Off Road

International Off-Road Drivers Association to debut in April

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Credit: International Off-Road Drivers Association

Even sportsman short course off-road racing isn’t safe from splits. Disagreements in the Short-course Off-road Drivers Association (SODA) leadership resulted in some leaving to start their own series, the International Off-Road Drivers Association (IODA), which will run five rounds in 2023 all at Gravity Park USA.

IODA was formed in November by a contingent of ten: Jay and Paul Billmeyer, Missi Buechel, Rob DeGreef, Foyd Hartl, Kelly and Kimberly Kuether, Alexander Mackowski, Milan Mazanec, and Mike “Moogie” Morgan. Many of those were previously involved with the fledgling SODA series: Kelly Kuether had been named SODA’s Vice President just two months prior to the breakaway while Mazanec had been the technical inspection director since the inaugural SODA season in 2021. Mackowski passed away in early February in a truck accident last Wednesday.

Citing unhappiness with SODA, Kuether elected to form his own championship. Various drivers from SODA have also committed to IODA.

“Many of us learned that SODA was not what it was advertised to be,” Kuether explained in a Race-DeZert post. “It was not a driver’s association at all. The board was nothing but a smoke and mirror show. All decisions were made by the owner regardless of the board or driver’s. So we as a group decided to move forward with this venture. It is set up so no one individual will profit from the series, and the driver’s voice can and will be heard. It WILL be a driver’s association.”

Such rows are not too uncommon in motorsport, most infamously showcased by the CART/IndyCar split in the 1990s that effectively knocked American open-wheel racing from its pedestal as the top form of racing in the United States. Short course has also seen a rather tumultuous history even at the national level when series like the original SODA fell as drivers went elsewhere.

Despite the situation, SODA intends to proceed with its 2023 season beginning at Wisconsin International Raceway, though other dates have not been confirmed. President Willie Freshour remains in his position while appointing new names to fill the gaps left by the split such as Allen McMillen, who raced in the original SODA and was the technical director for Championship Off-Road’s Sportsman classes, in the same position.

Gravity Park USA, located in Chilton, Wisconsin, was also the lone track to host SODA’s inaugural season in 2021. The first IODA round will take place on 29/30 April, followed by dates on 13/14 May, 3/4 June, 23/24 September, and 14/15 October.

UPDATE (20 February): The story erroneously listed just Kuether, Mackowski, and Mazanec as the series’ founders. It has been updated to include the full contingent.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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