CORONA, CA (February 8, 2019) - You might call it love at first sight. For a kid who didn't grow up following the typical path of racing entry-level go-karts while dreaming of moving up the ladder of speed, Trey Gibbs instead took a different path to Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series success.
It all began in the southern California desert a few years ago while visiting an uncle and seeing a Junior Kart up close for the first time. Gibbs said he became "super interested" in what the vehicle was all about.
"I came home and did a little research and brought it up to my dad," the now 17-year-old Gibbs said. "We ended up booking tickets for the Las Vegas race. It was me and my dad's first race. It was a rain race and super muddy. After seeing that race, I was instantly hooked.
"It was like 'dad, we have to do this.' "
And they have, with great success. First, a fourth-place finish in the 2015 Mod Kart division of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. He climbed to second in points a year later and then, in 2017, captured the Mod Kart championship.
Gibbs, from Murrieta, California, moved up to the highly competitive Pro Buggy class last year and earned Rookie of the Year honors. He wound up fifth in points, 40 behind champion Darren Hardesty, and had a pair of podium finishes.
Ironically, it was Hardesty's Mod Kart that the Gibbs family purchased four years ago - on the heels of his first view of Off Road short-course racing - that launched his career. Now he is hoping to keep moving up with the goal of chasing the Pro Buggy title on the LOORRS in 2019.
"Winning Rookie of the Year was super cool for me," Gibbs said. "It was a real confidence booster to have that right after my Mod Kart championship. It was a really good year"
The transition from Mod Kart to Pro Buggy was not without its challenges. He said the vehicles are completely different to drive.
"The Mod Karts were super dinky," Gibbs said. "Anywhere you wanted the Mod Kart to go, it went. The biggest thing going to Pro Buggy, they don't really steer. You have a cutting brake. You have to use that to manage the car a lot more. That was the biggest learning curve, to learn to maneuver and work the car where it need to go, with all those new aspects."
Gibbs called his progress from the beginning of last season to the end as dramatic.
"We came out at the beginning of the year in the first national event and I ended up leading a race," he said. "That was a huge eye-opener to what I could do. For me, feeling comfortable is the biggest part of being in a car. I knew from there that I had the speed, I just needed to work on consistency."
Both of his podium finishes came in the second half of the season. Gibbs, who's finishing his senior year of high school, feels good about his momentum headed into the new LOORRS season, which begins March 16 at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California.
"Down the road, we have the Pro Lite coming into our near future. We're working that into regionals this year along with the Polaris Turbo UTV. That'll be this year. I have a great team of people and we're just looking good support to help us out."
Story by Lyndal Scranton
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro Buggy division:
The Pro Buggy class is for open-wheel buggies with a 2,000-cc maximum (air-cooled) motor. Other engine specs are two valves per cylinder at 1,715-cc maximum (water cooled) or three or more valves per cylinder at 1,650-cc maximum (water cooled). The vehicles have 210 horsepower and a 93-inch maximum width, 1,900-pounds minimum weight (including driver) and a 1,580-pound minimum weight (including driver). Pro Buggy numbers are 1-99.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) pits the top short course off-road racing drivers against each other across an ever-expanding series of fan-friendly, pulse-pounding tracks. Born from the long-standing traditional home of midwestern short course off-road racing, and enlivened by the fast-emerging west coast short course movement, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing is the premier series in the world off short course off-road. Driven by Lucas Oil and the company's founder and CEO Forrest Lucas, both of whom have been long-time passionate supporters of this sport, the series continues to progress and evolve, carrying on the heritage of short course, as well as pushing its limits into the future. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course! For more information, please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com and be sure to sign up for our newsletter in our Newsletter Signup section of the home page.