Detroit may be the center of the automobile manufacturing
world, but when it comes to customizing vehicles Southern
California is the heart of the car culture. From "pimped rides"
to drag racing, it all started in So Cal. Rockcrawling is
strong in Southern California as well, with places like the
Hammers and Big Bear nearby. Given the culture, it is no surprise
that the annual Off Road Expo is a huge hit. Now in its eighth
year, the event is held at the Fairplex in Pomona at the same
site used for the Los Angeles County Fair.
Just as So Cal embraces anything and everything to do with
wheels, the Off Road Expo seemed to have… well, just about
everything. In addition to the over 300 vendor booths, there
was also a RockCross event, Bully Dog's dyno competition,
SCORE and WE Rock press conferences, an FJ Cruiser ride-and-drive,
on-site vehicle buildups, freestyle motocross, and live music.
About the only thing that we didn't see were midgets juggling
chainsaws. Running only Saturday and Sunday, many of the 40,000
people in attendance hardly had a chance to scratch the surface
of all the activities available at the Off Road Expo. More
importantly, Pirate4x4 barely had time to photograph half
of the scantily clad women found throughout the Fairplex.
The weather was hot all weekend, so while girls in Denver
and Chicago were bundled up in parkas, the So Cal hotties
spent the fall weekend in tank tops and mini-skirts.
As with last year's SEMA show, JKs and FJ Cruisers continue
to be the hottest vehicles on the market. Toyota capitalized
on this by bringing their Trail Team out to give rides and
spotting advice on a manmade course at the back of the 25
acre Fairplex. The FJ Cruiser activities were held next to
the manmade courses erected by UROC for their second RockCross
event of the season. The RockCross generated a lot of interest,
but would have likely benefited from a larger crowd if it
was held in a more conspicuous location.
The same could be said for the Bully Dog Diesel
Dyno challenge. The dyno competition was held at the south
end of the Fairplex, in front of one of the eight exhibit
halls used for the show. Numerous diesel trucks made pulls
on Saturday, with the top torque figure being 860 foot-pounds.
Sunday saw the big dogs come out to play, and at the end of
the day George Wadeson walked away with $1000 cash and Bully
Dog products for his '06 Dodge Mega Cab after putting down
1171 foot-pounds of torque to the rear wheels.
Live action was not limited to the Diesel Dyno
challenge. GM Performance Products had a crate engine on an
engine dyno making pulling through open headers, and there
was a freestyle motocross exhibition behind the Maxxis booth.
Two RC car courses were also erected on site at the Fairplex.
Perhaps the coolest action we saw though was the live buildup
in the Pro Comp Tires area. Pro Comp organized the buildup
of a Dodge pickup and Toyota Tacoma right onsite at the Expo.
The vehicles belong to Marines stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton.
Both Corporal Christopher Glugla and Sergeant Richard Massimino
were injured in Iraq while serving their country. Pro Comp,
Mastercraft, ARB, Warn, Magnaflow, Warn, and 4Wheel Parts
stepped up to outfit these Marines' trucks as a small token
of appreciate for their service, and the companies did it
live in front of the audience at the Off Road Expo.
Being so close to the desert of Southern California,
the show was heavy on fiberglass fenders, triple bypass shocks,
and racks of HID lights. Yamaha Rhinos and similar side-by-sides
also seemed to be hot at this year's Expo; we witnessed several
Rhinos with custom paint and suspensions that easily cost
tens of thousands of dollars. Even with all of the go-fast
goodies, there were plenty of rockcrawling companies and components
making their presence known. Spidertrax had one of the best
booths that we saw, with a display that highlighted the axle
building process from start to finish. Stak, Poly Performance,
Advance Adapters, Powertank, Trailready, Poison Spyder Customs,
Warn, and PRP were some of the well known rock-centric companies
displaying their products and offering discounts at the show.
Stak had their new "mini monster" on display, which still
offers three speeds, but comes in a smaller package for less
weight and easier fitment. Speaking of less weight, American
Racing unveiled a new forged, one piece beadlock rim with
their proprietary Teflon coating. This light weight, strong,
good looking rim looks to be the rim to beat right now.
The major tire companies were all represented
too, with BFGoodrich, Toyo, Maxxis, Interco, Nitto, and Goodyear
all onsite with semi trucks in tow. BFG had their new Mud
Terrain KX on display in their booth on Don Campbell's beautiful
FJ40 Land Cruiser. The new 42" tires were mounted on even
newer 20" Walker Evans beadlock rims. Mount Logan Off-Road
had a four door JK in the BFGoodrich booth sporting the new
Mud Terrains as well, in a 40" size. It seemed like few other
innovative rockcrawling products were debuted at the show.
We don't know if that is because there was just too much to
see in two days or if manufacturers are planning to unveil
their new creations at the SEMA show, but we will find out
next month when Pirate4x4 heads to the bright lights of Las
Vegas to cover the largest automotive tradeshow in the world.
In the meantime enjoy the photos from the Off Road Expo.