From Supercross to LOORRS: Jeremy McGrath and New Tracksstorestreamllc
DH Wheels exclusively sells Fuel Off-Road wheels, and we are thrilled to feature the JM2 (Jeremy McGrath) signature wheel! Jeremy McGrath is a Supercross Motorcycle racing legend turned short course off-road truck racer. He helped design the JM2 wheels with the help of Fuel experts in April 2014. This signature wheel was track tested and used by McGrath on his own racing truck, but wasn’t released for the general public until mid-2015. We’re super stoked to carry this badass wheel. JM2 has a black matte finish with seven lightening pocket spokes that are race proven. Some would even say the wheel looks similar to the rear sprocket of a dirt bike. And no wonder. Even though McGrath retired from motorcycle racing in 2003, he still considers himself to be a dirt bike guy. His signature wheel reflects his love of motorcycles.
McGrath started his motorcycle career at age 15 and went on to win 7 Supercross Championships between 1993 and 2000. Most dirt bike racers retire at a young age – under 40 – but some ride longer. However, chance of injury increases with age and as a moto racer you’re bound to take beatings throughout your career. McGrath didn’t want to be the old guy on the track who couldn’t win races anymore. And he didn’t want to be permanently injured on the field either. However, even after announcing his retirement in 2003, McGrath continued to race in select events through 2006.
McGrath jumped right into short course off-road racing with a little help from Ricky Johnson, another former Motocross/Supercross racer. He raced with CORR (Championship Off Road Racing) and TORC (The Off-Road Championships) before settling with LOORRS (Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing). Most off-road truck drivers start in lower classes and work their way up to the high horsepower classes. Not McGrath. He jumped right into the Pro 2 class, driving 2 wheel drive 900 HP, badass trucks. And he’s not the only ex-Motorsport racer to make the transition to off-road racing. There are quite a few racers who have retired from Motocross/Supercross due to injury or fatigue, but still want to be involved in racing. Off-road truck racing offers more protection in a crash and is similar to motorsport racing because of the dirt track.
McGrath isn’t the only former motosport racer in the LOORRS Pro 2 class. An ever growing number of his fellow motosport racers are following a similar course of retirement, or are getting involved with LOORRS in some way. Below are four guys who followed a path similar to McGrath’s:
Travis Pastrana, one of the founding members of Nitro Circus, has had brief involvement with the LOORRS. Pastrana won three Motocross racing championships between 2000 and 2001 in the 125cc category. Although he hasn’t won any 250cc races, his kindness to fans and daredevil attitude have made him a widely popular racer. He has also been involved with rally car racing and NASCAR. Pastrana competed in the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Southern California Shootout as part of LOORRS. He drove a Pro 2 truck alongside Tanner Foust – a well-known rally racer involved in Pro 2 LOORRS racing. Pastrana didn’t continue to race with LOORRS. He is mostly involved in rally car racing now, but also participates in the X Games, and of course, Nitro Circus.
I mentioned Ricky Johnson earlier. He is now a retired racer, but he was huge in the Motocross/Supercross world in the 1980s. Johnson suffered a severe wrist injury in 1989 that limited his motorcycle racing abilities. Unable to return to his previous riding style and speed, Johnson retired from motorcycle racing in 1991. He went on to stock car racing and off-road racing. He raced in Pro 2 and Pro 4 classes with both COOR – until it went bankrupt – and LOORRS.
Brian Deegan is another crossover from motorcycle racing. He is considered the most decorated Freestyle Motocross rider in X Games history. He is also one of the founding members of the Metal Mulisha. Way back in 1992, Deegan started his motorcycle racing career at the age of 17. He switch over to four wheel racing in 2009, getting involved with LOORRS and later NASCAR. He won championships over other, more experienced drivers in LOORRS and quickly moved up to the Pro 2 class. Although he has suffered life threatening injuries and numerous broken bones over his career, Deegan continues to compete. He was the LOORRS champion in 2011, 2012, and 2014.
Robby Woods, a Supercross racer in the late 90s and early 00s, is also part of LOORRS’ Pro 2 racing league. He suffered several injuries during his Supercross career and had to retire in 2006 after shattering both his tibia and fibula (lower leg bones). He could no longer ride motorcycles, but he could definitely drive a truck, so he got involved in LOORRS and built his own Pro 2 truck. He has been racing short course off-road for several years.
