Great American Short Course (GAS) hopes to fill a void left in the hearts of short course off-road racing fans on the West Coast created by the death of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS). On Thursday, former LOORRS race director Lee Perfect and Hammerking Productions head Dave Cole announced the formation of GAS with title sponsorship from Optima Batteries, set to kick off in the spring with a four-round schedule.
“This is an incredible opportunity,” Perfect stated. “We plan to take a fresh look at short course racing in the West and learn from each other to build something sustainable, safe, and fun for everyone from the grassroots racers to the pros.”
Short course racing has primarily been conducted on the West Coast and in the Midwestern United States, with series like SODA (Short-course Off-road Drivers Association) and the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group making up the backbone of the discipline for much of its history since the 1970s. CORR (Championship Off-Road Racing) did the same at the turn of the millennium, as would LOORS and TORC: The Off-Road Championship in the late 2000s and 2010s. Various drivers from these series would go on to enjoy success elsewhere such as the versatile Robby Gordon and Mears family, current Extreme E driver Kyle LeDuc, NASCAR Cup Series great Jimmie Johnson, and reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. Gordon also started an off-road series of his own with the Stadium Super Trucks, which is set for its ninth season; while SST primarily races on street circuits and road courses, it was formed with MTEG as a blueprint and occasionally competes on off-road and stadium tracks.
However, while fairly popular, short course is also an unstable type of racing with a fairly niche market and little support. SODA gradually faded out of existence with the rise of CORR in the late 1990s, while CORR went bankrupt in 2008; the Lucas Oil World Series of Off-Road Racing also went under that year after just two seasons. TORC and LOORRS kept the code going over the next decade, but the former has not raced since 2018 and LOORRS was shut down after a 2020 season that was marred by COVID-19. Until GAS’ formation, the discipline’s West Coast future seemed murky while a Midwestern scene continues with Championship Off-Road (no relation to CORR).
Perfect previously worked for CORR and was the race director for the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Racing Series, which organised short course races from 2012 to the parent series’ demise in 2020. Cole’s Hammerking Productions, founded in 2008, oversees the annual King of the Hammers desert race; the 2021 edition is scheduled for 6 February.
“We learned from King of the Hammers that it’s better to have your fans be able to actively participate at the events than just sit there watching, and we aim to provide that opportunity here,” said Cole.
“We have been working hard behind the scenes and are excited about this new chance to freshen up short course racing in the West,” Perfect added. “And a major plus is having a company like Optima Batteries, who has also successfully developed many very popular events, is going to offer the series some unique opportunities for collaboration and cross promotion in the future.”
A schedule was not immediately released, but GAS hopes to run four rounds with two races in April and May, followed by another two in October and November.