would the Size of the Track Matter in a Dirt Time Attack?

The Truck Cross was simple in its track layout, too. You were given two laps each go around, and the track was laid out in an oval inside the Del Mar Fairgrounds Arena. This means there was more jumping than there was turning or braking, but it was still a testament to the vehicle’s suspension choice and design…

Or the bravery of the driver, as we saw with Jessica Valentine and her Super Stock class Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ. She drove that Jeep with very little fear despite its limited suspension travel and was the highlight of the event along with Blake Wilkey and his turbo LS-powered buggy.

However, was it that simple, compact size that made this event amazing to watch with those drivers or can that be duplicated on a larger track like Glen Helen Raceway’s Short Course? Could a longer series be made from Time Attack racing with prerunners and desert trucks/rigs on other short course tracks? I won’t really have an answer to those questions until I observe the Time Trials during The Jump Champs 4.0.

You Think Short Course Time Attack Possible?

Even so, I wouldn’t mind hearing your input on those questions. So, take to the comments below because I have my ideas and ideals, but I wouldn’t mind seeing what others have to say or think about something like this. Super Lap Battle and the World Time Attack Challenge have shown that racing can be exciting without being wheel-to-wheel.

There are also many short course tracks across the Mid-West and Southwest that could make a series possible for people who have their own street-legal prerunners and have wanted a proper place to see what they are made of. Just without the need of firesuits, cages, and project-style race tires, though.

I also have a full gallery up here from The Jump Champs Truck Cross at the Off-Road Nights Expo, so be sure to check that out, too.

Justin Banner

Justin Banner, Lead Editor and Founder of Carbage Online, has been involved with the automotive media and industry in many capacities and now tackles publication ownership with CarbageOnline.com. Prior to that, he has freelanced for top online publications of modern media that include Speedhunters, MotoIQ, Super Street Online, Hot Rod Magazine and many others. All due to his nearly 20 years experience as a mechanic, service writer, and technical support in the automotive industry. Justin is also a Journalist Level member of the Motor Press Guild - an industry recognized entity of professional automotive journalists - since 2015.