Some people may find it odd that so many Motocross/Supercross racers have made their way into off-road truck racing, but it’s not all that surprising. As mentioned earlier, motorcycle racing can be very damaging to your body, and racers often have to retire at a young age due to injury or fatigue. Short course off-road truck racing – the type of racing conducted by LOORRS – offers a safer alternative for racers.
Short course off road racing involves modified vehicles on a dirt road closed course of short lengths. It was developed in the 1970s to be a more spectator friendly sport than long course off-road racing. Long course off road racing is desert racing on a non-closed course that may span hundreds of kilometers or miles. LOORRS is an example of a short course off-road racing series on an outdoor track.
But how are these racers jumping to the Pro 2 class so quickly? There are many similarities between motorcycle racing and short course off-road truck racing. For one, they are both off-road, on circular dirt tracks. There are dirt pits and tons of jumps around the tracks. Unlike long course off road racing, drivers are stuck on a small course with other drivers, so there’s always a chance of crashing into each other. You have to be hyperaware of your surroundings and know how to drive effectively on dirt.
Despite these similarities, there are definite differences to the two types of racing. Motorcycle racing leaves the driver more exposed to injury; hence why so many racers have to retire. In truck racing, you are strapped in, so you are jostled less. There is also a full roll cage and drivers have to wear fire retardant clothing. All of these elements are supposed to keep the driver safe. However, if a fire starts it is harder to get out of a truck than it is off a motorcycle. Trucks are more customizable, but motorcycles offer more tricks and flexibility.
The Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing series sanctions most professional short course races along the West Coast. It replaced the Championship Off-Road Racing series when it went bankrupt in 2008. There are six tracks used for races (California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and Baja California) and five major classes for racers. The classes are: Pro 4, Pro 2, Pro Lite, Pro Buggy, and Modified Kart.
The Pro 4 class features 4 wheel drive full-size race trucks with 700+ horsepower (HP) – though most range between 700 and 900. Trucks must weigh a minimum of 4000 pounds with the driver and have a maximum track width of 93”.
The Pro 2 class features 2 wheel drive full-size race trucks built on standardized chassis. The HP average is between 700 and 900. Maximum track widths are the same as the Pro 4 class, but Pro 2 trucks get to be lighter. They have a minimum weight of 3750 pounds with the driver.
The Pro Lite class features 2 wheel drive mid-size trucks built on standardized chassis. They have significantly less HP, only about 300. Pro Lite trucks have a maximum track width of 74” with a minimum weight of 2800 lbs with the driver.
The Pro Buggy class features open wheel buggies with 1650cc to 1835cc motors. Buggies have 210 average HP and must be a minimum of 1800 pounds with the driver. The maximum track width is the same as Pro 2 and 4 classes.
The Modified Kart class is for drivers age 10 to 15 and is considered an advanced junior class. Racing karts have 250cc or 450 cc motorcycle motors. They are not very powerful, having only 48 HP.
Although there are several classes to compete in, most former moto guys hang out in the Pro 2 class. The race tracks have tight turns and tons of jumps that are normal to dirt bike tracks. But trucks are a lot different than motorcycles so Pro 2 trucks have to be built a certain way. They must be able to take jumps and corners without falling apart. But competitors don’t just get to make their truck any way they want.
Limits have been put into place to create more fair competition among the classes. The chassis generally sits low and wide – like a rally car. Pro 2 trucks have a minimum ride height of 10 inches and a maximum wheelbase of 117 inches. Trucks must carry at least 45% of their weight in the front for even distribution. The trucks can reach speeds up to 100 miles per hour, but generally run at 50-55 mph on the track. Suspension, shocks, and tires are also important to the overall performance of the Pro 2 trucks. Suspension is limited to 18” in front and 20” in the back, while shocks are generally a 2.0” coil over in front and 2.5” bypass shock in the rear. Traction is also very important, as it is easy to get stuck driving in the dirt. Most Pro 2 trucks have mud terrain tires with cut grooves for additional traction. They are usually 35”.
Sources: http://www.prerunnermaniac.com/prerunners/prerunner-tech/item/351-pro2-vs-trophy-truck-what-makes-them-different/351-pro2-vs-trophy-truck-what-makes-them-different.html; http://www.lucasoiloffroad.com/; http://racerxonline.com/2014/04/30/between-the-motos-jeremy-mcgrath; http://www.jeremymcgrath2.com/;