2016 Off Road Expo: Where Trucks Are King
California desert off-road enthusiasts know that the Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo in Pomona, California, unofficially rings in the season every year in the first weekend of October. 352 vendors and more than 69,000 fans in attendance made this year's show bigger than ever. With more than ten acres of everything off-road—vendors, racing demos, professional off road racers and celebrity appearances, ride-alongs, live music and industry events—it can be a bit difficult to see it all in a few hours.
Here are some of the hot trends we spotted you may have missed:
Keep on Trucking
The one trend you couldn’t miss is that trucks dominated the field this year. Just two years ago, the Jeep Wrangler JK seemed to be everywhere you looked, but this year it seems that many aftermarket companies have shifted their focus to the exciting truck market (that is, until the release of the 2018 Wrangler JL model!)
Ultra Wheels showed off this Ford Super Duty with X Metal Grill and Hammerhead front bumper.
SuperWinch had a beautiful red GMC Canyon. The Expedition One front bumper is a prototype that will go on sale on their website in a few weeks, including a two-hoop option.
Fiberwerx flaunted their custom off-road fiberglass on a Dodge Ram with their signature Trophy Truck bedsides and Ram fenders. The bedsides feature a 4.5” bulge and 2.5” rise; the fenders have a 4” bulge and a 2.5” rise.
Several companies were showing new coilover suspension systems. Rock Krawler Suspension featured their new Trail Gunner suspension for the Jeep Wrangler JK on this custom 10” stretched 2DR JKL Unlimited Conversion built by Jeep Works. The fully tunable suspension system features coil overs in the front, and front and rear bypass shocks. The Trail Gunner suspension system requires welding, but bolt-on coilovers have become very popular too.
Skinny Is In
For the Jeep crowd, we spotted several vendors featuring new narrow fenders for the Wrangler JK. Our favorites were the ones from Off Road Evolution. The fender edges rolled to take them a step above traditional tube fenders, and they perfectly match the lines of the JK.
ORE also debuted the aluminum half doors seen in this photo, as well as a new tire carrier and a high-visibility bolt-on Chromoly sport cage.
We also spotted quite a few Wranglers sporting GenRight’s new cargo rack for JK/TJ/LJ/YJ Wranglers. The rack has a universal mounting bracket that works with factory roll cages. The 6.5” deep rack can be raised or lowered 3 inches, and provides many options for organizing your gear and providing easier access. The GenRight TerreMoto Wrangler JK also features their new Lock and Load Tub Rail Tie Down System that bolts onto the existing tub rail holes and their new narrow tube fenders.
Speaking of gear – after a noticeable absence last year, it was nice to see that camping and overlanding have started to make a return to the Off-Road Expo. Of course, this is not the Overland Expo, but off-roading and camping go hand in hand for many of us. There were a number of vehicles tricked out for long trips on the trail, including a few trailers, the ubiquitous rooftop tents and even an expedition-ready flatbed truck.
2016 seems to be the year of women off-roaders, perhaps spurred on by 19-year-old Bailey Campbell’s Top 5 finish at the King of the Hammers this past February. Campbell became the first woman to complete the grueling off-road race that few men have ever finished. We love the delicate scrollwork on her badass Ultra4 car.
Not long after that, Charlene Bower of Bower Motorsports Media hosted the Ladies Co-Driver Challenge. Designed to give average gals the opportunity to compete, Charlene invited three different women to be her co-driver at one of three major off-road events. The ladies have already competed in the 2016 Monster Energy Trail of Missions and 36 Hours of Uwharrie, where they came in second in the Pro Class. This month they, along with Bailey Campbell, will compete at the Rebelle Rally, a seven-day, 1,200-mile rally race just for women.
Several networking groups formed for the women in off-roading this year, including the Ladies Offroad Network and the Awesome Women of Wheeling. Sara Price became the first woman to compete in the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks event, Karen Sullivan launched Girls ‘N Garages magazine for women who wrench on their own vehicles and I’ve been invited to more women-only off road events than I can count.
Charlene Bower, who has been nominated to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF) this year, hosted a Ladies Offroad Network Social at the Expo. Women were welcome to attend and meet fellow female enthusiasts, racers and women who work in the industry, such as Jenn Hellstrom with the ORMHOF. It was especially great to see all of the young ladies who showed up to share their enthusiasm for off-roading. Ladies, if you didn’t make it this year, we hope to see you next year!