The Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo presented by General Tire is the second biggest show for off-roading in the US. Well, just after the SEMA Show, anyway. I’d also argue that it’s the fourth biggest event you can hit in the US when you include the big races like The Mint 400, The King of the Hammers, and the Rage at the River. The only reason to miss this show is because you aren’t into off-road.
It’s a two-day show, starting on Saturday and ending on Sunday and there is a lot going on. This year, the show expanded its presence at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA. This is also the home of events like the LA State Fair, Grand National Roadster Show, and the traditional home of the opening round of the NHRA season – the Winternationals on the Auto Club Raceway drag strip. This is also the home of the NHRA Museum, which I have a story on that, too. So, to expand and use nearly all the exhibit areas the Fairplex has to offer is a big deal.
That’s also why the big names of the off-road world show up. You’ll see names like Currie Enterprises, Fox Racing Shocks, K&N, and many others. You also see representatives of Ultra4, SCORE, Best in the Desert (BITD), and other big sanctioning bodies announce their schedules for 2019.
The big announcement was the update to the Ultra4 schedule and the introduction of the Toyo Tires Desert Invitational presented by Monster Energy at the 2019 King of the Hammers. Also, for 2019, the Lasernut Western Regional Series will go south of the US border to San Felipe, Baja, Mexico. In an already worldwide series, the expansion into Baja, Mexico is unsurprising as it is one of the best areas of off-roading outside of the Southwest of the United States. It won’t be the only regional visiting outside the US as the North Regional Series will tour up to Alberta, Canada. For the East Coast, the 4 Wheel Parts Eastern Regional Series adds Adventure Off Road Park in Pittsburg, Tennessee.
The SCORE exhibit was awesome as they brought out some historic vehicles that had challenged the Baja in years past as well as a few rigs that were looking to take the win this year. Dennis Sletten brought out the “Holy Toledo,” a historic Jeep Commando that I talked about at Off-Road Nights. So, it’s great to see Dennis and Chuchua’s Jeep get the love it deserves.
The thing the fans come for, though, is see the latest products from their favorite brands to install on their Jeeps, Trucks, SUVs, and powersport vehicles. Wheels, suspension, tires, tents, lights – you name it you were finding it here. A nice thing to continue to see is the wide and varied vehicles on display.
It’s not just the domestics as Toyota had a good showing. For every Colorado I saw there was a Tacoma, for nearly every F150 there was a Tundra. Of course, it helps that Toyota has been involved in off-road racing as a works team for many years and forms. From Baja to Mickey Thompson Stadium Trucks, Toyota has had a big presence in American off-roading.
It was certainly impressive to see parts already coming out for the new T1XX chassis. King Off-Road Racing Shocks showed off a full setup with a new Silverado.
Big Willy MB
This is a massive, monster Wills. It’s called “Big Willy” and is a hand built Willys MB upscaled to fit 52-inch Michelin Tires for five-ton military trucks. It has a Cummins R2.8 four-cylinder turbodiesel crate engine with a GM 6L80E six-speed automatic transmission, NP205 transfer case, and Dana 60 Axles. In true MB fashion, it’s sitting on leaf springs that fit under the axles front and rear. Yes, the windshield folds down and the massive steering wheel is how you steer it. It is a giant-scale version of the granddaddy Jeep in nearly every way you can imagine.
Yokohama Tire Stunt Show
Something I’ve experienced for the first time was shooting a stunt BMX and skateboard show that Yokohama Tire put on in their booth. Most of my photography experience comes from things powered by an engine or a motor, so this was brand new and a bit of a challenge. However, I loved doing it and wouldn’t mind going to a bigger event one day to shoot bigger names with bigger stunts.
4 Wheel Parts Demo
If you were wanting to try the latest Jeep products from 4 Wheel Parts and their partners, they were also doing driving demos. After signing a waiver, you could hop into one of the passenger seats and take a ride with a 4 Wheel Parts driver. Articulation, off-road driving comfort, and stability were all demonstrated in the small circle they built.
Just after the Off-Road Expo, Red Bull would run their Straight Rhythm event at the Fairplex. To encourage people to come out and watch, they had a small course laid out just like the event. Electric bikes from Razor allowed inexperienced riders to race against each other for fun and bragging rights.
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Demo
It wouldn’t be an off-road show if there wasn’t some dirty action going on and that was provided by the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, Terra Crew, and Shreddy’s Blake Wilkey in his turbocharged LS buggy. The youngest stars were probably the most fun to watch, doing their best to drive just as hard as the ProLights and UTVs did. Trey Eggleston was able to get his Mod Kart drift, jump and slide like its bigger ProLight cousin. The RZR 170s driven by Geroge Llamosas and Travis Sallee were doing their finest to drive like the UTVs of Nathan Barry and Jason Merrell. They were able to kick up some roost and get some air in these tiny UTVs.
The Mad Man
However, bringing down the house was the wild driving antics that Wilkey and his turbo-LS were known for. Even while in a full slide, he was able to get the inside wheel to pick up. It would hit the table top with enough force to bottom out the massive travel off-road suspension but he and his ride-along weren’t bothered by the landing because of its design.
That’s All but Subscribe for More!
That’s all from the Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo presented by General Tire this year and we can’t wait to see it again in 2019. If you like this, be sure to subscribe for exclusive content like the ORE 2018 Gallery that you can only get as an Annual or Biannual Subscriber!