Crazy Times (CORR out, LOORRS in)

The momentum was growing and in 2008 CORR’s focus was on maximum exposure for the series. To maximize their exposure CORR ventured into live TV broadcasts of races on both SPEED and NBC. Which was a ground breaking first for off-road short course racing as the coverage introduced short course to a mainstream racing public. However, just as short course racing was shinning before the main stream public with the live TV coverage Baldwin canceled two of the rounds at Las Vegas in October 2008. Then in a press release, CORR stated: “Championship Off-road Racing has made the difficult decision to cancel the Primm, Nevada race on October 25th and 26th. The current credit crisis had made it very difficult to cover CORR’s costs.” This was the beginning of our country’s financial melt down that caused a global recession so the racing community had it's doubts about short course’s future.

Shortly after the season ended CORR announced a three year deal with Perpetual Motion Films to continue covering CORR events. This enlightened fans a bit more but then all waited for the 2009 schedule to appear and nothing was heard from CORR. Suddenly Ricky Johnson announced he was putting together a three race series for 2009 titled the Off-Road Grand Prix ORGP. Johnson said his program was intended as a grass roots program more as a support group for those wanting to get started in short course. Part of his statement was that he had talked with CORR and there were no conflicts with them or the WSORR series. Before the ink on the release could dry Tony Vanillo, former Technical Director for CORR, announced he had secured Lucas Oil as a sponsor and was putting on a six race Lucas Oil American Off-Road Series LAORS for 2009. This left CORR without it’s primary sponsor. Wanting to have their voice heard many of the drivers came together to form a driver’s union called the Professional Drivers Group, PDG. Having a program in motion Johnson changed gears from a minor league to a major program with a letter of intent to buy the Midwest series WSORR.

To add to the craziness out of the blue another series was announced and titled; National Off-Road Racing Series NORRS. Headed up by Aaron Mortenson the series never got off ground. It turns out Mortsenson was to secretive about his plans and many in the off-road community, not knowing him, felt it was a hoax. Turns out it was no hoax as there was a race scheduled for the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. But it never raced. The track was set up and ready to go. The TV crew had set up and purchased TV time. Then on race day the track management pulled the plug. It appears both parties had their faults. One could say Mortenson didn't understand the small print. On the other hand the management had double booked for the weekend and hadn't let NORRS know in advance that they were not going to let him race. Which turns out for the best as there was not enough racers that showed up to put on a show. So NORRS had tried to put a series together but in the end faded from the scene as quickly as they had appeared.

It would appear that the three remaining series should join forces and form one truly national series. If everyone was working for the betterment of the sport this would be best. In fact when many of the major sponsors got together with the promoters that is what they said needed to happen. But that did not seem to be the case as the financial aspect brought it’s ugly head into the mix. Baldwin had millions of dollars invested in CORR and shouldn’t be expected to just give his investment away. Lucas Oil had a sizeable investment in the sport as a sponsor. The others were just starting out. Johnson seemed flexible but after the meeting it was obvious none of them would be working together.

The racing community was being pulled this way and that way and had no idea what the out come would be for 2009. Finally in early February 2009 there was a game changer when Lucas Oil Products announced they had finalized an agreement with Tony and Sherry Vanillo to acquire complete ownership of the newly formed American Off-road Series. The series would be renamed the “Lucas Oil Off-road Racing Series LOORS”.

Things started to come together as a few days later another announcement changed the future of short course as well. One of the doubts sponsors had with Johnson’s plan was that he at the time didn’t have anything in contracts. This all changed when Johnson partnered up with Mitch Covington and announced they, under the name of The Off-Road Championship series TORC, had entered into an exclusive, long-term agreement with Crandon International Off-Road Raceway. The deal included rights to hold short course racing at the fabled “Big House” through the year 2018 and beyond. Along with the announcement came a title sponsor of Traxxas, the country’s leading marketer of R/C cars. To add to Johnson's deal the PDG group threw their support in with Johnson.

The year was 2009 and CORR, who up until now, had been the prominent off-road short course series with national TV coverage was now out of the picture. Traxxas TORC series with many of the top drivers settled into the Midwest and LOORS set roots as a west coast series backed by the deep pockets of Lucas Oil. The best chance to join forces and combine into a truly national series under single management was gone.

Not combining into a single series has not deterred short course growth. Both of the these professional short course series, TRAXXAS TORC and Lucas Oil Off-road Racing LOORS, have flourished and added new venues and extended TV coverage. Both series racing programs are regularly shown through national TV syndicates. In addition, LOORS spawned regional series in both Southern California and Arizona providing amateurs a stepping stone into the sport.